UW fall camp – Day 10

Wyoming has an interesting situation forming at linebacker, and not just for this season.

All three of its projected starters — Mark Nzeocha and Devyn Harris on the outside, and Jordan Stanton inside — are seniors. Stanton’s backup, Alex Borgs, third-string outside linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo also are seniors.

There are only four linebackers on the depth chart on scholarship that are not seniors: sophomore Lucas Wacha, juniors Jeff Lark and Malkaam Muhammad and true freshman Alex Bush.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Wacha is the only one of that group that has seen significant and meaningful playing time, and that was last season as redshirt freshman. Right now, Wacha is out with a concussion.

It is safe to assume linebacker will be an emphasis for the 2015 recruiting class. But aside from getting the starters solidified and ready for the season, what about getting those non-senior backups ready not only for this season, but for the future?

“I’m focused right now who our best three guys in our base situation, and then who our best two nickel linebackers,” UW defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Steve Stanard said. “As far as only having five guys coming back next year, (head coach) Craig Bohl focuses more on that stuff. He’s our director of player personnel.”

Steve Stanard

Steve Stanard

Stanard said Lark, Nzeocha’s backup, had a good summer and has had a good fall camp so far. Same with Harris. Stanard said the staff is trying to see if Bush can help the team on special teams.

Here is what Bohl said after Wednesday morning’s practice.


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Kankolongo suspended for targeting

Just minutes before coach Dave Christensen’s Monday news conference, media members got word that Wyoming junior linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo was suspended for one game by the Mountain West for targeting.

This coming after a hit by Kankolongo on Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste on a

Nehemie Kankolongo

Nehemie Kankolongo

kickoff return in the second quarter. It was a big hit. It caused a fumble, UW recovered and scored a touchdown en route to its 56-23 road victory.

There was no penalty on Kankolongo on the play. There was a penalty, but it was for too much celebrating by the Cowboys. The MW reviewed the play, and made its decision, and according to its press release had the right to make that decision.

What do you think folks, was this targeting and should Kankolongo have been suspended? Let me know what you think.

From what replays I saw, it looked like he used his arm to make the initial hit. One could argue he lunged his body toward LaCoste, but it also looked like he was blocked or pushed into him as well.

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UW-Air Force: What they are saying

Quotes and comments from fans after the University of Wyoming’s 56-23 victory at Air Force last Saturday.

— “Wide freaking open, then laid on the jets!” — from KDWright via UW-Air Force live chat on UW junior receiver Dominic Rufran’s 61-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

— “B. Smitty is cruising.” — from timmy jack on the play of UW junior quarterback Brett Smith via UW-Air Force live chat. Smith finished with 511 yards of total offense, a single-game school record.

— “Made that hit while being blocked. Wow.” — from Paul on the hit made by UW junior linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo on the hit he made on Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste on a kickoff early in the second quarter that UW senior linebacker Devyn Harris recovered.

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UW-Air Force postgame thoughts

I have got to say, when Wyoming’s offense is executing it is fun to watch.

Case in point was its 56-23 win at Air Force Saturday night and went into Sunday morning.

Six straight touchdown drives, and seven in the first eight possessions. If it were not for a fumble it might have been eight in a row.

Here is video of the team singing the school fight song to a large group of Wyoming fans after the game.


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UW defensive, special teams depth chart for Nebraska

Friday I wrote what I thought Wyoming’s offensive depth chart for the Aug. 31 season-opener at Nebraska would look like.

Today I offer you what I think the depth chart will look like on defense and special teams. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.

DEFENSE

Nose tackle

Patrick Mertens, Sr., 6-5, 295

Uso Olive, RFr., 6-1, 293

Chase Appleby, RFr., 6-0, 289

Defensive tackle

Justin Bernthaler, Sr., 6-2, 260

Troy Boyland, Jr., 6-2, 302

Defensive end

Eddie Yarbrough, So., 6-3, 257

J.J. Quinlan, Sr., 6-1, 248

Buck

Sonny Puletasi, Jr., 6-3, 251

Saiosi Hala’api’api, So., 6-2, 248

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UW football practice notes

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen said Wednesday’s final scrimmage of fall camp, which marks the end of camp, won’t be like the first two.

“It will be more situational stuff,” he following Tuesday’s practice where the team worked out in shoulder pads and shorts at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

“We have a lot of things we need to work on mechanically from the sidelines, like getting guys on and off the field and communication from upstairs (in the press box).”

