Cowboys ready for the home stretch with plenty to play for

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said his team “utilized its bye week wisely” last week.

The team practiced a good part of last week, and much of that work was getting ready for Saturday’s home-finale against Boise State — a team UW has never defeated in eight games and has been outscored 148-43 in three home games.

UW enters the game 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West. It needs to win its final two games to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. Boise State is 8-2, 5-1 and if it wins out it will win the league’s Mountain Division.

“Without question (Boise State) is one of the top teams in our conference and around the country,” Bohl said. “We’re excited about playing them, but it will be a big challenge.”

Here is Bohl during his weekly news conference with the media Monday:


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Vigen talks order of UW’s other quarterbacks

A few weeks ago, some UW fans wanted to see what else Wyoming had at quarterback besides senior Colby Kirkegaard.

The Cowboys’ offense was sputtered in its first seven games. There were glimpses of good, but too many three-and-outs and empty drives.

Some wanted to see what UW’s backups could do, even if it were for a series or two to see what the future of the program may look like at quarterback.

That talk has quieted after UW’s 45-17 win at Fresno State last week. The Cowboys recorded numerous season-highs offensively, including points, total yards (694), rushing yards (374) and third-down conversions.

But going back to UW’s 27-20 overtime loss to San Jose State, Kirkegaard has not thrown an interception in his last three games, and over the last two he’s completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 655 yards and four touchdowns.

Tom Thornton

Tom Thornton

Sophomore back up quarterback Tom Thornton has seen mostly mop-up duty for the Cowboys this season. He’s played in two games and not attempted a pass. Sophomore Aaron Young, the No. 3 quarterback, has not played.

“Tom has got the bulk of the No. 2 reps, but he truly wouldn’t be tested until he got into a game — I hate to say,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. “His maturation is probably a little bit in a standstill. If something happened to Colby, we’d finish that game with Tom and then have to re-evaluate it the next week.”

“Aaron doesn’t get many reps so where he’s at is hard to say.”

Brent Vigen

Brent Vigen

Vigen said it’s a 2-to-1 ratio in terms of the number of reps Kirkegaard receives each week during practice compared to Thornton.

“Our No. 1 job is to get the No. 1 guy ready, and then have the No. 2 guy to function well enough to get through a game. When he (the No. 2 guy) becomes the No. 1 guy then the emphasis will be placed on him.”

For more on UW’s sudden offensive surge, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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Bohl says Fresno State game was UW’s most complete effort this season

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl began his Monday news conference like he has the others this season — giving a quick recap of the previous game.

And he said the Cowboys’ 45-17 win at Fresno State last Saturday was his team’s most complete game in all three phases of the game this season.

Here is video of the entire news conference:


One question asked by the media that wasn’t on the video was about if there was renewed enthusiasm among the players after the win, and if thoughts or goals of getting bowl eligible with two more wins were being talked about.

Bohl said that hasn’t been an emphasis this season, and that the only goal this team has is to prepare to host Utah State Friday night.

Another good thing that came from the Fresno State game was no new injuries. However, Bohl said senior defensive ends Sonny Puletasi (leg) and Riley Lange (concussion), along with senior safety Jesse Sampson (knee) remain day-to-day. None of those three practiced Monday. UW defensive ends coach AJ Cooper wasn’t optimistic that Lange would play this week.

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No change on injury front for Cowboys

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl didn’t have a lot of updates regarding injuries prior to Tuesday’s practice, which was held outdoors in War Memorial Stadium.

Bohl said senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi (leg) and senior safety Jesse Sampson (knee) wouldn’t practice today. They will continue to be monitored throughout the week, but Bohl said even if they could play Saturday night at Fresno State, it would likely be in an emergency situation.

Redshirt freshman Tim Kamana and sophomore Will Tutein likely will start at both safety spots at Fresno State. Sophomore Xavier Lewis also will play. UW also will give true freshman cornerback Ryon’e Winters some snaps at safety this week..

Fresno State uses a lot of three and four wide receiver formations, which means UW could play a lot of nickel defense with more defensive backs in the game. That could help its depleted linebacking corps, who is without senior Mark Nzeocha (knee) and junior Malkaam Muhammad (elbow).

Senior linebacker Devyn Harris has played just about every linebacker position there is in his time at UW, and Bohl said Harris has been “a soldier” in terms being willing and able to learn multiple linebacker positions.

