Three weeks and nine practices in the books for UW spring football

Wyoming football is in the homestretch of spring football with nine of its 15 practices in the books.

The Cowboys’ scrimmage in Casper this past Saturday provided some glimpses of what could be this season, although its difficult to get a great gauge of what to expect this season when a team goes against each other.

Still, it appears that junior quarterback Josh Allen is making good progress in building chemistry with the weapons around him. Allen was relatively sharp in Casper, going 11 of 19 for 133 yards with a pair of touchdown passes to junior wide receiver James Price. However, sophomore wide receivers C.J. Johnson and Austin Conway also looked good.

Here is Allen after the scrimmage:

Earlier this spring, fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl was concerned about the way the tight ends were catching the ball. But in Casper, juniors Josh Harshman, Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield all showed good skills catching the ball.

As far as the running backs go, I still contend that UW will have more of a three-back attack this fall. Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet (11 carries 49 yards in the scrimmage) showed some nice speed and power, as did junior Nico Evans (10 carries, 30 yards). Don’t be surprised if sophomore Milo Hall becomes a third-down weapon out of the backfield, both carrying the ball and catching it.

It will be nice once the illness bug that has run through this team finally ends. UW was without its starting center in Casper — sophomore Gavin Rush — due to illness. Backup Boyd Draeger also was out with a concussion. Rush needs as many reps as possible the rest of spring. But I thought junior Cole Turner more than held his own at center in the scrimmage so perhaps some depth is being established there.

UW’s defense had its moments in the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan stood out to Bohl. Junior nose tackle Sidney Malauulu looked good — going mostly against backup — as well with a sack and a fumble recovery.

Casper’s Logan Wilson played only 21 snaps in 70-play scrimmage at middle linebacker, but that was by design to get other younger players some looks. Wilson and sophomore Cassh Malauia should be a solid duo, and it appears senior Jalen Ortiz is establishing himself well at the other outside linebacker spot.

The dismissal of three players, and suspensions of five others earlier this week for a violation of team rules was unfortunate, but it also creates opportunities for others. One player who may benefit the most is sophomore cornerback Tyler Hall. Hall is one of four UW corners who have been getting a lot of reps with the No. 1 defense all spring, but with junior Antonio Hull suspended, don’t be surprised if Hall is the starter coming out of spring along with senior Rico Gafford. Hall isn’t all that big at 5-10, 184 pounds, but he’s tough and has shown good effort most of the spring.

Here is Bohl after the scrimmage:

The Cowboys return to practice Tuesday for their 10th spring practice. They will also practice on Thursday and Saturday. The spring game is set for 2 p.m. April 22.

If you have any questions or comments about the Cowboys, I’d love to hear them. You can post comments on this blog, or shoot me a question via Twitter: @rpgagliardi.
Also, be sure to check out the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net for more UW spring football coverage.

San Diego State 27, Wyoming 24 – postgame thoughts

As I wrote in my column for Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net, Wyoming didn’t make the plays it did two weeks ago in its 34-33 win over San Diego State. The result was a 27-24 loss in the Mountain West Championship Game to the Aztecs Saturday night at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Here’s the link to that column:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/gagliardi-column-wyoming-comes-up-short-against-san-diego-state/article_326061ec-b9f0-11e6-b6b2-57d684ce34a4.html

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

The Cowboys were not able to run the ball, aside from a 66-yard run by junior running back Brian Hill. UW had just 95 rushing yards in the game. Take Hill’s big run away and it did little to nothing in the run game. UW’s offensive line struggled from start to finish in both the run and pass game. Credit should be given to San Diego State’s defense, which had been gashed the previous two games.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen was knocked around pretty good throughout the game, and took a pretty obvious cheap shot by a San Diego State defender in front of an official, but no call was made. The offensive line struggled throughout the game, but again, I think San Diego State played much better defensively than it did in Laramie two weeks ago.

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Cowboys begin work for championship week

This wasn’t just another Monday where Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl talked to the media, and requested players and assistant coaches came in for interviews.

This was is championship week for the Cowboys as they get ready to play San Diego State in the MW Championship Game Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Bohl spoke for around 30 minutes. Here’s the link if you want to watch/listen to him. A lot of good stuff here, especially Bohl’s Lou Holtz impersonation.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/facebook-live-craig-bohl-s-nov-news-conference/article_726a6b3a-b5a8-11e6-8a88-ebde6d8f141a.html

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New Mexico 56, Wyoming 35 – postgame thoughts

My initial thought from Wyoming’s lopsided loss — I’m glad that game is over.

From the start it was a disaster for the Cowboys. Big play after big play for New Mexico’s run game. Some said there were a lot of missed tackles. No there weren’t because more often than not UW didn’t get close enough to tackle anyone.

