LARAMIE, Wyo. -
On Thursday, the Wyoming Cowboy football team held their fifth of 15 spring practices. The Pokes practiced for two hours in the University of Wyoming Indoor Practice Facility.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said he wished he could get his team back outside in the near future, but was pleased with the quality of the practice they were able to complete indoors.
“We had a good practice today. We would like to be outside, but we were still inside today,” said head Bohl. “Our indoor facility allows us to move forward with quality practices. We only have 15 practices in spring, and everyone of those practices is important. To have this facility is critical. I know our other sports use it, as well. We’ve been in there every day but one this spring, and by and large, with the exception of some things in the kicking game, we’re able to get a lot of good work done. I like being outside bundled up, as an old football coach, but we get more done inside. Bohl was asked to assess where his team was a third of the way through spring drills.
“We have more speed and athleticsm,” Bohl said. “I think our guys are understanding what we are trying to do much better. We are more competitive. I think we are more athletic and more competent in the secondary, and I think our running backs are very good. We are still young and a little bit too light at certain positions, particularly in the defensive line.
“We’re not completing our passes the way we need to -- that is a combination of both the receivers and the quarterbacks. To operate effectively in the West Coast offense you need to be completing 67 to 68 percent of your passes, and we aren’t there yet.”
One of the key returners in the passing game that Bohl is pleased with is senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry, who brings a unique blend of size, physicality and speed to the position.
“Tanner (Gentry) has really matured as a wide receiver,” commented Bohl. “I think he’s taken to our new receivers coach, Mike Grant. Tanner has worked hard on his skill set in terms of stretching the field.
“Many times last year people crawled up on us at the line of scrimmage, which is going to happen when you have an excellent runner like Brian (Hill), and when opponents bring a lot of defenders down in the box you have to make them pay for that. I think Tanner presents big-play ability. He has good speed, and he has a physical presence to go up and get the football.”
After mentioning the way opposing teams keyed on Hill last season, Bohl was asked what he thinks continues to motivate Hill to improve upon what was the single greatest rushing season in Wyoming school history. Hill set a new UW single-season school record of 1,631 rushing yards as a sophomore in 2015.
“Brian has got an internal competitive nature that you can’t coach,” said Bohl. “That is driving him to be better. He’s always striving to improve and to become a complete running back. He has good ability to catch the football, to pass protect and runs with the intent to try and score every time he touches the ball. He is a great competitor and a joy to coach.”
In terms of the defensive line, one defensive linemen who does provide the needed size that Bohl and his staff are looking for is senior defensive end Trevor Meader, who transferred to Wyoming a year ago from Wayne State College in Nebraska. Meader is 6’4” and 239 pounds. He injured a knee a year ago that caused him to miss the 2015 season, but he is back ready to go for his senior season.
“Trevor (Meader) is one of the guys who does have the weight behind him,” said Bohl. “Carl (Granderson) and Kevin (Purcell) are a little light in the britches, but Trevor is a big, strong guy. He’s working on his agility, and that is going to improve as he gets more time in practice, but he’s back at 100 percent.”
Bohl provided an injury update following Thursday’s practice.
“There were no significant injuries today. Ryan Cummings (offensive tackle) missed today. He had some headaches, so he is going to go through an examination to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion. Brian Hill completed practice but he wasn’t at full speed with some muscle cramping. Outside of that, we didn’t have any significant injuries.”
The Cowboys’ head coach also announced that a new player has joined the Cowboy football team for spring practice.
“I would like to announce that we are going to take a look at Austin Conway from the basketball team,” said Bohl. “He would like to try football, so we’ll probably get him lined up at receiver and see how he does.
“We knew about Austin in high school. Austin expressed some interest to come out and give it a try, and I’ve talked to our basketball coach (Allen Edwards). Typically those transitions are challenging, but we took him out at the end of practice today and had him do some DB drills, and then had him do some receiver drills. We’re going to go ahead and give him a shot at the receiver position. I know our defensive back coaches weren’t happy about that, but Coach (Mike) Grant was happy about it.
“There is a big difference between high school football and college football and between college basketball and college football. But it is important if there is an athlete that wants to try another sport for us to give them that opportunity.”
This weekend, the University of Wyoming football staff will conduct its annual coaches clinic for high school coaches along with conducting another spring practice on Saturday.
“The coaches clinic is something we’ve always done to make sure we’re serving the high school coaches in the state and in the area,” said Bohl. “The high school coaches in Wyoming and in the area do a great job. They produce a lot of good players, and we try to provide any resources we can. We appreciate the relationships we have with them. We typically have had a very good turnout. There is a lot of give and take and fellowship between our staff and theirs. We appreciate them coming.”
On Saturday, April 9, the Wyoming Cowboys will conduct an open practice at Cheyenne Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyo., at Noon. The event will be free to the public and Cowboy players will be signing autographs after the practice. UW Athletic Ticket representatives will also be on site to assist fans with season-ticket information.
“We love the state of Wyoming,” said Bohl. “Cheyenne is of course our state capital and we’ll be holding a practice over there on April 9. It’s tough moving a football team. It’s like moving an army. We will have a lot of folks going over there, and we hope to see a lot of fans at the practice.”
2016 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, March 22 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #1)
Thursday, March 24 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #2)
Saturday, March 26 - TBA (Practice #3)
Tuesday, March 29 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #4)
Thursday, March 31 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #5)
Saturday, April 2 - TBA (Practice #6)
Tuesday, April 5 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #7)
Thursday, April 7 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #8)
Saturday, April 9 - TBA (Practice #9)
Tuesday, April 12 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #10)
Thursday, April 14 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #11)
Saturday, April 16 - TBA (Practice #12)
Tuesday, April 19 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, April 21 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #14)
Saturday, April 23 - 2 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15)