(Editor’s note: UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The running game highlighted Thursday’s practice for the Wyoming Cowboys as they prepared for their first scrimmage of spring Saturday in Casper.
Offense Has a Good Day Running the Football, Defense Enjoys the Advantage in Putting Pressure on the QB
The Pokes worked on their interior running game in a physical full-contact period on Thursday. It saw the Cowboy offensive linemen, tight ends and backs face off against the UW defensive line, linebackers and safeties.
“It was a good day. We did some live work. We did an inside run period, and I thought our offensive line was probably as good as what it has been all spring,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “I thought they came off the ball well, and we ran the ball well during that time.
“During a third-down-and-long session, we were throwing the ball well, but our (pass) protection is not where it needs to be. We can attribute a lot of that to some pretty good pressure we’re getting up front (from our defensive line).
“Outside of that, we’re still making progress. I thought Sean (Chambers, redshirt freshman quarterback) did some good things again today, but Tyler (Vander Waal, sophomore quarterback) did some good things today also.”
Standout O-Lineman Keegan Cryder Returns to Practice
Cowboy sophomore Keegan Cryder has returned to practice for the Cowboys. Cryder was not available at the start of spring practice due to injury, but he was back participating in full-contact drills on Thursday. Cryder started all 12 games (four at offensive guard and the last eight at center) for the Pokes as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He earned First Team Freshman All-America honors last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). On Thursday, Cryder was seen taking reps at right tackle. Bohl was asked if that was potentially a permanent move for Cryder.
“Keegan (Cryder) is a guy who can go either way,” said Bohl. “What we’re trying to do is find our best five guys (on the offensive line). During the fall, we’ll take a look at how Alonzo (Velazquez) comes back (from injury). But Keegan has got a good skill set, and he’s a smart guy.”
First Full Scrimmage Up Next for the Pokes
The Cowboys will travel to Casper Saturday morning and will kick off their first full scrimmage of the spring at 1 p.m. at Dick Cheney Alumni Field. Bohl said he and his team were looking forward to their first scrimmage of the spring and were looking forward to seeing a lot of Cowboy fans come out on Saturday.
“We’re going to get ourselves staged for a scrimmage on Saturday in Casper,” said Bohl. “We’re probably looking at about 77 plays. I want to give a shout out to the people up in Casper and the surrounding area. We’re looking forward to coming to your town and putting on a good show.
“We’ve done some minor live periods in practice, but this will be a situation where all the coaches will be off the field. We’re hoping to hit 77 plays and that should give us a good evaluation (of our players).”
Bohl was asked what he hoped to see out of this first scrimmage of spring.
“The thing we’re really striving for is to find who can make plays, who will rise to the top. It’s not going to be a scrimmage where we’re trying to run a lot of plays that are going to be schematically challenging — just some good old time football.”
All-America Candidate Continues to Improve
Cowboy place-kicker Cooper Rothe returns for his senior season after proving he was one of the best kickers in the nation last year. Rothe was one of three national finalists for the 2018 Lou Groza Award that is presented each season to the nation’s best place-kicker. He was named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in voting by conference head coaches and media, and he led the nation in field-goal percentage, making 16 of 17 field goals (94.1 percent).
When asked about Rothe’s performance this spring, Bohl said, “I think he’s got a stronger leg. He had a 58-yarder today. It was inside, but he’s hitting the ball well and his accuracy is still good. We’re very pleased with what he does.”
Finding Depth at Defensive End
With the top two returners at defensive end, senior Josiah Hall and junior Garrett Crall, out this spring rehabbing from offseason surgeries, the Cowboy defensive coaching staff is looking for some depth at the defensive end position. Among the contenders are sophomore Davon Wells-Ross, and redshirt freshmen DeVaughn Brown, Levi Lafaele and Solomon Byrd.
“I think the guys are trying to find their way,” said Bohl. “Levi (Lafaele) is doing some good things. Devo (Wells-Ross) is doing some good things, but we’re a little thin at that spot. Levi has got great explosion. He’s got to become more competent in understanding our defense. Devo has good length and good speed. He probably needs to improve in his change of direction. This spring has given our younger players an opportunity to show some things, but they’re still a ways off from where our veterans are.”
Bohl updated media on an injury that offensive lineman Zach Watts suffered in Tuesday’s practice. Bohl said that Watts had an injury to a knee cap on Tuesday. The head coach also said that freshman wide receiver Devin Jennings would miss the rest of spring drills due to a foot injury he suffered Tuesday. Bohl announced one injury that occurred during Thursday’s practice.
“We did have one guy go down today — Jackson Marcotte (redshirt freshman tight end),” said Bohl. “We’ll find out a little bit more, probably tomorrow, but he went down with a knee. There’s not too much swelling in there, so hopefully it’s something that is minor.”
Wyoming Football’s first spring scrimmage will be held in Casper, Wyo., on Saturday, April 13, weather permitting. The April 13 scrimmage will be free and open to the public. It will kick off at 1 p.m. from Dick Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona County High School in Casper.
Cowboy Football and Pepsi are encouraging fans to bring a non-perishable food item to the game. Every fan who brings a non-perishable food item will receive a coupon to get a free Pepsi product at the scrimmage. The donated food will be given to Wyoming Food for Thought Project in Casper. Wyoming Food for Thought Project is an independently run, local non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded on the idea that a local solution to hunger is possible.
Cowboy players will be available on the field after the scrimmage to take photos with fans and to sign autographs.
Spring Practice Schedule
In addition to the scrimmage at Dick Cheney Alumni Field in Casper, Wyo., on Saturday, April 13, the Spring Game on Saturday, April 27 will of course be open to the public and will be played in War Memorial Stadium on the UW campus in Laramie, with a 2 p.m. kickoff. All other spring practices are closed to the general public.