by staff–1 Oct ’20
It was a sign that the college football season is drawing nearer for the Wyoming Cowboys as they donned full pads for the first time this fall on Wednesday. The Pokes went through a fast-paced practice that started with individual drills, moved on to 7-on-7 passing competition midway through practice and then finished with 20 minutes of 11-on-11 team work to wrap up the day.
First Full-Padded Practice
The intensity in practice did pick up on Wednesday as more full-contact drills were incorporated.
“Today’s practice was the first day in full pads. It was a great start — a lot of enthusiasm. We had been in half pads previously,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. “This is the fifth day we’ve utilized the acclimatization period that we’re required to have to start fall camp. We’ve had some contact but not extensive contact. Whenever you put full pads on though, the pace picks up a little bit.
“We’re moving forward as a football team. I thought our quarterbacks really threw the ball well today. Sean (Chambers) threw it well, and Levi (Williams) threw it well also.
“We are starting to see we have some good play-makers out there at the wide receiver spot. Ayden Eberhardt made a couple really nice catches. We’re seeing some progression by some of our younger receivers also.
“Caleb Robinson from Omaha did some great things at the defensive tackle position for a freshman. I’m really, really pleased with Cole Godbout with his progression as a defensive tackle. Victor Jones is looking good there also.
“It was a really good start for the first day in full pads.”
How Have His Players Responded to Re-Starting Fall Practice This Past Week
How does Bohl think his players have responded this first week of fall practice after working out all summer, then having their season postponed and now being back practicing for a fall season?
“I think it’s been a challenge,” said Bohl. “When you’re a college coach, if you look at something three weeks out it seems like it’s right around the corner. But to young people that seems like an eternity. Getting themselves all geared up to play, then being put in a pause and now being engaged in practice again — I think there was some feeling (by the players) initially that, ‘okay is this season really going to happen?’ They had emotionally and physically invested earlier and then kind of got kicked in the gut, so now they’re asking, ‘is our season really going to begin in a month?’ But every indication we’ve been given is we’ll be playing on Oct. 24, and our guys are doing well.”
2020 Season Will Kick Off With Conference Opponents
Bohl mentioned earlier this week that he liked the sense of urgency created by having the first game of the season being a conference game. How does he think his team has reacted to the fact that the race for the conference title will begin in the very first week of the season?
“Even in these uncertain times, there is a real sense on our team that everyone is bought in and they know their teammates are hungry to play,” said Bohl. “We have a lot of veteran players back who understand the competitive nature of our league and the abilities of players and coaches in this conference. Knowing that, they understand it will once again be a challenging league and season ahead.”
What Does the Excitement of Having Fans at Home Games Mean to the Cowboys
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, it was announced by UW Athletics that the Wyoming Department of Health had approved for 7,000 fans to attend the Wyoming Cowboys’ home opener this season. Bohl was asked on Wednesday what it will mean to him and his team to have fans in War Memorial Stadium for that first game.
“A big part of college football is about the atmosphere that fans create,” said Bohl. “The state of Wyoming has embraced our football team over the past several years. Through the years, it’s been heart warming for me to see the outpouring of support both in good and challenging times. We don’t yet know when we’ll be playing at home, but we know we’ll be playing in War Memorial Stadium this year. It’s great that we’ll be having some fans there to support our team.”
Guarding Against COVID-19
Bohl was asked how his program has attempted to reduce exposure to the Coronavirus.
“The biggest thing you strive for is to do everything you can to educate your team, and then have protocols put into place,” said Bohl. “If you do have a positive case, the mitigation of the spread is something we’re really going to work hard on. There are certain things you can do to help prevent exposure. I can tell you that when you go out on our practice field all our coaches have their masks on, and we really work on social distancing.
“Everybody is adjusting to this new challenge. What we’re striving to do is do everything we can to get as many of our players ready to play for our first game on October 24th.”
Wyoming Players Who Have Opted Out of the 2020 Season
Wyoming has had five players choose to opt out of the 2020 season due to medical concerns. Those players include: Solomon Byrd (So., DE); Claude Cole (So.,DT); Mario Mora (So., NT); Rome Weber (So., FS); and Davon Wells-Ross (Jr., DE). There will be no other comments regarding the student-athletes who have opted out this season.
Other Roster Notes
Two other Cowboys have decided to conclude their college playing careers. Junior long snapper Jesse Hooper is finishing up his degree. Redshirt junior offensive guard Gavin Rush has decided to not pursue his playing career but is staying close to the program, working as an intern with the Wyoming Athletics strength and conditioning staff. Rush had missed the past two seasons due to injury.