Step-by-step, Craig Bohl discusses controversial final play call
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl couldn't eloquently describe his thought process Saturday night when it came to the subject of the final offensive play call of the night he gave the "green light" on.
Still a fresh memory, Wyoming's ninth-year head coach snapped back when asked why he had the confidence to allow a quarterback -- one who was making his first-career start and had completed just three passes all night long -- to heave a ball into the end zone with 45 seconds left and his team trailing by just three with conference title hopes on the line.
"So what would've been the other opportunity," an emotional Bohl quipped. "Talk to me. What do you think?"
That Jayden Clemons throw was picked off by Boise State' JL Skinner. It was the safety's second interception on as many attempts late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos, for the sixth time over the last decade, punched their ticket to the Mountain West championship game.
Wyoming will finish second in the Mountain Division with one game remaining in the regular season.
During his weekly press conference Monday in Laramie, a much calmer Bohl went step-by-step through his thinking leading up to that ultimate decision.
"I'm in a different place right now," he said with a grin, adding that he blew off his "cooling off period" that night, thinking he would be able to compose himself. "I'm going to go through my thought process and I think these are discussions that you can go down to the coffee shop or a tavern and you can have passionate views. It's not like we're trying to solve the issues in Ukraine, but I also know some people are passionate about Cowboy football and a lot of people have opinions."
With less than a minute to go and Boise State looking to simply run out the clock, George Holani ran into the pile on a 3rd-and-8 from the UW 39-yard line. Just before he fell to the frozen turf, the ball was poked out. The junior running back -- who hadn't lost a fumble on 185 carries this season -- attempting to gather the loose change, popped it right into the arms of Wyoming's DeVonne Harris, who scampered 44 yards to the visitor's 21.
Harris was eventually dropped out of bounds after being chased down by Broncos' signal caller, Taylen Green.
"Holani is one of the most competent rushers in our conference," Bohl said. "So when the ball came out, I was astounded. You know, you see DeVonne running, and I thought he was going to score for a while. If they wouldn't have had that athletic quarterback, he probably would have."
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That's when Bohl said he took a look at his sideline and evaluated the situation.
Wide receiver Alex Brown was lost for the game in the third quarter with an injury. So was running back Dawaiian McNeely, who was carted off the field in a neck brace. Tight end Treyton Welch was dinged up. The Cowboys were already playing without speedster DQ James. Clemons was just 3-of-15 for 30 yards with two interceptions, at the time.
Boise State also amassed 196 yards of total offense and outscored Wyoming 14-7 over the final two quarters. Aside from an 83-yard touchdown run by Titus Swen late in the third, the Broncos held the Cowboys to just 80 yards and three first downs. The home team was 0-for-5 on third-down conversions over the final 30 minutes.
"I saw the ebb and flow of the game," Bohl said. "I looked at their team and I looked at our team, and not to undersell our guys, but I thought if you put them out there, (Boise State) is probably going to have an advantage there. So let's take an opportunity. The situation was such that three points could have tied it, like we said, so the play call was going to be reflective of taking an opportunity.
"Are we disappointed? Yes. Did it turn out like I thought, like we wanted? No. I just felt like, you know, we go into overtime against these guys, and we have one timeout, let's take a shot. If it's not there, we're going to maneuver and probably kick a field goal."
Bohl said Saturday night there would be some sleepless hours ahead. He reiterated that Monday.
"I slept like a baby that night. I woke up and I cried every hour," he said. "It was hard. It was hard and I felt for Jayden, I felt for a football team, I felt for all the guys that put it on the line.
"... That was what I thought and I'm comfortable with that thought process."
Bohl said Clemons is going to be his own worst critic after a forgettable debut under center. Still, he stands by his decision to put the ball in the redshirt sophomore's hands.
"He's trying to win and we're trying to win," he said. "I want to be clear on this, if anybody is critical of an attempt to try to win, I think then why in the hell are we playing the game? So, we're going to try to win, but there's different measured ways to do that."