Wyoming Cowboys Complete Second Day of Spring Practice, Prepare for First Day in Full Pads on Saturday

March 28, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The second day of spring football drills for the Wyoming Cowboys concluded on Friday morning, with head coach Craig Bohl saying he saw improvement in his team's performance and stating that he was pleased with his players' attitudes early in spring drills.

"A lot of what we've done these first two days have been getting our players and some of our new coaches acclimated to the way we operate," said first-year Wyoming head coach Bohl. "As much as you plan for spring ball, until you get out there on the grass -- that is when you really start to make progress.

"I thought our quarterbacks played better today. There were not as many errant throws.

"Our running backs are certainly looking strong.

"Defensively, I thought our pursuit angles and effort to get to the football were much better today.

"Tomorrow will be our first day in pads. That doesn't mean it's going to be a hit-fest, but the tempo will change once we get pads on everyone.

"The players attitudes have really been super.

"As I said earlier, I think a lot of these first couple practices came down to figuring out for the players how practice is going to work. And we added some new coaches to our staff, as well, so they also had to become familiar with how we want to run our practices.

"I was encouraged by the tempo today. Certainly our execution can improve. But from the naked eye, I believe we made improvement. I'll watch the tape of today's practice and pick out those things we need to improve on, but I've been really impressed with the attitude of our football team. These guys want to be good, and as coaches we now need to show them how to be good."

Bohl was asked about the practice plan he and his staff have implemented that utilizes two separate 11-on-11 drills running simultaneously, and how that allows for teaching and evaluating more players during each practice.

"It is critical to get as many reps for as many players as we can during each practice," said Bohl. "One thing Coach (Tom) Osborne always focused on was how people learn, and he was a Ph.D. in educational psychology. Football really comes down to 11-on-11 work. I know Coach (Bill) Parcells also believes in that.

"For us to be doing double reps right now really expands the amount of learning that our players are exposed to, and is going to come into play in developing depth on our football team. Sometime during Mountain West play next year, we may very well have a third team guy who needs to step in and play at a critical time during a game. Time and time again in my coaching career, those situations have happened, and there is no better way to learn and replicate game situations than to go out on the field and practice."

After mentioning that he was encouraged by the play of his running backs, the Cowboys' first-year head coach was asked what he saw in the running-back position that stood out to him. He was also asked about how he liked to utilize his backs, whether he preferred to have one back get the majority of the carries or whether he liked to spread the ball around among his backs.

"Every running back wants to have all the reps, but we would like to have at least two guys who can provide us a balance, so that we can interchange them during the course of a game," said Bohl. "Omar (Stover) tweaked his hamstring at the beginning of today's practice, but D.J. (May) and Shaun (Wick) were both out there and some of the other fellas were doing a good job.

"We're better at running back than what I had anticipated. I think we'll have a shot to be pretty competitive at that spot. In our system, we highlight that player, so it's good to have some guys in there who have some experience and, from what I'm seeing, some ability. We haven't put pads on yet, but I've seen enough to say I'm encouraged by that running-back spot.

"When you inherit a football team, these guys (players you have in your program) may have chose a different system than the one you are installing. But overall, looking at our running backs size and movements, they look like pro-style tailbacks. I'm not saying pro tailbacks from the standpoint that they are ready for the NFL, but they are pro-style running backs that fit into our pro-style offense. We'll see how spring goes, but I think we've got some good players there."

Bohl was also asked to comment about the experience that returns in the Cowboy secondary in 2014.

"I saw some good breaks on the ball today, and I was encouraged by the play of our secondary," said Bohl. "We threw the ball a little bit better today, but I also saw the secondary guys converge at the proper places and midpoint the football properly.

"Now we're still pretty elementary, offensively, so as we expand our offense it's going to challenge those secondary guys. But we do have quite a bit of experience back there, and we're going to need to leverage that."

The head coach was asked specifically about redshirt junior cornerback Tyran Finley, who is returning after being injured in the season opener at Nebraska last year and missed the remainder of the 2013 season.

"I saw him (Tyran Finley) come up on a play with a real burst and make a great effort to the football," said Bohl. "I'm sure there were more times than just that one that caught my eye that I'll see on tape where he made good plays on the ball. He showed that he's got some really good acceleration."

The Cowboys will don full pads for the first time on Saturday morning, and in preparation for that first padded practice, Bohl was asked how the practices will change once the Pokes are in full pads.

"You certainly learn more at the line of scrimmage," said Bohl. "What we're trying to do right now is teach our guys how to practice and to stay on their feet. There is a little bit more of a pro mentality in how we practice. We aren't looking to go out and just conduct smash-mouth practices. But the nature of our football team is we are going to be a Cowboy Tough football team.

"The next progression in our practices -- going from just helmets into pads -- you're not going to see a huge difference. You'll probably see some more physical play at the point of attack, when linemen are taking on double teams or when fullbacks are kicking out on a block, situations like that."

The Cowboys first full-padded practice is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 29. The first 30 minutes of practices are open to the media and public and closed after the first 30 minutes. The Spring Game on Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m. will be open to the media and 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 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 - Time is TBA (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 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15) Open to the Public