Wyoming Football: News and Notes Ahead of Portland State
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl often says he can tell a lot about what type of team he has around the middle of the first quarter of the opening game.
"I was exactly wrong on that," Wyoming's head coach said Monday, accompanied by a sly grin.
If that was indeed the ultimate indicator, that would be a scary outlook for the remainder of the 2023 campaign.
The Cowboys had already committed two costly false-start penalties, putting them behind the sticks on a pair of first-down snaps. They rolled up a whopping 23 yards of total offense on the first two drives.
Then there were a pair of fumbles.
Jamari Ferrell coughed the first one on the opening drive. DQ James followed suit on the home team's fourth possession of the night, causing Bohl to wonder aloud if he had put his running backs through enough contact drills this offseason.
Texas Tech turned that into a lightning-quick 17-0 lead.
"We certainly were on the ropes," he added. "Whenever you play somebody that's that talented -- and the tape bears out what I thought, I think Texas Tech is a good football team -- you know, if we played them 10 times I don't know how many times we beat them.
"But on that night, we did."
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Wyoming scored 20 unanswered points, shutout the visitor's high-flying air-raid attack for nearly three full quarters, and went toe-to-toe with the Red Raiders through two overtime periods. Andrew Peasley, facing an all-out blitz, fired a strike right into the hands of John Michael Gyllenborg on a fourth-down from the 11. The Pokes' tight end took care of the rest, breaking the white stripe and tying the game at 33-all.
Sam Scott, thanks to dominant blocking on the left side of the offensive line, cruised into the untouched for the two-point conversion, sending the 26,000-plus inside War Memorial Stadium into a frenzy and sealing one of the biggest upsets across the college football landscape.
"There were some ebbs and flows within the game that were certainly exciting," Bohl said. "Some of them were certainly not something that I would ever have dreamt, but nonetheless, it was a great win for a program."
Here are some other tidbits from Bohl's weekly press conference:
* Sophomore cornerback Kolbey Taylor exited Saturday night's game with an undisclosed injury. Long snapper Carson York needed assistance from trainers to leave the field after a punt late in regulation. He returned for a point-after attempt in the first overtime. Taylor did not. Peasley also took a beating against Tech, forcing the coaching staff to insert back-up signal caller Evan Svoboda for three plays. Will any of them miss any playing time? "We're fortunate to get through the game (injury free)," Bohl said. "We've got some bumps and bruises, but I think everybody who played in the game will be available this next week."
* After watching the film, Bohl said he was even more impressed with Peasley's performance. "Particularly, I thought Andrew Peasley, his grit was exceptional," he said. "He can play a little bit better, but I don't think his effort, as far as his grittiness, can be any better." The super senior connected on 18-of-34 throws for 149 yards. He also threw two touchdown passes.
* There is more encouraging news on the injury front. Harrison Waylee, the transfer running back from Northern Illinois, will return to practice this week as a full participant. Waylee underwent offseason knee surgery and Bohl said in July he would likely miss the Cowboys' first two games of the season. Sounds like that will still be the case.
* Texas Tech allowed nearly 170 yards per game on the ground last season. Wyoming, a run-first program, amassed just 171. It took 44 attempts to get there, though. Bohl said he expected more from that group Saturday night. "I thought we'd be able to run the ball better," he said. "... I think as I looked at their defensive front, you know, some of their players, I mean, we would normally get like a 12-yard gain, and instead it turned into a three-yard gain. No. 8 was all over the field." No. 8 is Jesiah Pierre, the Red Raiders' leading tackler with 14 on the night. He also committed two costly personal fouls that kept Wyoming drives alive.
* On the flip side, the Cowboys' defense held Tech's running game in check all night, allowing just 93 yards on 33 carries. That's an average of just 2.8 yards per attempt. The Red Raiders' offensive coordinator Zach Kittley Monday called the effort "pathetic." Bohl had a different reaction. "I thought that was a major part of the game," he said. "If you can make a team one dimensional, which we were able to do, (you have a chance to win.) ... Even though they're noted for being a tempo, fast-paced offense, it takes the ball different places. They're a physical team that likes to run the football."
* Wyoming's offensive line featured a pair of redshirt freshmen -- Wes King and Luke Sandy -- along with first-year starter, Caden Barnett, at right tackle. Though there were three false starts on the night (two for that unit), there wasn't a single yellow hanky for holding. Peasley was sacked just once and hurried twice. Bohl said there was just one truly missed assignment. That was the sack on the final drive of regulation. "I thought they competed fairly well," Bohl said. "I do know (Tech) has a couple guys that the NFL people are looking at on their defensive front. They were big and they played aggressive. So, you know, overall, I was pleased with how our offensive line did."
* Treyton Welch and Gyllenborg were busy in this one. Wyoming's tight ends caught a combined seven passes for 70 yards and that touchdown in the second OT. "That poses problems for defenses when you can have two tight ends and you can use them in multiple places," Bohl said. "So, we're really pleased with both of those two guys. The moment wasn't too big for John Mike." Gyllenborg snagged five of those balls for a team-high 37 yards.
* The word "OR" has made its way onto the Cowboys' depth chart for their Week 2 meeting with Portland State. In fact, that word applies to the entire running back room. Scott, Farrell and James will all be in the mix this week, but Bohl said they are taking a hard look at Scott, the linebacker-turned-tailback, who rushed for 44 yards on seven carries against Tech. That's an average of 6.3 yards an attempt. He also broke off a 16-yard touchdown run on the first drive out of the halftime locker room.
* Wyoming (1-0) hosts Portland State (0-1) Saturday in Laramie. The Vikings are fresh off an 81-7 thrashing at the hands of 13th-ranked Oregon in Eugene. The Ducks will travel to Lubbock to tangle with the Red Raiders.
* Has Oregon reached out to Bohl for some tips? "I have not talked to Oregon," he said, joking that he hasn't spoken to Tech, either.
* During Bohl's tenure, Wyoming has had all kinds of problems against FCS opponents. You remember the lopsided home loss to North Dakota in 2015, right? The Pokes barely slipped past Montana in Bohl's debut in 2014. It took a near miracle to take down Wofford in '18. Idaho gave UW all it could handle the following season. It took a last-minute scoring strike from Sean Chambers to Welch to dispatch Montana State in the '21 opener. Oddly enough, Chambers is now in Bozeman. Northern Colorado made the trip to the high plains last fall. That was just a 6-0 lead at half.
* Bohl said he has already spoken to his team about not looking past the Vikings, despite that 74-point blowout. "I told them, it's not far from the penthouse to the outhouse," he said.
* The Wyoming-Portland State game is set to kickoff at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
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