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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UW fall camp – Day 19

It was breezy and cool for Wyoming’s 23rd practice of fall camp Friday morning, and it was one of the longer practices as it was scheduled to go for about two-and-a-half hours

The team was in full pads.

Tim Hayes

Tim Hayes

The defense had a walk-through prior to practice with the back seven in what looked to be nickel situations. Sophomore Tim Hayes saw the most time as the nickel defensive back. There were no significant personnel changes. True freshman Robert Priester and redshirt junior Tyran Finley worked with the No. 2 defense at cornerback. Redshirt freshman Tim Kamana and sophomore Xavier Lewis were the safeties with the No. 2 defense.

UW worked on punting early in practice. Sophomore Ethan Wood and senior Stuart Williams both had some good punts. Even true freshman walk-on Pierce Royster had a nice one. First-year coach Craig Bohl said Wood has done a good job since returning to practice Thursday punting the ball, and also likes how Williams has done kicking field goals.

Here is Bohl after practice:

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UW fall camp – Day 8

Monday marked the eighth day of fall camp for Wyoming, and it will practice twice today.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

But there was some sad news as sophomore punter Ethan Wood will be away from the team for a while because his parents, John and Resia, died in a plane crash over the weekend in Iowa. According to UW’s Facebook page, the Woods’ were coming back from Michigan where they were visiting one of their other sons, Josh, who is an assistant football coach at Michigan Tech.

Woods is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in his first season as UW’s punter last season — and his first punting the ball, period, he averaged 42 yards per punt.

That prompted the return of senior kicker Stuart Williams to camp. Williams was not part of the first week of camp and the 105-man roster so first-year coach Craig Bohl and his staff could look at other guys. Bohl said it was good to have Williams back in camp, and added he made a 55-yard field goal at the end of practice.

Here is more from Bohl after Monday morning’s practice:

Williams is the only punter and kicker available in camp right now. Junior Justin Martin, Williams’ backup at kicker, is out with a sprained ankle.

UW began practice with some 11-on-11 work. Redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard — still the probable starter — threw completed a deep ball of 40 or 50 yards to sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry. Gentry later made a nice catch along the sideline.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Kirkegaard and sophomore backup Tom Thornton were the only quarterbacks that took snaps during that period. Kirkegaard also was wearing a camera attached to his helmet. It was done by UW athletics and footage will likely be posted on its website later today. It has been dubbed “Colby Cam.”

Sophomore cornerback Tim Hayes got drilled on a blitz after a nice block by redshirt sophomore running back D.J. May. Bohl said some new blitzes were introduced Monday, and he liked what he saw. He said it caused the offense some problems.

Senior right tackle Connor Rains was with the No. 1 offense after missing some time with an injury last week. Sophomore left tackle Nathan Leddige (concussion) is still out, but was at practice watching. Junior Austin Traphagan ran with the No. 1 offense at left tackle.

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Strength vs. strength for UW and Utah State

Wyoming’s offense versus Utah State’s defense.

Those are the strengths of the two teams when both play at noon Saturday at Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah.

Utah State (7-4, 6-1) leads the MW in seven defensive categories, and is seventh nationally in scoring defense (17.6 points per game), 10th in third-down conversion defense (31.5 percent) and tied for 12th in total defense (333.4 yards per game).

UW (5-6, 3-4) is 13th in total offense at just under 500 yards of total offense per game.

This is what UW coach Dave Christensen said about the Aggies’ defense Monday during his weekly interview session with the media.

“Most people haven’t had a lot of success that has played them,” he said. “Every single player plays extremely hard the entire play for every single play. They’re very talented players that have great motors. They have a lot of experience. They can get great pressure on the quarterback. They are tight as can be in man coverage. They pressure, they blitz and they get there. They definitely are the best defense we’ve played this year.”

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Jones earning more playing time at cornerback

Wyoming junior DeAndre Jones was one of two starting cornerbacks when fall camp started back in August.

But injuries and the emergence of some other players relegated Jones to a backup role.

DeAndre Jones

DeAndre Jones

Jones may not start in UW’s game at 8:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 17 Fresno State, but he will see the field.

