Pokes Practice Report: Speed to burn
LARAMIE -- Two guys wearing No. 7 jerseys were returning kicks today inside Wyoming's indoor practice facility.
Confusing, Craig Bohl joked, adding everyone wants a single digit on their chest these days.
Those players are Jakorey Hawkins and DQ James, two of the fastest, most elusive runners on this roster.
Hawkins, a transfer cornerback from Ole Miss, was clocked at 22.4 miles per hour during a game back in 2020. James, a 5-foot-7, 202-pound redshirt freshman running back from Texas, by all accounts, has been an "ankle breaker" since the day he stepped on campus.
"We're working through a lot of things," Wyoming's ninth-year head coach said when asked if those two could add some explosive plays to the return game this fall.
Bohl brushed off the question with a playful hand gesture. What does that mean? It's early. He isn't committing to anything or anyone in that department just yet.
If numbers are confusing, how about throwing some last names on those jerseys?
I think you already know the answer to that.
"No, that will not happen," Bohl quipped. "As long as I'm the head coach that's not going to happen. I've been asked that. I've been asked by players wanting to do that and I've been asked by fans, saying they want to see it. That's just not how we roll."
Luckily for the head man, Hawkins plays defense and James plays offense. Simple enough, huh?
Here are some other tidbits from today's practice -- the seventh of 14 this spring -- in Laramie:
* Bohl handed out two "game balls" again today. Those honors belonged to two defensive tackles, both of which returned interceptions for touchdowns. "They will go anonymous. I will not announce who it was," Bohl said with a grin. "We're trying to spirit some things up." Why the secrecy? Great question.
* Bohl called Tuesday's workout a "spirited practice," which began with those live kickoff coverages. More importantly, he said, no injuries were reported. Field possession for opponents last fall, Bohl said, made things too easy. An emphasis this spring is limiting big returns. "I thought last year, if we could do a better job covering and make the offense go a longer way, we can get a three-and-out and get our offense back and better scoring (opportunities).".
* Safety Isaac White and Fullback Caleb Driskill are still working their way back from injury. During the first 20 minutes of practice -- the only action the media gets to witness -- those two spent time walking around the field in the indoor. White is expected to miss the rest of the spring with a hamstring injury. Driskill is dealing with a similar setback but says he should be back soon.
MORE UW FOOTBALL COVERAGE:
* Former Ole Miss corner Jakorey Hawkins embracing Wyoming way
* Ever try to tackle a 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back?
* Hank Gibbs in the hunt for starting QB role in Laramie
* Wyoming's DQ James ready to 'break ankles' on Saturdays
* Andrew Peasley took another step forward in his progress under center. The Utah State transfer, per Bohl, is starting to grasp the offense more every day. "We got some battles going on, certainly with him and Hank (Gibbs)," he said.
* With White rehabbing that hamstring injury, Bohl said Wyett Ekeler has stepped up at the free safety spot. The sophomore from Windsor, Colo., was a standout on special teams for the Pokes last season, tallying six tackles. "He is doing some good things and it's encouraging," Bohl said. "He's tested out well in the past. Sometimes, guy's that have tested well, it doesn't translate into the scrimmage downs, but I think he's playing better. So he'd be a guy I'd like to recognize."
* The Cowboys' front five focused on pass blocking Tuesday afternoon. The results? Some good, some not so good. "The pass blocking was deficient today," Bohl said bluntly. "... I thought there were too many times that we had some pressure and some guys got beat, but we're making progress. We're playing some younger guys in those positions." Redshirt freshman guard Emmanuel Pregnon was on the wrong end of a couple of those plays, but Bohl said he's encouraged by the Denver product and he is getting plenty of reps. The head coach didn't put it all on the big boys up front though. "There's got to be some times that the quarterback is able to pull the ball down and take off and make some plays," he continued.
* More praise for running back Titus Swen, who Bohl said has taken his game to a whole new level so far this spring. "He's really dialed in and we're going to rely heavily on him to do some things," he said of the 5-foot-11, 202-pound junior who averaged nearly six yards per carry in 2021. "I think there's times that as a defense you can scheme up some things to have a free hitter. Sometimes your free hitter can't bring a good man down. Right now, he's playing well."
* Make sure to download our free 7220sports.com mobile app for all the latest up-to-the-minute University of Wyoming sports news. It's available on Apple and Android. You can also sign up for our daily newsletter right HERE.
* Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @7220sports
* The Cowboys annual spring game is scheduled for April 30 at 2 p.m. inside War Memorial Stadium.
PRESS PASS: Roaming The War
-PRESS PASS: Roaming The War