Spring Practice Continues in Laramie

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*Courtesy Wyoming Media Relations

Laramie, Wyo. (April 4, 2014) -- After completion of Friday morning’s practice, Cowboy head coach Craig Bohl said he was pleased with the progress his team has made through the first six practices of spring and was looking forward to the Cowboys’ first scrimmage that will take place on Saturday morning. Saturday’s scrimmage, which will be closed to media and the general public, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will last approximately one and a half hours. Media will have access to conduct interviews with players and coaches following the scrimmage.

“Tomorrow’s scrimmage will be a big, big opportunity for us to take another step forward and see what type of football team we have,” said Bohl. “Our depth is getting a little bit thin at spots, particularly at wide receiver, but guys are working through it.

“The double reps are paying off and we’re seeing a broad-based improvement. I’m pleased with our progress. I thought we had a good day today. Tomorrow the lights will be on and we’ll start to see what kind of team we really have.”

Bohl added that Saturday’s scrimmage will pit the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, the No. 2 offensive and defensive units against one another and the No. 3 units versus each other.

“I’ve specked out some of the rules and reps that we’ll follow,” said Bohl. “It will be a controlled scrimmage. It’s not going to be a situational scrimmage. We’re basically looking to get in a set number of plays. I think right now we still have enough (healthy) players to have a pretty long scrimmage.

“We’ll integrate kicking plays within the scrimmage -- punts, punt returns and field goals. We won’t do any kickoffs.

“We have four quarterbacks out there working right now, and it’s important for those guys to have an opportunity. They’ll be in blue jerseys. They won’t have live contact, but they will have to operate with guys coming at them and will have to manage a huddle. All the coaches will be off the field. It will be a game-like situation.”

When asked about what he hopes to see in the scrimmage setting that he hasn’t been able to see in the first six practices, Bohl said, “What you learn is at the point of attack -- what guys can really make a play, particularly on defense. As coaches we try to project ‘is this guy in the right place, is he in a tackling position,’ but until you actually see players do it in a live situation you can’t really fully evaluate them. On the flip side, if you’re a running back or a receiver, can you make a play, can you make a guy miss. As opposed to having everything perfectly blocked for an eight-yard gain, can you turn that play into a 50-yard gain. So we’ll be looking for those things on offense.

“We’ve been stressing pursuit angles and effort to the football on defense. Last year, quite frankly as I looked at our (statistical) numbers, they were abysmal numbers on defense and we’ve got to improve that. If you’re going to win championships, you’ve got to play really good defense. You’re not always going to be in the right place every time, but pursuit angles, effort to the football and gang tackling come into play, so we’re going to see tomorrow how we fare with that.”

In addition to the obvious focus on evaluating the quarterback position, Bohl was asked if there were any other specific positions that he would be focusing on evaluating in Saturday’s first spring scrimmage.

“I think the tight-end position, it’s such an unproven position on our team right now, and the fullback position,” said Bohl. “There are some projections we’ve tried to make there. Those spots are going to have an impact on our offense and where we can take our offense from here. We’re going to be a work in progress offensively even through this next year. The sooner we can integrate those players, whether it’s the tight end or the fullback, into our system I think it is going to have a big, big impact on what exactly we can do.

“Coach (Brent) Vigen has a really good pulse on our personnel. We’ll stress those positions a little bit tomorrow, but then we’re going to come back and say ‘okay, this is what we really have’. Those positions (tight end and fullback) are going to be important for us tomorrow.”

When requested to expound on the fullback position and how it has progressed through the first half of spring drills, Bohl said, “We’ve had good effort, and on some of the power plays and things we do the ‘want to’ is there. That is a technically tough position. Beyond being a physical position, you have to read a lot of things on the run and then be aggressive, so I think they’re still feeling their way. Some of the things are pretty good. I’ve looked at some of our plays and the timing looks pretty good, they’re covering up guys in the right spots.

“A fullback, I hate to say it, is almost a glorified offensive guard. The number of opportunities that they’re going to have to carry the football is pretty limited, but what they do is critical as far as our effectiveness on offense to have a good running and passing game.”

And how does the Cowboys’ head coach see the installation process progressing in spring camp?

“The base systems are in, but they’re not polished yet,” said Bohl. “We’re going to continue to add things through the course of the spring. We’re feeding our guys with a fire hose right now. It’s not a situation where we’re taking incremental baby steps. The base elements of our offense and defense, and the lion’s portion of our kicking game is in.”

Bohl announced on Friday that two student-athletes had decided to leave the Cowboy Football program for personal reasons. Senior offensive tackle Walker Madden and junior linebacker Devin McKenna both notified the Cowboy coaching staff this week that they were leaving the team. Madden started 10 of the 11 games he played in at left tackle last year in his only season competing for the Cowboys after transferring from College of the Desert Community College in California. McKenna joined the team in the fall of 2013 as a walk-on after transferring from Sacred Heart College in Connecticut. He did not play in any games for the Cowboys during his time with the program.

After Saturday’s scrimmage the Pokes will be at the midpoint of spring practice, having completed seven practices with seven practices and the Spring Game remaining on the spring schedule.

The Spring Game on Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m. will be open to the media and the general public.

2014 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule

Wednesday, March 26 8:15 a.m. (No Pads, Practice #1)

Friday, March 28 8:15 a.m. (No Pads, Practice #2)

Saturday, March 29 10:00 a.m. (First Padded Practice/Non-Tackle, Practice #3)

Monday, March 31 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #4)

Wednesday, April 2 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #5)

Friday, April 4 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #6)

Saturday, April 5 11:00 a.m. (Scrimmage #1, Practice #7)

Monday, April 7 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #8)

Wednesday, April 9 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #9)

Friday, April 11 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #10)

Saturday, April 12 Time is TBA (Scrimmage #2, Practice #11)

Monday, April 14 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #12)

Wednesday, April 16 8:15 a.m. (Pads, Practice #13)

Friday, March 18 8:15 a.m. (No Pads, Practice #14)

Saturday, April 19 2:00 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15) Open to the Public

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