Cockhill Comes Full-Circle

April 11, 2003


(This is the second in a series of articles with members of Joe Glenn's 2003 football staff. Today meet offensive coordinator Bill Cockhill.)

During summer football camps at the University of Montana some 20 years ago, Joe Glenn made quite an impression on wide-eyed young camper with plenty of hopes and dreams about playing the game.

Little did Bill Cockhill know that 20 years later he would be Glenn's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The native of Helena, Mont., matured into an outstanding football player at Montana where he was one of the school's most prolific receivers of all time, completing his his career in 1993.

"We'd come down from Helena to attend the Montana summer camp in the early 1980's, while coach Glenn was an assistant coach there," the personable Cockhill said prior to Wyoming's spring practice Friday. "I gained a tremendous amount of respect for him.

"I was at Montana years later when he returned as the head coach. I just wanted to stay on and work with him, and fortunately he kept me as the receiver's coach." Cockhill went from a restricted-earnings coach in 1994, prior to Glenn's return, to the Grizzles' offensive coordinator in 2000, a year after Glenn had retained him on his staff.

Glenn loved Cockhill's passion for the game, his work ethic, and his tremendous competitive spirit.

"Bill is a fierce competitor," Glenn said of his o-coordinator. "He's such a hard worker and has a great handle on offensive football. What I really like about him, is how cool he remains under fire. He did that time and time again for us at Montana."

By his own admission, the diminutive Cockhill is extremely competitive, due in large part to his size. He has had to give a little more than moste on each level he has competed. "Short, little guys have to have some fire to them," he smiles. "The competitive nature runs in the family, and it runs in all coaches. Guys like me have to have a little more in us to hang with the big guys."

Cockhill is tall in the saddle when it comes to working with quarterbacks, and calling offensive plays. "In the heat of battle he is really something," Glenn said. "He has such a great feel for how to attack defenses. He is cool under pressure."

What can Cowboy fans expect from Wyoming's offense in 2003? "We are a one-back team, that wants to be uptempo," Cockhill said. "We want to score points, because fans love to see that. While we are going to run the football, we are not going to be a team that simply turns around and hands off the ball on iso (isolation plays). We will get it up and down the field."

The Cowboys' offense will probably produce a pass-run ratio of 60-40, according to Cockhill. "There are many advantages of running the football, obviously," he said. "You can dictate to a defense if you run the football effectively, and you can certainly control the clock. But we are looking for a good mix between the run and the pass. We have so many weapons in the passing game that it would be silly not to use them to the maximum. We will be a multiple offensive team.

"At the base of it all is the running back. Running the football toughens a football team. The more you practice it, not only does your offense get tougher, but so does your defense. It also allows you to dictate to the defense. It's an attitude. Players have to buy into running the ball. I've been pleasantly surprised with our running backs. We have the backs to be effective at moving it on the ground. We just have to keep working on that mentality.

"It's also obvious that if we can run the ball, it is really going to help Casey (quarterback Bramlet) and the passing game. If you can keep the defense off balance, you have gained a huge advantage."

Cockhill said the Cowboys will employ anything from a five-wide set to a two-wide formation with two tight ends. He indicated that with the spring's first major scrimmage coming up Saturday, approximately 50 to 60 percent of the offense has been installed.

While he coordinates the offense, another primary Cockhill responsibility is to work with the quarterbacks, and he said they are a joy to be around. "Just getting to know them--Casey and Corey Bramlet and J.J. Raterink--has been fun. They are great people with good attitudes. I've been impressed with their personalities, and who they are.

"These guys have been around the block, especially Casey," Cockhill continued. "They have to learn the x's and o's of what we like to do, as with any new offense. But they also have to understand the offensive pace that we like to run, and they do.

"These guys want to win. The desire is certainly there because they were so unhappy with the way it's gone. These are three guys with lots of pride."

Cockhill likes what he's seen with all three of his quarterbacks. "They've all had good springs todate. They have big arms, and they offer us enough mobility to be effective. They are not the swiftest, but they are fast enough. They can move their feet, and get out of trouble.

Our offense has gotten better each day since we started spring ball. We don't expect the scrimmage to be a polished effort by any means. We just want to see guys make some plays. We are taking positive steps. Our players are working hard every day.

Wyoming Football Spring Training Notes: The Cowboys will experience their first major scrimmage with Head Coach Joe Glenn Saturday at 1 p.m., in War Memorial Stadium.

According to Glenn, the offense will run between 60 and 80 plays. The scrimmage will pit number one units against each other, and number two's vs. number two's. He said the Cowboys will punt eight times in sequence, and give the two field goal kickers a shot at four kicks each.

"It's going to be a 'measuring-stick' day," Glenn said. "We need to find out about some things. We need to know about our defense, and how well we can hit, and tackle. We want to see everyone at game speed.

"All we have done thus far is install, install, install. We are just trying to learn our system. We have thrown a boat-load of stuff at them. . .formations, snap counts, audibles, on and on. Now they get a chance to have some fun

"I don't know how polished it will be, but as long as we see the effort, toughness, and competitiveness, we'll be okay. "It gives us an opportunity as coaches to grade out players at game speed."