Pokes Practice Report: QB Consistency a Must This Spring
LARAMIE -- What does Craig Bohl want to check off the to-do list this spring?
His answer was quick and pointed.
"At the quarterback position, we have to have continual progress there," Wyoming's 10th-year head coach said Tuesday after the first of 15 scheduled practices.
He's mainly referring to senior signal caller Andrew Peasley, who was inconsistent throughout his first season on the high plains. After a disastrous debut at Illinois -- 5-of-20 for 40 yards and an interception -- the Utah State transfer was named the Mountain West's Offensive Player of the Week seven days later, throwing for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 40-37 double-overtime victory over Tulsa.
That began a six-game stretch for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Oregon product, which included nine touchdown tosses to go along with 975 yards through the air. Peasley also completed better than 56% of his throws during that span. Most importantly, the Cowboys were 4-2 in those starts.
It wouldn't last.
Peasley was picked off twice in a victory at Hawaii. He added two more of those in a lopsided loss to Fresno State in the season finale and another at Colorado State before missing the entire second half with a concussion. Jayden Clemons would get the start against Boise State a week later with the Mountain Division lead on the line.
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Over those final five outings, Peasley connected on just 49% of his attempts. He threw six picks compared to just a single touchdown pass.
"(We want) to see Andrew take another step, as far as mastering our offense," Bohl said. "Last year, a lot of things were new. He's a bright guy, but it was his first year."
Peasley's final stat line looked like this: 1,574 yards, 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 52.4% completion percentage.
Here are some other tidbits from Bohl's opening press conference:
* Yes, this staff wants to see Peasley take the next step in his progression, but that's not all. Bohl said the team needs to zero in on a back-up quarterback, a spot that belonged to Clemons in 2022. Who will it be this year? Bohl said they are taking a long look at Evan Svoboda. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound sophomore from Snow College certainly looks the part. "Today, what I saw from him was being much more sure of himself with his throws," Bohl said. "His accuracy has improved. A lot of times, mastering our offense, it's a deep dive, which is why a lot of guys have been able to make the transition in the NFL. It's not an easy transition. So I thought he was better at handling the huddle today. He was more decisive in his decisions and he looked more accurate."
* The running back spot is another area Bohl said he is focused on this spring. As always, he said the team likes to utilize a 1-2 punch in the backfield. As of now, it appears one of those backs, unsurprisingly, will be Northern Illinois transfer Harrison Waylee. The other? That's up for debate, though Bohl did say Dawaiian McNeely packed on some lean muscle mass in the offseason.
* Speaking of McNeely. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior from California missed the Cowboys final two games after suffering an undisclosed injury. Bohl said Tuesday McNeely still isn't at full speed, but he is practicing. Soon, however, he will need to have a metal plate removed from his collar-bone area.
* Some linebackers, Bohl said, are injured this fall. He didn't get into specifics, but said he will be scouting for depth behind returning starters Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa. Cole DeMarzo, last season's transfer from Michigan State, saw playing time. So did Read Sunn.
* Last, but certainly not least, Bohl said he will focus on the cornerback unit throughout April. Tyrecus Davis, a transfer from Navarro CC in Texas, is already on campus. He will be battling with fellow transfers Jakorey Hawkins (Ole Miss) and Deron Harrell (Wisconsin). Kolbey Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 188-pound freshman from Houston, has also caught the head coach's eye already. You might remember, Taylor was ejected in the first quarter of the Arizona Bowl for targeting.
* Bohl said he has been impressed, across the board, with offseason conditioning and gains in the weight room. Bohl was asked how this team can finish the season healthy, something that didn't happen in 2022. "We had a collective meeting with the strength and conditioning staff," Bohl said. "We had not done that for a long time. So all of our strength and conditioning coaches, our position coaches and all of our coaches, we had a big powwow and we brought in lunch and we went through all the guys. I challenged all the guys, saying, "We won seven games. Good. To take that next step, that 2% is hard to find."
* Offseason acquisitions Devin Boddie Jr. (Vanderbilt) and Ayir Asante (Holy Cross) will not be on campus until the fall. Bohl said he wanted those two wideouts to stay and earn their degrees before coming to Laramie. Is he concerned about all the work they are missing with their new teammates? While Bohl admits these reps are precious, he said lining up at wide receiver is different than, say, on the offensive line.
* Two local products, Jordan Bertagnole (Casper) and Frank Crum (Laramie), recently got engaged to their girlfriends.
* Former three-star signal caller Caden Becker has a new position. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Nebraska native has moved to defensive end. Last spring, former QB Gavin Beerup also made the move. He now lines up at wide receiver. Same can be said for Ryan Marquez, who came to Laramie as a quarterback. He's now one of the team's top special team's players and caught a career-high four passes in the Arizona Bowl.
* The Cowboys' lone 4-star prospect, Deshawn Woods, didn't see the field during his first season at UW. That could change this fall. Crum said the offensive tackle still needs to add some weight to his 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame, but there's a reason the likes of Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, Miami, Penn State, and many, many others, offered the Omaha native.
* Sabastian Harsh, for the first time in eight months, was back on the football field Tuesday. The sophomore defensive end became emotional when talking about his journey back from a broken knee cap that cost him a much-anticipated 2022 campaign. We will have a full story on Harsh on 7220sports.com.
* Also spoke with new QB Kaden Anderson Tuesday in Laramie. He is still recovering from a second torn ACL in his right knee, but has been soaking up the playbook as an early enrollee. Will also have a full story on the Texas product this week.
* While you might be a tad nervous to watch the Cowboys take on Texas Tech and Texas in non-conference play, Bohl looks at it as simply an opportunity. He applauded athletics director Tom Burman for putting together this schedule, which features five of the first six inside War Memorial Stadium. Bohl likes another aspect of this slate, too. "I'm excited about seven home games," he said. "You know, I think that's good."
* Wyoming running back DQ James was in good spirits Tuesday, walking around the High Altitude Performance Center, shaking hands with media members and flashing that trademark smile. James suffered an ACL tear late in the 2022 season.
* Bohl said the Cowboys escaped practice No. 1 with no injuries. That's significant for obvious reasons, but if you recall, Air Force transfer TJ Urban suffered a season-ending injury in the opening minutes last spring.
* Wyoming will again be on the practice fields Thursday afternoon.
* The annual spring game is slated for April 29. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and the game is free to the public.
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