Pokes Practice Report: Trial By Fire in the Trenches
LARAMIE -- Is the defensive line really that good or does the offensive line need a lot of work?
That's a question Craig Bohl has mulled over not only in his own head, but with his staff.
The answer: Probably somewhere in between.
What Wyoming's head coach does know is that there isn't a much better way to bring guys a long than have them face the Mountain West's best day in and day out. That's exactly what's happening for guys like Wes King, Rex Johnsen and Luke Sandy, among other young offensive linemen attempting to crack this rotation.
It's a crash course of sorts, if you will.
"Within our conference, that front -- particularly the tackles -- there are three bonafide players who have stood up in our league and went toe-to-toe with whomever," Bohl said, referring to Cole Godbout, Jordan Bertagnole, Gavin Meyer and Ben Florentine. "You know, that brings out the best in you. Those are margins that I look at and say, 'OK, where are we at? Are we making progress here or there?' You have to look at the dynamics that they're going against."
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Heck, even a sixth-year player like Frank Crum is getting a daily education from the likes of Braden Siders, DeVonne Harris, Sabastian Harsh and Co.
"It reminds me of my freshman year when I was on scout team," the 6-foot-8, 315-pound Laramie native. "I faced guys like Carl Granderson, Marcus Epps, Logan Wilson, Youhanna Ghaifan and Tyler Hall, all guys that played in the league. It reminds me that you're playing an All-Conference D-line and linebacker core every day. So, only good things can come out of that.
"I think as far as Mountain West standards, I mean, we're playing some of the best in our own house on a weekly basis."
While an ultimate answer will likely emerge soon, one thing Bohl is confident of is that both units are getting plenty of work in before the season opener Sept. 2 against Texas Tech.
"I've been really pleased with how they're practicing," he said. "The ball snap is really intense competition, but there has not been the extracurricular stuff that some people think are all macho. That has nothing to do with football teams getting better. It usually ends up in a fight and some coach thinks that's great. I don't know, I've been around a lot of really good football teams and most of the time guys are able to practice hard against one another every play and that makes them better."
Here's some other notes from Bohl after the Cowboys' seventh practice of the fall:
* Dawaiian McNeely left practice early Wednesday with an apparent knee injury, per Bohl. Wyoming's potential starting running back will undergo an immediate MRI. Bohl didn't sound optimistic. "We're concerned about Dawaiian McNeely," Wyoming's 10th-year head coach said. "He did not finish practice and we're looking at a potential knee injury ... We don't know (the extent), but we're going to get an MRI ... You know, we'll find out on Dawaiian. I feel for him. You know, he's gone through so many injuries. But obviously we wouldn't be pulling an MRI as soon as possible if we weren't concerned with some of the initial indicators."
* News on the injury front wasn't all bad. Running back DQ James has been cleared for full team activity after suffering a right ACL tear late in the regular season. Sabastian Harsh will also return before the regular season, per Bohl, after undergoing surgery on his left knee Wednesday morning. The Scottsbluff, Neb., product missed the entire 2022 campaign with a broken knee cap. "Correct. Oh, yeah," Bohl said emphatically when asked if the 6-foot-3, 242-pound sophomore would be ready for the season. "He had a wire put in his knee and unfortunately that broke. So, it was a, I don't want to say a cosmetic procedure that was done today, but he was playing really well. So we anticipate that's not going to be something that's going to hold him back."
* With McNeely likely out for the foreseeable future and Northern Illinois transfer Harrison Waylee set to miss the "first couple of weeks" as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, the Cowboys' running back room has been thinned out. Bohl said he has faith James, along with Sam Scott and junior college transfer Jamari Ferrell, can carry the load.
* Wyoming's quarterbacks were under duress Wednesday. That is very much on purpose. The verdict? Not great. "I'll watch the tape, but I think it was a little bit of less-than-competency to where we need to be, but that's how you're going to get there."
* Practice No. 8 of the fall will take place Thursday morning inside War Memorial Stadium. As always, that is closed to the public and media.
Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium
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