Wyoming Football: News and Notes Ahead of Texas Tech
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl said all the right things during his first press conference of the regular season.
He complimented Texas Tech's passing game, which amassed 302 yards through the air per outing last fall. He talked about the visitor's offensive line, calling them "huge." Wyoming's head coach said despite outside linebacker Tyree Wilson going No. 7 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders in last spring's NFL Draft, the Red Raiders have reserves. Lots of them.
There's no sugarcoating it. Bohl's Cowboys will have their hands full Saturday night inside War Memorial Stadium.
"We're facing a really good, quality opponent at home," he said from behind the podium Monday afternoon in Laramie. "So, it's going to be an exciting test for us. We're optimistic, excited and looking forward to how we do and looking forward to this game."
Quarterback Tyler Shough is 8-0 in games he has started and finished during his two-plus seasons in west Texas.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Oregon transfer suffered a collarbone injury in the Red Raiders' 2022 opener. When he took the reins of this offense in mid-November, Shough guided his team to four straight wins, including a 436-yard performance against Oklahoma in which he also added two touchdown throws in a 51-48 victory over the Sooners.
"I think he's outstanding," Bohl said of Shough, who threw for 1.062 yards and seven touchdowns in parts of seven games last season. "I mean, you look at his stature, he's 6-foot-5, a big guy that's got a rocket arm. He has a really good understanding of their offense and he plays with great composure. He knows where to take the ball ... When he's hot, it's really, really difficult to defend them.
"You know, we're in hopes that we can be disruptive and get him to move and cover the receivers. So, a great player and his numbers and his stature back it up."
Texas Tech finished the season 8-5 overall in 2022, knocking off Texas and Oklahoma in the same year for the first time in school history.
Shough, despite battling a bout with food poisoning, completed 24-of-39 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown in a 42-25 Texas Bowl victory over Ole Miss. He also added two more scores on the ground in that rout of the Rebels.
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Tempo, Bohl said, is what Tech's offense possesses unlike any other team the Cowboys will face this season. They were the second-fastest team at snapping the ball in the country in 2022, he added.
"That poses a problem and stresses a defense," Bohl said.
Here are some other notes from Bohl's Monday presser:
* Harrison Waylee will not play against Texas Tech. Bohl made that news official on Monday, saying the junior running back has made good progress recovering from an offseason knee procedure, but isn't quite ready to go yet.
* Bohl, as always, said he will know what kind of team he has mid-way through the first or second quarter Saturday night. He again mentioned the word maturity and said his roster is solid up the middle. What does that mean, exactly? The battery of quarterback Andrew Peasley and center Nofoafia Tulafono, along with starting running back Jamari Ferrell and fullback Caleb Driskill on offense. On the other side of the ball, defensive tackles Jordan Bertagnole and Cole Godbout. Also middle linebacker and the Mountain West's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Easton Gibbs. Bohl is also confident in his two starting safeties, Isaac White and Wyett Ekeler. "(We) probably have more players that we feel good about than what we've had for quite some time," he added.
* Texas Tech is not afraid to go for it on fourth down, and that's an understatement. Joey McGuire's squad -- backed by analytics, he said -- snapped the ball 52 times on that down a year ago. That was the most in the country, five more than Big XII rival Baylor. To make things even scarier, they were successful 33 times. The Red Raiders, for instance, were 6-of-7 in this category against West Virginia. They won that one 48-10. Wyoming attempted just seven fourth-down tries in 2022. Twice it was successful.
* The visitors already had five wide receivers with at least 30 catches a season ago. This offseason, Texas Tech added another. Drae McCray snagged 75 passes for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns last year at Austin Peay. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound slot receiver simply adds another element to this sideline-to-sideline offensive attack. "What's going to be important along with that, though, is to supplement that with pressure that we can put on with our front four," Bohl said. "That's an X-factor. I mean, if we can get the ball to come out a little bit earlier, if we can dislodge the quarterback and get him off his mark, maybe we can get some errant throws. We will get tested on the back end."
* Texas Tech is coming to Wyoming a day early. With BYU also on its schedule, McGuire said it's a chance to prep for the high altitude.
* Bohl was asked if being in a prime-time slot on CBS -- not CBS Sports -- could impact his players. "You know, there's an old saying, 'you dance with who brung you,'" Bohl said. "You better leverage your strengths, not try to be somebody that you're not." What does that mean? Ground and pound.
* Bohl is 6-4 all-time as a coach against Texas Tech. As the defensive coordinator at Rice, he beat the Red Raiders twice in 1990 and '92. While on Tom Osborne's staff at Nebraska, the Huskers rolled the lads from Lubbock in all four meetings, including a 56-3 victory in 2000. "I think they throw tortillas out on the field or something like that," Bohl said with a smile. "You know, for me, personally, (I have) a great deal of respect for Texas Tech. I had an opportunity as a young coach to coach in the Southwest Conference. Spike Dykes was the head football coach (at Texas Tech) and they've had all kinds of different offenses and defenses. Football is really important to the school."
* Bohl also spoke about the similarities between the two schools, programs and geographical areas. "I think it's going to be neat, they're coming to the Cowboy State. They have a western flair, as well," he said. "... What resonates with Texas Tech, that program has a great deal of proud tradition, but they also play with a chip on their shoulders. They take on all comers."
* Mike Leach roamed the sidelines in Lubbock from 2000-09. The Cody native faced Bohl's Nebraska squad twice, both Husker victories. He also faced the Cowboys in 2018 as the head coach at Washington State. That was the first time he coached in his home state. "Mike and I were at a Fiesta Bowl event, enjoying a couple of adult beverages, along with a couple of other unnamed people, and Mike was passionate that he wanted to talk to the Cowboys the morning that Washington State played us," Bohl joked. "I said, 'you're not going to talk to the Cowboys, Mike.' He goes, 'No, you don't understand, I have to talk to the Cowboys.' He would send texts, saying he was so proud of how we were doing. He was proud to be a citizen of Wyoming, and if you talk to people in Mississippi or wherever, he would always bring up Wyoming. It was a special place for him." Leach, who was the coach at Mississippi State, died last December from complications related to a heart condition. He was 61.
* This Wyoming roster is loaded with players from the Lone Star State. There are 22 to be exact, including starting right tackle Caden Barnett, wide receiver Alex Brown, nickelback Wrook Brown, outside linebacker Shae Suiaunoa, punter Clayton Stewart, cornerback Kolbey Taylor and long snapper Carson York. "You know, football in Texas is a big deal," Bohl said. "I'm not saying it's not a big deal here -- it is a big deal here -- but football in Texas is a really big deal. So, to be on national TV and play against them, all their relatives and friends will be watching the game. Their high school coaches or teammates will be watching the game, as well."
* Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. MST and tickets are going fast. The game will be televised on CBS.