Cowboys ready for the home stretch with plenty to play for

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said his team “utilized its bye week wisely” last week.

The team practiced a good part of last week, and much of that work was getting ready for Saturday’s home-finale against Boise State — a team UW has never defeated in eight games and has been outscored 148-43 in three home games.

UW enters the game 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West. It needs to win its final two games to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. Boise State is 8-2, 5-1 and if it wins out it will win the league’s Mountain Division.

“Without question (Boise State) is one of the top teams in our conference and around the country,” Bohl said. “We’re excited about playing them, but it will be a big challenge.”

Here is Bohl during his weekly news conference with the media Monday:

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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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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

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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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Border War key to the game; along with notes, quotes and video

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key to the game for the Wyoming Cowboys in their Border War game against Colorado State, which kicks off at 5 p.m. today at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Communication: Talking about Wyoming’s defense. With two of its most important starters out with injuries — free safety Darrenn White and outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha — and possibly two other starters (senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi and senior cornerback DeAndre Jones). It is vital the Cowboys know what they are doing against a high-powered Colorado State offense that will use a lot of shifts and motions at the line of scrimmage to set up mismatches.

Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph preview today’s game on their weekly video blog:

This game over the years always has featured players and coaches with ties to both schools.

UW lists 20 players from Colorado on its roster, and 13 have starting experience. Many of them know CSU players going back to when they were in high school. Some were recruited by both schools, others were shunned by Colorado State.

UW senior defensive end Riley Lange, who is from Parker, Colorado, talks about that this week:

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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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Michigan State gave UW the blueprint of being physical

A bye week doesn’t mean the Wyoming football team won’t be busy.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said the team will work on its Oct. 11 game at Hawaii, work on fundamentals, get players stronger and healthy and send coaches on the road recruiting later in the week.

Bohl said again this is a good time for a bye week. UW is 3-2 and both of its losses were by a combined 76 points to top 10 teams. Bohl said both Oregon and Michigan State may be top four teams.

The Cowboys lost 56-14 last Saturday at No. 9 Michigan State — now No. 10 in the polls — and Bohl said the Spartans played with a purpose and physicality that UW would one day like to be.

Bohl has talked about that a lot since he was hired as coach, but the players got to see first hand what that was all about.

Sam Hardy

Sam Hardy

“It was a whole different game there,” sophomore right guard Sam Hardy said. “They were physical, and you felt it on every play. That’s where we want to get to. It can happen, but it takes time. You can’t just wake up and be a physical team.”

Added senior linebacker Mark Nzeocha: “(Michigan State) was the most physical team we’ve faced. I wouldn’t say we weren’t prepared. We knew what was coming, but it was definitely something to get used to. It took us a while, and they took advantage of it.”

Bohl said it didn’t feel good for his team to witness first-hand how good and physical Michigan State was, but also said it was “critical” that it happened. “That should send a message to a lot of the younger players for them to say ‘that’s what coach is talking about.’ (Michigan State) was aggressive, coming off the ball and manhandling people. Sometimes you can talk until you are blue in the face, but until they see what it’s like is another things. They will learn from that.”

Here is video of Bohl’s Monday news conference:

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Kamana has extra motivation to play this week

Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for Wyoming redshirt freshman strong safety Tim Kamana when the Cowboys (3-1) play at No. 9 Michigan State.

Kamana’s father, Carter, lettered at Michigan State as a cornerback from 1981-84. Tim Kamana said his dad took him to a Michigan State football camp before his junior year of high school, and he also went to one before his senior year.

Kamana said Michigan State showed some interest in him, but there was no scholarship offer.

Saturday, with his dad in attendance and his sister, who attends Michigan State, Kamana gets to play in the same stadium his dad did 30 years ago.

And, Kamana could make his first-ever start as senior Jesse Sampson injured a knee in last Saturday’s 20-19 UW win over Florida Atlantic in Laramie.

Kamana’s uncle and grandfather both played college football at USC, so football is in the family blood. Here is what Kamana said about Saturday’s game:

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