Pokes Practice Report: Clean bill of health expediting development
LARAMIE -- "I say it's kind of like making sausage, though. Doesn't look real good ... but it tastes good when it's done."
That's what Craig Bohl had to say Friday afternoon, referring to the progression of the plethora of young offensive-line prospects that litter his roster.
Wyoming inked seven of those big bodies this offseason. Four put pen to paper on the NCAA's early signing day in December. Two more, including the second four-star recruit in the history of the program, Deshawn Woods, waited until February to make it official.
Forrest Scheel, a junior-college transfer, joined the team before fall camp.
You can never have enough linemen when you run the ball like this squad has done over the past eight seasons.
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While the finished product is still, in some cases, years away, Bohl said development during spring and fall camp have been expedited mainly due to one element -- health. UW's ninth-year head coach praised the strength staff, trainers and sports medicine for keeping guys on the field.
"While that may not seem like a big deal, it is a big deal," he said. "It's allowing us to continue to double-rep, which is developing depth ... You know, the Illinois game looms right around the corner, but this whole process is about building a freshman offensive lineman who normally would stand on the sideline. Now, he's getting better and better by practicing football."
Jagger Filippone, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound true freshman from Torrey Pines, Calif., suffered a shoulder injury early in camp, but Bohl said he is pleased by what he's seen from the other youngsters like Mykel Janise, Rex Johnsen, Wes King and others.
Luke Sandy, a walk-on from Elizabeth, Colo., is one of the interior linemen that has impressed early on. Same can be said for Woods, who Bohl said will redshirt this season.
"That depth is going to be important," Bohl said. "I don't know if we'll have any of them play this year, but that's kind of what you want, actually. That position is not an easy one, but we're well pleased thus far."
Bohl has said early indications are the starting lineup could look something like this: Eric Abojei (from left tackle to left guard), Jack Walsh/ Zach Watts, Nofoafia Tulafono, Emmanuel Pregnon and Frank Crum. Other linemen in the mix are: Jack Lookabaugh, JJ Uphold, Kohl Herbolsheimer, Ethan Shipp, Mason Schultz, Carlos Harrison and Caden Bennett.
Center-prospect Latrell Bible is no longer with the program.
Here are some other takeaways from Friday's practice on the North 40:
* Bohl doesn't let just anyone watch practice. That includes the media. On this sunny morning in the Gem City, he led the press take in the final 30 minutes. It was a rare treat, but reporting specifics is a no-no. What I can say is I saw a couple of nice grabs, courtesy of Joshua Cobbs and Will Pelissier. Those throws came off the right arm of Andrew Peasley. Titus Swen looked as good as advertised, though this workout didn't feature live tackling. Running back Joey Braasch also made some plays.
* Wyoming will take part in a crucial 100-play scrimmage Saturday inside War Memorial Stadium that is closed to the public. With the Fighting Illini awaiting the Pokes arrival in just 15 days, Bohl said this exhibition will go a long way in the development of a depth chart. "Execution," he said. "And then trying to discern some playmakers ... Who can make a tackle in space? Who can make a guy miss? Who can catch when we've had some contested plays?"
* Special teams is another element Bohl will keep his eye on Saturday. The punter spot is still up for grabs as incumbent Ralph Fawaz and 2021 Texas State transfer, Clayton Stewart, continue to battle it out. "Then also, I think special teams are really going to be important tomorrow," he said. "We've done a lot of work on kickoff coverage and kickoff return, but that's a play that is a wide-open play ... We will do a significant amount of evaluation on special teams tomorrow, as well."
* Cole Godbout and Jordan Bertagnole will man the two middle spots on the Cowboys' defensive front, but who will back them up? Bohl said he's been impressed with a number of candidates this offseason, including Gavin Meyer, Caleb Robinson and Northern Colorado transfer, Ethan Drewes. "It's coming around -- up and down," Bohl said of the progress at the nose-and-defensive tackle spots. "We'll show flashes, but it needs to be more consistent."
* Bohl has only mentioned the names of two quarterbacks during the fall -- Evan Svoboda and Peasley. How are the other three guys -- Jayden Clemons, Hank Gibbs and true freshman Caden Becker -- looking out there? "They're all pretty good," he said with a slight grin. "We're going to keep probably everything pretty tight-lipped and close to the vest. Hope you can understand. Tell (Illinois) coach (Bret) Bielema that you'll find out."
* Has Bohl changed anything up in camp this year compared to the past? "I think probably some more competitive drills," he said. "I'm not saying a significant difference, though, but I think that was probably trying to isolate which guys can make a play when their opportunity is there."
* Lack of injuries, once again, is another major difference this fall. "I think we've got a pretty good plan that we're pretty comfortable with, so we're making progress," Bohl said. "What is encouraging, though, is the number of plays that we've been able to run simply because we've been healthy. A lot of times -- at this time -- we've been down to one team. So, we're actually operating at a pretty high pace and that certainly helps the starters at quarterback. I believe quarterbacks get better by 11-on-11 work, but as I said earlier, these younger guys are really benefiting from this right now."
* Bohl admitted he had some real concerns whether or not Gunner Gentry could be back to full strength after back-to-back patellar tendon tears in his knee. When healthy, he said Gentry could be a guy who could step into a major role alongside fellow wide out, Cobbs. "I think he'll be there," Bohl said after getting information from the medical staff at UW. "It's going to take a little bit, but he's a little bit ahead of schedule. He's a guy that is really making some plays."
* Stay tuned to 7220sports.com for all your Pokes news throughout fall camp and the season ahead. You can download our free mobile app right HERE. You can also subscribe to our daily newsletter right HERE.
Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium
- Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium