Bohl Anxious for Next Week to Pass and Season to Open

Tracy Ringolsby

From the desk of Tim Harkins/Wyoming Athletic Department

Laramie -- The 2020 college football season is almost upon the Wyoming Cowboys and following a Friday practice in War Memorial Stadium head coach Craig Bohl expressed his excitement that he was finally going to see his team play a game.

“About one week from today, we will have landed in Reno. It’s an exciting time. We’re getting close to playing football,” said Bohl. “Our practices have definitely picked up. There is still work to be done. We’re staying relatively healthy, which is encouraging. Tomorrow, we’ll have some similar elements of practice, but we’ll also have a mock game with officials. Tomorrow we’ll elect captains, which will be important. Next week, we’ll still do some padded work at the beginning of the week, but then we’ll back off as we get ready for our first game next Saturday.”

Bohl spoke with media over a Zoom call after Friday’s practice, and one of the first question he received was about COVID testing his team was going through.

Media asked if he and his team had completed their COVID testing for the week?

“We tested again today. Those tests have come back pretty quickly,” said Bohl. “We’ll start another round of tests early next week. I can say we’re well pleased with where we’re at.”

The seventh year head coach of the Cowboys was also asked if the freshmen were back practicing after being quarantined over the past couple of weeks?

“They’re trickling back right now,” said Bohl. “When certain individuals come back is determined by the protocol of who was contact traced, had no symptoms and tested negative compared with those who tested positive. Then there is a protocol they go through with an EKG (electrocardiogram) and echocardiogram to test them further. We have some freshmen who have been cleared and are back out practicing, but we don’t have the whole group yet.”

Are you concerned about the lack of depth you have on the defensive line entering the season?

“We’re concerned about the depth. I’d like to say we are three deep, but we’re not as deep as we have been,” said Bohl. “But we’re well pleased with the guys who are out there. I don’t know how other teams are in terms of depth this year, but we won’t be as deep on the defensive line.”

How has senior free safety Braden Smith played during fall camp?

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Braden (Smith) play this season,” said Bohl. “Braden is a guy who has played a lot of football for us. He believes in the Brown and Gold. We appreciate him and his effort. He’s got a new coach in Coach Jay Sawvel, who’s done a good job with him. It will be fun to see him play. He will be playing a lot. We like his skill set and what he’s doing.”

Has the kicking game started to make progress during fall practice?

“I would say that Nick Null will be our punter and our kickoff guy,” said Bohl. “We’re still evaluating place-kicking. We’ve got two guys (Luke Glassock and Nick Null) there who are in a pretty tight battle. We’re charting everything. I’ll make that announcement come Monday in terms of who will start as our place-kicker. I think they’re both doing well, but certainly losing Cooper (Rothe) is a big loss. These guys have come in and competed well. I would say Nick’s leg is a little bit stronger than Luke’s, but Luke has been doing some good things, as well. I feel confident in our kicking game, but we’ve lost a four-year starter, and he had ice water running through his veins.”

Is this a stressful time or an exciting time as you are getting close to the season starting?

“I’m looking forward to playing a game,” said Bohl. “Any coach who says he has a great pulse on where his team is at coming out of fall camp, and particularly this year, I don’t think is being totally honest. I have found through the years you think you know about your team until you get in probably the middle of the second quarter of that first game and that is when you find out what type of team you have. For all the upheaval and all the challenges this year, I’m excited that we’re playing, and I know my other colleagues in the Mountain West are excited we’re all playing.”

Asked if he thought his team would have to score more points this season based on the defensie challenges some teams have had in the early part of the college football season?

“I’ll be disappointed if we’re not scoring more points this year,” said Bohl. “If you look at some of the players we’re returning, I think we can be more productive on offense. Tackling is certainly going to be a concern as we play our first game, however in our scrimmage and the things we’ve done in practice to position our guys for a good start to the season I feel good about that. But tackling has been the Achilles heel in some of the early season games I’ve watched.”

Quotes from Senior Wide Receiver Ayden Eberhardt

Yourself, fellow senior Dontae Crow and junior Gunner Gentry are the most experienced wide receivers returning this season. What can you tell us about some of the young receivers on the team?

“It’s been good. They (freshmen) have been able to get in and get some reps,” said Eberhardt. “If you look at our roster, our wide receiver group has some experienced guys in me, Gunner (Gentry) and Dontae (Crow) and from there we’ve got the boys from Texas who are a little bit younger and don’t have as much experience. It’s been nice to be able to teach them and also to watch them grow into the receivers they are now.”

Nate Weinman (Cowboy tight end) mentioned the other day that all you receivers were getting more passes thrown at you in practice this year. Do you think there will be more balance between the passing game and the running game this year?

“I think with our offensive reps, throwing the ball and running the ball we’ve been able to move the ball pretty well this fall,” said Eberhardt. “We’re putting some final touches on the offense and the game plan for Nevada. At the end of the day, whether we run the ball or we pass the ball we’ve got to put up some offensive numbers and we’ve got to score some points.”

Coach Bohl said earlier that he would be disappointed if the offense doesn’t score more points this year. Is that the same way you as players feel?

“Absolutely, as an offense I always think we should be able to score as many points as possible and I think our whole offense has bought into that,” said Eberhardt. “We want to score as many points as possible and take some pressure off our defense, and I think we can score more points this season.”

Quotes from Senior Strong Safety Esaias Gandy

You have some big shoes to fill this year. How are excited are you to step into the position Alijah Halliburton played last year on way to a First Team All-Conference season and how do you fell about playing a position where several Cowboys have gone on to play at the next level in recent years?

“It’s cool. It’s nice to know that there have been a lot of guys make it from my position,” said Gandy. “I have a lot of leaders to look up to. I know I have big shoes to fill, and I’m just ready to go out there and show everybody what I can do.”

How has it been to have a new defensive coordinator in Coach Jay Sawvel and what can you tell us about the defense you will be running?

“At first, it had similarities to the defense we have been running but it has differences for sure,” said Gandy. “I had to take more time to break film down. I feel like Coach (Jay) Sawvel is a great coach and we just all have to buy in and trust him.”

What kind of impact or influence did Alijah Halliburton have on you during your career?

“Alijah (Halliburton) helped me a lot, but also probably the biggest people who had an impact on me were Dewey (Andrew Wingard) and Marcus (Epps),” said Gandy. “Just seeing how they practiced and how they prepared everyday -- I just try to take the things they did and I try to do the same things. I know that preparation prevents poor performance, and I try to prepare like everyday is game day.”

Your position seems to allow you to be involved in various aspects of the game. Is it nice to have that freedom?

“It is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it,” said Gandy. “Sometimes you’ll be in the box. Sometimes you’ll be in the third (pass coverage). Sometimes you’ll be in man (pass coverage). You’ll never know where I’ll be. Sometimes I’ll blitz. I like doing a little bit of everything.”

How is your fellow senior safety Braden Smith playing and how are the two of you communicating with one another on the field?

“Me and Braden (Smith) have good communication. We get better and better everyday,” said Gandy. “We feed off each other’s energy. We’re ready to perform on Saturdays.”