LARAMIE, Wyo. -
It was a perfect day for football on Saturday in Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium as the Wyoming Cowboys held their first spring scrimmage. Wyoming's defense sacked Cowboy quarterbacks four times, intercepted two passes and recovered one fumble. The Cowboy offense showed off depth at running back as it generated 226 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Following the scrimmage, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl shared with media members his impressions of the Pokes' first scrimmage of spring.
"I thought our effort was really good out there today," said Bohl. "A couple things that were noticeable were really good pressure by our defensive line -- I thought we made some strides there. We had several sacks, and we had a couple picks, so that was encouraging. We'll look at the tape, but I'm going to attribute that to good, aggressive defensive play as opposed to some mistakes (on offense).
"I thought Brian Hill ran the ball well today. He showed that he's right back into mid-season form."
Hill's numbers on the day, five carries for 15 yards, were somewhat deceiving as his best run of the day, for over 20 yards, was called back because of a holding penalty on the offense. Sophomore Joshua Tapscott led all running backs in attempts (13) and yards (65). Redshirt freshman Nico Evans showed his speed and allusiveness, rushing for 51 yards on nine carries. Senior Shaun Wick averaged 5.7 yards per carry, rushing for 40 yards on seven carries.
Bohl was also pleased with a couple veteran receivers' performances Saturday. Junior Jake Maulhardt led the way with six receptions for 83 yards, including a team long 23-yard catch. Fellow junior Tanner Gentry scored one of the Cowboy offense's two rushing touchdowns on the day when he took the ball into the end zone on an eight-yard jet sweep. Gentry also had one catch for six yards. UW's one passing TD of the day was a three-yard completion from redshirt senior Cameron Coffman to junior tight end Jacob Hollister. Hollister ended the day with three catches for 29 yards.
Bohl was asked what he saw from his quarterbacks in Saturday's first spring scrimmage and whether he thought redshirt senior Coffman had separated himself from the other four quarterbacks.
"It was a little bit of a mixed bag today," said Bohl. "I thought Cam (Coffman) did some good things today, but there are a couple things I think he can improve on. The quarterbacks were live today (full-contact tackling). We thought it was important for the quarterbacks to have an understanding there (of what it felt like under a pass rush). I thought he (Coffman) operated the offense fairly well. The other guys -- everyday is kind of a new day with some of them performing well. Austin Fort made a nice run (27 yards) for a touchdown. I thought Josh (Allen) threw a couple balls fairly well. Nick Smith did a couple things fairly well. We're going to need to sort out that quarterback position before I make any declarative statements. We need to take a hard look at the tape."
Wyoming's head coach was also asked if there were any areas that concerned or disappointed him in the first spring scrimmage.
"At the beginning of the scrimmage, I thought we had way too many holding penalties," said Bohl. "Part of that can be attributed to this being the first day we've had officials on the field this spring, but I told the officials to call them the way they would in a game. That was a little bit disappointing.
"Certainly, some of the sacks, and we'll take a look at whether that's attributed to a really good pass rush or some deficiencies we have up there (on the offensive line). Those are probably the two major things, and we also threw a couple picks today."
In terms of penalties, the Cowboy offense did have a false start and a holding penalty on back-to-back plays in the third series of the scrimmage. They committed another holding penalty and were called for an ineligible man downfield for their four penalties on the day. Wyoming's defense was called for only one penalty -- an offsides penalty.
In terms of evaluating his linebackers and secondary, Bohl was asked what he saw from his back seven on Saturday.
"We are a work in progress, but I can tell you there is more speed and athleticism out there. That is apparent," Bohl said. "If you look at long runs or big plays by the offense, those were not there today, and that can be attributed to guys getting lined up properly and then pursuing to the ball well and gang tackling well."
In fact, Wyoming's defense held the offense to only two plays over 20 yards on the day -- one on Fort's 27-yard TD run and the other a 23-yard pass from Allen to Maulhardt.
Leading the way for the Cowboy defense on Saturday was junior linebacker Lucas Wacha, with nine tackles. Redshirt freshman safety Chavez Pownell Jr. was credited with six tackles, and senior linebacker Devin McKenna had five tackles. Redshirt freshman cornerback C.J. Jennings intercepted Smith and returned the interception 30 yards. Wyoming's other interception was made by freshman walk-on defensive back Fred Jones, who intercepted Allen and returned the pick 27 yards. Sophomore cornerback Ryon'e Winters also was very active, breaking up three passes to go with three tackles.
Prior to the start of the scrimmage, the Cowboys worked on punt and punt coverage. During that initial period, junior punter Ethan Wood averaged 46.1 yards per punt on 19 punts, including a long punt of 67 yards.
In terms of developing a depth chart, Bohl said that he and his staff would normally release a depth chart now that the first scrimmage has been completed, but he added that it would be dependent on what he and his staff see after watching the tape of the scrimmage. He said if a depth chart were to be released this next week, it would likely come out on Monday.
The Pokes made it through the 90-play scrimmage virtually unscathed, with only one minor injury.
"As far as injuries -- Waddie Love got a cut on his chin," Bohl said. "They sutured him back up, and he was back out there. We were able to go through 90 plays without any significant injury. As a head football coach, that is something you always hold your breath on."
The 90-play scrimmage on Saturday was significantly longer than Bohl and his staff normally script for a first spring scrimmage. He said they normally script about 60 plays for the first scrimmage.
The Cowboys are now at the midpoint of spring practice, having completed seven practices with seven practices and the Spring Game remaining on the schedule.
The Spring Game on Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. will be free and open to the media and the general public.
Remaining Spring Practice Schedule
Monday, April 13 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #8)
Wednesday, April 15 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #9)
Friday, April 17 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #10)
Saturday, April 18 11 a.m. (Scrimmage #2, Practice #11)
Monday, April 20 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #12)
Wednesday, April 22 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #13)
Friday, April 24 4 or 4:30 p.m. (No Pads, Practice #14)
Saturday, April 25 2 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15)