Pokes’ news & notes
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl was thrilled with Wyoming's kicking game Saturday.
That comes as zero surprise.
Ralph Fawaz dropped five of his six punts inside the Montana State 20-yard line. The rookie's debut earned him Mountain West Freshman of the Week honors. John Hoyland, a Freshman All-American in 2020, connected on both of his field-goal opportunities, too.
Wyoming's head coach loved the final two-minute drill that culminated in the eventual game winner after Sean Chambers fired a 21-yard strike to the one free hand of tight end Treyton Welch. He also liked what his defense did on the Bobcats' final drive, keeping plays in front of them and even registering a combined sack credited to Garrett Crall and Victor Jones, forcing MSU to blow its final timeout.
Despite the 19-16 victory over old friend Brent Vigen, Bohl did have some concerns.
For one, the Cowboys' potent rushing attack was held in check for most of the afternoon. He didn't see that one coming.
"The biggest area where I was disappointed in is our traditional tailback run game," Bohl said Monday during his weekly press conference. "That was not where it needed to be. I think we've got a stable of some excellent running backs, so we've got to clean some things up there, particularly with the offensive line and some perimeter blocking, whether it be our tight ends or some wide receivers."
Wyoming rushed for just 151 yards, 70 short of its average last fall. Xazavian Valladay, the league's back-to-back rushing leader, was held to just 77 yards on 19 carries.
It wasn't pretty, but first-year offensive coordinator Tim Polasek summed this one up perfectly.
"Half the country is 0-1 and the other half is 1-0," he said.
Here's some more news and notes from Bohl's Monday presser:
* Bohl reported that there were no significant injuries after the opener. "There may be some bumps and bruises, but they were minor," he said.
* Rome Weber didn't dress in the opener. Why? Bohl called it an internal matter and declined to get into specifics. Wyoming's sophomore safety will be on the trip to Northern Illinois.
* Bohl said he has already spend some significant time scouting Northern Illinois. "A remarkable change from last year to this year," Bohl said of the Huskies. "You know, they were winless last year. Coach (Thomas) Hammock has done a great job changing the mantra of that football team. They came up with a big win against Georgia Tech on the road in Atlanta." Yes, they sure did. Bohl said a big reason for that is Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi under center. He also credited NIU's physicality on the line of scrimmage and at the point of attack.
* Azizi Hearn was ejected in the first quarter for targeting Saturday. Cornerback isn't exactly a deep position for this club, either. Freshman Cameron Stone was forced into action and his coach liked what he saw. "We thought Cam played extremely well," Bohl said. "He was challenged ... Overall, we're really pleased with Cam and we feel like he deserved more playing time." Hearn will be eligible for the NIU game.
* Braden Smith also stood out on film. The super senior racked up eight tackles and forced a fumble to thwart a Bobcat's drive in the first half. "Braden Smith was all over the field," Bohl said of his starting strong safety. "... He did a great job tackling and many times you don't notice that guy's there but his wave length to be able to cover not sideline to sideline, but just outside the hash to hash, he really did an excellent job. He was in the right place at the right times."
* Long snapping is a concern for the Cowboys' coaching staff. After the team's first touchdown Saturday, the ball was snapped on the ground and the point after failed. Teagan Liufau is a defensive end by trade, filling in for Read Sunn who was injured during fall camp. Punt snapping will belong to Liufau, but Bohl said the team is making a change for kicks. True freshman Tommy Wroblewski handled that duty on the Cowboys' final score of the day. It's not clear if that will continue in DeKalb. "We've got to get that shored up because that really is an Achilles heel that we have right now," Bohl said. "I always say snappers are like the fire department. You never know they're around until all of a sudden something goes awry and they're not there. And so we've got to get that cleaned up." Bohl has tasked Marty English, UW's defensive ends coach and former college long snapper, with helping him get that position right.
* Remember the last time the Huskies and Cowboys met on a football field? Bohl sure hasn't forgotten. "I hate to say it, I looked down on my watch after the second overtime and I told the official, 'we got to get this thing over,"' Bohl laughed, referring to Wyoming's 40-34 triple overtime victory in 2016. "I mean, I think I did the radio show at 3:15 in the morning. I don't know how many people were listening, but Kevin McKinney did a great job staying awake."
Stay tuned to 7220sports.com throughout the week for all the latest in Wyoming Cowboys football coverage.
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