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The UW football team’s spring camp was a success, bringing promise for the upcoming season

Two men in Wyoming Cowboys football gear run toward each other.
University of Wyoming Athletics

As the spring sun warms the long frozen plains of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming (UW) football team has just wrapped up its spring camp, leaving fans eager and optimistic for the upcoming season. Spring camp is standard for college football programs across the country and typically lasts one month. It gives players, new and old, the opportunity to get back into the swing of things.

During a spring camp scrimmage, the running backs were working on their agility, balance and footwork as they took handoffs and ran through tackling dummies. This year's spring camp was especially crucial given that the program is under new leadership with head coach Jay Sawvel.

Sawvel was free to experiment with the roster and playbook to see what worked best while analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the team.

Starting quarterback, Evan Svoboda reflected on spring camp.

“Definitely ups and downs. Kind of got a little slow start going. But we just gotta take care of the ball on offense,” said Svoboda. “Just can’t have the football on the ground so many times.”

Taking care of the ball is something Wyoming has been good at. Last season, the Cowboys finished the season tied for sixth place in turnover margin. As a team, the Cowboys only turned the ball over 11 times.

“And then, just the penalties. Just can’t have penalties hold us back,” said Svoboda.

The Cowboys were one of the least penalized teams in the nation, committing only 49 penalties through 12 games.

The maturation and leadership of the quarterback are extremely important when it comes to success on the field. Svoboda was second string last season behind Andrew Peasley who graduated last year. Svoboda joined the Pokes in 2022. Svoboda said this spring practice is huge.

“I think spring ball is a great time to kind of dissect the game, at least this is from the quarterback standpoint,” he said. “Dissect the game, see what our defense is doing and what they are showing us.”

And Svoboda said the Cowboys' defense will push the offense to be better.

“And having the best defense in the Mountain West, it’s going to make us the best offense in the Mountain West. So it’s always fun to go up against those guys and compete.

Forty-seven. That’s where Wyoming ranked last season in terms of overall defense out of 131 college football teams. Coach Sawvel, who was the defensive coordinator at the time, fielded a stifling defense that allowed only 360 yards per game. The Cowboys' overall offense ranked 103 last season, putting them in the lower quadrant in the nation.

As the old saying goes, iron sharpens iron.

A football payer throws a football while another tries to block it. A coach and a referee look on.
University of Wyoming Athletics

The Cowboys used a lot of tempo and ran a no-huddle offense during their spring scrimmage, something Wyoming fans have not seen in a long time. At 7,220 feet, a hurry-up offense can be lethal for opposing defenses. Svoboda said it would give them an advantage.

“I love it. I think it’s gonna give us such an edge on other teams, especially at this elevation,” said Svoboda. “Not only do guys have to come up here and kind of struggle to breathe sometimes, but imagine us pushing the tempo and then they have to keep up with us. So I think that’s a super, super big competitive edge that we might have against a lot of teams.”

Once Jay Sawvel took over the Wyoming football program, his first hire was offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. Johnson left Michigan State, where he held the same position. Johnson is looking to reinvent the Cowboys offense by using a no-huddle format.

Not only have there been changes to the staff, but there have also been massive changes to the Cowboys' gear.

Former head coach Craig Bohl implemented a no name on the back of UW jerseys policy when he took over the program in 2014. Coach Sawvel reversed that policy.

“We’re not going to win a game or lose a game because we got names on the back of a jersey next year,” said Sawvel. “We’re not going to become a team of individuals because we got names on the back of a jersey.”

Coach Bohl believed players would adopt an individual mentality rather than a team mentality.

Sawvel said other teams are able to play as a team and have success doing it.

“Last time I checked, they have names on the back of their jerseys in Alabama. And they get really talented people to play together as a team,” he said.

There’s a lot to be excited about when a college sports program hires some new faces. Anxious excitement, anticipation, and bold expectations all come with the territory.

The Cowboys will get back in action in the late summer for fall camp.

As a Texas native, Weston is no stranger to sports. His love for football has motivated him to pursue a career in sports broadcast journalism. Weston is a senior at UW majoring in Communication with the anticipation to graduate in May 2024.

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