UW defensive ends didn’t all start their careers there

One of the more surprising aspects of Wyoming’s depth chart for its season-opener Saturday against Northern Illinois was redshirt freshman walk-on Josiah Hall as the starter ahead of sophomore Kevin Prosser.

Josiah Hall

Josiah Hall

However, don’t look too much into that because both will play Saturday, and throughout the season. Hall gives UW a little more size at 237 pounds, compared to 215 for Prosser.

But what’s intriguing about those two and most of UW’s defensive ends is that hardly any of them started their football careers as defensive ends.

Hall and Prosser were linebackers in high school. Same can be said about UW’s other starter, sophomore Carl Granderson. The 6-foot-5, 243-pounder was an outside linebacker who didn’t play with his hand in the dirt like he does at UW. Granderson also played some at wide receiver in high school.

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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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UW senior defensive ends mean more than just stats

There are only eight seniors on the Wyoming football roster, and two of the more well-known and successful ones are defensive ends Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api.

Eddie Yarbrough

Eddie Yarbrough

Their efforts on the field have been impressive.

Yarbrough is UW’s career leader with 37 tackles for loss, and is eighth with 20.5 quarterback sacks. Yarbrough also is tops in the Mountain West in tackles for defensive linemen this season with 5.2 per game.

Hala’api’api — known as Osi among his teammates — has 120 career tackles. He moved from linebacker to defensive end as a sophomore in 2013.

Both are team captains, and have meant a lot to this team and coaching staff than just their statistics.

“They’re just great guys and great friends,” said redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman, who has been at UW for two years.

Siaosi Hala'api'api

Siaosi Hala’api’api

“They’re very relational people. Eddie is super nice and kind to everyone. Same with Osi. Me and Osi worked at golf course together this summer (in Laramie). He doesn’t complain and just works every day. He’s more of a quiet guy,but he’s fun to be around. Once you talk to him he’s fun, he laughs a lot and is always having a good time.”

For more on Yarbrough and Hala’api’api, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Media Monday: UW looks to send seniors out on winning note

The final news conference and interview session with players and assistant coaches had a definite theme at Wyoming Monday — beating UNLV and sending the eight seniors out on a winning note.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

“They’ve just been great friends and great leaders on this team,” said redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman about the other seven seniors. Coffman is in his second year at UW after transferring from Indiana in 2014. “I’m really proud of those guys. It’s easy to quit, easy to give in when you have a season like we are (1-10 overall, 1-6 Mountain West). But they continue to lead, work had and continue to be great role models for the young guys. That’s what I’m most proud of with those guys.”

UW defensive ends coach AJ Cooper has two of the Cowboys’ most well-known seniors in Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api. Both have played in more than 40 games in their careers, and both also are team captains.

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Media Monday: UW football notes

I had to call into Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl’s weekly news conference Monday because I have to catch a flight to Las Vegas for Mountain West men’s basketball media day activities that start Tuesday and run through Wednesday. Look for more on that as the week goes on.

Here are a few notes and highlights from Bohl’s news conference:

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

— Junior linebacker Lucas Wacha, senior defensive end Siaosi Hala’api’api and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester — all starters — continue to be evaluated for concussions suffered in the 31-17 loss at Air Force last Saturday. Bohl said Hala’api’api and Priester are further along than Wacha. All three were listed as starters on UW’s depth chart, but that doesn’t mean any of them will play Saturday at home against Nevada.

— UW is getting dangerously thin at linebacker. Along with Wacha in the middle, junior Devin McKenna injured a knee during the team’s walk-through practice Friday. The only guy left there is junior Eric Nzeocha. Junior weak-side linebacker Will Tutein injured an ankle early against Air Force and didn’t return. His status is unknown. The Cowboys may have only five linebackers available for the Nevada game: Nzeocha, junior D.J. May, true freshmen Christian Irving and Luis Bach and sophomore Tim Kamana.

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Air Force 31, Wyoming 17: postgame thoughts

Six games and six straight double-digit losses for Wyoming.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Yet, the 31-17 setback at Air Force had a different feel to it — at least somewhat.

I thought the defense played its best football for about 2 1/2 quarters. When junior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha left with a concussion, things changed. UW also lost two other starters — senior defensive end Siaosi Hala’api’api and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester — to concussions.

Here is a link to my story about the injuries and other notes from the game:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/notebook-cowboys-injuries-mount-in-loss/article_9437eb02-6fbd-11e5-ad97-eb005256d373.html

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

I was disappointed in the offense, and I felt bad for sophomore running back Brian Hill. He had 128 yards rushing, his eighth 100-yard game of his career. But two fumbles led to 14 Air Force points. The second fumble came at the Air Force 4-yard line. That fumble looked like Hill simply dropped the ball. The first, which came in the first half, looked like it could have been a bad hand-off from senior quarterback Cameron Coffman.

Here is my column from the game about Hill and the offense, which had a season-low 307 yards of total offense and committed a season-high four turnovers.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/gagliardi-column-hill-put-wyoming-s-latest-loss-on-his/article_4e0bf984-6fbd-11e5-9001-e32b8f806e70.html

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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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Media Monday: UW football notes and quotes

Another Monday, another news conference with Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl and interview session with players and assistant coaches.

Unfortunately, no video of Bohl’s news conference as my camera froze up. Hope to do better next week.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Bohl said he expected redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman to be at “full speed” when the Cowboys practiced later in the day Monday. Coffman said his injured right knee that kept him out of last Saturday’s game with Eastern Michigan feels better, and hopes it will continue to get better as the week goes on as UW plays at Washington State Saturday.

“I don’t think I’ll be 100 percent, but I will be able to be effective,” Coffman said.

Redshirt freshman Nick Smith is now UW’s backup quarterback. Bohl said sophomore Josh Allen was to under go season-ending surgery on his shoulder as early as Monday. Allen hurt the shoulder on the second offensive series last week. Bohl also said UW will apply for a medical redshirt for Allen, and is optimistic it will get it.

Some other notable happenings from Monday:

Zach Wallace

Zach Wallace

— True freshman offensive tackle Zach Wallace will start on the right side as sophomore Taylor Knestis is out with a concussion. “He’s really bright and has good football instincts,” Bohl said. “While he’s light (Wallace said he’s 265 pounds), his frame (6-foot-7) is such is that he’s able to play stronger than his frame indicates. He’s been very competitive and has not shied away form competition.” More on Wallace later this week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and on wyosports.net.

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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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Nzeocha latest to go down with season-ending injury

The news was expected, but still bad nonetheless.

Mark Nzeocha

Mark Nzeocha

Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said prior to Tuesday’s practice that senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha is “extremely doubtful” to be back this season because of a knee injury suffered in the first half in last Saturday’s 27-20 overtime loss to San Jose State.

Nzeocha leads UW with 59 tackles, and also was one of the team’s better players on special teams.

“Mark played critical roles on the punt team and the kickoff coverage team, and we view all those things as critical as well,” Bohl said. “When all those defensive starters get hurt, typically there’s a residual effect that comes on special teams. We are preparing for that right now.”

Nzeocha joins senior free safety and co-captain Darrenn White as defensive starters lost due to knee injuries. And, you can make a strong point that both guys are the two most important players on UW’s defense this season.

Nzeocha is a four-down linebacker who is good against the run and the pass. He played middle linebacker in nickel situations this season. White was the quarterback of the defense making calls and also making sure guys were lined up right.

The two combined for 101 tackles, six pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

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