Wyoming Football: News and notes ahead of Tulsa
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl's postgame press conferences typically have an overriding theme to them -- he wants to look at the game film.
Wyoming's ninth-year head coach did just that Sunday. He saw exactly what you did during the Cowboys' lopsided 38-6 setback at Illinois.
The passing game reached an all new low, and if you've followed this program, you know that's really saying something. Andrew Peasley completed just 5-of-20 throws for 30 yards and an interception in his UW debut.
He misfired on passes. Receivers didn't get open. Illinois' secondary, according to Bohl, was just that good.
The Cowboys' defense, as a whole, missed plenty of tackles. Two punts were shanked by Clayton Stewart and the opening kickoff was returned to midfield. To make matters even worse, the visitors converted just one of 12 third-down opportunities and turned the ball over twice.
The Illini held on to the ball for 36:36 and ran 81 plays. Wyoming, 23:24. It finished with just 51 snaps.
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So, were there any positives in this one?
"Some of the things that we did well in the game, I thought that we rushed the ball well," Bohl said of UW's 182 yards on 31 attempts, which equates to a 5.9 yards per carry average. "I was deeply concerned about, you know, a lot of new faces on the offensive line and for us to be able to maintain that line of scrimmage and then get people moved back. I thought the offensive line did a good job with that. Our numbers bear that out."
That line, led by veterans Frank Crum and Eric Abojei, also kept Peasley upright all afternoon on a humid day in Champaign. According to the official stats, Wyoming's QB wasn't touched one time.
Right guard Emmanuel Pregnon and center Nofoafia Tulafono made their first-career starts at Illinois. For Pregnon, he hadn't played a meaningful snap of football since 2019 when he was a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver. Jack Walsh, a redshirt freshman from up the road in Palatine, Ill., also split snaps with Zach Watts at the left guard spot.
Here are some other news and notes from Bohl's weekly press conference:
* Sabastian Harsh will miss the entire 2022 season after going through an undisclosed surgery, according to Bohl. The sophomore defensive end from Scottsbluff was the unquestioned MVP of the offseason for the Cowboys. Bohl also announced that running back Titus Swen has bruised ribs but has been cleared by doctors to play this Saturday. Fellow ball carrier, Dawaiian McNeely, who missed the opener with an injury, could be back in time for Tulsa, though Bohl said it is still unlikely. You can read all about Wyoming's injuries right HERE.
* Bohl did not name a starting quarterback heading into the season opener. Peasley was that guy. Who was his back-up though? Jayden Clemons. The redshirt sophomore from Utah earned that spot by "Boxing" his way up the depth chart ahead of Evan Svoboda and Hank Gibbs. You can read all about that decision right HERE.
* Nine players started their first-ever college game last Saturday. An additional 19 threw a Cowboys' jersey over their heads for the first time. Despite being the third-youngest team in the nation, Bohl said he didn't expect a blowout inside Memorial Stadium. "You guys saw my demeanor after the game, I was disappointed," Bohl said. "I had gone into the game with really some, not high expectations, but anticipating better things. And in that, those better things, I think, are still there, but they've got to be shown out on a game field."
* Bohl's attitude heading into the Cowboys' home opener hasn't changed. "We're going to have a great meeting today and a great uplifting practice and correct some of these mistakes and get ourselves ready to go," he said. "But we need to have improvement. I hate to say, 'OK, you use the word, you got a young football team,' but there were a lot of new guys out there. There were some new guys that I hadn't coached before. How (are they) going to respond? I think we can respond better than what we did."
* Bohl didn't like all the missed tackles he saw last Saturday, but he did like the pursuit. "There's several plays where people were playing really hard," he said. "And so we've got to bring our feet better. Some of that can also indicate, you know, it's your first game and you try to replicate that in scrimmages in practice, but until you're playing out there in a game, it's different."
* Cramping, Bohl said, was a major issue in Illinois. Safety Wyett Ekeler was affected. So was nickel Keonte Glinton. Because of that, redshirt freshman Wrook Brown played 35 snaps in place of Glinton. Remember, Wyoming is thin at that spot after Buck Coors suffered a broken leg during the team's fall scrimmage. Despite the cramps, Ekeler registered six tackles and a pass breakup against the Illini. Brown finished with five stops in his UW debut.
* Bohl did his typical spiel Monday, referring to Tulsa, the Cowboys Week-1 opponent. He credited head coach Philip Montgomery for building his program through recruiting high school players and said the two programs are similar in a number of ways. Bohl also referenced the 2019 meeting in Oklahoma, calling it a "donnybrook." Several UW players were injured during that 24-21 loss to the Golden Hurricane, including starting guard Logan Harris, who had to pay a visit to the local hospital after suffering a concussion. Bohl anticipates another physical one this Saturday. "Boy, do they play hard and they are physical," he said. "They do a great job of keeping the ball contained in front of them. They don't give up a lot of big plays so that's going to be a real real challenge for us."
* Davis Brin threw for 3,254 last fall. Tulsa's QB completed nearly 60% of his throws and tossed 18 touchdown passes. "Brin has done a capable job as a quarterback," Bohl said. "And anytime you have a returning quarterback, that certainly does make a difference." Tulsa operates a spread attack. While Brin had plenty of good moments in 2021 -- he threw for 355 yards and three scores in a victory over Arkansas State -- he was also picked off 16 times, including three on two separate occasions.
* UW is 3-3 all-time against the Golden Hurricane. The Cowboys are currently in the midst of a three-game slide in the series.
* Wyoming and Tulsa will kickoff the Cowboys' home schedule Saturday afternoon. That one is slated for 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised by FS1.
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