“He definitely will play,” coach Dave Christensen said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “He’s done some good things.”

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UW-San Jose State postgame thoughts

It’s become an all too familiar story for the Wyoming football team.

The Cowboys’ defense allowed a season-high 642 yards of total offense in a 51-44 loss at San Jose State Saturday night at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif.

The defense got off to a good start — three straight three-and-outs and then a fumble recovery. After that, it did virtually nothing.

Senior quarterback David Fales missed on just 10 of his 37 pass attempts. He threw for 482 yards and five touchdowns. The Spartans also ran for 160 yards, and it seemed like more.

Fales scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 8 seconds left. Here’s the video of that play.

The offense did some good things. Junior quarterback Brett Smith threw for three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick had 234 yards, and senior receiver Robert Herron had a school-record 93-yard touchdown reception where he simply outran everyone from San Jose on a short pass. It was similar to what he did last year at Texas on his 82-yard touchdown run and catch. The 93-yard play was the longest in UW history — touchdown or not.

But it wasn’t enough.

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VIDEO: Tim Hayes

Wyoming true freshman cornerback Tim Hayes nearly had his first-career interception last week against Colorado State.

It came at a critical time in the game. UW cut Colorado State’s lead to 31-15 early in the third quarter. On a first down play, Hayes broke on the ball well and looked to have an interception go through his hands. CSU scored a touchdown on that drive, and went on to win 52-22.

Hayes talks about that near interception, how the team plans to bounce back from that loss Saturday at San Jose State and about going back to California during this video interview. Hayes is one of 19 players on the UW roster that either played high school or junior college football in California.

Did you know that Hayes also was a standout running back in high school, and played that position most of his high school career? As a senior, he played both running back and cornerback, but prior to that he was just a running back.

Burns takes coach’s words to heart

NOTE: Here’s a video interview with Wyoming junior cornerback Blair Burns:

Blair Burns’ first two years as a cornerback for Wyoming was like night and day — similar to his team’s fortunes.

As a true freshman in 2011, Burns earned Freshman All-America honors as he helped his team go 8-5 and play in its second bowl game in three years.

Last season, UW went 4-8 and even though Burns’ tackles and pass break ups statistics improved, his interceptions did not. Burns had four as a true freshman, and only one in 2012. He made the most of his lone pick as he returned it 99 yards for a touchdown in a home win over Colorado State.

“I was disappointed in Blair and I let him know that a year ago in how he played after playing well as a true freshman,” UW coach Dave Christensen said. “He took it to heart and worked exceptionally hard in the offseason and training camp. He’s been consistent for us (this season).”

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UW not looking past Northern Colorado, but also focused on execution

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was quick to point out during his Monday news conference with the media that 11 Football Championship Subdivision teams have defeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams through the first two weeks of the season.

He also said seven other FCS squads have come within a touchdown of beating FBS teams.

The uniform combination for Wyoming this week for its home game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

The uniform combination for Wyoming this week for its home game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

By no means are the Cowboys going to overlook FBS foe Northern Colorado Saturday in Laramie, or at least that’s what they are saying.

“We are no where near good enough as a program to overlook anyone, or think we are going to show up and win a football game,” Christensen said. Continue reading

UW football practice notes

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen said, from what he saw, his team had a good practice Wednesday morning inside War Memorial Stadium. Christensen spends most of his time with the offense now that he is calling the plays.

Christensen said the same thing about Tuesday’s practice, but also said there were a few things that needed to be corrected … and they were.

“It was more of an effort on a couple of plays,” he said. “We expect 100 percent effort on every play by every player. When we don’t have it, we are going to call them out in front of their peers and get it corrected.”

Christensen said he has not noticed a difference in the way the team practiced last week getting ready for No. 22 Nebraska (then ranked No. 18) compared to this week facing and Idaho team on Saturday at home that lost its season-opener 40-6 at North Texas last week. That’s what Christensen said he wants to see out of his team, and also said the focus and intensity in practices going back to fall camp have been pretty consistent.

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