Cowboy up! That’s a term usually spoken when times get difficult and all involved are looked upon to put pain, exhaustion, and disadvantages to the side and answer the bell to perform. If you’re a player for the University of Wyoming football team you were asked to cowboy up with the hire of Craig Bohl early in 2014. That name may sound familiar to some and if it doesn’t, take the time to look him up. Craig Bohl left North Dakota State University as the winningest coach in program history and led them to three straight FCS championship wins. Impressive no matter what division you are playing in.
NFL Draft GM was lucky enough to catch up with Robert Gagliardi, senior editor at WyoSports.net and creator/author of The Cowboy Chronicles, to talk Wyoming football. Exciting times in Cowboy country.
J – For the first third of the season what has the Coach Bohl and the Wyoming program shown you and the fans? Is it heading in the right direction?
RG – The program has shown a toughness — both mentally and physically — and blue-collar mindset of just going to work and grinding. It is not close to a finished product, but the early progress has been impressive. Also, Bohl and his staff seem to be getting a lot out of the players they inherited. Player development lacked with the previous staff. Early indications are that this staff can and will develop guys into better players over their careers.
J – How have the players adjusted to the new offensive and defensive schemes?
RG – Pretty well, I think. It was quite the transition on offense going from the spread to a pro-style offense. Wyoming’s top two quarterbacks from 2013 left the program, and the starter was a fourth-stringer and redshirted last year. The defense returned nine starters fro 2013, but that unit was among the nation’s worst, but they have bought in to Bohl’s 4-3 scheme and Wyoming was able to find enough guys along the line to run it.
J – Which players from each side of the ball have picked up the schemes the fastest and seem to have thrived?
RG – On offense I would say running backs Shaun Wick (junior) and D.J. May (sophomore) have. They are good compliments to each other. Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard also has done a great job. This is his fourth year in the program, but prior to this year he started just one game. He still has improvements to make, but his progress has been impressive. Seniors Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne and sophomore Tanner Gentry as receivers also have done well.
Defensively, all have done well but I think the team’s three starting linebackers — all seniors — have done the best. Mark Nzeocha and Devyn Harris outside, and Jordan Stanton in the middle. All have played a lot of football and all have made a lot of plays so far this season.
J – Based on what you have seen so far can you name three players that could, in the right scheme, play at the next level in some capacity?
RG – Mark Nzeocha because he has size at 6-3, 240 and runs well. He played some safety earlier in this career, but is most comfortable as a SAM linebacker. He also is a standout on special teams.
Dominic Rufran because he is sure-handed, durable and decent speed-wise.
Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough: Not after his junior season, but a high-motor guy who takes to coaching well and is explosive with his first step.
J – Will this ultimately end up as a bowl season for the Cowboys?
RG – Possibly. If it wins the games it should, it could be 6-6. But it has a lot of work to go to get to that point.
I want to thank Robert Gagliardi for taking a moment to speak with NFL Draft GM. If you want to find out more please visit Wyosports.net or stop by The Cowboy Chronicles. You can also follow him on twitter at @rpgagliardi.