Thornton making strides at wide receiver

With all the hype of Wyoming five freshmen wide receivers, it was nice to see — and perhaps a little surprising — junior Tom Thornton on the two-deep roster on the latest depth chart released Tuesday.

Tom Thornton

Tom Thornton

Thornton was UW’s backup quarterback last season, and was moved to receiver prior to the start of spring drills. Thornton was listed as the backup behind junior Jake Maulhardt at the Cowboys’ ‘X’ receiver spot.

“Any time a guy plays quarterback he has a good understanding of the passing game,” second-year coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday. “The other thing we’ve found through the years is typically quarterbacks have great hand-eye coordination.

“To find a place on the field for Tommy is going to be important. How many meaningful reps he plays is going to be determined by how he does the rest of fall camp.”

Thornton missed some time during fall camp with a concussion, but has been practicing lately.

On a team with a lot of good guys, Thornton is at or near the top of that list. He’s always very friendly and happy. It couldn’t have been easy to make the position change he made, but he has taken it in stride and with great class. It’s hard not to root for a guy like him.

Continue reading

UW’s young receivers trying to break into exclusive group

What started out as something fun turned into a little bit of controversey — but still fun.

Talking to a couple of Wyoming’s true freshmen wide receivers the last few days, they said they have the nickname of WWA — Wide receivers With Attitude.

But after Tuesday’s practice, a previous blog post on this was already up, UW junior receivers Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt came up to me and told me the real story.

Both said they were the ones that came up with the nickname for the current group of receivers during spring drills. Only one of the true freshmen receivers were there then — Joe Parker — who graduated from high school early and enrolled at UW in January.

Gentry and Maulhardt said guys have to earn their way into the WWA, and Maulhardt said both were bothered so much by what the freshmen’s perception of this that he and Gentry wouldn’t allow the freshmen to eat lunch with them Tuesday.

Still, it’s a fun story and there is more on these guys in Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also on wyosports.net.

Dameko Doddles

Dameko Doddles

True freshman Dameko Doddles (6-2, 208) goes into a little more detail on each one and some of the characteristics of all of UW’s wide receivers.

Here is Doddles’ description of each one:

Joe Parker (5-10, 182): “Small and shifty.”

Justice Murphy (6-0, 180): “Bigger, but a shifty receiver, too.”

Himself and James Price (6-2, 208): “More of a big body. JP likes to back-shoulder the most. I’m more of a post-up type of guy.”

C.J. Johnson (6-2, 190): “A finesse receiver. He’s smooth.”

Continue reading

Thornton gives his take on UW’s quarterbacks this spring

Wyoming junior Tom Thornton ended last season as the Cowboys’ backup quarterback.

Prior to the start of spring drills, Thornton was one of six scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. With a logjam there, UW moved him to wide receiver.

Tom Thornton

Tom Thornton

Thornton’s transition to receiver is still a work in progress, but he’s happy with the move. For more on that, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Earlier this week, I asked Thornton what he thought of the play of UW’s four quarterbacks this spring: senior Cameron Coffman, sophomore and junior college transfer Josh Allen, redshirt freshman Nick Smith and redshirt sophomore Aaron Young.

Coffman was named the starter earlier in spring drills. Allen is currently listed as the backup, followed by Smith and Young.

“I think they’re doing a great job. Going form last year to now, you can see their knowledge of the offense has improved.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

“Cam has looked fantastic. His accuracy is on point. His reads are on point. I think he’s goin to have an unbelievable year. Josh is doing well, but is the newest guy. He has an unbelievable arm. He needs to know when to tone it down a little bit. He threw a screen pass bout 90 miles an hour. He’s starting to pick up the offense. Nick’s is doing a solid job and Aaron is as well.”

Thornton also said that losing redshirt freshman Austin Fort “kind of sucks.” Fort was moved from quarterback to tight end last week. Soon after that, UW announced Fort will transfer.

Continue reading

GAMEDAY: UW-New Mexico football notes, quotes and video

Wyoming plays its season-finale today at New Mexico with a 1 p.m. kickoff at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Cowboys are 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain West. The Lobos are 3-8, 1-6 and will be looking for their first home win of the season.

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi and editor Scott Nulph previewing the game:


UW and New Mexico will play for the 67th time. That is the fourth-longest series for the Cowboys, and second-longest active series — second only to the Border War with Colorado State (106 games).

Dominic Rufran

Dominic Rufran

Senior receiver Dominic Rufran needs two catches to become only the fifth player in school history to record 200 career catches. He also needs seven receiving yards to pass Malcom Floyd (2000-03) for sixth in career receiving yards. If Rufran catches one pass, he will end his career with a catch in 49 straight games, which is a school record and the longest active streak in the nation.

The two teams have five common opponents — Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State an Utah State. UW is 2-3 in those games with wins over Air Force and Fresno State. New Mexico is 0-5, but four of the five losses were by 11 points or less.

Continue reading

Run game could be even more vital for Cowboys in finale

We all know that first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl wants to be a run-first offense that is tough and physical.

At times UW has shown that, at other times it hasn’t gone according to plan. But if the Cowboys can do that in their season-finale Saturday at New Mexico, that will go a long way to help make up for what could be an inexperienced quarterback — and possibly end the season with a victory.

