GAMEDAY: UW-New Mexico football notes, quotes and video

Wyoming plays its season-finale today at New Mexico with a 1 p.m. kickoff at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Cowboys are 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain West. The Lobos are 3-8, 1-6 and will be looking for their first home win of the season.

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi and editor Scott Nulph previewing the game:

UW and New Mexico will play for the 67th time. That is the fourth-longest series for the Cowboys, and second-longest active series — second only to the Border War with Colorado State (106 games).

Dominic Rufran

Dominic Rufran

Senior receiver Dominic Rufran needs two catches to become only the fifth player in school history to record 200 career catches. He also needs seven receiving yards to pass Malcom Floyd (2000-03) for sixth in career receiving yards. If Rufran catches one pass, he will end his career with a catch in 49 straight games, which is a school record and the longest active streak in the nation.

The two teams have five common opponents — Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State an Utah State. UW is 2-3 in those games with wins over Air Force and Fresno State. New Mexico is 0-5, but four of the five losses were by 11 points or less.

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Run game could be even more vital for Cowboys in finale

We all know that first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl wants to be a run-first offense that is tough and physical.

At times UW has shown that, at other times it hasn’t gone according to plan. But if the Cowboys can do that in their season-finale Saturday at New Mexico, that will go a long way to help make up for what could be an inexperienced quarterback — and possibly end the season with a victory.

New Mexico has the nation’s fourth-best rushing offense, but it allows 278.1 rushing yards per game, and Colorado State’s Dee Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns last week in the Rams’ 58-20 victory.

Rafe Kiely

Rafe Kiely

“It’s an exciting thought,” said UW junior center Rafe Kiely on the chance the Cowboys will try to run the ball even more against New Mexico. “We along the offensive line is much more physical this year, and take a lot more pride in our run blocking than in the past.

“This year there so much more of an emphasis on getting on guys and getting them to the ground. I know a lot of guys are licking their lips to go out (to New Mexico) and pound the ball on the ground.”

UW true freshman running back Brian Hill leads the Cowboys with six rushing touchdowns, and had two in last Saturday’s 63-14 home loss to Boise State. He had his string of three straight 100-yard games snapped against Boise State. Hill has 639 rushing yards, and trails junior Shaun Wick by 66 yards to take the team lead.

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A day of extremes for Cowboys

It was a day-night doubleheader of men’s basketball and football in Laramie Saturday for Wyoming, and the outcome of both was like a night-and-day contrast.

Let’s start with the good.

The Cowboys were impressive in a 56-33 victory over Colorado in hoops. UW (3-0) held Colorado (2-1) to nine second-half points and to only two baskets. The offense was unselfish, and I don’t think I’ve ever covered a game where there were assists on all 22 baskets.

And, this wasn’t against some no-name team. Colorado was ranked 27th in the AP poll last week and was picked to finish third in the Pac-12.

And, the lob pass junior guard Josh Adams threw to senior forward Larry Nance Jr. was pretty cool, and earned the top play on ESPN SportCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.

“Sigh of relief. It was awesome and it felt great just to be back up there,” Nance said of the dunk.

Here’ what the players and coach Larry Shyatt said after the game:

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Cowboys have plenty to plan and prepare for with Ducks

Even the the least-knowledgeable football fans can watch No. 2 Oregon — on tape, on TV or live — and see it a talented group.

First-year Wyoming coach Craig Bohl echoed those sentiments prior to Tuesday’s practice.

Where do you start if your the Cowboys defense?

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

“They have a quarterback that when he runs around makes five guys miss,” said Bohl about Oregon junior and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota. “You look at his physical dimensions and he’s 6-4. One of their receivers is the fastest high-hurdler in the country (Devon Allen). … I can go on and on.”

Added Bohl about Mariota: “Beyond his athleticism, which is exceptional, I think he makes really good decisions. He’s been operating in that system for a long time, and he understands it well.”

Senior Sam Stratton and senior-to-be Cameron Coffman, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Indiana, are Mariota on the Cowboys’ scout team this week.

