Pokes Complete First Full-Padded Practice Wednesday

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Nico Evans runs drills at UW's first padded practice. UW Photo

LARAMIE– The first full-padded practice of fall camp highlighted the Wyoming Cowboys’ morning practice on Wednesday.

As the Cowboys prepare for their season opener against the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday, August 25 it was announced by NMSU that the game will be televised on ESPN2 and the game time has been moved to 8 pm, Mountain Time.

Pokes Have an Aggressive Practice

Following Wednesday’s practice, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl addressed media in the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center.

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“We were more aggressive today than what we normally have been on the first full-padded day,” said Bohl. “We did some live contact work, which we feel is important.

“Freshmen who really popped out today — Jevon Bigelow (running back) did some really good things for the second straight practice, and Chad Muma (linebacker) also did some good things, so just wanted to note a couple freshmen who we are going to take a hard look at playing this year.

“There is still a lot of water that’s got to go under the bridge, but right now those guys are doing good things. Solomon Byrd is another freshman (defensive end), who is starting to emerge.

“As far as upper classmen, Youhanna Ghaifan continues to be a dominant player, along with Carl Granderson. I know I probably sound like a broken record talking about those two guys. Sometimes I get a little bit concerned about our offensive line, but I have to recognize that those two guys are very talented.”

Emphasis on Physical Practices

Bohl said the installation of offense, defense, and kicking game continues as the Cowboys completed only their fifth day of fall camp.

The fifth-year Wyoming head coach said that the emphasis on physical practices will continue throughout fall camp.

“We’ll alternate how much contact we’ll have as we go through fall practice, but it’s going to be important this year that we’re more physical in fall camp than what we’ve been in the past,” said Bohl.

“We’re in hopes that we can stave off some injuries but one of our offensive linemen went down today. ‘Big E’ (Eric Abojei, redshirt freshman offensive guard) took a big, big hit. The initial diagnosis is a concussion, so we will make sure he is in protocol. We’ll find out a little bit more this afternoon.”

Evaluating the Younger Players

Bohl was asked how he and his staff were approaching the evaluation of young players with the new NCAA rule that allows a player to play up to four games at any point of the season and still redshirt.

“Some of our younger players we will integrate from time to time. I think a lot of my colleagues around the country are also trying to figure it out,” said Bohl. “But we’ll have some other young players who will just be playing (in all games).

“A guy like Chad (Muma), who may play on special teams, or Jevon (Bigelow), who can do some things on special teams, if a guy is playing on teams he is going to play all the time. It won’t just be a four-game deal.”

Returning to Practice After Injuries

A veteran Cowboy who returned to practice on Wednesday was senior defensive end Kevin Prosser. Freshman DeVaughn Brown was held out of practice due to a thigh contusion.

Junior wide receiver John Okwoli participated only on a limited basis and was in a red jersey due to a hand injury that Bohl said the team doctors were continuing to evaluate.

Using the Tackle Challenge in Practice

One of the drills and is used by the Wyoming coaching staff to stimulate competition between the offense and defense is the Tackle Challenge, a one-on-one tackling drill that pits an offensive player, who is trying to gain 10 yards, against a defensive player, who is trying to prevent the offensive player from gaining those 10 yards.

“There is a drill (the tackle challenge) that we do — it’s kind of an old-fashioned drill where there is a lot of spirited competition,” said Bohl.

“As you get in the middle of fall camp, sometimes you need to shake some things up, and also I think it is important to put guys out in a one-on-one situation in front of their peers and see who is going to perform and who is not going to perform. We’ll interject that drill from time to time.”

On Wednesday, that drill stimulated a lot of good-hearted back and forth celebration between the offensive and defensive units. Perhaps the most rousing celebration came after sophomore offensive guard Logan Harris got a chance to carry the ball and used a nice spin move to gain a first down followed by his offensive teammates swarming him in celebration.

The Cowboys will return to practice on Thursday for a morning practice. Practices are closed to the public.