Cowboys Conclude Fall Camp With Saturday Practice

The Wyoming Cowboys wrapped up fall camp on Saturday morning with a two-hour practice in War Memorial Stadium.  Saturday’s practice was structured to put the Cowboy offensive and defensive units in game-like situations against scout team units simulating the offense and defense of next Saturday’s season-opening opponent Northern Illinois. 

Wyoming kicks off the 2016 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3 against the NIU Huskies at Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium.  The game is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m., Mountain Time start.    

Fans interested in purchasing tickets to 2016 Wyoming Cowboy Football games may: go online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets; email tickets@uwyo.edu; call the UW Athletics Ticket Office at (307) 766-7220; or stop by the ticket office on the west side of UW’s Arena-Auditorium.

Following Saturday’s practice Cowboy head coach @Craig announced the team captains for 2016 as selected by their teammates.  On offense, senior offensive lineman Chase Roullier was selected a team captain for the second consecutive season.  He was joined by redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen and senior tight end Jacob Hollister.  On defense, senior middle linebacker   Lucas Wacha was also named a team captain for the second straight year.  He was joined by sophomore strong safety Marcus Epps .  For Allen, Hollister and Epps it was the first time they had been named a team captain at Wyoming.

“I feel good about those guys,” said Bohl.  “Kind of a sprinkling of some upperclassmen and some underclassmen.  We’ve had good leadership and good focus as a football team, and we appreciate these guys for leadership.”

Bohl explained after Saturday’s practice why he and his staff structured the practice as they did, rather than conducting a final scrimmage of fall camp.

“Today’s format was game-like situations.  There was hardly any full contact,” said Bohl.  “We tried to create as many scenarios and situations that will either occur in the first game or at some time during the season.  We had coaches on headsets and had a full officiating crew here to make it more of a game situation than a practice.

“I thought for the most part we were pretty clean in our execution today, but some of the things I was disappointed in were we had a couple misalignments and a couple illegal shifts that we need to clean up.

 “On a positive note, I thought Josh (Allen) threw the football well today.  He was on point, and I think we’ve got a pretty capable group of wide receivers.

 “Defensively, the things we were looking for was having all the guys in the right spots.  We didn’t take anyone down to the ground.  We just wanted to get the right run fits in and things like that, and we worked exclusively against Northern Illinois offensive schemes.

“We’ve had quite a bit of live work this fall.  There was no 1s versus 1s today -- it was strictly scout team work.  As a coach, you always have a choice to go full contact or not, but there so many situations that you want to cover before the season and we thought it was important to cover those special situations again today.”

Highlights for the offense in Saturday’s practice were two touchdown connections between Allen and senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry .  Allen hit Gentry on a 42-yard TD across the middle and later connected on a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Defensively, Wacha had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown and junior cornerback Rico Gafford  intercepted two passes for touchdowns of 19 and 24 yards.

Senior linebacker Eric Nzeocha  made two big plays, forcing a fumble and recovering an on-side kick for the receiving team. 

Bohl also commented on the play of his special teams in Saturday’s post-practice meeting with media.

“I think the kicking game was a little bit of a mixed bag today,” said Bohl.  “We had some good kickoffs, but we missed a field goal.  I was a little bit disappointed in that. Austin Conway did some good things in the return game.”

A number of key Cowboy veterans, who had missed time during fall camp due to muscle pulls, all returned to practice this week.  Those included senior wide receivers Gentry and Jake Maulhardt, junior cornerback Robert Priester and sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard.  Bohl did report to media that no injuries were suffered during Saturday’s practice.

“There are a lot fewer guys out there in red shirts (red jerseys indicate injured players), and that is part of what you do as a head coach is make sure by the time you get to that first game that you have pretty much your full lineup.  I don’t  see anybody who won’t be available for our first game.  We certainly have another week of practice, and we’re going to have a full-padded practice on Monday.  But I’m in hopes that we are going to be very healthy going into the season opener.”

 When asked if there were other individuals who stood out in the 24th and final practice of fall camp, Bohl said, “I thought Jake Hollister did some nice things from a receiving standpoint, and Tanner Gentry did, as well. Ryan Cummings (junior offensive tackle) is improving his game.  I thought he was on point with his performance.  The other guy who showed up a lot was Rico Gafford, who had two picks that would have been pick sixs.”

 The Cowboys’ third-year head coach was also asked if there were some newcomers who he anticipated playing this coming season and not redshirting.  A couple of obvious ones are true freshman place-kicker Cooper Rothe and true freshman offensive guard Gavin Rush, who are both expected to begin the season as starters.

“I’ll probably forget a couple guys, but Rico Gafford, even though he’s not a freshman is a newcomer to our program as a junior-college player, and he will play this coming season. Alijah Halliburton (freshman safety) is a guy we’ll probably be playing in some situations. John Okwoli is another freshman as a receiver who we think is going to see the field. Cassh Maluia (freshman linebacker) is going to be one of those guys who will play.    

“I’m remiss in that I’ve probably left someone out, but it’s not as many as what we had last year.” 

Finally, Bohl was asked to assess if he was able to accomplish what he and his staff wanted to during fall camp, and he was asked how he felt about his team as they approach the start of the regular season one week from today.

“I like our team,” said Bohl.  “We’re still a work in progress, but there is progress that has been made.  I think the attention to detail for fall camp has been good.  We’re still young, but the guys are more focused, more bought in. 

“I think we have more athleticism.  I’m really pleased with the progression of our quarterback play, and I think that is going to be a big element to our offense along with our running backs -- we’ve seen good things from both Brian Hill and Shaun Wick.

“It was great to see Andrew Wingard out there today in the secondary.  He’s been full speed this week.  So to answer your question, yes I’m pleased.

“We’re making progress as a football team, and I’m real excited to be their head football coach as we move into the season.  There is no doubt there will be some bumps, but it is important that we continue to move forward.  The attitude has been great from our players, and it is the first fall camp that I have been through that we have had zero people quit.”

Following Saturday’s practice, the Cowboys will have Sunday off before moving into the first week of regular-season practice preparation for the season opener next Saturday, Sept. 3.