LARAMIE — Entering his eighth season as the University of Wyoming head football coach, Craig Bohl is known for his no-nonsense approach and knack of calling things like he sees them. So to hear Bohl speak after the Cowboys’ first day of fall practice Friday at the Indoor Practice Facility in Laramie could be an indication of just how good this year’s team could be.
“This is not coach-speak,” Bohl wanted to make clear after being asked to talk about the opening practice. “What really became apparent to me was the command of our quarterbacks, doing things right and putting the ball right where it needed to be with better accuracy and better playmakers. The other thing that became apparent was our overall physical development from last year to this year; guy are bigger, they’re stronger, they’re quicker and faster. And the execution was better.”
That’s not totally surprising given that UW returns all 11 defensive starters and 10 on offense from last year’s pandemic-shortened season that produced the Cowboys’ first losing season since 2015.
Dealing with opt-outs and injuries — starting quarterback Sean Chambers was lost for the season with a broken leg on the third play from scrimmage — the Cowboys never found their footing in 2020, finishing 2-4, although three of the losses were one-possession games.
But that’s of little consequence to Bohl and the Cowboys, who are looking to prove that last year’s record was a fluke.
“Anytime a competitive athlete feels like they’ve underachieved, which we all felt like we underachieved last year for a variety of reasons, but the product on the field was not up to our standards,” Bohl said. “If you have a competitive group and a competitive coaching staff you want to make improvement, and that improvement can’t just be some logo you put on a T-shirt. It’s got to be a methodical plan that you put into place.”
To a man, the Cowboys insisted Friday they were ready to make amends for last year.
“It’s been a long 10 months,” Chambers said. “But I’m just happy to be back and ready to contribute to this team this year.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Chambers was given a clean bill of health this spring and entered fall camp atop the depth chart with redshirt freshman Levi Williams not far behind. Both signal callers are looking to improve their accuracy as neither one has completed 50 percent of his passes in a season. Based on the work ethic of Chambers and Williams, and the infusion of first-year offensive coordinator Tim Polasek, Bohl believes it’s only a matter of time before those completion percentages improve.
“I haven’t looked at the numbers today,” Bohl admitted, “but from my standpoint they looked significantly improved. They looked better as far as knowing where to go with the football and understanding why they were doing that.
“For Day One I was pleased.”
At last month’s Mountain West Football Media Days, the Cowboys were picked to finish second in the Mountain Division behind perennial favorite Boise State. In addition, running back Xazavian Valladay, linebacker Chad Muma and offensive lineman Keegan Cryder were all selected to the Preseason All-MW team. All three were all-conference selections last season.
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
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