Wyoming vs. No. 24 San Diego State – Pregame primer

Some pregame reading for Wyoming’s home-finale Saturday vs. No. 24-ranked San Diego State. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m., and the game is televised on CBS Sports Network.

Here is my No. 1 key to the game for UW in the game:

Offense is the best defense: Wyoming faces one of the nation’s best defenses today, and over the last 17 Mountain West games San Diego State has allowed an average of about 10 points per game. Still, the Cowboys must find a way to win the time of possession battle, finish drives with points and most importantly, keep its defense fresh so it’s not on the field for 97 plays like it was last week at UNLV.

For more keys, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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Cowboys move on from UNLV loss as No. 24 San Diego State awaits

Based on the reaction from many fans the last two days, you would have thought Wyoming was 1-9 instead of 7-3.

Wyoming was 1-9 after 10 games last season, and despite the 69-66 triple-overtime loss at UNLV last Saturday, the Cowboys are 7-3 and still control their own destiny in terms of winning the Mountain West’s Mountain Division and overall conference title.

The road to do that is going to be more difficult, which starts with a win Saturday at home over No. 24 San Diego State.

First, here is the depth chart for the San Diego State game, which doesn’t any changes from last week:
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UW moves past Border War, prepares for Air Force

A new week and a new foe for Wyoming football to prepare for. The Cowboys (3-2 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) host Air Force (4-0, 1-0) at 1:30 p.m. Monday for homecoming.

Here is UW’s depth chart this week:

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The only change is true freshman Tyler Hall is listed as possible back up at the boundary cornerback spot with redshirt freshman Davion Freeman. Junior Rico Gafford remains the starter. Hall played in his first game last week at Colorado State. He finished with one tackle and one pass break up.

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Wyoming at Nebraska football primer

Some notes and quotes to get you ready for the Wyoming at Nebraska football game. Kickoff is at 10 a.m. MT Saturday. Going from one extreme to the other in terms UW’s season-opener last week at home vs. Northern Illinois that didn’t start until 10:20 p.m. MT and ended at 2:34 a.m. Sunday.

— Wyoming has defeated only one current member of from the Big Ten Conference. That was Wisconsin, 21-12 on Sept. 27, 1986 in Madison, Wisconsin. That was Dennis Erickson’s first and only season as UW’s coach. The Cowboys are 1-17 all-time against current teams from the Big Ten.

Tommy Armstrong Jr.

Tommy Armstrong Jr.

— “He can throw it a country mile. He’s good in a pocket situation, but he’s extremely dangerous when he gets out of the corner and making plays with his legs or being able to throw on the run. A lot of that comes down to being disciplined and contain the rush lanes and doing your job and not somebody else’s job.” — UW coach Craig Bohl on Nebraska senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.

— “We’ve tried to show them where they can be aggressive without crossing the line. Our offense is not designed for third down and long. When it happens in a game, that sends a message.” — Bohl on UW’s 10 penalties for 100 yards last week.

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Where UW football ranks among assistant coaches salaries

The USA Today does a great job of creating data bases to compare a lot of financial numbers in college athletics.

Its latest was listing assistant coaches salaries, and what schools spend on assistant salaries, among the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Here is the link to the entire data base:

http://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/salaries/football/assistant

As for Wyoming, it spent $1,224,315 on salaries for its assistant coaches. The two highest paid coaches are the coordinators — Steve Stanard on defense ($203,375) and Brent Vigen on offense ($203,275).

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Border War football 2015: Notes, quotes and video

As usual, I start with my top key for Wyoming in Saturday’s Border War football game with Colorado State:

Keep emotions in check: The Border War is an important game for both squads, and more often than not emotions are amped up for the players. That’s fine, but you still have to execute the game plan. The team that does that the best has the upper hand. Emotion is a good thing, but not when it leads to mistakes. How both teams manage their emotions will be key, especially early in the game.

Here is my preview of the game:

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May’s move to defense paying off for Cowboys

Speed and athleticism were the biggest factors in Wyoming moving junior D.J. May from running back to linebacker.

D.J. May

D.J. May

There was a lot of anticipation for how this move would go, but it was tempered during the spring when May was limited as he recovered from knee surgery that ended his 2014 season after six games.

Once the 2015 started, UW struggled so much defensively — and in other areas — that is was difficult to come up with a lot of positives.

But May has been a positive for the Cowboys’ defense. Now a strong-side outside linebacker/nickel back, May leads UW with seven pass break-ups, and is fifth on the team with 32 tackles. May was one of three players who tied for team-high honors with nine tackles in the Cowboys’ 28-21 win over Nevada last Saturday — UW’s first win of the season.

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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 vs. Nevada football preview: Notes, quotes and video

First, my No. 1 key for Wyoming for its homecoming game Saturday against Nevada:

Eliminating turnovers: You can say that about any game, but Wyoming can’t have four turnovers like it did in last week’s 31-17 loss at Air Force and expect to win. Air Force scored 21 points off those miscues. Turnovers by anyone are costly, but the Cowboys can’t have their best offensive players doing it, i.e. sophomore running back Brian Hill and redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman. Both had two turnovers against Air Force. UW had a season-high four turnovers that led to 21 Air Force points.

I get into this and other keys in my video preview of the game:

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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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