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Pokes start spring football practice under coach Bohl

Mar 27, 2014 - McClatchy Newspapers

Five-year assistant coach Pete Kaligis is glad he is staying on under new head coach Craig Bohl.

LARAMIE -- A new head coach and nine new assistant coaches began the long process of getting to know their players as the University of Wyoming football team began spring drills Wednesday.

But head coach Craig Bohl and his staff have had some help along the way in Pete Kaligis.

Kaligis was the lone member of Dave Christensen's coaching staff retained by Bohl.

"He has meant the world to me as far as coming in and learning how players are, the culture of Wyoming football, the lay of the land of our state," Bohl said. "I appreciate his attitude too. He's meshed in well with our new coaches."

Although Kaligis enters his sixth year at UW, there has been plenty of change for him.

First and foremost, he is coaching defensive tackles.

Kaligis was the Cowboys' offensive line coach from 2009-11. In 2012, he coached running backs and offensive line, and last season, he was the assistant offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

Kaligis, who enters his 20th year as a college coach, last coached the defensive line in 1996-97 at Western Washington. The majority of his coaching career has been with the offensive line. Kaligis was an offensive lineman and All-American in track at Washington from 1990-94.

"I'm learning every day," he said.

"It's not easy for me just because it's so technical. Same thing with the offensive line and running backs. Technique is so key. "

But Kaligis sees some correlations between coaching offensive linemen and defensive linemen. He said the one that gets their hands inside first wins. How fast you get off the ball and getting that second step to the ground are key for defensive linemen, as is reacting faster than the offensive line.

Bohl likes Kaligis' attitude with the players and as a coach, and said he has "embraced" coaching the defensive tackles.

But that wasn't all Bohl was looking for in Kaligis, or any of his other assistants.

"It's about the core values of people," Bohl said.

"Are they a good person? Are they intelligent? Can they communicate? And the positional skill set that they have. He will grow into coaching the defensive tackles."

The players seem to be happy Kaligis stuck around.

"I was closest to him out of the old coaching staff," senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens said.

"He knows football. It was huge of (Bohl) to retain coach Kaligis. I would say he was unanimously loved by everybody on the team last year."

Sophomore defensive tackle Uso Olive agrees.

Kaligis was the primary recruiter of Olive out of Federal Way, Wash. Olive said Kaligis was the main reason he signed with the Cowboys in 2012, and Tuesday, he said Kaligis is the reason he remains at UW.

"Let's be honest, everybody had that thought about leaving," Olive said about when the former staff was fired in December. "When Kaligis stayed, I don't regret the decision I made to stay here.

"Kaligis is the man. To get an offensive perspective from him is great. I'm learning what the O-linemen are doing. Kaligis was a stud at Washington and has a lot of credibility. Whatever he says, I listen."

Kaligis said he feels "blessed" to be a part of Bohl's staff and still be in Wyoming.

When asked if the transition of being the only position coach to be retained from the prior staff has gone well, Kaligis said: "I wouldn't call it a transition. It was like family from the first day they came in here and saw Laramie.

"It's been family ever since. They put their arm around me. It's been a great, great ride so far."

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