New Mexico has the nation’s fourth-best rushing offense, but it allows 278.1 rushing yards per game, and Colorado State’s Dee Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns last week in the Rams’ 58-20 victory.

Rafe Kiely

Rafe Kiely

“It’s an exciting thought,” said UW junior center Rafe Kiely on the chance the Cowboys will try to run the ball even more against New Mexico. “We along the offensive line is much more physical this year, and take a lot more pride in our run blocking than in the past.

“This year there so much more of an emphasis on getting on guys and getting them to the ground. I know a lot of guys are licking their lips to go out (to New Mexico) and pound the ball on the ground.”

UW true freshman running back Brian Hill leads the Cowboys with six rushing touchdowns, and had two in last Saturday’s 63-14 home loss to Boise State. He had his string of three straight 100-yard games snapped against Boise State. Hill has 639 rushing yards, and trails junior Shaun Wick by 66 yards to take the team lead.

Continue reading

A day of extremes for Cowboys

It was a day-night doubleheader of men’s basketball and football in Laramie Saturday for Wyoming, and the outcome of both was like a night-and-day contrast.

Let’s start with the good.

The Cowboys were impressive in a 56-33 victory over Colorado in hoops. UW (3-0) held Colorado (2-1) to nine second-half points and to only two baskets. The offense was unselfish, and I don’t think I’ve ever covered a game where there were assists on all 22 baskets.

And, this wasn’t against some no-name team. Colorado was ranked 27th in the AP poll last week and was picked to finish third in the Pac-12.

And, the lob pass junior guard Josh Adams threw to senior forward Larry Nance Jr. was pretty cool, and earned the top play on ESPN SportCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.

“Sigh of relief. It was awesome and it felt great just to be back up there,” Nance said of the dunk.

Here’ what the players and coach Larry Shyatt said after the game:



Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

UW-Colorado State postgame thoughts

Do you take any positives from Wyoming’s 45-31 loss at Colorado State Saturday?

The offense scored 28 second-half points, including 21 in the fourth quarter. Yes, those points came after the game was no longer in doubt. But, was it a positive and something the team can build on?

True freshman running back Brian Hill looked good after junior Shaun Wick left with a broken hand on the first series. Hill had 121 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. I think UW fans are going to like watching him run the ball in the future.

Defensively … OK, hard to draw many positives there as more injuries and missed tackles hurt the Cowboys (no pun intended) once again. Tim Harkins, UW’s sports information director who has been at the school more than 20 years, said he doesn’t remember this many injuries to a Cowboys’  team since former coach Joe Tiller’s first season in 1991 when around 20 players under went surgeries due to injuries.

Here is what first-year coach Craig Bohl said after the game:


Continue reading

UW fall camp – Day 18

The schedule says Thursday was practice No. 22 of fall camp, but as senior quarterback Sam Stratton led the team break after stretching, he said it was the start of game week preparation for the Aug. 30 opener against Montana.

And, there was some evidence of that as true freshmen quarterbacks Nick Smith and Austin Fort wore No. 10 jerseys — the same as Montana senior quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Either way, UW practiced in shoulder pads and shorts in War Memorial Stadium.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

Sophomore punter Ethan Wood was back for the first time since his parents were killed in a plane crash Aug. 9. Prior to practice Wood and senior Stuart Williams did some punting. There was no punt rush or anything like that. However, Wood looked pretty good as he got some good height and distance on many of his at or near his own end zone. Wood drew some praise from first-year coach Craig Bohl.

UW started practice with some 11-on-11 work. There was not a lot of big plays by the offense, but redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard threw a nice, medium-ranged pass to senior receiver Jalen Claiborne along the sideline. Kirkegaard was accurate throughout the drill. Sophomore Tom Thornton, Kirkegaard’s backup, was the only other quarterback to take snaps in the drill.

The Cowboys rotated guys along the offensive line. Sophomore guard Sam Hardy took snaps at both the left and right side. Junior Jake Jones did as well. Sophomore Chase Roullier also took some snaps at center, as did sophomore Jacob English.

Here is what Bohl said after practice:


Continue reading

UW fall camp – Day 16

Wyoming’s 16th day and 20th practice of fall camp was in full pads Tuesday morning, and all of it was held outside at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Most of the previous practices started in its indoor practice facility, and then went outside. The Cowboys started with some 11-on-11 work, and the quarterbacks were sharp.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard — still the starter — threw a nice deep ball to senior receiver Dominic Rufran. Kirkegaard executed a pump fake to perfection on the play.

Kirkegaard made several nice throws during the period. One was over the middle to sophomore Jake Maulhardt, and another was to the sideline for senior receiver Jalen Claiborne.

Sophomore backups Tom Thornton and Aaron Young also took some snaps at quarterback. Thornton got more than Young. All the plays during the period were pass plays.

Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had a sack early on of Kirkegaard (the quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit).

Sidney Malauulu

Sidney Malauulu

True freshman defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu had one of the more powerful plays of the day and he pushed backup sophomore center Jacob English back about three yards that disrupted a play.

Malauulu came back last week from a sprained MCL in his knee, and Bohl said he likely will play this season. More on him later this week.

Here’s what coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice.

Continue reading