Cowboys Conduct First Practice in Half Pads
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys took another step toward donning full pads early next week when they put on half pads for the first time on Friday in a morning practice on the North 40 practice fields.
The addition of half pads allowed for an additional level of physicality in Friday’s practice.
Wyoming will continue to practice in half pads for practices on Saturday and Monday before practicing for the first time in full pads next Tuesday, Aug. 8.
“Today was the first day of half pads and some things became really apparent to me,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “Probably not a surprise to anyone, I think we’re really strong on the defensive line. We had great push up front today and we’ve got good depth at that spot. Sabastian Harsh (defensive end) did not practice today. He’s got some soreness on the knee that had the surgery last year. We don’t think it’s anything serious, but we’re going to take a deep dive into that. I thought our defensive line, particularly the inside guys were really impressive today.”
Harsh missed the entire 2022 season after injuring his knee during fall camp a year ago.
He returned healthy in the spring and was able to go through spring practices. The sophomore from Scottsbluff, Neb., is expected to strengthen a talented defensive end group that includes 2022 Honorable Mention All-Mountain West performer DeVonne Harris, who is now a junior, and sophomore Braden Siders, who was named an Honorable Mention Freshman All-American by College Football News last season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bohl continued to praise the early play of graduate transfer wide receivers Devin Boddie Jr. from Vanderbilt and Ayir Asante from Holy Cross.
“The two transfer receivers, Devin Boddie and Ayir Asante, both of them are going to add really good value for us,” said Bohl. “We need to have more productivity on the outside, so I was pleased with that.
“It was a little bit of a mixed bag at the quarterback position today. I thought we put the ball too much in harm’s way, but I know they’re trying to push the ball downfield.”
Bohl, who is entering his 10th season leading the Cowboys making him the longest tenured head football in school history, is excited about the talent and depth on the interior of UW’s defensive line.
Returning are graduate Cole Godbout at nose tackle and junior Jordan Bertagnole at defensive tackle. Both have received All-Conference recognition before and both were named 2023 Preseason All-Mountain West selections by Athlon Sports earlier this summer. Godbout returns after missing six games last year due to injury. Bertagnole returns after missing two games late in the ‘22 season. If the tandem can remain healthy they should be one of the best defensive line duos in the league.
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“I think he (Cole Godbout) is in a really good place right now,” said Bohl. “That group when we look at the physical composition of how they’ve changed their bodies during the course of the summer, along with the linebackers, they had the most impressive gains. Beyond Cole, (Jordan) Bertagnole is 290 and moving well. Gavin Meyer is back. We’re looking for the fourth right now. Ben Florentine is doing some good things. Jaden Williams is doing some good things -- the older one. We’re developing more depth at that spot and if we’re strong in the heart (of the defense) I think we have a chance to make a big impact.”
Bohl made the distinction in Jaden Williams, the older one who is a redshirt freshman, due to the fact that the Cowboys have two defensive tackles with almost identical names.
True freshman Jayden Williams is also a defensive tackle.
“The other guy who’s been really consistent is Kolbey Taylor (cornerback),” said Bohl. “He’s been very consistent.”
Asked if he thought the Cowboy defense could be even more effective this year with the strength of the defensive line returning combined with Wyoming’s All-Conference middle linebacker Easton Gibbs and a potential strength at cornerback with Taylor’s emergence, Bohl replied, “There is no doubt when you start to get the pieces we have in place it allows you to do more things defensively. While we’re going to be a pressure team, if you can control the front and you can play well on the perimeter at the corner position now you don’t have to pressure all the time. You can get better pass rush with your front four. We’ll see how they do as fall camp goes along, but I’m encouraged.”
In terms of whether he thinks the ability his defense showed in the spring to create interceptions has carried over into the fall, Bohl said, “A little bit. Tyrecus (Davis, cornerback) has got really good instincts and is reading routes well. It’s been good to see how he’s playing along with Kolbey (Taylor) and Jakorey (Hawkins). I think Jakorey understands better this year how to practice and what our expectations are. He can run like the wind, but now he’s putting that together with improved technique.”
A summer addition to the Wyoming roster this year was Jamari Ferrell, a running back from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif.
When asked to describe how he and his coaching staff found Ferrell, Bohl responded, “We looked at where we were at when Harrison (Waylee) was going to have that repair (surgery) and we thought D.Q. (James) was going to be down at the beginning (of fall camp). While we felt good about where we were at with the running back position, we began to scour for more depth. What really helped us was Colin O’Brien (Cowboy tight end from Saddleback C.C.) knew him. When you take a junior-college guy, there are great finds out there but you also have to look at what type of character does he have and is he going to mesh with Wyoming. Our culture here is such now that if you’re not in tune, you’re going to stick out. He (Farrell) has been a pleasant surprise and we’re pleased to have him. I’m also encouraged by Harrison Waylee. He’s out there coaching, and I mean really coaching. He’s really into the practices.”
One of the young Wyoming natives on this year’s Cowboy team is true freshman wide receiver Kayden LaFramboise from Gillette, Wyo.
When questioned about if he has seen anything good from LaFramboise early in fall camp, Bohl confirmed that the freshman has shown well in the early practices.
“He made a really good play the first day of practice,” said Bohl. “He’s tall, angular and can really run. The guy on our team from that same neck of the woods, Big Horn (Will Pelissier) has been a good, good addition to our team the last several years. It’s always encouraging for me to see guys from Wyoming have a chance to show what they can do. How he (LaFramboise) progresses is going to be important but what we’ve seen thus far has been very positive.”
Asked if he can remember back to when another Wyoming walk-on, Jordan Bertagnole, burst on the scene in his redshirt freshman season of 2020, Bohl admitted that he originally didn’t know what to expect from the young player from Casper, Wyo.
“I just knew that our strength and conditioning staff kept mentioning this Bertagnole guy,” said Bohl. “Of course he comes from a great program at Natrona County with Coach (Steve) Harshman, but all of a sudden he started showing up in practices and in games. Those are bright spots in college football. Many times as coaches we are glass half empty guys, but these types of guys give me a sense of happiness.”
The Cowboys will practice again on Saturday in a morning practice in half pads at the North 40 practice fields.
Tickets to the 2023 Season
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