Christensen said there’s still a lot of competition for starting jobs and playing time at defensive line, linebacker, offensive line, defensive secondary, running back and receiver.

“I feel good about all the players we have, but nothing’s settled yet,” Christensen said.

Christensen also said the depth chart for the Sept. 1 season-opener at No. 15 Texas will be released Monday.

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UW fall camp — Day 2

The Cowboys’ second practice of fall camp started at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, and lasted about 2 1/2 hours. It was similar to Monday’s first workout as players were in shorts and helmets and did a lot of fundamental work.

But two days in and the first practice in full pads on until Friday, sophomore quarterback Brett Smith likes what he sees.

“Compared to last spring, last fall camp and this spring we are far beyond where we were in installing our offense,” he said. “It took us a while to get things down. We hit the ground running (Monday) and today was good, too. I feel like I have a lot of chemistry with the guys and the receivers out there.”

“What I love and I know the team loves, is that we install it, we already knew it and we’ve blown through it a high level.”

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News conference news and notes

Here are some highlights from Monday’s news conference and interview session with Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen and players:

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UW post-spring depth chart

Wyoming just released its football depth chart heading into fall camp.

Here’s the link: http://www.wyomingathletics.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/wyo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/4-14-11depthchart

Coach Dave Christensen said after the spring game, and after he talked to the media, that the depth chart would be done to please the pre-season college football publications if for nothing else. Most, if not all of the spots will be up for grabs when fall camp starts in early August.

Some quick thoughts:

–A little surprised at the starters along the offensive line, although they were they ones who played the best near the end of spring ball. The starters are: LT John Hutchins, LG Tyler Strong, C Nick Carlson, RG Brandon Self and RT Kyle Magnuson.

No surprise on Carlson and Magnuson since they kept those jobs all, if not most of spring. Good to see Self, a senior, emerge. The biggest surprise is Strong. He moved from defensive line this spring. Guys with starting experience like LT Clayton Kirven and RT Josh Leonard are listed as backups. A lot can change in fall camp. If he comes back healthy, don’t be surprised of redshirt freshman Daniel Fleischman overtakes Kirven and Hutchins as the starer at left tackle.

–Sophomore Brandon Miller listed as the starter at running back over junior Alvester Alexander, who didn’t do much this spring with an injury. Alexander was in this spot last year at this time, but I think he will be fine. Nice effort by Miller, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this January. Sophomore Nehemie Kankolongo fell to fifth in the depth chart. Even true freshman Kody Sutton is ahead of him. Kankolongo missed the spring game for a violation of team rules.

–Emory Miller OR Brett Smith is how the depth chart looks at quarterback. No surprise there.

–Good job by junior Luke Ruff to keep his starting strong safety job heading into fall camp. He still will battle JC transfer Luke Anderson, who was timed in the 4.2-second range in the 40 prior to spring ball. Both likely will play, but Ruff did a good job of competiting and keeping the starting spot. … for now.

–Despite missing the spring game for a violation of team rules, JC transfer Korey Jones is listed as a possible starter at one of the two outside linebacker spots. It’s Jones OR true freshman Mark Nzeocha. Sophomore Devyn Harris will backup senior Oliver Schober inside, which gives UW some nice athleticism out there. Senior Brian Hendricks is the other starter outside, and the efforts of sophomore Todd Knight in the spring earned him the backup job. Knight was arguably UW’s most productive defensive player this spring. He needs to get bigger at 6-2, 210 pounds.

–Right now sophomore Marqueston Huff will be the No. 1 punt returner and will join Brandon Miller as the No. 1 kickoff duo. But there wasn’t much kickoff, punt or any kick coverage work done the spring so that also could change in fall camp.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the depth chart.

Spring practice report #1

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen described Wednesday’s spring practice as the best he’s seen from a competitive and physical standpoint since he’s been at UW as he enters his third season.

UW keeps score of each practice, Christensen said the defense won on the final play of the session. See my story in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on that.

Also see my story on another chance for running back Nehemie Kankolongo to show what he can do. Some of it has to do with injuries to some other backs, and not just to junior Ghaali Muhammad who will miss the rest of the spring with an injury.

This was the Cowboys’ final practice before Saturday’s first scrimmage at 9 a.m. Christensen said the scrimmage will have a lot of ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos — nearly 90 plays.

The scrimmage is open to the public and free. It likely will be played in the indoor practice facility.