Cowboys get through first full week of fall camp

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The first full week of fall camp is in the books for the University of Wyoming football team. The Cowboys have practiced eight times going back to Friday, Aug. 2.

Here are some observations and thoughts through the first eight practices.

— UW’s quarterbacks, and in particular redshirt freshman starter Sean Chambers, continue to progress. Chambers is still fully entrenched as the starter. This is what sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said about Chambers’ progress so far in camp.

“He’s not where we want him to be, but we’re much further along than last year and Sean is much further along,” Bohl said. “(Sophomore) Tyler Vander Waal is also doing some good things.”

— If there is a concern at this point in camp, it could be with the interior defensive line. UW has a lot of holes to fill with the loss of some seniors, along with defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, who would have been a senior this season. Juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson have had good camps, especially Holt. However, Bohl said Friday Holt has a sore knee and was to have an MRI. That’s not good news. When asked if any others have started to emerge as options to play, Bohl basically said not yet. He mentioned that UW could move senior defensive end Josiah Hall inside, which UW has done in the past. Not that Hall wouldn’t give UW everything he has inside, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

— There seems to be a good competition going at free safety between junior Braden Smith and redshirt freshmen Rome Weber and Cameron Murray. Bohl said Murray has made a lot of progress from the spring to now. Smith didn’t finish Friday’s practice with a hamstring strain.

— UW is looking for someone to play nickel other than sophomore Keyon Blankenbaker, and it appears true freshman Allen Smith has the edge right now. Smith played nickel in high school in California, and was recruited to UW to play nickel. Smith is still learning, and isn’t the most imposing presence at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but the coaches have liked what they’ve seen from him so far in camp.

— Gunner Gentry didn’t catch a pass as a true freshman wide receiver last season, but he played in 11 of 12 games and played on all four of the Cowboys’ special teams units. Gentry said he enjoyed playing special teams, and that helped him become a more well-rounded player. Gentry, the younger brother of former UW wide receiver Tanner Gentry who plays for the Chicago Bears now, is looking to have more of an impact at wide receiver this season. It helps that he is healthy. He missed most of the spring with a stress fracture in his foot. However, Gentry also hopes to still be involved on special teams.

— It is always interesting to see which newcomers emerge during camp. Bohl has been somewhat guarded in mentioning specific names, as have some of the assistants. But some of the players mentioned with Smith have true freshmen wide receivers Alex Brown and Isaiah Neyor — both from Texas and 6-4 and 6-3, respectively. True freshman tight end Treyton Welch, a wide receiver in high school, has been mentioned by Bohl a couple of times. True freshman Easton Gibbs at weak-side outside linebacker and redshirt freshman Chuck Hicks at middle linebacker have emerged to possibly give UW some depth. One other player to keep an eye on is true freshman offensive tackle Carlos Harrison.

For more UW football coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net. Also, check back to this blog.

UW at New Mexico – pregame reading

Happy post-Thanksgiving all. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend.

Here is some pregame reading prior to Wyoming’s regular-season finale at New Mexico Saturday. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys:

Good start: Wyoming needs to play well from start to finish, but a good start for the team, and in particular redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, is important. Especially for Vander Waal to get his confidence going and into the flow of the game. We’ve seen this season (last week against Air Force and in the opener at New Mexico State) that when Vander Waal starts well, he plays well through the course of games.

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Thanksgiving thoughts and favorites from Wyoming football

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful day and weekend with family and friends.

I’ve done this before on this holiday, and for others, but I asked some Wyoming football players and coaches what they were most thankful for and their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Would love to hear yours.

Senior free safety Marcus Epps

Thankful for: My family, to be a part of this team and the University of Wyoming.

Food: Yams

Senior wide receiver James Price

Thankful for: My family, friends and the support system I have.

Food: Mom’s sweet potato pie.

Senior defensive lineman Conner Cain

Thankful for: This team this year.

Food: Cranberry sauce.

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Perfect time to get “The Border War” book

It is that time again — the annual Border War football game between Wyoming and Colorado State. The two teams meet for the 110th time at 8 p.m. Friday at CSU’s Canvas Stadium.

