Pokes Practice Report: Saturday Scrimmage a Real Dress Rehearsal
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- With eight of 15 spring practices now in the books, the Wyoming Cowboys are preparing for a scrimmage on Saturday, April 15 that head coach Craig Bohl says will give them a better idea of how the team has progressed through the first half of 2023 spring drills.
Bohl made his comments after the Cowboys wrapped up the eighth practice on Thursday night.
“We had our eighth practice today and we’re making progress,” said Bohl. “This Saturday, we’ll have a scrimmage and that will give us more of an indication of where we are at.”
Bohl had good things to say about several skill players heading into Saturday’s scrimmage.
Among the players he singled out were transfer running back Harrison Waylee, who joined the Cowboys this spring as a junior from Northern Illinois University, sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Sargent from Logan, Utah, and sophomore cornerback Kolbey Taylor from Houston, Texas.
“Some of the things I’m seeing -- I think Harrison (Waylee) is really showing some exceptional vision, burst and he’s got good hands,” commented Bohl. “Jaylen Sargent is starting to mature more as a receiver, and then the other guy who I think is making some leaps and bounds progress is Kolbey Taylor. If we can get a guy with that kind of range playing corner that can really help us.”
Asked if there was something that Bohl could attribute to the 6’2”, 186-pound Taylor’s improvement this spring, the head coach said, “I think a lot of it is Kolbey understanding how to play corner. In this game, to be able to utilize your length but not grab, be able to process the defense and carry out the calls and then just maintaining focus and composure. Kolbey has always had ability, but some of those things I mentioned he wasn’t able to put into action before. Sometimes there were self-inflicted wounds, where he would lose focus here or there, but I haven’t seen that (this spring). We’ve had eight really hard days (of spring practice), and he’s had eight good days.”
On the defensive line, Bohl was asked about the status of junior defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole from Casper, Wyo., who missed the final two regular-season games last season for the Pokes due to injury before returning for the Arizona Bowl.
Bohl commented on Bertagnole’s status and also highlighted the improvement of another defensive tackle, junior Gavin Meyer.
“He’s (Bertagnole) a little bit banged up, but he’s been good,” said Bohl. “The guy who I think has made significant strides is Gavin (Meyer) inside.”
While the defensive line is expected to have excellent depth this coming season, this spring has seen the offensive line missing several key players in practice due to injuries or offseason surgeries. Asked about how the offensive line was progressing after Bohl mentioned last week that they were down in numbers on the O-line, Bohl responded, “We’re still a little thin right now, but it’s giving some young guys like Wes King and Rex Johnsen some opportunity to go out and work. We are a work in progress there right now. We don’t have Frank (Crum) and we don’t have Caden (Barnett) at tackles, but it’s given us an opportunity for some other guys to get some reps.”
Another couple of players who Bohl highlighted in his comments to media included one young Cowboy, in sophomore tight end John Michael Gyllenborg from Leawood, Kan., and one veteran, in graduate wide receiver Wyatt Wieland, from Colorado Springs, Colo.
In the case of Gyllenborg, he only played one year of high school football his senior year at Rockhurst High in the Kansas City metropolitan area, but Wyoming was able to find him and sign him. Bohl was asked how he and his staff found Gyllenborg.
“I’ve known his high school coach for probably 35 years,” said Bohl. “He and I go way, way back. There were pieces in place (regarding Gyllenborg) that indicated he could have a really big upside. It was one of those situations where you’re turning over every stone and sometimes you get lucky. I wouldn’t say we were necessarily lucky in this case -- we did our due diligence. I think you’re going to see John Michael really add some great value to our offense this next year.”
In terms of Wieland, who will be entering his sixth season as a Cowboy in 2023. He has played in 39 games as a Cowboy entering the 2023 season, and has consistently increased his role as a wide receiver and valuable special teams performer through the years. The Colorado Springs native from Pine Creek High School, Wieland has already earned both his bachelor’s degree in finance and his master’s degree in business administration at UW. Wieland has put on weight and was up to 207 pounds entering spring drills. He has also continued to improve his numbers in the weight room.
“Beyond the size, all of his measurables he has made progress in,” said Bohl about Wieland. “When you find a guy who is later in his career and making those kinds of gains physically, that is an indication of true discipline. When your younger, it’s easier to put on some lean muscle mass, but as you get older and more mature, that is when you have to make a concerted effort, and he’s done that.
“I think his confidence has improved and his catching ability. Also earlier in his career, I didn’t think he had a great ability to separate from a defensive back, but we’re seeing more separation now. That is also reflected in his flying 10s and other measurables from this offseason.”
Bohl continues to coach the Wyoming specialists.
He has the luxury of welcoming back First Team All-Mountain West place-kicker John Hoyland this coming season. The junior from Broomfield, Colo., also earned Second Team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus (PFF) in 2022 and was one of 20 national semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award that is presented annually to the nation’s best place-kicker.
At punter, Bohl also welcomes back both his starting punter from the 2022 season, in graduate Clayton Stewart who was an Honorable Mention All-MW selection, and its starting punter from 2021, in junior Ralph Fawaz. Bohl was asked what he has seen in the competition between his two veteran punters this spring.
“Competition always brings out the best in people,” said Bohl. “I thought Clayton did a good job for us this last year. I can tell you this, we watch everything and competition is always good. We had significant improvement in the punting game last season. I appreciate Ralph’s attitude and I’ll continue to watch that competition, but right now Clayton has done a better job.”
Wyoming’s next practice is its scheduled scrimmage to take place on Saturday, April 15. All practices and scrimmages are closed to the public, but the Spring Game on Saturday, April 29 will be free and open to the public.
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