Cowboys Return to the Practice Field
The Wyoming Cowboys took another step forward on Monday as they practiced in half pads for the first time since beginning fall practice last Friday. Enthusiasm was high during the one and a half hour practice as the Pokes point toward the opening weekend of the season on Oct. 24.
Head coach Craig Bohl spoke with media over a Zoom call following Monday evening’s practice. Bohl expressed how good it felt to be back preparing for the college football season.
“It is great to see everybody and I want you to know it’s super to have the media engaged,” said Bohl. “What you guys do is so important to college football. I know we’re all chomping at the bit to get going.”
Bohl was encouraged by several things he saw in Monday’s practice, but also pointed out areas that the Cowboys needed to improve. One of the positives Bohl highlighted was the play of the quarterbacks.
“We’re excited as players and coaches,” said Bohl. “Today was the first day not in full pads but in half pads. There were some good things out there. I think our quarterbacks are by and large a little bit ahead of where I thought they would be today. Our pad level is a little bit high, which you could expect. We worked on the kicking game, and we have some work to do there.
“But it’s good to get started. Obviously, we had no spring football. A lot of people are in the same position we’re in, but the great thing is we’ve got a hungry football team.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a schedule here pretty soon.”
Bohl was specifically asked if the quarterback position was an open competition, and the head coach spoke highly of both sophomore Sean Chambers and redshirt freshman Levi Williams.
“Sean (Chambers) is a little bit ahead, simply because of the number of plays he’s had in his career, but Levi (Williams) does some really good things. I think our freshmen do some good things, as well. They’ll be some open competition. There is no job that is secured. Sean has played a lot for us, but Levi has also done some good things there.”
Bohl described the mood at practice by saying, “The enthusiasm is really high. Typically, we’d be in the middle of camp right now and everyone would have tired legs at this time, but that is not where we’re at (due to the delay in the season.) I know our guys have worked hard. I think it’s great knowing that we’re playing someone in the conference each week this season and it's game on right from the start of the season. There is a sense of urgency. I know as a coaching staff we’re engaged, and I think we really have an engaged football team that is really excited about playing football.”
In the age of practicing during the time of the Coronavirus, Bohl was asked how practices have had to be adjusted in these first few days of the start of fall camp.
“We did more teamwork today,” said Bohl. “The first day of practice we did want to integrate some things within pods. We chart the number of minutes of exposure that guys have with one another and then we really work on social distancing. I think we were able to integrate more team activities today than we did on the first day of practice.”
The Cowboys during the Bohl era have always utilized a large number of players in practices by “double repping” as Bohl describes it. But he was asked if this year he was putting an even larger emphasis of practicing more young players to have more players available in case some players may test positive during the season and not be able to play in certain games.
“We have always repped a lot of guys in camp, and we are going to do that even more so this year because we have no idea who could or could not be playing. The NCAA also basically has thrown out players losing a year of eligibility this year, so it has really opened up everyone’s squad. It gives everyone an opportunity to play and so as a result we’re repping everybody and we’re evaluating everybody.”
When discussing facets of the game he feels his team may be a little bit behind on due to missing spring practice and then having the start of fall camp delayed, Bohl talked about the fact that players’ pad levels were not where he wanted to see them yet.
“It did become apparent to me today that our pad level was high and our ability to sustain blocks (on offense) or get off blocks (on defense) was not where we want it to be,” said Bohl. “But all teams are pretty much in the same situation in terms of the number of practices they had in the spring and now in the fall. It’s a race against the clock to get ready for the start of the season. We want to make sure our guys are fundamentally sound.”
Another area that showed well in Monday’s practice was the wide receiver position as a number of veterans and younger players both stepped up with big catches.
“The guys we had last year who are back have taken a step forward,” said Bohl. “But a couple of the young wide receivers have also been impressive. They have excellent athleticism. They’re very focused, and they’re very competitive. I would say they’re ahead of where a normal freshman would be. Competition brings out the best in everyone. We’re going to see which guys rise to the top. Unlike the practices without pads, we were able to see more today with half pads on and there are some guys making good plays.”
Of the returning veteran receivers, both senior Ayden Eberhardt and junior Gunner Gentry made multiple impressive catches in Monday’s practice. Of the young receivers, redshirt freshman Devin Jennings made a big catch on a deep pass down the sideline from quarterback Chambers on the final play of Monday’s practice.
Bohl’s Comments on Current NFL Cowboys
Bohl was asked what it was like to see so many former Cowboys have strong performances this past week across the NFL.
“Because we didn’t start practice until this past weekend, we’ve had more of a chance to watch the NFL than we’ve ever had the past couple of weeks,” said Bohl. “Last weekend, we had 15 players on active rosters. I’ve really been encouraged by Josh’s (Allen) performance and it was great to see Logan (Wilson) get his first pick.
“We’re a developmental program, and we’ve been provided the opportunity to recruit the right guys who want to take advantage of what we’re doing in our program. The NFL is not a perfect group, but they do a pretty darn good job of vetting the best players, so we’re really proud of the guys who’ve played here for us.
“We talk extensively here about our players focusing on getting a degree but every one of our players also has a desire to play in the NFL. To have 15 guys on NFL rosters -- we’re proud of that. If you go down the list of our guys playing and making an impact most of them weren’t heavily recruited. They’re a by-product of doing things the Wyoming Way -- coming in and working hard and being developed into becoming better.
“What it also speaks to is if you look at our facilities, our nutrition plan, our strength, and conditioning program and our style of play all those things help our recruiting. We play a pro-style offense and a pro-style defense. What (NFL) clubs also know is that if a guy is going to come through our program, they’re going to learn how to work hard and be very focused. That is where our players’ draft stock has gone up and their chance of getting in camps as free agents has improved.”
The Cowboys will return to practice Tuesday for another 5:15 p.m., Mountain Time practice.
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