It is a great time for both Cowboys and Rams fans to get a copy of “The Border War” book co-authored by myself and Ryan Thorburn. The book depicts the long history of this rivalry, and includes some of the most memorable games and participants in this rivalry — the longest continual college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

I will be signing books from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the CSU Bookstore in the Lory Student Center. Hope to see a lot of Cowboys and Rams fans there. I may be a little biased, but it is a must-read for fans of both schools. And, if you are looking for a gift for fans of either school, this is a great opportunity to get a book.

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Wyoming at Fresno St. – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and Fresno State. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT from Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, California. The game is televised on ESPNU.

Brent Vigen

— “We need to protect better, and and that’s situational. Our third down production is killing us. We are below 30 percent and we need to be plus-40. Each game is different on how teams play us defensively. Getting open is part of it. The passing game is an 11-man deal. Ultimately, the quarterback being able to connect with (the receivers) and has enough time are key. We as coaches have to find the most effective ways to do that every given week. That’s what we’re aiming to do and we will take out a new page this week.” — UW associate head coach/offensive coordinator Brent Vigen

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Wyoming vs. Wofford – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Wyoming’s final non-conference game with Wofford. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The game isn’t on regular TV, but can be streamed online at the MW Network.

If you can’t be at the game, or stream it online, join me for my live chat from the game beginning at 2 p.m. Links to the chat will be here and at wyosports.net.

Craig Bohl

— “They have not changed offensively through the years and have the same offensive coordinator for maybe 20-30 years. We have got a great deal of experience coaching against that scheme. They’ll play two quarterbacks and they’re very creative with what they do with their option scheme and they have answers for what you throw up defensively. Defensively they offer up a three-down look with some 300-pounders up front. They do what they do. They have elements of option and elements of shot gun. They have the quarterback under center sometimes and they run zone schemes. They can throw the ball, although they don’t throw the ball a ton. They all present challenges.” — fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl talking about Wofford.

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Washington State 41, Wyoming 19 – postgame thoughts

For a while it looked like Wyoming might end a long drought in terms of wins over schools from Power 5 conferences. It led 16-13 at halftime — after getting down 10-0. It took the second-half kickoff and made a field goal to extend the lead to 19-13.

But the wheels feel off after that as Washington State scored touchdowns on four of its five second-half offensive possession for a 41-19 victory in front of a nice crowd of 24,131 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Here is fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl after the game.

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Wyoming vs. Washington State – pregame reading

A few notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s home-opener for the Wyoming football team against Washington State. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. MT.

Craig Bohl

— “I’ve always believed a football team improves most between its first and second game.” — Fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl.

— If that’s the case for the Cowboys, things could be fun to watch for the home fans. UW opened the season with a 29-7 win at New Mexico State last Saturday. The offense ran for 312 yards, had more than 400 yards of total offense and the defense held the Aggies to 135 yards of total offense. What could be better for UW? Sustaining drives. The Cowboys failed to convert a good number of third-and-short situations. More balance on offense. The run game was great, but not sure if it will be as effective against Washington State. More plays in the pass game should open up things in the run game. Create turnovers. UW didn’t force a turnover against New Mexico State. Winning the turnover battle — as it is in every game — will be key.

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Wyoming 29, New Mexico State 7 – postgame thoughts

It was an impressive first game for the Wyoming Cowboys with a 29-7 victory at New Mexico State Saturday night.

The defense held New Mexico State to 135 yards and minus-9 yards rushing. It was the fewest yards since allowing 100 against Virginia in the 2007 season opener. UW’s school record for fewest rushing yards allowed is -104 yards vs. Utah State on Sept. 21, 1968, in a 48-3 win in Laramie. Virginia had -7 yards rushing in the 2007 game.

The Cowboys scored a safety against New Mexico State after senior defensive end Carl Granderson tackled New Mexico State junior running back Jason Huntley in the end zone in the first quarter. UW didn’t force a turnover, but perhaps that is being a bit knit-picky.

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UW at New Mexico State – pregame reading

Football is back!!

Wyoming opens the 2018 season tonight at 8 p.m. MT at New Mexico State in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

Here are some notes, quotes and links to some of the coverage during the week on wyosports.net leading up to the game.

— This is the earliest UW has ever started a season. It also is the last of four games to be played in college football’s “zero week.” The Cowboys’ earliest season-opener prior to this year was on Aug. 28, 1997 when it lost 24-10 at Ohio State in the inaugural Eddie Robinson Classic. That also was the last time I missed a UW season-opening game — home or away. I won’t get into the reasons why I am not at New Mexico State, but needless to say, I’m not happy about it.

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