Q&A With Wyoming Offensive Coordinator Tim Polasek
LARAMIE -- Tim Polasek is entering Year 3 at the helm of the Wyoming offense.
The results so far? Mixed.
The Cowboys have still been one of the more prolific rushing teams in the country, last season averaging 181.4 yards per game on the ground. Titus Swen eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Xazavian Valladay also accomplished that feat a year previous.
As you know, that hasn't exactly been the pressing issue around these parts.
Wyoming was again near the bottom of the nation's standings in the passing offense category, flirting with the likes of Air Force, Navy, Army and New Mexico. That's not the company you want to keep when it comes to throwing the football. Andrew Peasley completed 52.4% of his passes during his first season in Laramie. He threw for 1,547 yards and connected on 10 touchdown tosses. He was also picked off nine times.
When it's good, it's good.
Peasley completed 20-of-30 throws for 256 yards and a pair of scores in a 40-37 double-overtime win over Tulsa in Week 2. He was named the conference's offensive player of the week for his efforts.
When it's not, it's not.
The week prior, in the Utah State transfer's first game under center, he completed just five passes on 20 attempts. That was for a grand total of 30 yards. He also threw an interception in a lopsided 38-6 opening day loss at Illinois.
Consistency is what this offense is seeking, according to Polasek. Maturing in a hurry at a number of positions -- mainly the offensive line -- is another top priority.
7220sports.com sat down with the Cowboys' offensive coordinator earlier this week for a Q&A. Here's Polasek's thoughts on his unit:
Q: How has camp been going so far for this offense?
A: You know, it's ups and downs a little bit. So just, you know, getting the young guys to understand the pace of practice in the tempo has been both fun and a roller-coaster ride. I think the (No. 1 offense) has stacked more good days than bad. And then, you know, learning how to be consistent, because that's an issue for us. It's just consistency, because at times, I think, starting with the run-game and protection, we have looked OK. But, it's can we do that consistently for four quarters though? So, that's kind of where our focus has been right now.
Q: Everyone wants to know about Andrew Peasley. Craig Bohl just talked about him, saying his arm strength is better and decision making has been good. How are you feeling about Andrew through camp?
A: I mean, he's above what we've marked as a standard for completion percentage on a day-to-day. You know one of the things that sticks out to me though are those really difficult 30-play, third-down sessions of most plays north of 3rd-and-7. We have to find three or four or five more third downs in a period like that. But you know, it's so clear to see, last year he had to be out there at times, trying to function fast but really not knowing the ins and outs of everything. I think it takes longer than a year, six months or whatever, you know, so there's a definite rapport, relationship that we hope carries over to Saturdays where we can talk a lot quicker.
Q: He said he feels way more comfortable with you. Like as far as your relationship and being able to say, Tim, I'm not comfortable with that play. I'm sure that's huge for both of you?
A: It's the objective to get into that room at some point. Those guys are an onion, right? They're learning what we're doing when they're young. Well, he's in a new program last year, so he's trying to learn the what, but the most important chunk of that onion for a quarterback is the why and how we're doing things. So then I know that they know what we want to do. But also, what do they like? What are they uncomfortable with that we're just force feeding them because it's a good concept that we've studied or that we think is sound? They have to like the play. So, that relationship part has been good, just being able to have more laidback conversations, rather than me installing and getting that stuff to him, right? Now, there's a direct communication and there's an understanding of why he might not like something compared to why he does.
Q: Have you noticed anything different about Peasley now that he's a new husband and a father?
A: He's easy to gravitate toward. I think he's always been a fairly mature kid, a well-parented young man. I mean, the other day he was like, 'yeah, coach, we'll work through dinner.' You know, that was the first time, I think, he went out to eat with his wife. Those are things that, you know, you and I deal with on a regular basis, but I think it's going to help him to continue to develop a routine, develop a system and how he needs to watch film every week and then manage this.
Q: Unfortunate news about Dawaiian McNeely (torn ACL, will miss 2023), and I know DQ James is making his way back (torn ACL late in 2022 season) and Harrison Waylee is also making his way back (offseason knee surgery, expected to miss two games), but how do you feel about the running back room right now?