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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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Bohl to see much improved Colorado State team Saturday

On Sept. 8, 2012, coach Craig Bohl took his North Dakota State team into Colorado State and beat the Rams 22-7.

That was the second game for then first-year Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, and the first of six straight losses for the Rams as they finished 4-8.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

A little more than two years later, Bohl will take another team to Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. This time as the first-year coach at Wyoming. While some of the Rams’ players and coaches will be the same, Colorado State is a much different squad.

Different in the fact that it is the hottest team in the Mountain West. The Rams have won five straight games, are 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference and became the first bowl-eligible team in the MW after its 16-13 home win over Utah State last week. The Rams also have won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to last season.

“They’ve made great strides with the program and it will be a big challenge,” said Bohl during his Monday news conference.

“You look at their quarterback and (senior Garrett) Grayson’s a guy who’s played an awful lot of football; he’s got 27 starts. He’s throwing the football well and he’s got a great touchdown-to-interception ratio (16 touchdowns, five interceptions). He’s operated the offense very well and I’ve seen significant improvement in him personally the last couple of years.

“While they replaced an awful lot of offensive linemen, they’re playing well as a group together. And they got good skilled players. On defense they have a strong conviction in their scheme and what they’re doing. Probably their strongest part of their whole football team is their special teams. When you put all three of those phases together, you’ve got a solid football team that’s well coached and that’s why they’re receiving top 25 votes.”

Here is video of Bohl’s news conference from Monday:


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UW-San Jose State postgame thoughts

Another gut-wrenching loss for Wyoming, this time 27-20 in overtime to San Jose State at home this past Saturday.

I thought UW was fortunate it had a chance to in the game in regulation. It did little on offense until the fourth quarter. To its credit, it did make some plays then. The defense, despite a lot of injuries during the game, hung in there. It was one of the better games by the defensive line, especially junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough with eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Here’s first-year coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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Cowboys’ team captains for 2014 announced Monday

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Wyoming’s team captains were announced Friday, and Sunday I predicted they would be redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard, senior receiver Dominic Rufran, junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and senior cornerback Blair Burns.

Three out of four isn’t bad. Instead of Burns it is senior free safety Darrenn White.

 

 

 

 

 

UW fall camp – Day 9

Once again, Wyoming started its ninth day and 11th practice of fall camp Tuesday with some 11-on-11 work as the team practiced in full pads. It was all passes by the offense, and it looked like the defense took a look at some different blitz packages.

DeAndre Jones

DeAndre Jones

Senior cornerback DeAndre Jones had a good session. He broke up a deep pass from redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard to sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry deep down the field. Later, Jones jarred the ball loose from sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt on a short pass over the middle.

The defense had the advantage over the offense for the most part, and it looked like at times the quarterbacks had issues with getting the play off before the play clock expired. Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had two sacks — although quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Troy Boyland had a sack, and senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi had an athletic pass break-up in pass coverage.

Eddie Yarbrough

Eddie Yarbrough

Per usual, Kirkegaard and sophomore Tom Thornton were the only quarterbacks to take snaps during this period. All indications are that Kirkegaard still has a firm grasp of the starting job, and Thornton is the backup.

UW mixed and matched a few offensive linemen in with the No. 1 offense at times. Sophomore Sam Hardy played some at guard and redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman played a few snaps at left tackle. Sophomore starter Nathan Leddige remains out with a concussion. Most of the snaps there went to junior Austin Traphagan.

True freshman cornerback Robert Priester and true freshman safety Chavez Pownell Jr. got some reps with the No. 2 defense.

Here is what first-year coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice:


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MW Football Media Day notes and thoughts

The 16th Mountain West Football Media Day concluded Wednesday here at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, Wyoming and the other five teams from the Mountain Division did their interviews. Wednesday were the six teams in the West Division.

First, some more notes on Wyoming after the story I wrote on senior receiver Dominic Rufran and junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. Here is the link to that story:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/football/rufran-yarbrough-should-represent-uw-well-on-and-off-the/article_7b4ce8fc-121e-11e4-8fed-001a4bcf887a.html
–Senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi was named to the inaugural Polynesian Award watch list by ESPN Big 12. Puletasi had 47 tackles last season, and tied for second on the team in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (4.5).

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