UW media Monday wrap

The big news, or biggest topic everyone wants to know about hasn’t changed. Sophomore starting quarterback Brett Smith is still doubtful for Saturday’s game at Idaho after his head injury against Toledo on Sept. 8. Junior Colby Kirkegaard is listed as the starter, followed by true freshman Jason Thompson and then Smith.

However, coach Dave Christensen said there’s a possibility that all three could play, and that he won’t name a starter until game time Saturday at Idaho, which is 3 p.m.

So, Smith-Watch 2012 will continue for at least another week.

Want to know how Kirkegaard graded out on film after his first start of his career last week against Cal Poly, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, or long on to wyosports.net.

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UW spring football notes

Spring football at Wyoming begins March 19, or two weeks from Monday.

Been doing interviews with players and coaches for stories leading up to the start of practice, but wanted to share a few notes with you now:

–Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith won’t go through any contact drills and won’t scrimmage this spring after surgery earlier this winter. Smith, coach Dave Christensen and offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon all told me the surgery went well and Smith is expected to be fine for fall camp in August. “We don’t hit him anyway,” said Brandon about Smith and any of UW’s quarterbacks during practice.

Smith has been throwing the ball around lately and working out with teammates. UW doesn’t disclose injuries to specific players, but through social media Smith had surgery stemming from an injury to his right thumb/hand.

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Players come and players go for UW

Monday was the first day of classes for the spring semester at Wyoming, and a busy day in the form of announcements as UW announced three mid-year signees and four scholarship players that won’t be back.

The biggest news among the player depatures was receiver Josh Doctson. As a true freshman Doctson caught 35 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns. Three of those scores came in UW’s final two games — two against Colorado State and one against Temple on the New Mexico Bowl. He became UW’s big-play threat late in the season.

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Monday’s football quick hits

Some highlights from Monday’s news conference with Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen and interviews with players:

–The defense garnered most of the attention after giving up 541 yards and 32 points against Weber State. There was a 5-minute players only meeting Sunday, and defensive coordinator Marty English described the defensive effort as “embarrassing.” Christensen said the schemes were good, but the execution wasn’t.

–UW will face a Texas State team Saturday — another FCS foe — that runs a pistol/option offense similar to Nevada. That means the Cowboys will have to be more assignment oriented on defense.

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UW depth chart prediction

Monday afternoon Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen will speak to the media leading into Saturday’s season-opener against Weber State.

Christensen will release the depth chart for the first game. Some positions (quarterback) we know who will start. In fact, I don’t think there should be many surprises. But why wait until Monday afternoon? Here is how I think the depth chart will look. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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Comments on Smith named starting QB

 Certainly no surprise Wyoming coach Dave Christensen named true freshman Brett Smith the starting quarterback. But he jumped the gun a little bit as he said last Saturday he would wait until Aug. 29 (Monday) to do it. He also said after UW’s third scrimmage of fall camp there wouldn’t be any news conference or news release on who the starting quarterback would be.

Well, there was a news release that came out just before practice started Tuesday. But all it did was confirm what most felt would happen based on what occurred in spring drills and fall camp. The most experienced guy got the job as Smith was around for both. Junior-college transfer Colby Kirkegaard and true freshman Adam Pittser were not.

Kirkegaard is the backup and Pittser is No. 3. Christensen said he would like to redshirt Pittser if possible.

Christensen isn’t allowing any of his quarterbacks to talk to the media, but here’s some comments Tuesday from others:

–“We evaluated everything and had a chance to talk to the players. We like to do that before we start announcing things to the public and the media. I would say he’s further ahead than I would have anticipated. The key for him is it has to happen Sept. 3.” — Christensen.

–“Brett definitely earned his stripes with us starting in the spring. He came in doing all the things we wanted him to do, and more. He definitely earned the starting quarterback job here. He’s one of the hardest working guys I know.” — senior receiver Mazi Ogbonna

–“We have all the confidence in him. He’s our starter. He’s our quarterback so he’s got to step it up. We’re going to ride with him.” — sophomore tight end T.J. Smith

–“He’s extremely confident directing the offense. He’s confident and comfortable in the pocket. When he’s been under pressure he steps up and makes a play. (The offense) is extremely confident in him. He’s a freshman, but he’s a leader. He doesn’t act like a freshman. If you didn’t know him you’d think he was an upper-classman.” — junior center Nick Carlson

–“The biggest thing about that kid is he’s a great competitor. He will make himself into a great quarterback because of his work ethic, and he loves to compete. It helps he can throw the ball and he’s pretty mobile. He’s got some God-given ability, but its what’s inside the heart that’s going to get him over the top.” — offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gregg Brandon

See my column on Smith being named starter in Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com

In some other notes from practice Tuesday:

–This was UW’s first practice since last Saturday. Players were in shoulder pads, shorts and helmets and practiced outside. The Cowboys practice Wednesday, are off Thursday and then practice through the weekend.

–Christensen said he will wait until Monday to announce other starters and depth chart moves.

–Christensen also said possibly half of the true freshmen on the roster could play this season, but nothing has definitely been set in stone.

–Three walk-ons were added to the roster as school started Monday: OL Andrew Crow (6-1, 260) from Laramie; DL Garrison Hocker (6-2, 220) from Augusta, Mich., and OL Carson Kass (6-2, 265) from Naches, Wash.

–Scouts from the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings were at practice.

Smith learning on the fly

Working on a story for Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com on Wyoming redshirt freshman receiver T.J. Smith. He made his first start and nabbed his first two catches of his career in last week’s loss at New Mexico.

The key to Smith’s increased playing time? A talk with coach Dave Christensen.

“We talked about a lot of things and I asked him what I got to do to play. He told me and I got it done,” Smith said.

Check out both papers for more on this story.


A few other notes and quotes from Monday’s news conference and interviews with players:

–When asked if he liked what he saw from his younger players get some scrimmage time in last week, Christensen said: “Oh yeah, there’s going to be a lot more players around here come spring. They’ve done some great things.” UW will have those players scrimmage at the end of practices this week and next week.

–On true freshman running back Nehemie Kankolongo, who has played in only five games this season due to injury and suspension: “I really have no evaluation. I haven’t seen him in a long time.” Kankolongo missed the last two games with injury but is expected to be cleared to play this week.

–UW plays at UNLV Saturday and both teams have lost five straight games.

–It will be UNLV’s homecoming game, and UW has been its homecoming opponent four times. The Cowboys are 1-2 on those games. UNLV has not won a homecoming game since 2001.

–Former UW assistant coaches Rob Phenicie and Chad Germer are on UNLV’s coaching staff. Phenicie was the receivers coach and later the offensive coordinator for former coach Vic Koenning from 2000-02, and Germer coached the offensive line for the Cowboys for Joe Glenn from 2003-08. More on those guys later this week.

–UNLV’s 2000 Las Vegas Bowl team will be honored at Saturday’s game. That squad defeated Arkansas 31-14.