A: We're going to need every one of them. (Keany Parks) is sitting here in front of us, but you know, maybe a freshman. They have to understand it's a race to maturity and the clock is running on us. Before you know it, you're in a moment that you're either ready for or you're not. It's so sad with Dawaiian just because he's had some ups and downs. He's never had a full season. Really, it's heartbreaking, but it's part of our game. So, we'll help him with things outside of football, you know, he's got to get this degree and try to position himself to play one more season. But, man, those are human things that are just tough. The younger you get, you know, the more we have to look at what we're doing to position our guys to have a shot. I'm not saying that, you know, we can't get there to the standard, but we're going to have to really work hard at putting these pieces in the right places.
Q: Shifting over to the offensive line, I know Luke Sandy and Wes King are in a battle. Are you feeling pretty good about this line?
A: We need No. 8 and No. 9 and No. 10 to start really showing up and separating themselves. Luke Sandy is doing great. Luke Sandy is a young kid and he's physically capable. He just has to keep approaching practice the way he has, with great intent. Because, again, those moments we can't simulate. OK, here we go, it's Texas Tech. We have to help them the best we can, but they're going to be playing. Luke and Wes are both doing a great job. I would note that, you know, Forrest (Scheel) is getting better. He's gotten stronger with our weight strength and conditioning program and nutrition. JJ (Uphold) is doing a good job, we just have to win this race to maturity. That's where we're at with this whole group. It's like one area has really improved and then another area, we need more guys improving. So, you're battling that a little bit.
Q: It has to really help you guys and that race to maturity by facing that defensive front, those linebackers and that secondary every day.
A: I just told coach Bohl, you know, those guys are moving on a string and on a chain a little bit better maybe than they were last year, to me. When they're fully healthy, you know, they've got some guys up front that can give him some minutes. The defense is challenging us every day and that's why I like a drill like pass-under-pressure on third down so much. That's the closest simulation we've got.
Q: I assume you're feeling pretty good about the tight end spot. John Michael Gyllenborg was really brought up a lot during the spring with his speed, and then, of course, Treyton Welch with his great hands and experience.
A: Same thing there, though, you know, you find ways to worry and lose sleep. Yeah, those guys have gotten better, and Andrew is much more comfortable with that position as a real option. Right now, I think that's probably been his biggest growth. The tight ends have done a good job. There again, Parker (Christensen's) decision with his health and his opportunity with a profession, you know, we still need one or two more guys, the way we want to deploy. We're not trying to win the same way as everybody that's going fast and throwing bubble screens, you know what I mean? We're trying to win in a different fashion and we need those areas to improve, but we're also not trying to be everybody else. It's important for us to have multiple tight ends on the field to stress these defenses just with gap fits. So, we're still looking for a couple more guys to emerge into a small role.
Q: Spoke with wide receivers coach Mike Grant the other day and he said this is the deepest group he's had since he's been here. How do you feel about those guys?
A: I'm not sure it's not the deepest group I've been around. I think there's competition in that room. There's some playmaking in that room. There are some really bright kids that love football that we've added to the mix. So, if everybody can get that 2% to 3% better, I do feel like now we're not having to dial up plays perfectly. Like, we can throw some guys open. We can make a play or two that maybe we couldn't make in the past, especially when we had some health things. Wyatt Wieland is leading that group right now. I'm not talking about leading it like he's going to go catch 100 balls, but he's had a really good camp. And those two young new players that we brought in (Ayir Asante and Devin Boddie Jr.) are really on the right track. You know what, I'm really excited to see those guys get locked into a game plan instead of all this stuff. It's hard, installation. We're getting through it, but that's the challenge. So, I think I would agree with Mike from that standpoint. You know, we've got six, seven or whatever it is guys that can go out there and do it -- maybe more than that -- that know what we're doing. Then, I think, there's some more pieces now that can do something with the ball.
Q: Sometimes you listen to this kind of stuff in the preseason and it seems like lip service. I'm not feeling that at all.
A: Well, they're working hard. We just have to be mindful that really the next, to me, the next six, seven weeks is all about how much can we improve to be where we want to be as far as far as being a Mountain West football team that's tough and ready for conference play. You know, we believe we can get them all, but that's not the point. It's can we grow and learn through this and position ourselves to go fight for what we think we have an opportunity to go do.
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