LARAMIE – The Wyoming Cowboys practiced under ideal conditions in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Saturday’s practice saw additional live contact and for the first time this spring included game officials to help simulate more game-like conditions. Much of the live work on Saturday gave a number of younger players on the Cowboy roster an opportunity to show what they could do in live, full-contact situations.
Asked if the offense or defense got the better of Saturday’s practice, Bohl responded, “It was a pretty good mix. You’ll see an interception here, see a touchdown pass there. We did some live scrimmaging with some of our younger units today. We’ll take a look at that, but I saw some good things on both sides.
“We worked in the red zone a little bit today, and we’re continuing to install more of our systems. I thought some younger receivers did some good things out there, which was encouraging.”
Saturday’s practice concluded the second of five weeks of spring practice, and Bohl was asked to assess where he felt his team was at this point in spring ball.
“I think we’re a little bit ahead (of schedule),” said Bohl. “I try to be pretty objective, but I think we’re a little bit ahead of where we wanted to be. In terms of the schemes we have installed, I see guys making plays. As we go through spring practice, the three things we strive to do are one, evaluate personnel. We like to do as many live situations as we can to get a book of film on guys. Second is to install our systems. I think we’re making good progress there. And then the third thing you strive to do is diversify your offense, defense and kicking game.
“We’re probably further along offensively in accomplishing that third goal. Defensively, we’re making strides there. In the kicking game, I think we’re in a pretty elementary stage, but I can tell you that Cooper (Rothe) is kicking the ball well. I think he missed one today, but he drilled one from 50 yards that split the uprights, and I think he’s gaining confidence.”
The involvement of game officials in officiating Saturday’s practice was done to give both players and coaches more of a game-like situation during the scrimmage periods.
“What we strive to do is bring college officials in about three times during the spring,” said Bohl. “It’s a collection of guys from different leagues. Some of the guys have worked our games and other ones are referees who are working (NCAA) Division II games, who now get an opportunity to get some work in as they try to move up.
“What it does for us is it cleans up some of the challenges we face, whether it is some type of defensive holding, offensive holding, offsides. When coaches are trying to police that sometimes we miss those penalties when at the same time we’re concerned about the schematics.”
Bohl confirmed to media in attendance on Saturday that junior free safety Andrew Wingard did break his left hand during last Thursday’s practice.
“It was a break,” said Bohl. “They’re not going to pin it, and right now it’s non-surgical. They’ll put a cast on it, and he’ll be out the rest of spring.”
An area of the defense Bohl was asked to assess on Saturday was the Cowboys’ interior defensive line. A trio of experienced players return in juniors Conner Cain and Sidney Malauulu and sophomore Youhanna Ghaifan. Bohl was asked about Cain’s move to nose tackle toward the end of last season when 2016 senior Chase Appleby was lost for the season, and whether that was a permanent move or if the nose tackle and defensive tackle positions were somewhat interchangeable.
“Some of the techniques are very similar between nose tackle and defensive tackle,” said Bohl. “We’re trying to find our best two, but on the defensive line we rotate a lot of guys there. Right now, Conner (Cain) and Youhanna (Ghaifan) are the top two, but Sid (Maluulu) is playing really well also.”
Looking ahead to week three of spring practice, Bohl said his coaching staff will continue to integrate more live work and continue to add more installation in all three phases, as well as start to emphasize more in the area of special teams.
Week three of spring practice will include afternoon practices on Tuesday and Thursday. The third week will conclude with the first scheduled scrimmage of spring next Saturday, April 8. That scrimmage will be held at 1 p.m. in Casper, Wyo., on Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona County High School. That scrimmage will be open to the media and the general public.
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