Poinsettia Bowl pregame primer

I’ve done this all season, so why stop now. Here’s my No. 1 key for Wyoming in tonight’s Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The game is televised on ESPN.

Players making plays: Meaning Wyoming’s best players must make plays. Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, the guys the Cowboys have leaned on throughout the season must be good from start to finish. If some unsung players do so, even better. But in big games like this, big-time players make big-time plays.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Nineteen seniors will play their last game for UW. Some will have bigger roles than others, but one who will have the biggest role is middle linebacker Lucas Wacha, who also is a team captain. This is what third-year-coach Craig Bohl said of Wacha earlier this week in San Diego.

“The biggest transition he made was taking ownership in the defense. I saw a transition last year when we were struggling, he always had a positive attitude and at times challenged some of the guys that weren’t performing or preparing to perform the way they needed to.

“They say nice guys are a dime a dozen, but a leader is priceless. Lucas is a nice guy, but he’s a great leader.”

Wacha is third on the team with 104 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss, and is tied for third with three quarterback sacks. He needs three tackles to move into seventh place and 12 to be sixth in career tackles in school history. Wacha enters the game with 340 tackles.

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Williams poses potential problems for Wyoming defense

Wyoming has faced its share of good running backs this season.

It played against the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher twice in San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey. Boise State’s junior Jeremy McNichols, Nevada junior James Butler and a whole host of backs at New Mexico were others, and that’s just in conference play.

Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams

The Cowboys will see another one in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl in Brigham Young senior Jamaal Williams, who is the Cougars’ career rushing leader with 3,691 yards.

I asked a couple of UW defensive players if Williams compares favorably to any of the backs they’ve faced this season.

“He’s kind of like the (junior) Rashaad Penny from San Diego State,” senior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha said. “You don’t see too many backs like him. He’s big, physical and we’re excited to play against him.”

Williams is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. He missed three games with an ankle injury, but he ran for 1,165 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. His longest run was 62 yards. He also caught seven passes for 80 yards.

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Wyoming at New Mexico football – pregame primer

Been doing this all season, so why stop now.

First, my No. 1 key for Wyoming to win Saturday night’s game at New Mexico:

Play keep away: Meaning it’s in UW’s  best interest to possess the ball, and obviously score points, to keep New Mexico’s high-powered yet time-consuming triple-option offense off the field. The Cowboys did a good job of this last week against San Diego State. Not saying UW’s defense isn’t capable of stopping or slowing down New Mexico, but it is dangerously thin depth-wise up front and the fewer plays it can be on the field, the more fresh it can stay.

Yes, no? For more keys, along with a cool story on some players on the Cowboys’ last divisional title team from 1996 and their take on this year’s squad, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

With Boise State’s 27-20 loss at Air Force Friday, UW clinched the Mountain Division of the Mountain West. A win Saturday at New Mexico should ensure the Cowboys host the MW Championship Game Saturday, Dec. 3 against San Diego State. A loss could mean UW plays the championship game in San Diego. It would help UW a lot — win or lose — if San Diego State loses at home Saturday against Colorado State.

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UW beats Northern Illinois 40-34 in 3OT; what we learned

The No. 1 think I learned from watching Wyoming beat Northern Illinois 40-34 in triple overtime: You  never know what to expect covering college football.

A game that was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. didn’t start until 10:20 p.m. due to severe weather with a lot of rain and lightning. The lightning was what delayed the game. After redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 7-yard TD run to win he game in the third overtime, it was 2:35 a.m. Sunday when the game ended.

Here are the highlights of UW’s game-winning drive, capped by Allen’s run, and of Northern Illinois kicker Christia Hagen missing a 38-yard field goal in that third overtime.

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Cowboys release depth chart for opener vs. Northern Illinois

We’re finally in game-week mode for Wyoming football, and that means the first depth chart of the regular season.

Instead of just listing names, here is a photo of the first depth chart.

Wyoming football depth chart vs. Northern Illinois

Wyoming football depth chart vs. Northern Illinois

Not a lot of big surprises here. Perhaps the biggest is redshirt freshman walk-on Josiah Hall starting at one defensive end spot over sophomore Kevin Prosser. Both will play, but Hall gives UW a little more size at 237 pounds. Prosser is 215. Third-year UW coach Craig Bohl said: “It’s not a knock on Prosser, but more of a compliment to Hall.”

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Cowboys conclude fall camp with scrimmage

Third-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl had a lot of good things to say about Saturday’s final scrimmage of fall camp. However, no statistics or score were kept as there was not much full contact and UW’s top offensive and defensive units went up against the scout team.

But a few highlights included:

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

–Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen threw touchdown passes of 42 and 16 yards to senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry.

–Junior cornerback Rico Gafford returned two interceptions for a touchdown.

–Senior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown.

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UW fall camp – practice No. 21

Wyoming practiced Thursday morning in War Memorial Stadium, and the weather had a fall-feel as it was a little chilly and breezy.

Third-year coach Craig Bohl the practice, which lasted a little over two hours, was “work-man like. At this point in camp, UW also is installing some of its game play for its opener Sept. 3 against Northern Illinois. Bohl moved Wednesday afternoon’s practice to evening so some of the players can get used to playing under the lights. Such will be the case in the opener.

Here are some highlights from practice.

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UW fall camp — Day 1

Wyoming started fall camp Monday morning at the North 40 practice fields on campus.

As in the past, media was allowed to watch the first 30 minutes. Here are some video highlights from the morning. The Cowboys worked a lot of forcing and recovering fumbles early on. Forcing more turnovers is a must. Last season, UW forced just 10 turnovers (five fumbles and five interceptions).

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Preseason predictions for the Pokes

The first day of summer is upon us, and it’s that time of year when many sports fans are counting the days until football season — more specifically college football season.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Many of the preseason college football publications are out there, and as you probably can  imagine, junior running back Brian Hill is getting a lot of attention.

Lindy’s college football preview magazine lists Hill as the 18th-best running back in the country. Twenty-five running backs were ranked, and two other running backs in the Mountain West were ranked ahead of Hill — San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey was eighth and Boise State junior Jeremy McNichols was 17th.

Long-time Denver Post sports writer Natalie Meisler did the MW previews for Lindy’s, and has been for while. She picked the Cowboys to finish third in the Mountain Division, behind Boise State and Air Force. She said UW is a “dark horse special contingent on rapid maturation of young participants.”

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Favorite Easter candy among UW football players

Happy Easter everyone.

This day has a much deeper and significant meaning than candy, but to have some fun, I asked a few of the Wyoming football players what they’re favorite Easter candy is.

Senior linebacker Lucas Wacha: Reese’s peanut butter eggs

Senior defensive end Trevor Meader: Reese’s peanut butter bunny

Sophomore defensive end Kevin Prosser: Sour patches. I am not into chocolate much.

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