Tackling not the only issue for UW’s defense

The question has come up a lot in recent weeks, and in recent seasons?

Why can’t Wyoming’s defense tackle well?

The questions came up again Monday during coach Dave Christensen’s weekly news

The University of Wyoming's uniform combination for Saturday's game at San Jose State. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports staff

The University of Wyoming’s uniform combination for Saturday’s game at San Jose State. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports staff

conference. More specifically, Christensen was asked what his team will do to work on improving it heading into Saturday’s game at San Jose State.

“We will work on the fundamentals in practice,” he said. “We’re not going to go out and scrimmage live to make those changes.”

Christensen said the defense made 51 mental errors in last Saturday’s 52-22 loss at home to Colorado State. He also said 80 percent of those errors were in one specific area. See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net for more on that.

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Cowboys brave the cold

Just how cold was it during Wyoming’s football practice Tuesday morning at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium?

Water froze immediately once it touched the benches along the sideline.

Temperatures were in the 20s and the wind chill factor was in the teens during much of the two-hour practice in which the team was in full pads in preparation for Saturday’s Border War game with Colorado State in Laramie.

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Repeat, repeat and repeat again

Wyoming is officially in Border War week mode.

The team practiced Monday morning, at first outside in the cold, wind and snow before it went indoors. But the preparations for Saturday’s game with rival Colorado State started sooner than that.

Wyoming's uniform combination for its home game against Colorado State on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

Wyoming’s uniform combination for its home game against Colorado State on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

It didn’t involve extra film study or practices, but with a song — Colorado State’s fight song.

It is being played in UW’s locker room repeatedly this week to remind the players that it is CSU week.

“I think I’m actually hearing it right now,” joked UW junior receiver Dominic Rufran Monday. “We play it in the locker room 24-7. I went down there to grab my bag and it’s playing right now. No one was in there, but it was still playing. When we go lift weight, it’s playing.¬†Our coaches do it to remind us it is Sheep Week and how big and important this game is.”

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D-line learning to play tired

First-year Wyoming defensive line coach Jamar Cain has been trying to teach his guys something from the first day he met them.

“We have to learn to play tired,” he said.

What does that mean? Here’s my video interview with Cain where he explains:

But basically, UW’s defensive linemen need to learn how to maintain their technique and fundamentals when they are tired because once those slip, then bad things happen.

And they get tired fast as there have been only six healthy and/or game-ready guys to play through the first five games.

The Cowboys may get a little help for this week’s homecoming game against New Mexico. Redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Awrabi (foot) is listed as a backup behind sophomore Eddie Yarbrough. Cain hopes to get Awrabi about 10 plays. Awrabi has not played in a game for UW, and has been hurt pretty much the entire time he’s been on campus.

“He will make us better by playing and doing his job,” Cain said. “He’s been doing pretty good in practice. I’ve been keeping him after practice and working with him, and he’s been coming in on his own to watch film with me and our graduate assistant.”

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UW-Northern Colorado pregame notes

About an hour prior to kickoff here in Laramie and it is partly sunny/cloudy, temperatures in the mid to high 60s and everything is dry around here. Laramie didn’t get the rain like Cheyenne or parts of Colorado did the last few days.

There is chances of rain this afternoon, but the elements should not be a factor early on … if at all today.

Here are a couple of notes to watch for today’s game with Northern Colorado:

–Junior quarterback Brett Smith is one touchdown pass shy of tying Casey Bramlet (2000-03) for the most in school history at 56. Today’s game will be Smith’s 26th game. Smith also is 273 total yards shy of moving into third place on UW’s career offense list and 317 passing yards from moving into fourth place in career passing yards.

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Christensen likes Cowboys’ practices

Fifth-year Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen said the team’s first practice Monday following its 37-34 loss at No. 22 Nebraska (was No. 18 prior to the game) was the best he’s seen since he has been the coach at UW.

Christensen had more praise for his team following Tuesday morning’s practice at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

“I thought we were really sharp offensively, and that’s where I am at mostly (during practice),” he said. “I need to watch the film and talk to the defensive coaches, but it sounded like they were pretty positive on how things went down.

“I thought our protections, routes and the passing game was really on. That’s encouraging.”

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UW ready for heat, humidity of Nebraska

No. 18 Nebraska poses plenty of challenges on the field for the University of Wyoming football team Saturday.

And so does the weather.

The forecast for Lincoln, Neb., Saturday is a high of 98 degrees with 58 percent humidity. By the time the game kicks off at 7 p.m. local time, the temperature should be cooler but probably in the mid to high 80s.

UW has played in hot and humid conditions in the past: last year and 2010 at Texas, and in 2009 at Florida Atlantic. The Cowboys handled the heat and humidity well then, and coach Dave Christensen doesn’t think it will be an issue Saturday, either.

“It will be the same program we have used every year,” Christensen said. “The humidity hasn’t been an issue for us yet, so we don’t imagine it will be too much of a problem Saturday night.”

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UW football fall camp: Day 7

Coaches get a better feel for a practice or scrimmage after watching film. After Monday’s morning practice coach Dave Christensen said a few things stood out after watching the film of Sunday’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

–Christensen was impressed with the plays made by junior Tyran Finley, both at cornerback and returning punts. Finley, a junior-college transfer this summer, returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown. The interception was thrown by junior starter Brett Smith

–He thought all of the quarterbacks managed the offense well. Smith and sophomore backup Jason Thompson got most of the reps, and had most of the production. Combined they were 39-of-49 for 529 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception.

–Christensen liked the play of the starting offensive line.

–Defensively, Christensen ¬†wants to see more pressure on the quarterback and for the unit to get off the field. There were only two three-and-outs during the scrimmage.

Here is some video highlights during a team period during Monday morning’s practice.

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Christensen wants team to be more physical

Saturday was the first day Wyoming practiced in full pads during fall camp, and one of the first things fifth-year coach Dave Christensen talked to his team about was being more physical.

He also addressed that with the media after practice.

“We have to be more physical,” he said. “At times we were, but it is something you have to do consistently. We will keep working on it. I was pleased with effort, but we have to be a more physical football team.”

Here is a video link to a few highlights of one of the team periods from Saturday’s practice.

Newcomers working their way up

Junior-college transfer Tyran Finley and true freshman Timmy Hayes worked with the No. 2 defense at cornerback during team periods Saturday, as did true freshman Xavier Lewis and redshirt freshman Cortland Fort at the safety spots.

Lewis and Fort both had interceptions during practice.

“They are competing well and the competition level there is rising,” Christensen said.

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Cowboys Camp: Day 2

A lot of the same from Wyoming’s second day of fall camp Wednesday morning in Laramie.

But here is a video link of a couple of plays during an 11-on-11 team period early in practice.

The team practiced for the second straight day in shorts, jerseys and helmets. It puts on the shoulder pads for the first time Thursday.

It was announced Tuesday that junior Riley Lange moved from tight end to defensive

Riley Lange

Riley Lange

end — the position he was recruited for when he signed in 2010. Since then he has played defensive tackle, fullback/H-back and tight end. Lange went to the coaches and asked to move back to defensive end a few weeks before the start of fall camp. He should provide depth there, and took some reps with the No. 1 defense during team periods Wednesday.

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