Pokes open season with deep roster
LARAMIE -- As the Wyoming Cowboys prepare for the 2020 college football season, the pieces are in place for the Cowboys to continue their trend of being a consistent winner in the Mountain West Conference.
Wyoming will move into the next phase of preparation for the 2020 season next week when they begin fall practices. The first day of fall camp will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
All practices will be closed to media and the general public.
The Cowboys' performance under head coach Craig Bohl and his staff over the past several years has been among the most successful periods in Wyoming Football history.
UW Football has an opportunity in the 2020 season to reach some milestones that have rarely if ever been accomplished in program history.
•The Pokes Will Seek Their Fourth Bowl Bid in Five Seasons in 2020 -- That Would be a First in Wyoming Football History
As the 2020 college football season approaches, the Wyoming Cowboys will be seeking their fourth bowl bid in five seasons. That would be the first time in Wyoming Football history that the Cowboys achieved that milestone.
•In 2019, Wyoming Appeared in Third Bowl Game in Last Four Seasons for Only the Second Time in Program History
Over the past four seasons, Wyoming has appeared in three bowl games -- the 2016 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. That was only the second time in Wyoming history that accomplishment had been achieved. The only other time that UW appeared in three bowls over a four-year period was in the 1987 and '88 Holiday Bowls and the 1990 Copper Bowl.
•Wyoming Looking for Fifth Consecutive Bowl-Eligible Season in 2020 -- Cowboys Haven't Accomplished That Since 1995-99
Wyoming has posted four consecutive bowl-eligible records over the past four seasons -- 8-6 in 2016, 8-5 in 2017, 6-6 in 2018 and 8-5 in 2019. UW will be seeking its fifth consecutive bowl-eligible season in 2020. The last time Wyoming posted five consecutive bowl-eligible seasons were 1995-99. Actually, UW posted seven consecutive bowl-eligible seasons from 1993-99.
•Cowboys Record Third Eight-Win Season in Bohl Era, First Time Since Paul Roach Era That Wyoming Teams Have Accomplished That
Wyoming's 8-5 record in 2019 marked the third time in the Bohl coaching era at Wyoming that the Cowboys won eight games in a single season. The 2016 Cowboys posted an 8-6 record, and the 2017 Pokes ended the season 8-5. The last time a UW football staff posted three eight-win seasons during their coaching tenure was the Paul Roach era. Roach's Cowboys posted records of 10-3 in 1987, 11-2 in 1988 and 9-4 in 1990.
•UW Seeking Its Fourth Eight-Win Season in Five Years, Only Previous Time That Milestone Was Reached in Wyoming History was 1955-60
When the 2020 season kicks off, Wyoming will be seeking its fourth eight-win season in the past five years. The only time that has been accomplished in Cowboy history was a stretch of five eight-win seasons in six years from 1955-60. The 1955-60 time frame covered the final two seasons of the Phil Dickens era and the first four years of the Bob Devaney era.
•Anticipation for the 2020 Season
Anticipation for the 2020 Wyoming football season began shortly after the Cowboys' bowl win in December. Part of that anticipation was of course due to the return of several key players from last year's successful team.
The other factor leading to great anticipation for the 2020 season was due to UW's home schedule which was to feature six opponents who, like the Cowboys, all participated in postseason play in 2019.
With the announcement by the Mountain West Conference on Aug. 5 of an eight-game conference schedule and up to two non-conference games in 2020 combined with an earlier announcement from the Pacific-12 Conference that schedule will now change.
But the anticipation for college football among players, coaches and fans still remains. The MW will release the conference schedule in the days to come, but everyone now knows the season will start no earlier than the week ending Sept. 26.
•War Memorial Stadium Has Become a Great Home-Field Advantage -- Wyoming Posts Second Perfect 6-0 Regular Season Home Record in Four Seasons
Wyoming was a perfect 6-0 in home games for the 2019 season. It was the second time in the Bohl era that Wyoming won all six regular-season home games in a single season. The Cowboys also posted a perfect 6-0 regular-season record in 2016. Prior to that, the Pokes had not won all six of its regular-season home games since 1996.
•Attendance at Wyoming Home Games in 2019 was the Second Largest Home Attendance in School History
Attendance at Wyoming home games in 2019 was outstanding. A total of 138,042 fans attended UW home games in 2019, averaging 23,007 fans per game for the six-game home schedule.
Wyoming's 2019 attendance ranks as the second largest home attendance in school history for a six-game home schedule. The only season that had a larger home attendance for a six-game home schedule was the 1988 season when 142,516 fans attended Cowboy home games for an average of 23,753 fans per game.
•Preparing for a Season During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Adjustments to preparations for the 2020 season were of course part of this past spring and summer due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Cowboys weren't able to conduct any Spring Practice drills prior to the pandemic shutting down on-campus classes. But the Wyoming strength and conditioning staff did an outstanding job of working with players virtually and providing them ways to work out at home while student-athletes finished the spring semester at their homes across the country.
When the players began returning to campus in early June for voluntary workouts, they returned in excellent shape and the strength staff worked with them regularly throughout June and July to get them in top shape prior to the beginning of mandatory workouts in mid-July.
Asked how the Coronavirus pandemic affected his team's preparation, Bohl said, "You can see some different dynamics and everyone is re-calibrating. The NCAA has given us some flexibility in the lead up to fall camp, allowing us to do some walk-thrus and film sessions which we have not been allowed to do before. But a lot of this is going to come down to the ownership by the players. We've got to be able to move forward in a healthy and safe way. That means our guys have to stay within a bubble.
"It is going to be a different year, where it will depend on who can stay healthy, how coaches will respond and who can adapt better. It may also be different in that you may think you're playing XYZ team next week, but all of a sudden you're not, and then it comes down to who can be flexible, who can be nimble and can compose game plans on short notice and how players will adapt to those game plans.
"I do think that Dr. (Matthew) Boyer, our chief medical officer, has come up with a good plan. The protocols were put in place and what has gone on this summer in our training facility has been top notch. I see our players and staff being very diligent about wearing their masks and social distancing, so the plan we have is something I feel very comfortable with. But the concern is when people leave this bubble, what kind of decisions are they making and what kind of exposure do you have."
Overall, seventh-year Wyoming head coach Bohl is excited about the program that he and his staff have built, and he is particularly excited about this year's Cowboy team.
"I think we have the makings of having a pretty solid team," said Bohl. "Every year, we've developed a little more of an identity, certainly offensively. I'm concerned a little bit defensively, losing both of those senior linebackers. We're going to be challenged there. But if we can get good linebacker play, I think we have a chance to be better defensively than we were last year." -- University of Wyoming press release