Bohl said UW will work on the crowd noise it will face Saturday at Autzen Stadium, one of the loudest stadiums in the nation. During the early portions of Tuesday’s practice, the offensive line did some work with silent counts.

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UW-Air Force Monday press conference highlights

Mondays are when media has the most access to Wyoming football players and coaches during game week.

Here are some of the more notable items:

–First-year coach Craig Bohl recapped the 17-12 win over Montana, and said UW’s minus-2 turnover margin was something that needs to improve. “We can withstand one, but we need to do a better job (defensively) when the ball is in the air and stripping that the ball.”

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

–Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard said the biggest improvement he and the offense needs to make is with those turnovers. Kirkegaard lost a fumble and threw an interception in the end zone against the Grizzlies. “Some of our negative plays were self-inflicted,” he said. “There were a lot of factors in that. We have to smooth out those first-game jitters, I guess, and just be more consistent with the positive plays.”

–Bohl described the players’ attitude leading up and during the Montana game as “excellent.” He added: “Some people on the outside may not think that’s a big deal, but it is.”

–Sophomore running back D.J. May and senior receiver Jalen Claiborne didn’t finish the Montana game due to injuries, but Bohl said both were expected to practice Monday night. Both were listed on UW’s two-deep roster Monday.

–Bohl said Air Force is an “excellent” team. After just watching tape of the Falcons’ 44-16 win over Nicholls last Saturday, Bohl said the Falcons are much better than their 2-10 record of last season due to the play at quarterback, running back and fullback. For more on that, and a minor change to UW’s depth chart this week, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to

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UW fall camp – Day 19

It was breezy and cool for Wyoming’s 23rd practice of fall camp Friday morning, and it was one of the longer practices as it was scheduled to go for about two-and-a-half hours

The team was in full pads.

Tim Hayes

Tim Hayes

The defense had a walk-through prior to practice with the back seven in what looked to be nickel situations. Sophomore Tim Hayes saw the most time as the nickel defensive back. There were no significant personnel changes. True freshman Robert Priester and redshirt junior Tyran Finley worked with the No. 2 defense at cornerback. Redshirt freshman Tim Kamana and sophomore Xavier Lewis were the safeties with the No. 2 defense.

UW worked on punting early in practice. Sophomore Ethan Wood and senior Stuart Williams both had some good punts. Even true freshman walk-on Pierce Royster had a nice one. First-year coach Craig Bohl said Wood has done a good job since returning to practice Thursday punting the ball, and also likes how Williams has done kicking field goals.

Here is Bohl after practice:

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UW fall camp – Day 18

The schedule says Thursday was practice No. 22 of fall camp, but as senior quarterback Sam Stratton led the team break after stretching, he said it was the start of game week preparation for the Aug. 30 opener against Montana.

And, there was some evidence of that as true freshmen quarterbacks Nick Smith and Austin Fort wore No. 10 jerseys — the same as Montana senior quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Either way, UW practiced in shoulder pads and shorts in War Memorial Stadium.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

Sophomore punter Ethan Wood was back for the first time since his parents were killed in a plane crash Aug. 9. Prior to practice Wood and senior Stuart Williams did some punting. There was no punt rush or anything like that. However, Wood looked pretty good as he got some good height and distance on many of his at or near his own end zone. Wood drew some praise from first-year coach Craig Bohl.

UW started practice with some 11-on-11 work. There was not a lot of big plays by the offense, but redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard threw a nice, medium-ranged pass to senior receiver Jalen Claiborne along the sideline. Kirkegaard was accurate throughout the drill. Sophomore Tom Thornton, Kirkegaard’s backup, was the only other quarterback to take snaps in the drill.

The Cowboys rotated guys along the offensive line. Sophomore guard Sam Hardy took snaps at both the left and right side. Junior Jake Jones did as well. Sophomore Chase Roullier also took some snaps at center, as did sophomore Jacob English.

Here is what Bohl said after practice:

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UW fall camp – Day 15

Monday marked the last of five two-a-day practices, and the players were in shoulder pads and shorts Monday morning.