Third-year coach Craig Bohl called the defense’s effort “abysmal.” I saw a lot more stronger adjectives online last night. The 585 yard rushing UW allowed was a school record, and 428 of them were in the first half.

Wyoming (8-4 overall 6-2 Mountain West) clinched the Mountain Division before it played the game when Boise State lost at Air Force Friday night. I thought there was the potential for a letdown from the Cowboys based on that. Bohl said he was “concerned” about it, but didn’t think that was a factor. A couple players also said that wasn’t the case.

One player thought it was — sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard. Here’s what he said after the game:

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Cowboys focused on New Mexico, and only New Mexico

After his weekly news conference Monday, third-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl told UW’s sports information staff to tell the players to only talk about the Cowboys’ next

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

game at New Mexico Saturday. Bohl didn’t want any talk about a potential Mountain West Championship Game. He wants his team focused only on New Mexico, and the mantra the team has had all season — going 1-0 for the week.

UW (8-3 overall, 6-1 MW) can win the Mountain Division title with a win at New Mexico Saturday, and that win should enable it to host the MW Championship Game against San Diego State on Dec. 3. UW can win the division with a loss and a Boise State loss Friday at Air Force. If Boise State wins and UW loses, Boise State is the division champ.

I normally post the depth chart for the week, but for some reason the photo of it came out blurry so I won’t bother. Continue reading

Wyoming 34, San Diego State 33 – postgame thoughts

Another game, another amazing, odd, exciting (pick your own word) finish as Wyoming rallied then held on for a 34-33 victory over previously No. 24 San Diego State Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

How odd and exciting? Check out my late-game highlights that include UW’s game-winning touchdown on a 29-yard pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen to redshirt freshman wide receiver C.J. Johnson. Also included is San Diego State’s Hail Mary pass on the final play to pull to within one (a play that was ruled incomplete and then reversed) and then its failed two-point conversion.

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Updated weights to 2016 UW football roster

Wyoming released its latest roster Wednesday night with updated heights and weights. The previous roster UW had out was around late June to early July.

Not a lot changed in terms of heights, but here are some of the more noticeable weight differences.

Player                                      Old Roster                                  New Roster

FB Drew Van Maanen               230                                             241

*LB Cassh Maluia                      210                                             223

*LB Drew Harvey                       210                                             234

^DE Josiah Hall                         232                                              237

*OG Gavin Rush                       285                                              301

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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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Priester, Hill expected to play as true freshmen for Cowboys

Heading into the season-opener Saturday, two true freshmen will play for Wyoming: cornerback Robert Priester and running back Brian Hill.

Robert Priester

Robert Priester

I thought there may be more, and there could be as the early part of the season progresses. But the later it goes, the less likely will unless some are needed due to injury.

Priester is listed at 5-foot-9, 168 pounds out of Robinson High in Tampa, Florida. He was not listed on the depth chart for the Montana game, but UW just listed the top two guys at most of its positions.

“I want to thank the coaches in believing in me that I can go out there and compete with some of the best people in this conference,” Priester said. “I just ran to the ball and tried to make plays when I got out there.”

Priester also said he in on the kickoff return team and both punt squads on special teams.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Hill will be the third running back behind redshirt sophomore D.J. May and junior Shaun Wick.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he likes to play two backs during games, but will play a third if necessary. At 6-1, 204, Hill is what Bohl likes in a running back, and running backs coach Mike Bath said during camp Hill is one of the most intelligent players he’s ever coached.

“For a guy to be able to conceptualize all of what we do is not easy, and we are really pleased with his progress,” Bohl said.

Earlier in camp, Bohl said true freshman defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu will play this season. He still might, but Bohl said he and the staff are still contemplating whether or not to play him this season. Continue reading

UW fall camp – Day 16

Wyoming’s 16th day and 20th practice of fall camp was in full pads Tuesday morning, and all of it was held outside at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Most of the previous practices started in its indoor practice facility, and then went outside. The Cowboys started with some 11-on-11 work, and the quarterbacks were sharp.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard — still the starter — threw a nice deep ball to senior receiver Dominic Rufran. Kirkegaard executed a pump fake to perfection on the play.

Kirkegaard made several nice throws during the period. One was over the middle to sophomore Jake Maulhardt, and another was to the sideline for senior receiver Jalen Claiborne.

Sophomore backups Tom Thornton and Aaron Young also took some snaps at quarterback. Thornton got more than Young. All the plays during the period were pass plays.

Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had a sack early on of Kirkegaard (the quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit).

Sidney Malauulu

Sidney Malauulu

True freshman defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu had one of the more powerful plays of the day and he pushed backup sophomore center Jacob English back about three yards that disrupted a play.

Malauulu came back last week from a sprained MCL in his knee, and Bohl said he likely will play this season. More on him later this week.

Here’s what coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice.

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