UW spring football roundup – Day 1

It was back to work Monday for the Wyoming football team as it held its first of 15 spring practices.

UW used both its indoor facility and War Memorial Stadium for its workout, which lasted a little more than two hours. Players will be in shorts and helmets for the first two practices. They won’t be in full pads until the third practice on Saturday.

Here are some highlights from the first practice. Media is allowed to stay for only the first 30 minutes.

A few points of observation from Day 1:

–UW did some walk-through work prior to the start of practice and the guys who got most of the reps with the No. 1 offense along the offensive line were sophomore Ryan Cummings (left tackle), junior Chase Roullier (left guard), sophomore Charlie Renfree (center), redshirt freshman Richard Bettencourt (right guard) and sophomore Taylor Knestis (right tackle). Another who got in some work on the left side was sophomore tackle Kurtis Stirneman.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

–Senior Cameron Coffman always seemed to be the first guy when the quarterbacks did individual drills, and he also worked with the No. 1 offense the most of the other four guys. What that means this early in spring is debatable, but I still believe he is the guy to beat in terms of UW’s starting quarterback.

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Three concerns for Wyoming football heading into spring drills

Are you ready for some football?

Wyoming is, and it starts spring drills Monday. It will be culminated by its spring game on Saturday, April 25.

I will have an analysis piece and feature in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also at wyosports.net with more on UW spring football in terms of things to watch, etc.

But for now, here are my top three concerns for the Cowboys heading into spring:

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

1. Linebacker: Other than junior Lucas Wacha, there really isn’t much experience at any of the three linebacker spots. Senior Malkaam Muhammad returns, but even though he’s played in 17 games over his career, it mostly has been on special teams. Players and coaches have raved about Wacha this offseason, and he’s up to about 218 pounds now compared to 205 last season. Wacha will be the middle linebacker this season, and 218 pounds is awful small for that position. However, Wacha has shown that size doesn’t always matter for him as he’s been productive over his first two seasons along the outside. Muhammad must show he can play consistently well. Several players have switched positions and moved to linebacker. I think one of the outside spots will be secured by

Will Tutein

Will Tutein

junior Will Tutein, who moved over from safety. Tutein played more of a linebacker in UW’s final game against New Mexico last season, and he has good athletic ability to play there. Also will be curious to see how junior Eric Nzeocha makes the transition from receiver/tight end to linebacker. The brother of former UW linebacker Mark Nzeocha, Eric has some good natural ability and athleticism. How he makes the transition from offense to defense will be interesting. If I had to guess right now, those would be the three guys I think would be the starters coming out of spring.

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UW-New Mexico football postgame thoughts; with VIDEO

It was a game Wyoming should have won.

But even though the Cowboys put together one of their better offensive games, and did some good things on defense late in the contest, they lost their season-finale at New Mexico 36-30 Saturday.

UW (4-8 overall, 2-6 Mountain West) had 541 yards of total offense, ran 94 plays compared to New Mexico’s 39 and held the ball for nearly 42 minutes.

But with the ball at the New Mexico 5-yard line in the final minute of the game, the Cowboys couldn’t score. A false start penalty on senior offensive tackle Connor Rains — the lone senior on that offensive line — didn’t help. But the offense got no closer than the 4-yard line.

Here is video of the final few plays, including a nice 44-yard catch made by sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry to get the ball down to the 5.

A defense that gave up scoring plays of 75 and 69 yards settled down. But it was too late despite not allowing any New Mexico points in the fourth quarter. Then again, UW’s offense also didn’t score in the fourth quarter.

A special teams unit that blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter, also allowed a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. New Mexico junior Carlos Wiggins, who now has four kickoff returns for a touchdown, ran one back 97 yards late in the third quarter in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Why UW kicked to him I will never know. Coach Craig Bohl didn’t really answer the question after the game. There was word in the press box that Wiggins changed positions on the kickoff late in the formation. Maybe, but it wasn’t addressed by UW, and there was some missed tackles.

Here is Bohl after the game:

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Tutein making most of increased role

Wyoming sophomore free safety Will Tutein has had 12 tackles, including two tackles for loss, in his first two career starts, which was in the Nov. 1 game at Fresno State and last Saturday at home against Utah State.

Will Tutein

Will Tutein

Tutein is expected to start again when UW hosts Boise State on Nov. 22. Senior safety Jesse Sampson (knee) wasn’t listed on the two-deep roster this week. You know Tutein’s story by now, but here’s the column I wrote on Tutein on Sept. 11 about his journey to Wyoming and UW:

“Will’s doing a nice job not having spring football and showing up for us during fall camp,” defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said. “He’s learning day-by-day in terms of getting his eyes right, reading his keys and controlling his body in a football manner. You have to work at that, and he’s learning.”

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Bohl says Fresno State game was UW’s most complete effort this season

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl began his Monday news conference like he has the others this season — giving a quick recap of the previous game.

And he said the Cowboys’ 45-17 win at Fresno State last Saturday was his team’s most complete game in all three phases of the game this season.

Here is video of the entire news conference:

One question asked by the media that wasn’t on the video was about if there was renewed enthusiasm among the players after the win, and if thoughts or goals of getting bowl eligible with two more wins were being talked about.

Bohl said that hasn’t been an emphasis this season, and that the only goal this team has is to prepare to host Utah State Friday night.

Another good thing that came from the Fresno State game was no new injuries. However, Bohl said senior defensive ends Sonny Puletasi (leg) and Riley Lange (concussion), along with senior safety Jesse Sampson (knee) remain day-to-day. None of those three practiced Monday. UW defensive ends coach AJ Cooper wasn’t optimistic that Lange would play this week.

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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-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:

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White’s career done at UW; Sampson should return at safety

Bad news was expected, and it became official Tuesday

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said prior to Tuesday’s practice senior

Darrenn White

Darrenn White

free safety and co-captain Darrenn White tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in the first half at Hawaii, and his playing career at UW is over.

White is third on the team this season with 42 tackles.

White missed the final six games of last season due to a shoulder injury. Because both injuries occurred at the midway point of the season, Bohl said it is doubtful UW could get a medical redshirt for White from the NCAA.

UW went 1-5 without White after he was hurt in the Cowboys’ home game with New Mexico last season. Those struggles were not all because of White’s absence, but it played a factor.

The Cowboys missed White in the second half of the Hawaii game as the defense allowed 28 points, the secondary struggled to tackle and there were a few busted coverages that resulted in big plays.

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