UW vs. UNLV football preview: Notes, quotes and video

My top key for Wyoming Saturday in its season-finale football game against UNLV:

Balanced offense: Wyoming needs to run the ball, but it also needs to get the pass game going. A big reason why the Cowboys have scored 10 points over their last two games is that the production through the air hasn’t been there. The weather will be cold and more geared toward running the ball, but UW can’t be one dimensional and must make some plays throwing the ball.

Here are more keys in my preview video:

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Cowboys’ O-line showing progress, will return experience

Two of the eight seniors on the Wyoming football roster are seniors — guard Troy Boyland and center Rafe Kiely.

Troy Boyland

Troy Boyland

However, in offensive line coach Scott Fuchs’ mind, he returns five starting offensive linemen for the 2016 season.

That’s because sophomore Charlie Renfree started the first 10 games this season at center. Kiely did some good things in practice late in the season, and Renfree was a bit banged up. Kiely started in UW’s Nov. 14 game at San Diego State and will start in the Cowboys’ season-finale Saturday at home against UNLV. Renfee and Kiely have split time in UW’s first 10 games, but Renfree saw most of the playing time.

Boyland started in nine of 11 games, but true freshman Kaden Jackson started two. And, both have played in all 11 games this season. Boyland moved from defensive line to offensive line this season.

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Cowboys’ offensive line seeking improvement

Scott Fuchs

Scott Fuchs

I asked Wyoming offensive line coach Scott Fuchs this week what some of the glaring concerns were with his guys in the Cowboys’ 24-13 season-opening loss to North Dakota last Saturday.

Fuchs wouldn’t use the term “glaring concerns,” but had this to say about what needs to improve heading into Saturday’s home game with Eastern Michigan.

“We talked about having  good idea of what (North Dakota) was going to do, some things get tweaked here or there, and our ability to adjust on the fly needs to be sharpened,” he said.

Troy Boyland

Troy Boyland

Fuchs said senior right offensive guard Troy Boyland didn’t play like a “savvy veteran,” but he isn’t as last week was his first college game along the offensive line after being an interior defensive lineman.

“It was much faster. Not to say we don’t practice fast, but during a game things like defenses slanting are really fast,” Boyland said. “It took us a while to adjust and get a hand of what they were doing. Once we settled down we did a lot better.”

UW ran for only 29 yards, and its top two running backs — senior Shaun Wick and sophomore Brian Hill — combined for only 16 carries. Boyland said the entire line needs to do a better job of making its blocks at the second level where the linebackers are.

Penalties also hurt where UW had eight for 96 yards in the game. Not all of those were on the offensive line, but there were a fair share of holding and face-mask penalties.

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UW football fall camp – Day 10

Wyoming practiced in War Memorial Stadium Wednesday morning after stretching in its indoor practice facility. It was cool enough with lows in the 30s Tuesday night in Laramie for the coaches not to worry about the heat index on the artificial playing surface in the stadium.

UW did some blitz work, and coach Craig Bohl liked what he saw: “I thought that our quarterbacks made some good decisions. There weren’t as many guys running free open, so as we integrate more and more of those schemes our execution’s improving.”

Seth Edeen

Seth Edeen

Was sad to hear that two in-state players for the Cowboys decided to call it a career due to health issues. Sophomore defensive end Seth Edeen of Cheyenne announced on Twitter late Tuesday night of his decision based on him having only one kidney. Junior wide receiver Tanner Simpson of Lander announced his decision on Twitter Wednesday morning due to a nagging foot issue.

Here is Edeen’s Tweet:

Tanner Simpson

Tanner Simpson

Here is Simpson’s Tweet:


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Quarterbacks picking it up as spring drills draw to an end

There hasn’t been much drama with Wyoming’s quarterbacks in terms of who would be named the starter.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Senior Cameron Coffman was that guy just after UW’s first scrimmage of the spring a couple of weeks ago. Junior college transfer and sophomore Josh Allen remains the No. 2 quarterback.

But one thing second-year coach Craig Bohl has been disappointed with in UW’s two spring scrimmages has been the completion percentage from all of UW’s quarterbacks. The four currently on the roster now are a combined 26 of 66, a completion percentage of 39.3 percent.

Coffman has the best percentage at just under 50 percent at 13 of 27.

Allen, we’ve been told, has a big arm but is still learning to control it — as well as learn UW’s offense. In the two scrimmages Allen is 6 of 17.

Bohl said at the start of Wednesday’s 13th practice of the spring that Monday’s practice was the best day all of UW’s quarterbacks had throwing and completing passes. However, after Wednesday’s Bohl said said he’s still seeing a few too many errant throws and decisions.

