Wyoming at Air Force – pregame primer

Wyoming plays its fifth consecutive and final Mountain Division game of the season at Air Force Saturday night. Kick off is at 8:15 p.m. MT at Falcon Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Here is my top key for the Cowboys in the game:

Play keep away: An oldie but a goodie this season for Wyoming, but one that best fits this game. The Cowboys stand a lot better chance of winning if their offense can go on sustained drives, finish with points and keep the Falcons’ triple-option offense off the field. This is what Air Force wants to do, and has done most of the season as it leads the Mountain West in scoring at 34 points per game, and is 10th nationally in time of possession at 33 minutes, 29 seconds per contest. The longer Air Force has the ball, the more UW’s defense can wear down and be susceptible to giving up big plays.

Yes, no or am I completely off my rocker?

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Bath breaks down UW’s running backs this spring

It’s been three months since Wyoming football played its last game, but football returns to UW starting Tuesday with the first of 15 spring practices.

Brian Hill

The Cowboys must replace junior running back Brian Hill, who left UW after his junior year to try his hand a pro football. Hill was UW’s career-leader in rushing yards (4,287) and rushing touchdowns (35).

The top four guys — in alphabetical order — to watch this spring are junior Nico Evans (5-9, 205), redshirt freshman Mike Green (5-11, 205), sophomore Milo Hall (5-8, 190) and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet (5-11, 215).

“Each one of them is unique,” UW running backs coach Mike Bath said. “Nico physically looks good. He’s strong and works his rear end off. I think he can be a Shaun Wick type of guy, which is positive. He’s smart, reliable and understands hat we want to get accomplished.

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Wick doesn’t plan to change much about his game

Shaun Wick doesn’t plan on changing the way he runs the ball.

Shaun Wick

Shaun Wick

The Wyoming senior running back missed the last eight games last season due to concussions. He received a medical redshirt waiver from the NCAA to return in 2016 and he’s been impressive so far through three spring practices for the Cowboys.

But there is something Wick wants to avoid.

“I feel the same. I’m still a one-cut-and-go guy. Just staying phyical but avoiding those head-to-head hits,” Wick said.

That’s easier said than done for a running back, let alone anyone who plays football at any position.

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Where UW football ranks among assistant coaches salaries

The USA Today does a great job of creating data bases to compare a lot of financial numbers in college athletics.

Its latest was listing assistant coaches salaries, and what schools spend on assistant salaries, among the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Here is the link to the entire data base:

http://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/salaries/football/assistant

As for Wyoming, it spent $1,224,315 on salaries for its assistant coaches. The two highest paid coaches are the coordinators — Steve Stanard on defense ($203,375) and Brent Vigen on offense ($203,275).

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Cowboys share some of the Easter favorites

With the Easter weekend upon us, we all know the religious importance it holds for many.

But to have some fun, I asked some of the Wyoming football players and coaches what their favorite Easter candy is — and there is a lot to choose from.

Here are some of the responses:

Head coach Craig Bohl: Marshmallow Peeps

LB Lucas Wacha: Dove chocolate with caramel inside

RB Brian Hill: Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups/Eggs

DE coach AJ Cooper: Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs

QB Cameron Coffman: Resse’s Pieces

RB Shaun Wick: Cadbury Eggs

LB Devin McKenna: Dark Hershey’s chocolate

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Fullbacks continue to evolve for Cowboys this spring

Everything was new for the Wyoming football team last year with a new coach, new schemes, etc., one of the newest positions continues to be a work in progress — fullback.

“I like the upward trend we’re on,” UW running backs coach Mike Bath said. “This offseason was big for these guys.”

Drew Van Maanen

Drew Van Maanen

UW returns all of its fullbacks that were on the roster last season, including the two that played in sophomore Drew Van Maanen and junior Jordan Ellis. Others who return include redshirt freshmen Wade Cicierski and Matt List.

The fullback isn’t asked to carry the ball much — if at all — for UW. Ellis was the only guy that did, and had just one carry for five yards. Blocking is the top priority for this group, although Van Maanen and Ellis caught two passes apiece last season.

