LARAMIE – Thursday saw the Wyoming Cowboys continue their preparations for a trip to Casper, Wyo., this Saturday where the Pokes will conduct their first scrimmage of 2017 spring practice. Saturday’s scrimmage will be held at 1 p.m. on Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona County High School in Casper. The scrimmage will be free and open to the public.
Thursday’s practice in Laramie was cut a little bit short due to continuing illnesses causing several players to miss practice. But head coach Craig Bohl said the team is looking forward to taking Cowboy Football on the road.
“We’re the University of Wyoming, and we have a large state,” said Bohl. “For us to have an opportunity to take Cowboy football to different parts of our state I think is important. I know our other sports have done that, going to Gillette, Rock Springs, Torrington, Star Valley. We’re another program that is doing that.
“It was enjoyable for us to go to Cheyenne last year, and for us to go to Casper this year is great. I don’t know if we can go much further than that. When you take a football team on the road it’s like moving an army. But the weather looks good for this weekend, we’re going to roll down the road and we’re excited about it.”
Asked if the recent rash of illnesses on the Cowboy Football team may affect the Cowboys ability to scrimmage this Saturday, Bohl responded, “Come hell or high water, we’re scrimmaging up in Casper. We’d like to get up to 100 plays in Saturday, but that may be limited some. We’re getting hit pretty hard at some positions. We appreciate the guys who are out there, but there are only so many plays a guy can go in a row. We’ve got to be mindful of that, and we have a lot of spring football to go.”
Given the number of players out due to illness and some others out due to injury this spring, the head coach was asked if that benefits some of the younger players on the squad.
“This does give opportunities for the younger guys to get more repetitions,” said Bohl. “With Andrew Wingard out, it gives our safeties more opportunities. That is the same at other positions. Spring football is one of the favorite times we have as coaches because we have a chance to work with everybody, and we’re getting a chance to get a better look at these younger guys with some veterans out.”
In terms of the format for Saturday’s scrimmage, Bohl added, “We’ll have the No. 1 offense go for seven plays or so, and then rotate the No. 2s in and repeat that to keep players fresh. We’d like to see some red-zone work on offense and defense, as well as some short-yardage situations. If that isn’t created in the flow of the scrimmage, we’ll create those special situations. We’ll have some kicking incorporated in the scrimmage, as well.”
Among the Cowboys who will be returning home for Saturday’s scrimmage in Casper is junior tight end Josh Harshman and sophomore linebacker Logan Wilson. Bohl provided an update on Wilson’s move from weak-side to middle linebacker this spring, along with an update on some other Cowboy linebackers.
“I think he’s (Logan Wilson) really grasped that position (middle linebacker) well,” said Bohl. “It’s more of a vocal position. There are some similarities, but definitely some differences between the two positions. He’s moving around well.
“Cassh Maluia is also making a change from SAM (strong-side linebacker) to WILL (weak-side linebacker) and is handling that move well. It was also good to have Jalen Ortiz out there today, taking reps at the Nickel/SAM.”
The other position Bohl was asked about on Thursday was the quarterback position where junior starter Josh Allen returns along with fellow junior Nick Smith.
“I think Josh (Allen) is carrying his added weight well,” said Bohl. “He is a real mobile guy, and he showed that last year. I think in addition to adding weight, his core strength has improved, his arm is a little bit stronger. His strength is going to serve him well and is going to serve our football team well.
“Nick (Smith) is a really bright player. He didn’t take any snaps in games last year, but he played the previous year and is a great student of the game. I think he has improved his throwing ability and certainly has a great understanding of our offense. He’s one of the guys who can really learn on the sideline and in the film room — really as well as anyone I’ve seen. He’s an outstanding student on top of that, and I’m really pleased with his progress.”
Thursday’s practice was conducted under ideal conditions in War Memorial Stadium, with temperatures in the 60s. Wyoming will be concluding its third week of spring football with their first scheduled scrimmage on Saturday.
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