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A look at the first depth chart of spring for Wyoming football

Wyoming released its first depth chart of spring drills Monday. Here is the link to the depth chart:

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/wyo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2014-15/depth_chart_non_event/4-13-15_depth_chart.pdf

Will this what it will look like in less than two weeks when spring drills end, or when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 5 against North Dakota?

Some positions, yes. Others, no.

Here is a fairly quick and short breakdown of what I think of this first depth chart:

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Locks: Senior Cameron Coffman at quarterback, senior Shaun Wick and Brian Hill at running back, juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt at wide receiver, junior Jacob Hollister at tight end, sophomore Drew Van Maanen at fullback, junior Chase Roullier at left guard, seniors Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api at defensive end, junior Uso Olive at defensive tackle, junior Lucas Wacha at one of the three linebacker spots (which one is still uncertain) and junior Ethan Wood at punter. I don’t see much movement at any of these spots barring injury.

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Notes from UW spring practice No. 6

It didn’t appear that Wyoming’s sixth practice of spring drills was a walk in the park, even though the Cowboys have their first scrimmage of the spring at 11 a.m. Saturday.

UW practiced Friday in full pads, and went for a little more than two hours.

Seth Edeen

Seth Edeen

It was good to see sophomore defensive end and Cheyenne Central graduate Seth Edeen at practice. He was just watching, but he was there. On Monday, he took a hit to his side and after practice had some blood in his urine. A couple of tests later it was discovered Edeen was born without his right kidney, and also has a cyst on top of his pancreas.

Edeen is out for the rest of spring, and will have more medical procedures done in the coming weeks. For more on Edeen, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

UW had a walk-through at the beginning of practice with its run game. Senior Cameron Coffman took most of the reps, but the other four quarterbacks participated in the walk-through.

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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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Three concerns for Wyoming football heading into spring drills

Are you ready for some football?

Wyoming is, and it starts spring drills Monday. It will be culminated by its spring game on Saturday, April 25.

I will have an analysis piece and feature in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also at wyosports.net with more on UW spring football in terms of things to watch, etc.

But for now, here are my top three concerns for the Cowboys heading into spring:

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

1. Linebacker: Other than junior Lucas Wacha, there really isn’t much experience at any of the three linebacker spots. Senior Malkaam Muhammad returns, but even though he’s played in 17 games over his career, it mostly has been on special teams. Players and coaches have raved about Wacha this offseason, and he’s up to about 218 pounds now compared to 205 last season. Wacha will be the middle linebacker this season, and 218 pounds is awful small for that position. However, Wacha has shown that size doesn’t always matter for him as he’s been productive over his first two seasons along the outside. Muhammad must show he can play consistently well. Several players have switched positions and moved to linebacker. I think one of the outside spots will be secured by

Will Tutein

Will Tutein

junior Will Tutein, who moved over from safety. Tutein played more of a linebacker in UW’s final game against New Mexico last season, and he has good athletic ability to play there. Also will be curious to see how junior Eric Nzeocha makes the transition from receiver/tight end to linebacker. The brother of former UW linebacker Mark Nzeocha, Eric has some good natural ability and athleticism. How he makes the transition from offense to defense will be interesting. If I had to guess right now, those would be the three guys I think would be the starters coming out of spring.

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Run game could be even more vital for Cowboys in finale

We all know that first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl wants to be a run-first offense that is tough and physical.

At times UW has shown that, at other times it hasn’t gone according to plan. But if the Cowboys can do that in their season-finale Saturday at New Mexico, that will go a long way to help make up for what could be an inexperienced quarterback — and possibly end the season with a victory.

New Mexico has the nation’s fourth-best rushing offense, but it allows 278.1 rushing yards per game, and Colorado State’s Dee Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns last week in the Rams’ 58-20 victory.

Rafe Kiely

Rafe Kiely

“It’s an exciting thought,” said UW junior center Rafe Kiely on the chance the Cowboys will try to run the ball even more against New Mexico. “We along the offensive line is much more physical this year, and take a lot more pride in our run blocking than in the past.

“This year there so much more of an emphasis on getting on guys and getting them to the ground. I know a lot of guys are licking their lips to go out (to New Mexico) and pound the ball on the ground.”

UW true freshman running back Brian Hill leads the Cowboys with six rushing touchdowns, and had two in last Saturday’s 63-14 home loss to Boise State. He had his string of three straight 100-yard games snapped against Boise State. Hill has 639 rushing yards, and trails junior Shaun Wick by 66 yards to take the team lead.

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