UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming had its first two-a-day session of fall camp Saturday. The morning practice was in War Memorial Stadium. The players were in shorts and “spider pads,” which are a step down from shoulder pads.

The afternoon practice was expected to be in full pads with some scrimmaging. However, that practice was closed to the public and media.

Here are some highlights from the morning practice.

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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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Media Monday: It’s Border War week

After playing four of its last six games on the road, Wyoming returns home this week for its annual Border War game with Colorado State at 1 p.m. Saturday in Laramie.

Here is coach Craig Bohl talking about that and several other things about this week’s game.

From what Bohl said, looks like we will have to wait until later in the week to see if redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman will play. He’s still nursing a right shoulder injury that kept him out of last week’s game at Utah State.

Here’s what Coffman had to say on his health status Monday.

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New roles for UW wide receivers amid Gentry injury

Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said Monday he’s “hopeful” junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry will play Saturday at Boise State after suffering a sprained shoulder in UW’s 28-21 win over Nevada last Saturday.

Gentry’s status for the game won’t be known until later this week, but it’s probably a long-shot that he plays. Gentry leads UW with 37 catches for 678 yards, and is tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns. His receiving  yards is 15th in the country, and his 96.9 receiving yards per game is 19th.

So, who steps up for the Cowboys while Gentry is out, whether it is just the Boise State game or future games?

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

The first guy is junior Jake Maulhardt, who is second behind Gentry with 36 catches for 366 yards, and is tied with Gentry on the team with four touchdowns. Maulhardt plays the ‘X’ receiver spot, while Gentry plays the ‘Y.’ Maulhardt is a bigger target than Gentry at 6-foot-6, but doesn’t have the speed Gentry has.

“My number may be called more,” Maulhardt said. “I need to capitalize on it an make plays for the team. If it happens, Im ready for it.”

The two guys who likely will see more playing time if Gentry is out are a pair of true freshmen — James Price and Joe Parker. Combined, those two have caught 7 passes for 68 yards this season.

James Price

James Price

Maulhardt thinks Price is similar to Gentry in terms of his size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) and abilities. Parker is smaller (5-10, 182) and seems like more of a slot receiver than an edge guy. Maulhardt said true freshman Justice Murphy played a lot more last week against Nevada, and is “one of the most athletic guys on the team.”

Gentry and Maulhardt have caught 57 percent of UW’s completed passes this season. Offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said human nature often takes over when guys are pressed into stepping up for a team due to an injury to a teammate as compared to trying to compete for playing time when everyone is healthy and front-line guys are being productive.

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Wyoming at Air Force football: notes, quotes and video

My top key for Wyoming in its football game Saturday night at Air Force:

Convert scoring chances: Wyoming hasn’t had a problem moving the ball offensively at 396.4 yards per game. But it has had trouble scoring at 19.4 points per game. The Cowboys are last among 127 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in red zone offense as they’ve scored 10 of 19 times. Negative plays (penalties or plays that lose yardage) and turnovers all have been factors in UW’s futility. It must be cleaned up if it hopes to win this game — or any game the rest of the season.

Of course, there are several other things UW must do well in this game. For more of those, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net

I delve into some of those other keys in my video preview of the game:

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Scary incident provides valuable lesson for Cummings

Ryan Cummings learned some valuable lessons earlier this summer.

The Wyoming sophomore offensive lineman was driving from his home in the Denver area back to Laramie. He was on U.S. Highway 287 when a powerful rain storm hit.

Ryan Cummings

Ryan Cummings

“I couldn’t see out my windshield,” Cummings said. “I’m driving down this hill and my truck started going sideways out of no where. I went onto the opposite side of the road facing the other direction. I missed a semi-truck by about 20 yards and then ended up in a ditch. It wasn’t dry enough where my truck could roll.”

Cummings wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and the air bags didn’t go off. Cummings broke his nose and split his lip all the way to his nose that required stitches.

I’m lucky to be here.”

“I’m lucky to be here and thankful I’m here. I praise God that he was looking over me,” Cummings said.

U.S. 287 harbors some painful memories for UW athletics. On Sept. 6, 2010 then UW true freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse died in an automobile accident on that highway. That accident involved three other UW football players who survived.

Of course, there was the eight members of the UW track and cross-country team that died on that highway on Sept. 16, 2001 due to an accident with a drunk driver.

There have been plenty of other stories I’ve been told from UW athletics officials who have had close calls on that stretch of road.

“It’s a caution for me to always wear your seat belt, always take it easy in bad road conditions and be smart wherever I go,” Cummings said.

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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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UW spring football roundup – Day 1

It was back to work Monday for the Wyoming football team as it held its first of 15 spring practices.

UW used both its indoor facility and War Memorial Stadium for its workout, which lasted a little more than two hours. Players will be in shorts and helmets for the first two practices. They won’t be in full pads until the third practice on Saturday.

Here are some highlights from the first practice. Media is allowed to stay for only the first 30 minutes.


A few points of observation from Day 1:

–UW did some walk-through work prior to the start of practice and the guys who got most of the reps with the No. 1 offense along the offensive line were sophomore Ryan Cummings (left tackle), junior Chase Roullier (left guard), sophomore Charlie Renfree (center), redshirt freshman Richard Bettencourt (right guard) and sophomore Taylor Knestis (right tackle). Another who got in some work on the left side was sophomore tackle Kurtis Stirneman.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

–Senior Cameron Coffman always seemed to be the first guy when the quarterbacks did individual drills, and he also worked with the No. 1 offense the most of the other four guys. What that means this early in spring is debatable, but I still believe he is the guy to beat in terms of UW’s starting quarterback.

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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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Lewis says he’s ready for larger role if needed for Cowboys

If the news is what the Wyoming football team expects, sophomore Xavier Lewis said he’s ready to step up his game.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said Monday it is doubtful senior free safety and co-captain Darrenn White will return this season after a knee injury late in the first half in the Cowboys’ 38-28 loss at Hawaii last Saturday night.

Xavier Lewis

Xavier Lewis

UW is still waiting for results on a MRI on White, but it is not optimistic about White’s return. If that’s the case, it is Lewis’ chance to be the guy to play the position that is often like the quarterback on offense in terms of getting the defensive calls and making sure other guys in the secondary are lined up correctly.

“I feel very comfortable with the defense,” Lewis said Monday. “We’ve been repping it heavy since spring ball. We go over our fits over and over. There may be a few slip ups here and there, but as a defense I know it pretty well. I’m excited to help conduct it now.

For more on Lewis, other options UW may look at at free safety and the possible return of a veteran player at strong safety, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Bohl held his weekly news conference with the media Monday. Here is most of that via video:

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