Cowboys open fall camp Monday morning

And so it begins. Wyoming’s first of 24 practices of fall camp started Monday morning in Laramie. The team did some drill work, walk-throughs and stretching in its indoor practice facility, and then headed out to Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium for the rest of practice. Unfortunately, the media is allowed to watch only the first 30 minutes of practice, which was all indoor so there is not a lot to report. But here are a couple of observations:

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

–During the walk-throughs, redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense, although there was a lot of moving around among other players on offense. Basically, Kirkegaard and true freshmen Nick Smith and Austin Fort were on one end, and sophomore Tom Thornton, senior Sam Stratton and sophomore Aaron Young were on the other end. The No. 1 and No. 2 defense went against Kirkegaard and his offensive group. The rest of the offensive and defensive guys were on the other end of the field. It was an odd mix and match of players. For instance, most of the top receivers were down with the backups. Most of the offensive plays were run plays so it may have been a run-specific walk-through. Here is a video of the receivers doing some hands work.

–As far as the starters went, there was nothing new in terms of the guys in this walk-through than what was indicated on the depth chart released prior to the start of camp. I saw true freshman tight end Grant Lewis get in a for a couple of snaps with the main offensive guys, same with true freshman defensive end John Jackson. Continue reading

UW post-spring defensive analysis

Spring was a time of experimentation for Wyoming.

Defensive coordinator Chris Tormey looked at a lot of players at different positions. Some moves look to be permanent, others remain to be seen.

UW will show both 4-3 and 3-4 looks. The buck position (combination defensive end and outside linebacker) often will dictate the formation — along with the down-and-distance and opponent.

Don’t get caught up in the formations. UW showed a lot of formations last season, and in the first four since Dave Christensen has been the coach. The goal is to get the best 11 players on the field. Some of those players emerged during the spring. Others already asserted themselves prior to spring, and others still need to be found when fall camp starts in early August.

The Cowboys will try to put more pressure on the quarterback in 2013, after just 14 sacks last season. That could come from a variety of different positions and angles. Those who follow the team also know the run defense must improve (232.3 yards per game last season) as does the third-down defense (51 percent conversion rate).

One thing I drew from the spring that the starting 11 guys should be decent — but not dominant. The depth after that still is a work in progress.

Here is my position-by-position breakdown of the defense, and some thoughts:

Defensive line

Eddie Yarbrough

Eddie Yarbrough

Projected starters: Patrick Merterns (Sr., DT or NT), Sonny Puletasi (Jr., DE), Eddie Yarbrough (So., DE or DT); Siaosi Hala’api’api (buck).

Who else plays: Uso Olive (R-Fr., DT or NT); Justin Bernthaler (Sr., DE or DT).

Need to see more from: Troy Boyland (Jr., DT); Chase Appleby (R-Fr., DT or NT); James Diamanti (Fr., DT); Sam Hardy (R-Fr., DE or DT).

My thoughts: Expect the starters, along with Olive and Bernthaler (who missed much of spring with an injury) to be in the rotation and all see a lot of snaps. Boyland is a junior-college transfer who is 6-2, 310 pounds, but needs to be in better shape and maybe drop some weight to be effective. Diamanti is a true freshman who did some good things along the line on special teams (blocked a field goal in the spring game), and could this season. He enrolled at UW in January and the time in the program helped a lot. UW would get a big boost if Boyland, Appleby and/or Hardy show improvement in fall camp. Hala’api’api moved from middle linebacker early in the spring, and could be good at the buck. Yarbrough was the team’s most improved lineman after the spring, and I think their best lineman overall. He is best at DE, but got some looks inside as spring went on.

Continue reading

Tuesday’s UW football notes

Despite not having a game last week, Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith is sixth in the nation in pass efficiency (179.6), seventh in total offense (362.33 yards per game) and ninth in passing offense (328.3 ypg).

Smith is 141 yards of total offense shy of moving past former quarterback Randy Welniak, the current head of UW’s Cowboy Joe Club, into ninth place in career total offense. Smith has 4,419 and Welniak has 4,559.

Continue reading

Smith still doubtful

The news wasn’t any different regarding Wyoming sophomore starting quarterback Brett Smith Tuesday.

“Doubtful means he’s probably not playing,” coach Dave Christensen said after practice “We will see where he’s at (today). It’s day-to-day and he’s not different (Tuesday) than he was (Monday).”

Smith wasn’t at practice. Junior Colby Kirkegaard and true freshman Jason Thompson shared snaps with the No. 1 offense. Christensen said both did some good things.

As far as who will start at quarterback, or play, if Smith can’t go (and at this point it doesn’t look like he will play), Christensen said:  “I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the football game. I don’t know what that is, and I may not know until 12 minutes into the first quarter, or 12 minutes into the fourth quarter. Whatever it is, we’re going to do.”

Continue reading

Arizona QB to walk-on at UW

Zaquoya Parham, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound dual-threat quarterback from Shadow Mountain High in Phoenix, is expected to walk-on to the Wyoming football team this fall.

Rivals.com listed Parham as a verbal commitment Tuesday night. However, sources told me he will walk-on and won’t be announced on signing day a week from Wednesday.

Parham has not received any other scholarship offers, according to Rivals’ recruiting website.

Parham was 67 of 127 for 913 yards with 12 TDs and 5 INTs as a senior. He was third on his team with 240 rushing yards. He played some at defensive back, but in four games he had only seven tackles.