LARAMIE, Wyo. - Much of the first 10 days of fall camp for the Wyoming Cowboys has been focused on installing and teaching the Wyoming offensive and defensive systems. But as the Pokes move closer to kick off of the 2015 season on Sept. 5, head coach Craig Bohl said that practices have begun to incorporate elements of what UW coaches anticipate they'll see from opponents this season.
"We are starting to look at different game plans we may utilize during the course of the year," said Bohl. "We're still running some of our fundamental offensive and defensive systems, but we are game planning to a certain extent against our opponents and introducing some elements of what defenses we think our offense may face and what offenses our defense may face during the season."
As the Cowboys transition into the next phase of preparation for the start of the 2015 season, it was good to see a number of veterans return to practice on Thursday. Some were back participating full speed in 11-on-11 drills, including junior wide receiver Jake Maulhardt. Others returned in a more limited nature, such as junior linebacker Lucas Wacha.
"We were able to get Lucas Wacha in there some, but he's very limited," said Bohl. "Jake Maulhardt returned today and Charlie Renfree (sophomore center) returned. We're getting more guys off the casualty list and out there playing."
The Wyoming linebacker group is one that has several Cowboys who have been in the program for years, but not as linebackers. To improve the speed of the Cowboy defense, Bohl and his coaching staff moved several skill-position players to linebacker beginning last spring. That group includes: former tight end Eric Nzeocha, former safeties Tim Kamana and Will Tutein and former running back D.J. May. Bohl has seen improvement in the group this fall, and is encouraged with the steps they've taken. But he is quick to point out they need to continue to improve.
"We are really pleased with Eric Nzeocha at middle linebacker," said Bohl. "I think he's had a really good fall camp. We're still up in the air at the WILL (weak-side linebacker) spot. Over at the SAM (strong-side linebacker) spot, I think D.J. May and Tim Kamana continue to improve. We're not where we want to be, but we are making progress."
The WILL position is the one that Wacha was expected to fill after starting there 15 out of 24 games the past two seasons. Wacha continues to recover from a pulled hamstring he suffered on the first day of fall camp.
On offense, the offensive line group sees the return of Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honoree Chase Roullier at left guard; sophomore left tackle Ryan Cummings, who started the final seven games as a true freshman last season; and two players at center, in senior Rafe Kiely and sophomore Charlie Renfree, who have extensive game experience. The right side has a number of players competing for starting spots.
"We have competition going on along the offensive line," said Bohl. "Taylor Knestis is playing pretty well at right tackle. We're also taking a look at Zach Wallace, a true freshman, at the right-tackle position. Inside, Troy Boyland has done well at right guard. Chase Roullier (left guard) has had a great fall camp. We're also looking at integrating Kaden Jackson, another true freshman, in at the guard position."
Bohl continues to be pleased with the performance of the Cowboy quarterbacks, running backs and defensive line.
An area where competition has not yet determined a starter is the place-kicking spot, where the Pokes are looking to replace Stu Williams, who graduated last spring after starting 36 consecutive games. "We did do some work on extra points and field goals today," said Bohl. "But we're still undecided on our kicker. We worked extensively on our punt-return game and punt-block game today."
Among the competitors for the starting kicking spot are: junior Justin Martin, who has handled kickoff duties in the past for the Cowboys; Alex Langer, a junior-college transfer from Iowa Western Community College and who will be a junior; Tristan Bailey, a true freshman from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Rayan Refae, a true freshman from Windermere Prep in Orlando, Fla.
The Cowboys return to the practice field on Friday with practices at 9:20 a.m. and 3:50 p.m., before conducting a closed scrimmage on Saturday.
Fans may access additional coverage of Wyoming Cowboy football fall camp through GoWyo.com/videos, WyomingAthletics on YouTube, @wyoathletics on Twitter and wyoathletics on Facebook.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to 2015 Wyoming Cowboy Football games may go online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets, 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 west side of UW's Arena-Auditorium.
2015 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule
Monday, Aug. 10- 9:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets, Practice #1) 1:00-2:00 p.m. (Media Day Luncheon in Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites) 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Media Day Interviews on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium)
Tuesday, Aug. 11 - 9:00 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets Practice #2)
Wednesday, Aug. 12 - 9:00 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Thursday, Aug. 13 - 9:00 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4)
Friday, Aug. 14 - 9:00 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Saturday, Aug. 15 - 8:50 a.m. (Practice #6) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #7)
Sunday, Aug. 16 - 2:45 p.m. (Practice #8)
Monday, Aug. 17 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #9) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #10)
Tuesday, Aug. 18 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #11)
Wednesday, Aug. 19 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #12) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, Aug. 20 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #14)
Friday, Aug. 21 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #15) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #16)
Saturday, Aug. 22 - 11:00 a.m. (Closed Scrimmage, Practice #17)
Sunday, Aug. 23 - 3:30 p.m. (Practice #18)
Monday, Aug. 24 - 8:50 a.m. (Practice #19) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #20)
Tuesday, Aug. 25 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #21)
Wednesday, Aug. 26 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #22)
Thursday, Aug. 27 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #23)
Friday, Aug. 28 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #24)
Saturday, Aug. 29 - No practice Monday,
Aug. 31 - First Weekly Press Conference at Noon