Wyoming at Eastern Michigan football primer

Some pre-game reading prior to Wyoming’s game at Eastern Michigan, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday and is televised on CBS Sports Network.

First, my No. 1 key to the game for the Cowboys:

Keeping balance: Wyoming has averaged 216 rushing yards and 210 passing yards through its first three games. That balance has been a key to its success, and has to continue today. UW can’t let Eastern Michigan make it one dimensional.

Yes, no or am I full of it?

— I had this note in Friday’s story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net, but I found it interesting. The Cowboys play their third Friday night game in as many seasons. However, the last time UW played a nonconference game on a day other than Saturday was on Dec. 23, 2004 when it beat UCLA 24-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

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UW-UC Davis postgame thoughts

It was nice to see Wyoming do what it is supposed to do against many FCS foes — win convincingly.

The Cowboys 45-22 victory in front of 18,781 fans at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium Saturday tied the most points scored in the Craig Bohl era. UW also scored 45 points at Fresno State in 2014.

Here is Bohl after the game:

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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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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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Media Monday: News, notes, video from UW football’s weekly news conference

Most of the talk on this day was the moves UW is making defensively, especially at linebacker.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Junior Lucas Wacha moves from weak-side to the middle. Sophomore Tim Kamana moves from the strong-side to the weak-side. Junior Eric Nzeocha is benched and now will back up Wacha in the middle.

UW also wills start true freshman Antonio Hull at one of the two cornerback spots, opposite of sophomore Robert Priester.

Here is UW defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Steve Stanard on the moves:

What do you think folks, do you think these moves will help UW’s defense, especially against the big plays it has given up (12 of 30 yards or more, nine of which for touchdowns)?

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Cowboys get after it during early portions of Tuesday’s practice

Wyoming practiced in full pads late Tuesday afternoon in Laramie, and there was a lot of work on tackling.

Not drill work on tackling — actual tackling.

The media is allowed to see only the first 30 minutes of each practice, but as coach Craig Bohl and his staff enter their second season, that’s the most I’ve seen UW do in terms of live tackling (aside from scrimmages).

Not sure what that means for Saturday’s home game with Eastern Michigan, but I found it interesting.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of other good news regarding the Cowboys Tuesday.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman missed practice for the second consecutive day with a strained MCL ligament in his right knee, suffered late in last Saturday’s 24-13 loss to North Dakota. Coffman watched from the sideline, but wasn’t wearing a knee brace or wrap. He had a noticeable limp and had a wrap around the knee Monday.

“We’re in hopes he gets better later on in the week,” Bohl said. “It’s not a major (injury), which gives us hope, but also it takes some time to get back.”

Sophomore backup quarterback Josh Allen took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt freshman Nick Smith took snaps with the twos.

When asked if Coffman doesn’t practice this week but is cleared to play Saturday, Bohl said: “It’s helpful to have practice. I’m not saying that will be the final decision. Some of it will be contingent on his mobility and how he’s moving along. We will never put a player out there that’s not going to help the team win, or put himself in jeopardy.”

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Bach another in long line of German-born players on UW’s football roster

Wyoming has had a football player on its roster from Germany since 2011, and this season, junior linebacker Eric Nzeocha is competing for a starting spot at middle linebacker.

But there’s another German on the roster who also is competing for playing time at linebacker.

Luis Bach is a 6-foot-2, 208-pound true freshman from Burgoberbach, Germany. He enrolled at UW in January, and played high school-aged football in Germany with Eric Nzeocha and his older brother, Mark.

“Ever since the Nzeochas got over here I was interested in the program,” Bach said. “Mark, Eric and (former UW linebacker Alex Borgs — also from Germany) have all been talking to me and helping me out.”

Bach said some colleges in the United States wanted him to attend their football camps last summer to see him in person. He attended camps at UW and North Dakota State. Bach said he showed enough to the Cowboys’ coaching staff, despite pulling a hamstring, that they offered him a chance to walk on.

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UW looking ahead to final week of spring drills

Wyoming begins its final week of spring drills Monday with the first of three practices, capped by the spring game at 2 p.m. Saturday in Laramie.
Here is what some of the players and coaches said they hope to accomplish this week:
Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

–“We’re going to continue to get some padded work. There won’t be a lot of scrimmage downs. We’ll look at redefining the packages that we do have. There will be some more evaluation, but the cream is starting to rise to the crop.” — coach Craig Bohl

–“We have one more week now to get better and get ready for the spring game. At first spring practice was just a lot of install. Now we’ve got everything pretty much installed and now it’s just getting more comfortable with everything every day. I felt more comfortable this week than I did in last week’s scrimmage and I’m hoping to say the same thing Saturday. I’m hoping I can take that next step and feel really comfortable with the offense in the spring game.” — senior quarterback Cameron Coffman

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Notes from UW spring practice No. 6

It didn’t appear that Wyoming’s sixth practice of spring drills was a walk in the park, even though the Cowboys have their first scrimmage of the spring at 11 a.m. Saturday.

UW practiced Friday in full pads, and went for a little more than two hours.

Seth Edeen

Seth Edeen

It was good to see sophomore defensive end and Cheyenne Central graduate Seth Edeen at practice. He was just watching, but he was there. On Monday, he took a hit to his side and after practice had some blood in his urine. A couple of tests later it was discovered Edeen was born without his right kidney, and also has a cyst on top of his pancreas.

Edeen is out for the rest of spring, and will have more medical procedures done in the coming weeks. For more on Edeen, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

UW had a walk-through at the beginning of practice with its run game. Senior Cameron Coffman took most of the reps, but the other four quarterbacks participated in the walk-through.

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Mallory happy to be newest addition to UW football coaching staff

Curt Mallory remembers being a young assistant coach at Ball State in 1997, which was the first time he met Craig Bohl — now Wyoming’s head coach but then an assistant coach at Nebraska where the Cornhuskers were coming off winning a national title.

Curt Mallory

Curt Mallory

Mallory called Bohl and asked if he could come watch some film with him at Nebraska. Bohl took an entire day to spend with Mallory.

Now, Mallory is coaching on Bohl’s staff at UW as the Cowboys’ defensive secondary coach and passing game coordinator. Mallory joined UW’s staff earlier this year.

“From that time on you root for guys like that,” said Mallory of Bohl. “Those are the kind of guys you want to work for. I’m real fortunate to be here and excited to be here.”

Mallory came to UW from his alma mater, Michigan, where he coached the defensive secondary there from 2011-14. Mallory also has coached at Akron, Illinois, Indiana, Central Michigan and Ball State. Most of Mallory’s stops had him coach the secondary, but he also has worked with linebackers, special teams units and he was the defensive coordinator during the one season he was at Akron in 2010.

“His experience is showing rather quickly,” said Bohl of Mallory being on the coaching staff. “(The Mountain West) is a perimeter league with a lot of speed and skill so those back seven guys really need to work in concert. … Last year, we couldn’t run well enough defensively.”

Mallory said he knew UW running backs coach Mike Bath when he was an assistant coach in the Mid-American Conference. While at Indiana, current UW receivers coach Kenni Burns was a running back for the Hoosiers.

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