LARAMIE — Craig Bohl feels the Wyoming football team has begun the 2017 season on the right foot.
The Cowboys opened fall camp Monday with a morning practice, and the fourth-year head coach is happy with what he saw.
“What I did see was more guys that have an understanding of what they’re doing,” Bohl said Monday at Wyoming athletics’ media day for fall sports. “Certainly, more team camaraderie, better leadership, and all those things are X-factors that I know a lot of coaches will talk about, but I haven’t talked about that a whole lot before. And so (there’s) a different mentality there.”
Quarterback Josh Allen in particular took command Monday.
“I just saw a different ... attitude with Josh,” Bohl said. “(Former Wyoming quarterback and senior associate athletics director) Randy Welniak will tell you, ... when you’re a quarterback and you have played and you step in the huddle and you’ve gone through (it), it’s his football team.”
Allen was happy to return to the field after a summer spent fulfilling the media obligations that accompanied his meteoric rise as an NFL prospect.
“It’s time to push everything to the side and start becoming the leader that this team needs,” the junior quarterback said. “I plan on doing that and doing everything I can to help put us in situations to win games. And that’s taking care of the football, staying on the field on third down and just being a great leader to these guys.”
Fall camp began a week early this season because of a new rule that eliminated two-a-day practices.
“Certainly, times have changed from when I was a player and you did two-a-days every day, and it was the last man standing that played,” Bohl said. “With concussion protocol and just making sure that our guys are seasoned and ready to go and keep their swords sharp (it’s different). It takes a mature football team, and I think our guys recognize that, and they’re excited about it.”
Players were ambivalent on the trade-off between having a longer camp but no two-a-day practices.
“Honestly, initially I thought no two-a-days would probably be better,” receiver Austin Conway said. “Now I’m kind of thinking two-a-days might be. But we’ll see how it goes. Starting a week early is just different. It’s not too bad on your body or anything like that. It’s just different. But we’ll see coming down in a couple weeks. We’ll see how that goes.”
Said defensive end Carl Granderson: “It don’t matter to me, really. Two-a-days is easier than going longer to me, but everybody’s got their own opinion, and I’m going to just do what the coaches want me to do.”
Allen’s situation is a little different.
“Quarterbacks aren’t doing all the running and pushing and hitting that everyone else is doing,” he said. “But I definitely do see it as a relief for other guys. A couple weeks down the road and guys are dying down, their bodies are breaking down, but we’re able to kind of save that and ease guys in and out of things. It’s definitely a better thing in my opinion.”
Wyoming opens the season Sept. 2 at Iowa.
Bohl called the 2017 roster his deepest yet at Wyoming, and part of that comes from the incoming freshman class. Bohl spent additional time with the freshmen Monday.
“We extended practice for our freshmen and got our upperclassmen off the field a little bit more,” he said. “This, I think, is an excellent group of freshman football players. I looked them in the eye and said, ‘This group ... is going to redefine Cowboy football.’ I mean, I think they’re an outstanding group collectively. So as coaches we had a chance to coach those guys up a little bit more as well.”
Bohl also worked with freshman punter Tim Zaleski, who is expected to replace departed senior Ethan Wood.
“I worked with him earlier this morning and really thought that he was striking the ball well,” Bohl said. “And (kicker Cooper Rothe) is doing a good job. With snapping, I think we’re in good shape with (Southern Utah transfer Kolton) Donovan at snapper, so the outline parts of the special teams are good, and so I was really pleased.”
Bohl said defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu was limited in practice with a back issue, and wide receiver C.J. Johnson was battling mononucleosis. Granderson is full-go after recovering from an ACL injury suffered last season, he said.