The 2022 season opener for the Wyoming Cowboy Football team is only 12 days away on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the University of Illinois, and the Wyoming Cowboys conducted their first full scrimmage of Fall Camp last Saturday. Ninth-year Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl shared with the media after Monday’s morning practice what he saw in that scrimmage from several different position groups.
“The scrimmage was productive. It looked like football, and I thought it was fairly clean,” said Bohl. “We had some good plays made on both sides of the line of scrimmage
“I was particularly pleased with our offensive line. I thought they did really well at the point of attack and got some movement. There were some good things on defense, and we really worked hard in the kicking game.
“We didn’t have 100 plays, but we had 99, so it was quite a bit of work. We did sustain one season-ending injury. Buck Coors (redshirt freshman nickel back) broke his leg, which is unfortunate, but he’ll be back next year. As a head coach, you hold your breath as you go through (a scrimmage), but it was really important for us get some live work in with officials and coaches on the sideline.
“Everybody scrimmaged,” said Bohl. “We did give Titus (Swen, running back) some reps under full contact. I learned a long time ago that it’s unfair to send a guy into a (first) ballgame without taking some live hits, so we were able to do that, as well (on Saturday).
“Today’s (Monday’s) practice we were on the North 40. It will be the last time we’ll be on grass this fall camp. I want to say ‘kudos to our maintenance crew.’ They did a great job with that grass up there. We’ll go back up there when we get ready to play BYU.
“Right now the clock is ticking. We’re under two weeks (until the Illinois season opener).”
Regarding the offensive line, the Cowboys definitely have some experienced players returning in senior left tackle Eric Abojei, junior right tackle Frank Crum and junior left guard Zach Watts, but developing depth is something that will be key to the performance of the O-Line in 2022. When asked how the development of some depth has progressed this fall, Bohl commented, “I think Caden Barnett (redshirt freshman offensive tackle) has made some progress, and Marco Machado (junior center) has done a pretty favorable job. What is also interesting is Marco is one of the top students on our campus. He’s an engineering major and is originally from Brazil.
“We’re making some progress there — enough that we’re going to be able to go into the Illinois game and finalize our depth chart without having a lot of musical chairs and that is so important.”
In evaluating the on-going competition at the quarterback position, Bohl was asked if the experience of Andrew Peasley is something that has been evident as fall camp has progressed.
“Yes, we are (seeing Andrew’s experience),” said Bohl. “His completion percentage and his decisions have improved. I probably underestimated (the difficulty of) the transition on grasping a new offense. He’s still in a competitive situation, but I think he’s understanding our system. There’s such a world of difference between playing in a fast-paced offense where you’re clapping three times and your going to an offense (like ours) where you have (a great deal of) terminology that is about this long and you’re in a huddle and managing (all that information for your teammates). He’s done well.”
One of Wyoming’s top transfers is senior cornerback Deron Harrell, who came to Wyoming from the University of Wisconsin with one year of eligibility remaining. Harrell was limited during 2022 Spring Practice due to a hip surgery, but he has been able to go full speed in Fall Practice.
“A lot of his limitations in the spring were due to his hip surgery as he transitioned from the University of Wisconsin,” said Bohl. “He’s a bright guy. He’s orignally from Denver. His father was a really good player. The hip slowed him down a little bit at the beginning of the year, but he’s adapted well. I thought he really played well in the scrimmage, and he tackled well. Those are situations where you try to see who, when they are faced with a play one-on-one, can make the play — who can break a tackle, who can make a tackle, who can knock down a contested ball. He did well.”
Shifting to the linebacker position, and specifically weak-side linebacker, Bohl was asked where the competition stands at that position. Among the contenders are Shae Suiaunoa and Cole DeMarzo.
“Maybe Shae (Suiaunoa) has a little bit of an edge right now. I wouldn’t say significant,” said Bohl. “There is a good chance both of them are going to play, but one guy is probably going to play a little bit more.”
With the season-ending injury of Buck Coors at nickel back, the search for a back-up to returning starter Keonte Glinton continues.
“He (Buck Coors) was really making great strides. He is part of our walk-on program and you hate to see that happen,” said Bohl. “Without a question, the nickel spot is important. It’s an every down player in our league. Keonte Glinton has solidified himself as the starter. We’ll look hard at Malique Singleton and Wrook Brown is another player at that spot.”
Regarding special teams, Bohl was asked about who might handle kickoff duties this season. A year ago, Wyoming’s starting place-kicker John Hoyland handled all of the place-kicking duties from kickoffs, to field goals, to extra points. There was some talk in the spring of seeing if one of the other Cowboy kickers or punters might take over the kickoff duties to lessen the load on Hoyland, but Bohl said on Monday, “I think John has really done a great job and has worked hard. He’s applied himself in the weight room, and that has helped his leg swing. He has been a dead-eye thus far on his field-goal kicking, and I think John will also continue as our kick-off guy.”
The Cowboys will continue fall drills for the rest of this week, practicing on Tuesday-Saturday. The Pokes will begin their regular weekly game schedule next week, as they make final preparations to face the Fighting Illini on Saturday, Aug. 27 in Champaign, Ill. That game will kick off at 2 p.m., Mountain Time (3 p.m., Central) and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.