Safety shuffle for Cowboys may be slowing down

Three games and three different combinations at the two safety spots for the Wyoming football team.

But when UW (0-3) hosts New Mexico (1-2) in the Mountain West opener for both teams Saturday, it expects to keep the same two starters who played most of the game in last Saturday’s 31-14 loss at Washington State.

Andrew Wingard

Andrew Wingard

True freshman Andrew Wingard is slated to start at free safety, and redshirt freshman walk-on Marcus Epps at strong safety. Wingard made his first-career start Sept. 12 against Eastern Michigan, and he led the Cowboys in tackles at Washington state with 12. Wingard has 24 tackles in the last two games. Wingard played mostly on special teams in UW’s opener against North Dakota on Sept. 5.

Epps started at free safety against North Dakota, and had 11 tackles. He suffered a concussion in that game and missed the Eastern Michigan contest. Epps produced the Cowboys’ first turnover of the season with an interception in the third quarter. Epps also had five tackles and broke up one pass.

The Cowboys had three different starters at strong safety in their first three games. Redshirt freshman Chavez Pownell Jr. started the opener, followed by redshirt freshman walk-on Adam Pilapil against Eastern Michigan.

Marcus Epps

Marcus Epps

UW safeties coach and pass game coordinator Curt Mallory said all four safeties have played both positions during fall camp, and Epps, Pilapil and Pownell did the same during spring drills. Despite the youth, Mallory likes this group and the way it approaches the game.

“All four guys have been competing, and is a fun group to coach because they’re unselfish and want to help one another,” Mallory said. “It’s shown on the field. On the sideline at Washington State Chavez and Adam, even though they weren’t playing, were right in the ears of Marcus and Andrew. That’s maturity, and I’m pleased with that. Marcus and Andrew made some strides for having their second start. I’m encouraged with that.”

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UW-Washington State football postgame thoughts, notes and video

I don’t know how a lot of you felt, but Wyoming’s 31-14 loss at Washington State didn’t have that same kick-in-the-midsection feeling that the first two losses to North Dakota and Eastern Michigan felt.

Not saying that UW should chalk this up as a moral victory. There are still plenty of shortcomings for this team on offense and defense.

My column from the game was about how the offense was more on the hook for this loss, based on some golden opportunities to score in the second half thank to some solid play by the defense.

Here’s the link to that column. I would be curious how you felt about it:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/football/gagliardi-column-missed-opportunities-crush-cowboys/article_89b17660-5f5c-11e5-a8e9-cf8b9ea7986a.html
Here’s what coach Craig Bohl said after the game:


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UW at Washington State football live game chat replay

Here’s the replay of my live chat from the University of Wyoming’s 31-14 loss at Washington State on Saturday, Sept. 19.

For more UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Live Blog Wyoming at Washington St. football live game chat

UW at Washington St. football – notes, quotes and video

First thing is first, here is my No. 1 key for Wyoming if it hopes to pull the upset at Washington State, which is a 24-point favorite, Saturday night in Pullman, Washington. Kickoff is at 6:40 p.m. MT and televised by the Pac-12 Network.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Offense is the best defense: Wyoming wants to run the football and control the clock. Washington State wants to throw it around and score fast. The Cowboys’ defensive struggles have been well documented, so their best defense today is to keep the defense off the field as much as possible with the offense. UW needs to be more balanced after 430 rushing yards and only 32 passing yards last week against Eastern Michigan. The return of redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman from a knee injury should help.

For more keys and information about the game see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Second, here is my preview of the game:

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UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Lots of UW football talk as the Cowboys (0-2) look for their first win as they plays at Washington State this week. Also some UW men’s and women’s basketball chatter as well.

For more UW and high school sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Finley hopes to give a struggling UW defense a boost

He’s a senior by class only.

One of the changes Wyoming made defensively was putting senior cornerback Tyran Finley in the starting lineup when it plays at Washington State Saturday.

Tyran Finley

Tyran Finley

But it’s not like Finley has a ton of game experience with the Cowboys.

The junior college transfer started in UW’s opener in 2013 at No. 18 Nebraska, but injured a knee and was lost for the season. He was granted a medical redshirt.

Last year, with new coach Craig Bohl and staff, Finley struggled to adjust to a new system. He played in 11 games, but early on most of that time was on special teams. But in UW’s 45-17 win at Fresno State on Nov. 1, 2014, Finley had two interceptions and returned one of them 51 yards for a touchdown. He led UW with those two interceptions, and the team had only one other interception that season.

During spring drills, Finley was beat out by redshirt freshmen walk-ons. And, he missed about a week because — for a lack of a better term — he needed an attitude adjustment in Bohl’s opinion. But now, as a senior Finley gets a chance to start just this third game for the Cowboys and play in his 15th game of his career. And, he gets to do it against a pass-happy team like Washington State that may throw it 60 times Saturday.

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UW-Eastern Michigan football postgame thoughts, notes, quotes and video

Before the season started, did any of you think Wyoming would lose its first two games of the season at home to North Dakota and Eastern Michigan?

Even the biggest skeptics couldn’t have seen this coming.

But after the Cowboys’ 48-29 loss to Eastern Michigan Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, that’s exactly where they are at. And, the games only get tougher from here on out.

Here is coach Craig Bohl’s postgame news conference:

I really liked what sophomore quarterback Josh Allen did in his brief time. He showed good command of the offense. UW gave him some easy throws to make

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

early on, and he zipped one pass in there that showed off his arm strength. Unfortunately, Allen’s aggressiveness likely cost him his season. Instead of sliding on a 24-yard run up the middle on the Cowboys’ second possession of the game (he had ample opportunities to do that) he took on a tackler head on and injured his shoulder and/or collar bone. Bohl expects Allen to be out six to eight week, but UW there is a good chance UW will be able to get a medical redshirt for him.

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