Van Maanen saw the most playing time, and Bath said “with every snap he gets, he gets better. Now we’re building on the fundamentals from last season and refining them.”

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Mallory happy to be newest addition to UW football coaching staff

Curt Mallory remembers being a young assistant coach at Ball State in 1997, which was the first time he met Craig Bohl — now Wyoming’s head coach but then an assistant coach at Nebraska where the Cornhuskers were coming off winning a national title.

Curt Mallory

Curt Mallory

Mallory called Bohl and asked if he could come watch some film with him at Nebraska. Bohl took an entire day to spend with Mallory.

Now, Mallory is coaching on Bohl’s staff at UW as the Cowboys’ defensive secondary coach and passing game coordinator. Mallory joined UW’s staff earlier this year.

“From that time on you root for guys like that,” said Mallory of Bohl. “Those are the kind of guys you want to work for. I’m real fortunate to be here and excited to be here.”

Mallory came to UW from his alma mater, Michigan, where he coached the defensive secondary there from 2011-14. Mallory also has coached at Akron, Illinois, Indiana, Central Michigan and Ball State. Most of Mallory’s stops had him coach the secondary, but he also has worked with linebackers, special teams units and he was the defensive coordinator during the one season he was at Akron in 2010.

“His experience is showing rather quickly,” said Bohl of Mallory being on the coaching staff. “(The Mountain West) is a perimeter league with a lot of speed and skill so those back seven guys really need to work in concert. … Last year, we couldn’t run well enough defensively.”

Mallory said he knew UW running backs coach Mike Bath when he was an assistant coach in the Mid-American Conference. While at Indiana, current UW receivers coach Kenni Burns was a running back for the Hoosiers.

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UW fall camp – Day 16

Wyoming’s 16th day and 20th practice of fall camp was in full pads Tuesday morning, and all of it was held outside at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Most of the previous practices started in its indoor practice facility, and then went outside. The Cowboys started with some 11-on-11 work, and the quarterbacks were sharp.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard — still the starter — threw a nice deep ball to senior receiver Dominic Rufran. Kirkegaard executed a pump fake to perfection on the play.

Kirkegaard made several nice throws during the period. One was over the middle to sophomore Jake Maulhardt, and another was to the sideline for senior receiver Jalen Claiborne.

Sophomore backups Tom Thornton and Aaron Young also took some snaps at quarterback. Thornton got more than Young. All the plays during the period were pass plays.

Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had a sack early on of Kirkegaard (the quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit).

Sidney Malauulu

Sidney Malauulu

True freshman defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu had one of the more powerful plays of the day and he pushed backup sophomore center Jacob English back about three yards that disrupted a play.

Malauulu came back last week from a sprained MCL in his knee, and Bohl said he likely will play this season. More on him later this week.

Here’s what coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice.

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UW fall camp – Day 9

Once again, Wyoming started its ninth day and 11th practice of fall camp Tuesday with some 11-on-11 work as the team practiced in full pads. It was all passes by the offense, and it looked like the defense took a look at some different blitz packages.

DeAndre Jones

DeAndre Jones

Senior cornerback DeAndre Jones had a good session. He broke up a deep pass from redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard to sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry deep down the field. Later, Jones jarred the ball loose from sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt on a short pass over the middle.

The defense had the advantage over the offense for the most part, and it looked like at times the quarterbacks had issues with getting the play off before the play clock expired. Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had two sacks — although quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Troy Boyland had a sack, and senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi had an athletic pass break-up in pass coverage.

Eddie Yarbrough

Eddie Yarbrough

Per usual, Kirkegaard and sophomore Tom Thornton were the only quarterbacks to take snaps during this period. All indications are that Kirkegaard still has a firm grasp of the starting job, and Thornton is the backup.

UW mixed and matched a few offensive linemen in with the No. 1 offense at times. Sophomore Sam Hardy played some at guard and redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman played a few snaps at left tackle. Sophomore starter Nathan Leddige remains out with a concussion. Most of the snaps there went to junior Austin Traphagan.

True freshman cornerback Robert Priester and true freshman safety Chavez Pownell Jr. got some reps with the No. 2 defense.

Here is what first-year coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice:


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