‘Dirt Dogs’ shine in Pokes’ first scrimmage
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl didn't go into much detail about Saturday's scrimmage inside War Memorial Stadium.
Some groups stood out, others didn't.
He was pleased with the play of young wide receiver Isaiah Neyor. He mentioned the name Victor Jones again. He said Cole Godbout has been impressive, too.
If one thing stuck out it was this:
"That was probably as good as I've seen the offensive line perform," Bohl said Monday night on a Zoom call with the media. "We need to leverage that group."
That's quite a statement from the seventh-year head coach.
Wyoming's offensive line enjoys a wealth of returning starters and plenty of depth and nearly every position. In fact, the "Dirt Dogs" are the most veteran-laden unit in the nation, combining for 123 starts.
That's without the services of Gavin Rush and Pat Arnold, who retired during the offseason. That's not counting Alonzo Velazquez's 23 career starts, either. The senior tackle tore his labrum last week during a walk-through and could return to the lineup in late December.
Last fall, under the direction of new line coach Bart Miller, the front five opened holes for the Mountain West's leading rusher, Xazavian Valladay. The Cowboys' then-sophomore back rushed for 1,265 yards. That's an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
The Cowboys were the second-best rushing team in the league, averaging 214.8 yards per game.
Imagine if those guys got even better?
Oh, and Valladay is back, too.
"The offensive line did a great job with some movement up front," Bohl said. "We established the line of scrimmage. I want to attribute that more to our offensive line than maybe a deficiency on the defense. I thought our O-line played well as a unit."
Logan Harris didn't know if he was even going to play this season.
The senior guard was told there would be a season, but games would be lost. Then, Aug. 10, the 2020 campaign was postponed indefinitely. When Miller approached him about the possibility of playing this modified eight-game season, Harris said he didn't want to go out like that.
The NCAA stepped in and decided no one would lose a year of eligibility during the season of COVID-19.
Harris was in.
That decision was a major one. It kept this group together.
During Saturday's scrimmage, Harris said all the veteran linemen were on their game. They've had plenty of practice.
"With the limited number of players, everyone has gotten a lot of reps," Harris said, referring to the coronavirus outbreak that infected 12 freshmen and forced 31 in total to quarantine for 10-14 days. "Everyone is comfortable playing with everyone. Coach Miller did a lot of rotating on Saturday."
Harris pointed out Latrell Bible as being a player he's been impressed with. The 6-foot, 4-inch, 290-pound center appeared in three games last season.
Earlier in the week, Keegan Cryder, a former freshman All-American, said guard Eric Abojei is back to his old self, moving defenders at will. Abojei started the first six games in 2019 before being lost with a knee injury.
Frank Crum, Rudy Stofer, Blayne Baker and Zach Watts are the other vets on the line.
Other news and notes from Saturday's scrimmage
The news wasn't all good.
Bohl wasn't overly thrilled with the running backs and defensive ends.
"Id like to say we had some earth-shattering performances by the other guys but that's really not the case," Bohl said of the running backs.
Valladay was used sparingly, Bohl added.
"Trey (Smith) did some good things in there, but we're going to ride (Valladay)," he said. "Some of the other guys are going to need to step into place."
Bohl didn't even mention a name at the defensive end spot.
Someone he did mention -- twice, in fact -- was Neyor.
The speedy, 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pounder from Ft. Worth made plays all afternoon, snagging "three to four really good catches," according to the head coach.
"He's a guy who was a young receiver last year," Bohl said. "He's been emerging in practice ... He has a great catch radius and we are pleased with his performance."
Bohl, of course, also talked about the battle under center between Sean Chambers and Levi Williams. Last week, Bohl said the plan is to have both quarterbacks play, but has not named a starter.
Saturday, he said Sean maybe had the better day, but it was close.
Bohl said the Cowboys will go "heavy" this week in full pads before pulling back the reins next week as Wyoming prepares for its season opener Oct. 24 at Nevada.
In the mean time, he is looking for depth to emerge.
Help could be on the way.
Bohl said the freshmen who have been quarantined should be back on the practice field by Thursday.
"We're not as deep as what we have been," Bohl said of his defensive line, specifically. "We will search for some combinations this week."