LARAMIE, Wyo. (RELEASE)- The Wyoming Cowboys completed their seventh of 15 spring practices Tuesday and among the positions that made big plays in the team periods were the Cowboy tight ends and wide receivers.
“I thought we made some pretty significant strides today,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball better -- we were going down field -- and between the tight ends and Ayden Eberhardt (wide receiver) there were some great catches in today’s practice.”
Asked if there was a distinct leader at the quarterback position as the Cowboys approach the midway point of spring practices, Bohl responded, “I wouldn’t say there is a distinct leader. Tyler (Vander Waal) has certainly been competitive, and I think he’s pushed Sean (Chambers) and Sean has responded and he’s done some things well. Both of them need to continue to work on getting better. I think those two guys have separated from the other guys. We’re pleased. I think we’re further along than where we were at this time last year.”
Surprises Thus Far This Spring
The head coach was asked if there were any positions that had surprised him this spring.
“I think the tight end position is really starting to emerge as what we think could be a bright spot for us,” said Bohl. “Nate Weinman and Jackson Marcotte are really showing some good signs, so we’re pleased with that position.
“I think the safety position is one where we’re having some progress. Alijah Halliburton was not at practice today. There was a death in his family, so he wasn’t able to be here. But I think we’re making progress there also.”
Redshirt senior tight end Josh Harshman will also return for the Cowboys in 2019. Harshman is not cleared for contact this spring, but he is able to participate in some limited activity during spring ball as he returns from a knee injury that cut his 2018 season short. He used the 2018 season as a redshirt year, as he had never redshirted previously. Harshman has played in 41 career games, starting 12.
Defense Continues to Shine
The Wyoming defense returns many key players from one of the top performing defenses in the nation last year. From senior linebackers Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia; to senior defensive backs Tyler Hall, Alijah Halliburton and Antonio Hull; to senior defensive end Josiah Hall and junior defensive linemen Garrett Crall, Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson the Cowboy defense will have many key pieces back for the 2019 season. While Josiah Hall and Crall are out this spring the experience of that group is evident in the Pokes’ performance this spring.
“We started out practice with a pass under pressure session,and the defense really had their way,” said Bohl. “We also did have some full contact work on the inside running game. That was a little bit of a mixed bag. I think we had some confusion in our blocking, and we’ve got to get that corrected.”
One area that Bohl said is a key goal for the Cowboys this spring is developing depth at a number of positions.
“We’re trying to solidify some depth at certain spots,” said Bohl. “During the course of spring, I wouldn’t say we’re trying to give equal repetition to players but we’re trying to find depth, evaluate (players) and spread those repetitions around. The defensive end position is an area where we lost a couple of really good players. The fullback position is going to be important also. Skyler Miller, who we flipped over from the linebacker position to fullback, is from Torrington, and he’s really doing a nice job.”
Xazavian Valladay’s Development at Running Back
A year ago, redshirt freshman running back Xazavian Valladay showed flashes of talent as the backup to 1,000-yard rusher Nico Evans. Valladay played a key role in victories over Wofford and Air Force, where he had a couple critical pass receptions and runs. He also had the best game of his young career in the season finale at New Mexico, rushing for 192 yards and scoring two touchdowns in a road win over the Lobos.
“I believe the biggest thing that has occurred is he (Valladay) has put on some great lean muscle mass,” said Bohl. “He has always had a great change of direction. He’s been catching the ball well. He’s pass protecting well, but I think he’s become more of a forceful runner with that extra weight.”
A couple positive pieces of news on the injury front came on Tuesday. Bohl said that sophomore cornerback C.J. Coldon had been cleared for full contact. Offensive guard Logan Harris also was back participating in all drills at Tuesday’s practice after being limited late last week due to back soreness. One injury that did occur in Tuesday’s practice was to redshirt freshman offensive guard Zach Watts.
“Zach Watts was not able to finish practice,” said Bohl. “I think there is something with his knee cap. Hopefully, it’s not anything serious. We’ll know a little bit more tomorrow.”
Details of April 13 Scrimmage in Casper, Wyo.
Wyoming Football’s first spring scrimmage will be held in Casper, Wyo., on Saturday, April 13, weather permitting. The April 13 scrimmage will be free and open to the public. It will kick off at 1 p.m. from Dick Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona County High School in Casper. Cowboy Football and Pepsi are encouraging fans to bring a non-perishable food item to the game. Every fan who brings a non-perishable food item will receive a coupon to get a free Pepsi product at the scrimmage. The donated food will be given to Wyoming Food for Thought Project in Casper. Wyoming Food for Thought Project is an independently run, local non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded on the idea that a local solution to hunger is possible. Cowboy players will be available on the field after the scrimmage to take photos with fans and to sign autographs.
Spring Practice Schedule
In addition to the scrimmage at Dick Cheney Alumni Field in Casper, Wyo., on Saturday, April 13, the Spring Game on Saturday, April 27 will be played in War Memorial Stadium on the UW campus in Laramie and will of course be open to the public, with a 2 p.m. kickoff. All other spring practices are closed to the general public.
2019 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, March 26 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #1)
Thursday, March 28 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #2)
Saturday, March 30 TBA (Practice #3)
Tuesday, April 2 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #4)
Thursday, April 4 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #5)
Saturday, April 6 TBA (Practice #6)
Tuesday, April 9 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #7)
Thursday, April 11 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #8)
Saturday, April 13* 1 p.m. SCRIMMAGE (Dick Cheney Alumni Field in Casper, Wyo., Practice #9)
Tuesday, April 16 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #10)
Thursday, April 18 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #11)
Saturday, April 20 TBA (Practice #12)
Tuesday, April 23 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, April 25 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #14)
Saturday, April 27* 2 p.m. SPRING GAME (War Memorial Stadium, Practice #15)
*The Saturday, April 13 Scrimmage in Casper, Wyo. and the Saturday April 27 Spring Game in War Memorial Stadium will be open to the public