Jobs on the line in Saturday’s scrimmage? Maybe a few
LARAMIE -- There's a "slight chance" that some jobs could be won or lost in Wyoming's first scrimmage of the fall Saturday afternoon inside War Memorial Stadium.
See those words in quotes?
Head coach Craig Bohl uttered them in a Zoom meeting Friday night. So, what does that mean? Most jobs are set in stone.
"We evaluate every day, every play," Bohl said. "We want to see who can go out and make plays in space when we are at live speed.
"... This is not a final evaluation, but things are starting to sort out."
Here's what we do know:
- Levi Williams and Sean Chambers are in a heated battle at the quarterback spot. The cat is out of the bag: both will take snaps during the Oct. 24 opener in Reno. We don't know who will trot on the field first or how the rotation will pan out.
- Victor Jones has all but solidified a major role on the defensive line. Bohl has raved about the tackle all offseason. That is big news, considering Mario Mora has opted out of the season because of the ongoing pandemic. Jones will join Cole Godbout and Ravontae Holt in the trenches. He could also step in at defensive end.
- Senior Garrett Crall will be the starting defensive end on one side of the D-line. Keyon Blankenbaker, who has played cornerback throughout camp, will be the starting nickel back at Nevada.
- The offensive line is deep despite the recent injury to senior Alonzo Velazquez. The Pokes also lost Pat Arnold and Gavin Rush to retirement. The anchors of the middle of the line -- Eric Abojei, Keegan Cryder and Logan Harris -- are all standing out in practice.
- Xazavian Valladay is the leader of the running back room, but this year -- for a change -- he has company. Trey Smith and Titus Swen are healthy. There's a whole host of backs in the Pokes' stable.
- The safety spots seem to be all but locked up. Braden Smith could step in for last year's starter, Rome Weber, who opted out. Easaias Gandy will attempt to replace Alijah Halliburton at the strong safety position.
So, what jobs could be snagged in the coming weeks?
- The receiving corps has plenty of veteran flair, but there is lots of youth at that spot, too. Ayden Eberhardt, Gunner Gentry and Dontae Crow will be pushed by a host of new faces, including Devin Jennings, Alex Brown, Joshua Cobbs, Isaiah Neyor and Tyrese Grant. According to Bohl, those guys -- who all hail from the Lone Star State -- are long and fast.
- Wyoming's seventh-year head coach has also spoken about the talent at the tight end spot. Jackson Marcotte is thought to be the front runner, but is coming off a devastating knee injury at Utah State last season. Bohl said Marcotte has looked good in practice and the knee has not given him any issues. Look for junior college transfer Colin O'Brien to see plenty of playing time, along with Nate Weinman and Treyton Welch.
- As mentioned earlier, Crall will start on one side at the defensive end spot. Who lines up opposite of him? Solomon Byrd, who led the team with 6.5 sacks a year ago, has opted out. So has back-up Davon Wells-Ross. Bohl said he has been impressed with some youngsters, but said he will wait to reveal those names until after the scrimmage.
- There's also the question of who will replace Wyoming's all-time leading scorer, Cooper Rothe. Bohl joked Friday that he is starting to "think like a kicker" after coaching that position during his tenure in Laramie. He said he will always take the praise when they are performing and deflect when they aren't. All kidding aside, Nick Null, a senior transfer from Cornell, might have the inside track there. Bohl said he will definitely put the placekickers "under duress" Saturday afternoon. Null could also serve as the Cowboys' punter.
- Arguably the most interesting job opening could be at outside linebacker. Chad Muma has the middle locked down. Charles Hicks, according to that same middle linebacker, has been seeing a lot of reps at that spot. He also mentioned the names Easton Gibbs and Connor Shay. The latter is a freshman from California who was heavily recruited by Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and Utah.
Don't expect to see a depth chart until game week, but Monday's press conference could be a telling one.