Pokes Practice Report: Opening statement
LARAMIE -- Today is Craig Bohl's 64th birthday.
He joked that if it wasn't for his wife bringing him a cup of coffee this morning, he wouldn't have even remembered.
The Cowboys opened the ninth fall camp under Bohl and Co. Wednesday morning. His focus is squarely on taking a young football team and maximizing its potential. He said as much when giving his opening statement to his inexperienced squad on the North 40 practice fields.
"What I talked to them about was, they're transitioning from their training that they did this summer -- which was excellent -- and that lays a foundation," Bohl said. "But this style of training we're doing now is different, and they've got to be able to stay on the field, make sure that they're hydrated, all these little things that you might not think are that important. But when we double-rep and utilize the way we practice, we need everybody out there.
"So, I talked to them about taking care of one another, but also said to take advantage of the repetition."
Wyoming returns just 10 starters from its 2021 squad: five on offense, three on defense and a pair on special teams. The Cowboys were picked to finish fifth in the Mountain Division and not a single player was named to the first or second All-Conference team.
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The chip on the shoulder is fully in place, now, Bohl said, it's time to go to work. An away game at Illinois is just 31 days away.
"If we're going to be the type of team that we need to be there's no Knute Rockne speech or silver bullet, it's going to be put your hand in the dirt and get better," he said. "That's the only way I know to do it, but it works. So we're going to methodically go through camp. It'll be a grinder."
Here's some additional news and notes from the Cowboys' first fall practice.
* Culture. That has been an important word surrounding Bohl's team over the last 12 months. Watching 16 players leave in the NCAA Transfer Portal can cause one to question the vibe in a locker room. Losing to lowly New Mexico and blown out by Hawaii -- both at home -- will also provide some question marks. "As a head football coach, I think I failed," Bohl admitted. "It's not easy for me to say that I failed in that regard, but we missed the mark."
* Bohl called Wednesday your typical first day. There was some good, some not-so good and a little of everything in between. One player that stuck out to him right off the bat though was junior running back Titus Swen. "Titus came back and reported, you know, right where I thought he'd be," Bohl said. "We're really pleased with his movement and we'll be able to do a lot of things with him." Swen rushed for 785 yards on just 132 attempts last fall while splitting duties with Xazavian Valladay. That's an average of nearly six yards per carry and he also scored seven touchdowns.
* Swen is the unquestioned starting back on this team. The bigger question is: Who backs him up? "That next backup spot is really going to be important for us," Bohl said. "We usually have two running backs, so one of those guys has to come to the forefront. As you guys know, we'd like to run with two tailbacks -- at least -- so we feel really good about Titus." Dawaiian McNeely is thought to be next in line. The sophomore from California rushed for 113 yards and a score last fall in just 17 carries. Joseph Braasch, a redshirt freshman from Nebraska, had a solid spring game for the Pokes, breaking a 51-yard touchdown run.
* One play stuck out to Bohl on Wednesday. That was a leaping interception from true freshman Malique Singleton, a nickelback the head coach said last week in Las Vegas who could see the field in Year 1. "He made an outstanding interception," he said. "I mean, it was horizontal. Of course, he was a heck of a high school player at Grandview (Colorado) and he had a really excellent high school career. He's somebody we're going to take a hard look at."
* As you know, Bohl didn't release a depth chart in the spring. In fact, don't expect to see one of those until the week before the season opener. So, who will the starting quarterback be? All signs point to Utah State transfer, Andrew Peasley, the only signal caller with any FBS experience on this current roster. How did those guys look on Wednesday? "I think we're throwing the ball and catching the ball better," Bohl said. Yep, that's all you're getting -- for now.
* Bohl said he was pleased with the defensive end play Wednesday. That's nothing new. He raved about the edge rushers all spring long, especially sophomore Sabastian Harsh. You can throw out a few other names like DeVonne Harris and Oluwaseyi Omotosho, too.
* The first offensive line unit, Bohl said, performed well in the opening practice. The second? Well, he said, they have some work to do. The Cowboys brought in a lot of new faces on the line in hopes to replace Keegan Cryder, Logan Harris, Alonzo Velazquez and Latrell Bible. At Mountain West Media Days in Las Vegas last week, Bohl did say one spot on the line is solidified. Nofoafia Tulafono, a 6-foot-2, 325-pound sophomore from Victorville, Calif., will be the starting center.
* 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.
UW vs. NIU September 11, 2021