Pokes Prepare for Second Spring Scrimmage on Saturday

April 11, 2014


The Wyoming Cowboy Football team practiced under ideal conditions on Friday morning as they prepared for their second scrimmage of Spring that will take place Saturday, April 12 on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. This Saturday's scrimmage will be closed to the media and the public. It is expected to conclude around 1 p.m. when media will have an opportunity to interview coaches and players.

The Spring Game, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m., will be open to media and the general public.

The Cowboys focused on practicing various blitz packages on defense in Friday's practice, and continued to work on their power running game on offense.

"It was a good day -- a Chamber of Commerce day really with the weather," said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl as he addressed media after practice. "We're making progress guys. It's not as fast as what we would like, but I was encouraged today as were our other coaches.

"Starting out, we did a blitz period, and I was particularly pleased with our defense. I think we've got some athleticism on that side of the ball. The corner spot, I think can be a strong suit for our defense.

"The next phase of practice that was encouraging was our power running game.

"It's old time football, but those are the principles that have worked for us, and we'll need to continue with that mindset -- to be physical on the defensive line and the front seven and then on the flip side, with our offensive line and our running game. That's going to be our real ace in the hole, so we're going to continue to emphasize that.

"I was saying on the way up here, it (the running game) is kind of like sausage -- it doesn't look real good while you're making it but it sure tastes good when you're done.

"That's part of developing a running game. Everybody says they want to run the football, but you've got to spend time and grind it out, and we're in the process of doing that.

"We're still working through our quarterback situation. We'll have a much better feel after the scrimmage tomorrow. Today, we put our quarterbacks in live situations against the blitz. Those aren't easy. There is a lot going on in a quarterback's mind, everything from (pass) protection to hot reads to different adjustments, so it was a good period for them, but nonetheless a work in progress there."

After mentioning that blitz packages were one of the focuses of Friday morning's practice, the head coach was asked to describe his philosophy on utilizing blitzes and creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

"It's important for us to have a presence of pressure in our defensive scheme," said Bohl. "Everybody loves blitzing, but the one thing I've found out through the years about blitzing is when you're a big blitzing team somebody's band is going to be playing -- you just hope it's yours. Something big is going to happen one way or the other.

"I think when you can really become great on defense is when you can rely on your front four (to create pressure), and you're seeing that in the NFL. The teams that play really great defense -- the amount of pressure they get is manufactured and generated by their front four. However, the presence of a blitz is an integral part of your defense because that threat is really important."

The question was posed to Bohl whether senior quarterbacks Colby Kirkegaard and Sam Stratton were still the leaders in the competition at the quarterback spot, after they had the best performances in Wyoming's first spring scrimmage last Saturday.

"We're still evaluating," said Bohl. "I think Aaron (Young) is doing some good things, and Tommy (Thornton), as well. All four will get equal repetitions on Saturday, by and large. After Saturday, I think we'll have a better grasp on that position.

"I know Coach (Brent) Vigen is real mindful of where we need to be, bringing those guys along, and then finding out what they can do well and what things we can't. Then we'll probably have to tailor our offense to play to their strengths. To say we have a system and we're going to stick to our system no matter what, I think is pretty short-sighted. We have flexibility within our system to highlight those quarterbacks' skills."

Asked if there would be new areas that he and his staff will include in the second Saturday scrimmage that weren't a part of last week's scrimmage, Bohl said, "I think it's going to be important to put our defense in some situations this Saturday that they're not accustomed to. We had maybe one short-yardage situation last Saturday, and we need to be able to practice that a little bit more. We'll also do some more things in the kicking game."

This Saturday the Cowboy coaching staff is also hosting a coaches' clinic for high school coaches from around the area. Approximately 80 high school football coaches are expected to attend Saturday's clinic.

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 10:00 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 11:00 a.m. (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 11:30 a.m. (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 2:00 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15) Open to the Public