UW media release
The Wyoming Cowboys practiced in full pads for the first time during 2016 fall drills on Friday. Following the morning practice, head coach Craig Bohl was pleased with the overall competitiveness of his team and commented that the offense enjoyed a strong performance in the first full-contact practice.
“I thought offensively we had probably our best day,” said Bohl. “Guys seemed to be in sync. We went through a pass under pressure series where it was third down and long, and I thought the offensive line did a very capable job protecting. Carl Granderson (sophomore defensive end) might have had a sack or two in there, but our ability to stay in rhythm, pick up blitzes and have Josh (Allen, sophomore quarterback) put the ball where it needed to be was really good.
“I thought we made some progress today. The offense probably had a better day than our defense. That is kind of the ebb and flow of how practice usually goes.”
When Bohl was asked if he liked the level of competitiveness that he saw from his team in the first day of full-padded practice, he responded, “We certainly did. We did a couple drills that were unique, including the live session (of 11-on-11) in third and long. It kept the coaches on their toes and the players on their toes, so I thought that was good. We needed to take another step forward — not only in our preparation in becoming bigger, stronger and faster and expecting a greater level of commitment — but in increasing our level of competitiveness. We need to have the attitude, whether we’re playing tiddlywinks or playing a football game, that we go out to compete every day.”
A few Cowboys remained limited on Friday due to injuries, including senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry, junior cornerback Robert Priester and sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard.
“We’re still working through some guys who are dinged up,” said Bohl. “Tanner (Gentry) wasn’t back out there today. Andrew Wingard and Tanner are still nursing some soft-tissue issues. Hopefully, we’ll have them back at the start of next week.”
In addition to his updates on injured players, Bohl also responded to a question about the status of sophomore tight end Grant Lewis, who suffered a severe knee injury during spring practice two years ago in 2015. Bohl said that Lewis would be going through a medical disqualification process. Lewis missed the entire 2015 season due to knee surgery. By going through the medical disqualification process established by the NCAA, Lewis would be able to maintain his football scholarship but his scholarship would not count against the maximum number of scholarships that UW football is allowed per NCAA rules.
“Grant had a major knee reconstruction, and has never been able to come back from that, so he’ll go through a medical scholarship process this fall,” said Bohl.
Bohl was asked about the injury issues that hampered last year’s team and whether there were things he and his staff are doing differently this year to try and prevent some of those injuries.
“There are some things that you can do,” said Bohl. “Certainly, we are trying to monitor our players’ rest. Nutrition comes in to play. Our strength and conditioning program in the offseason really helps prevent a lot of injuries. But there are certainly some injuries that come with playing football. We’re fairly healthy right now. We had a pretty robust day of practice today, but we’re going to limit the amount of contact.
“I think the other thing we’re doing is continuing to teach the new tackling style, trying to keep players heads out of contact. There are still going to be some concussions, but at this time last year I think we already had a couple individuals suffer concussions and this year we haven’t had any, so we’re making some progress there.”
During Friday’s meeting with media, a question was posed to Bohl regarding what he thought of the schedule that the Cowboys will face this coming season.
“It’s a competitive schedule,” said Bohl. “As coaches, we are in the mode of taking one game at a time, but when the schedule first comes out you take a gander at the entire schedule. I do know that the teams in the Mountain West are well coached and have good players. I think our non-conference schedule is very competitive, as well. But we’ve always believed that competition brings out the best in you. Our players certainly have a different look in their eyes, and we’re going to get ready to play. I know it’s 22 days til we play our first game.”
The Cowboys will conclude their first week of fall camp on Saturday, with the first day of two-a-day practices. Bohl was asked about the schedule for the first day of two-a-days on Saturday.
“We’ve flipped our schedule around a little bit this year,” said Bohl. “Typically when we do a two-a-day we’ll do a heavier practice in the morning and a lighter one in the afternoon. Some of the things we’ve learned from monitoring concussions is the majority of concussions occur during fall camp, and we’re now going to flip it around and do some lighter work in the morning and then go heavier in the afternoon. The reason for that is to give guys a little bit more time to recover (from the previous day’s heavier practice). We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve and continue to learn, so that is what we’ll do tomorrow.”