Monday news & notes
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl hosted an end-of-the-year press conference Monday afternoon.
He didn't have to -- he wanted to.
Typically, Wyoming's head coach is out on the recruiting trail this time of year. Bet you can guess why he isn't on airplanes meeting potential players and families right now.
Bohl touched on a number of topics in his 40-minute virtual sit down with the media. He showed plenty of emotion, frustration and gave honest assessments of the 2020 season, among many other things.
Here are the cliff notes from that discussion:
- Bohl opened by thanking Wyoming governor Mark Gordon, the UW Athletics staff and team doctors for paving the way for a 2020 football season. "... It was going to be a daunting task," he said. "But they gave us a playbook and the resources to field a football team and to engage in a schedule of games. It's no small task. I told our players before each game that we were going to be facing two opponents each week: one would be our opponents, who was going to be on the schedule. And we were going to face COVID."
- After Saturday's 17-9 home loss to Boise State, Bohl gave credit to his players for making it possible to play and sticking with the daunting protocols, which included three rapid tests per week. He said he called Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and told him UW would "answer the bell" and be ready to play in all eight games, even if that meant players lining up at different positions. There were two games canceled this fall. Air Force and Utah State couldn't compete because of virus issues.
- Bohl said there were some positives to come out of this 2-4 campaign. One, walk-on freshman placekicker John Hoyland who connected on 13-of-14 field goals. Hoyland finished as the No. 1 kicker in the nation, converting an average of two field goals per game. Bohl also pointed to the defensive front seven. "I first of all want to say, you know, we gained experience this year," he said. "By hook or crook, we had game experiences." Bohl joked that he didn't know some guys' names at the beginning of the season, even the "kicker with the red shoe."
- Another positive came in the Cowboys' victories over Hawaii and UNLV. "I think if you look at the balance of our games, when we were able to establish the running game and those guys performed, you know, we had some really good performances," Bohl said. "We won in a dominant fashion. And when we didn't, we didn't win. There's several reasons why we but we got to get that fixed."
- Yes, the Cowboys' passing game was brought up early on. Wyoming finished 114th in the nation, averaging just 153.3 yards per game through the air. That, Bohl said, won't get it done. "I really think our offseason work with our quarterbacks and throwing mechanics, that's got to improve," Bohl said, adding that Sean Chambers won't be ready to go anytime soon and is still in a cast. "Levi (Williams) certainly needs to do that. You know, I think we need to get in that (indoor practice facility) like we've never been before and take advantage of that and get our receivers in there. That's that's part of it. I think schematically we need to take a look at saying, OK, how many things can we really do? ... It wasn't good enough. Period."
- Does Wyoming need to be more innovative on offense? "We really have a lot of elements within our offense," Bohl said. "Our problem is, is the elements that we have, we're not effective enough. At times we are but we're not effective enough. So, we need to look at the components of our offense and then fashion those components and have our players execute what we're asking them to do. I think that there's our playlisting is pretty extensive."
- Bohl talked about how Chambers needs to improve his passing, but added the running element will still be a big part of the quarterback's game despite being injured three years in a row.
- Numerous times Monday, Bohl said "2021 has started." With that, the head coach talked about raising the bar and expectations of his players and staff. Does he suspect there will be attrition on the roster? "When a player or a team has expectations and they don't meet that expectation, you go one of two ways: The guys that think everything is just rosy and the bar gets raised, they spit the bit out and they quit," he said. "The guys who recognize, by God, I'm gonna look myself in the mirror, look my teammates and coaches in the eye and go, that's got to improve. That's where you see a groundswell of focus and energy and determination to answer that bell of raising the bar."
- Does Bohl expect the players who opted out -- Titus Swen, Solomon Byrd, Mario Mora, Rome Weber, Claude Cole and Davon Wells-Ross -- to return next fall? "You know what, I have not had any conversations with any of them when they opted out or they opted out of their athletic activities," he said. "They are still students but I haven't had one conversation with any of them."
- Will he talk to them? "I think there will probably be some honest conversations," Bohl said. "You know, with them it it has been -- I'll just be real frank -- I've coached, I don't know 38 years, I've never been through more of a frustrating time my whole life. OK, we have one guy who opted out because he already had COVID ... Now, you tell me, what the hell does that mean? He had COVID and then he opts out because he had COVID already? I got to be guarded about what I say but we're gonna move forward by God. I can just tell you this, we're gonna move forward with a bunch of guys in that locker room that want to put their hand in the dirt ... They want to get better because this season was unacceptable."
- Bohl said some players have gone home for the holidays and the protocols have changed as far as virus testing goes.
- Bohl said he is pushing spring practice back as far as possible so his team might be able to get back to "normalcy" when it comes to dealing with the virus. The Spring game is set for May 8. Practice will begin in April.
- Bohl ended his emotional press conference with this: "I'm just saying, we're putting a stake in the ground on 2021 and recalibrating some stuff," he said. "We don't have rose-colored glasses on. It's going to give us a chance to get better. You keep on critiquing us, keep on writing, I'm cool with that. But by God, I'm so damn glad 2021 is here and I hope you guys are too."
- Bohl was also asked about online harassment of his players, more specifically Williams. You can read that story right HERE.