It also was the first practice since last Saturday’s scrimmage, and a day off for the players. But first-year coach Craig Bohl said some players were late to breakfast and he had to get on them prior to practice.

Here is what Bohl had to say after Monday morning’s practice:

UW’s new walk-on kicker — true freshman Pierce Royster — was at practice. He was not in pads as he has to go through an acclimation period. But he did some kicking with senior Stuart Williams prior to practice as Bohl watched. Both guys kicked field goals off a tee from numerous distances and locations on the field. Williams looked to be the most consistent of the two, and made one from 52 yards.

Here is a quick video of that:

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UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming’s first period of its Saturday morning practice was some 11-on-11 work.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he often does this because it is a good — and difficult — drill for the quarterbacks because there is a lot of “chaos” going on. It allows them to think things through and prepare for what might happen in the early portions of any game. In this case, it is for the season-opener three weeks from today against Montana.

There was a good mix of the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense and twos vs. twos.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

No big surprises with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the ones. UW is still without their two starting right tackles in sophomore Nathan Leddige (left) and senior Connor Rains (right) due to head and concussion issues. Rains was at Saturday morning’s practice in uniform, and Bohl said he didn’t have a concusssion Leddige was not at the practice, and does have a concussion.

Redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman was on the left side and junior Austin Traphagan on the right with the No. 1 offense. With the twos it looked like true freshman Ryan Cummings on the left and redshirt freshman Taylor Knestis on the right.

Added Bohl on the offensive line: “I’d say of all the position groups on the field that is unsettled, that’s it.”

UW practiced in shoulder pads and helmets, so there was no tackling. The No. 1 defense recorded a few sacks. Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha had one.

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

For the second-teamers, sophomore quarterback Tom Thornton thew a nice deep ball to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.

Kirkegaard and Thornton were the only quarterbacks who took snaps during that team period.

Saw a handful of true freshmen get some time with the No. 2 units. On offense, there was Cummings along the line, and tight ends Brinkley Jolley and Grant Lewis. Defensively, there was cornerbacks Robert Priester and Ryon’e Winters, and safety Chavez Pownell Jr.

UW lists three positions on defense with an “or” in terms of the starters. For this team period, senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton, senior outside linebacker Devyn Harris and sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby worked with the first team. However, their backups — senior Alex Borgs, sophomore Lucas Wacha and sophomore Uso Olive — all played a lot. Bohl said among the linebacker, Stanton and Harris are likely to be the starters. He also said Appleby and Olive both will play a lot, along with the starter and backup at defensive tackle. The starter is senior Patrick Mertens. The backup is unknonw, but redshirt junior Troy Boyland appears to be the favorite.

After that team period UW went into some individual drill work, and here are some video highlights from that:

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UW fall camp update – Day 5

Craig Bohl was fired-up for a short time.

The first-year Wyoming football coach was getting on his guys, who he thought were coming in late for stretching prior to Friday’s fifth practice of fall camp.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

But offensive coordinator Brent Vigen informed Bohl that he was running 10 minutes early.

Bohl laughed about it, and then the Cowboys went about their business.

Friday marked the first practice in full pads. As it has for the last few days, UW began the practice working on special teams work. Today was punting.

Bohl said senior quarterback Sam Stratton would stay at that position, but be involved in other aspects of the offense. Stratton got a look at catching punts Friday. Here is some video of that, and some of the other guys fielding punts.

Redshirt junior cornerback Tyran Finley, senior receiver Jalen Claiborne and redshirt junior running back D.J. May also caught punts.

As for the punting itself, sophomore Ethan Wood had some good punts and some not-so-good ones. That has been the pattern with him early in camp.

Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha and true freshman safety Chavez Pownell Jr.both blocked punts.

Sophomore long snapper Brendan Turelli took care of the snapping duties. However, he was not in full pads. This was only his second practice of camp so he has to get two more practices under his belt before he can get into full pads. Here is what Bohl had to say after Friday’s practice:   Continue reading