LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The first week of fall football camp was completed by the Wyoming Cowboy Football team on Saturday as the Pokes had their first day of two-a-day practices. The Cowboys practiced for about two hours Saturday morning, beginning at 8:30 a.m., and were scheduled to go back to the practice field for a shorter non-padded practice at 3:30 p.m.
Head coach Craig Bohl met with the media after the morning session, and shared what he has seen so far through Wyoming's first six practices of fall camp.
"We had a half-padded practice this morning (Saturday), and today is our first day of double practices but the tempo of practice is not going to change dramatically even though we are practicing twice today," said Bohl. "There are signs of progress, which sometimes when you're in the midst of it you don't recognize it, particularly as a position coach. But myself, as a head football coach, I'm pleased.
"We're going to start integrating some more game-like situations in practice. The first game is coming right around the corner, and we need to make sure we're improving each day in preparation for that."
During Bohl's address to the media following Saturday's morning practice, he was asked if he and his staff had begun to see any players within any specific position groups start to separate themselves from the rest of the players.
"We are seeing some separation -- quarterback being one of those positions," said Bohl. "Tommy (Thornton) is doing some good things -- not to say he is a solid No. 2, but right now he's slotted there. I think Colby (Kirkegaard) is managing our offense well. He's going through his progression reads well, with the help of coach (Brent) Vigen. I see Colby improving every day, so we're pleased with that.
"I think our starting three linebackers are solid right now, and I think Blair Burns is doing some things well at the corner position.
"The defensive line, even though we have ones and twos that work together, you're going to see those guys play almost interchangeably during the course of a game. While there may be a separation between a Patrick Mertens and a Troy Boyland (at defensive tackle) they're going to play close to the same number of plays in a game. I always equate defensive line to sumo wrestling. You expend so much energy, you have to have a couple guys at each position."
When asked to clarify which three linebackers he was talking about, Bohl confirmed that it was seniors Devyn Harris, Jordan Stanton and Mark Nzeocha. Senior Alex Borgs has also been battling with Stanton for playing time at middle linebacker, and sophomore Lucas Wacha is competing with Harris for playing time at the weak-side linebacker spot.
Bohl was asked specifically about what he has seen from Stanton, who led the Cowboys in tackles last season (134 total tackles) and ranked No. 3 in the nation, averaging 11.2 tackles per game.
"He is gaining a good understanding of our defense," said Bohl. "The Tampa-2, for a linebacker, is a very complicated defense, and he is making good progress there. Jordan is a strong, physical guy who has a good presence in the middle. The things we do with our MIKE linebacker in the Tampa-2 are unique. A guy has to be able to play close to the line of scrimmage, yet sometimes you will see him very deep. I'm not saying Jordan is (Brian) Urlacher, but we're pleased with the positive steps he has taken."
The head coach was also asked about the status of senior offensive tackle Connor Rains, who Bohl had indicated on Friday had to come out of practice when he wasn't feeling well.
"Our training staff determined that is wasn't anything serious. It was not a concussion," said Bohl. "We made sure that the possibility of him suffering a concussion was eliminated before he went back out there today. It was good to see him get some reps today.
"Right now I would say of all the position groups on the field the offensive line is the one that is the most unsettled. That of course doesn't give me a sense of comfort as the head football coach, but we are where we're at. We need to focus on making progress every day, and those guys need to be on the field practicing to make progress."
Another area that Bohl said he has been very pleased with through the first week of fall practice is his team's conditioning.
"I will say that the body of work that our players did during the course of the summer has enabled us to push through (these first six practices)," said Bohl. "Coach Duval (head strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval) saw the way we practiced in the spring and said that he felt it was necessary that the workouts our players went through this summer be structured to get our players ready not just for the first game, but to get them ready to begin practice this fall. Thus far, the foundation that they laid this summer as a team has really helped us collectively. We've not had a lot of guys fall out because of pulled hamstrings or groins. When you do have a lot of those types of injuries it is an indication that players are not ready for this strenuous of activity. We've been extremely pleased with the conditioning of our players throughout this first week of fall camp."
Bohl was asked to confirm if a late signee to the Cowboy Football program, freshman A.J. Hotchkins of Portland, Ore., had in fact left the program. "That would be correct," said Bohl. "He has left the team and decided this is not the place for him."
The Cowboys were scheduled to have a non-padded practice on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Bohl said Saturday afternoon's practice would involve team activities, with an emphasis on more kicking-related periods and would be a little bit shorter -- about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The first 30 minutes of morning practices are open to media and the general public. Student-athletes and coaches will be available for interviews with the media Mondays-Saturdays after morning practices during fall camp. The Cowboys will utilize War Memorial Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility for fall drills.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to 2014 Wyoming Cowboy Football games may click the link at the top of this story, may call the UW Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or 307-766-4850 or may stop by the ticket office on the east side of UW's Arena-Auditorium.
2014 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule
Monday, Aug. 4 - 9:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets, Practice #1) | 1-2 p.m. (Media Day Luncheon in Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites) | 2-3 p.m. (Media Day Interviews on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium)
Tuesday, Aug. 5 - 8:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets Practice #2)
Wednesday, Aug. 6 - 8:30 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Thursday, Aug. 7 - 8:30 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4)
Friday, Aug. 8 - 8:30 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Saturday, Aug. 9 - 8:30 a.m. (Practice #6) | 3:30 p.m. (Practice #7)
Sunday, Aug. 10 - 2:45 p.m. (Practice #8)
Monday, Aug. 11 - 9 a.m. (Practice #9) | 3:50 p.m. (Practice #10)
Tuesday, Aug. 12 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #11)
Wednesday, Aug. 13 - 9 a.m. (Practice #12) | 4 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, Aug. 14 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #14)
Friday, Aug. 15 - 9 a.m. (Practice #15) | 4:20 p.m. (Practice #16)
Saturday, Aug. 16 - 11 a.m. (Closed Scrimmage, Practice #17)
Sunday, Aug. 17 - No Practice
Monday, Aug. 18 - 8:20 a.m. (Practice #18) | 2:50 p.m. (Practice #19)
Tuesday, Aug. 19 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #20)
Wednesday, Aug. 20 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #21)
Thursday, Aug. 21 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #22)
Friday, Aug. 22 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #23)
Saturday, Aug. 23 - 11 a.m. (Practice #24)
Monday, Aug. 25 - First Weekly Press Conference at Noon