Pokes’ news & notes
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl released his first depth chart of the 2021 season Monday afternoon then spoke to the media over Zoom for nearly 22 minutes.
Wyoming's head coach, who is entering his eighth season on the sideline in Laramie, talked about his decision to go with Sean Chambers under center for the third straight season, the Cowboys upcoming date with Montana State and old friend Brent Vigen and all the reasons his team could be in its best position to compete for a Mountain West championship this fall.
That, he said, all starts with depth.
By now you know Wyoming is returning more than 90% of its roster from a season ago. The offensive line is deep -- in some spots, three deep. The Cowboys featured one of the top defenses in the country in 2020 led by middle linebacker Chad Muma.
He's back, so are a whole bunch of his friends.
Here's some of what Bohl -- along with Garrett Crall and Chambers -- touched on Monday:
* Starting jobs have been claimed. Here are a few that popped off the page:
* Titus Swen will be the Cowboys kick returner this fall. The 5-foot-11 bulldozer from Fort Worth opted out of the 2020 season because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but showed he hasn't missed a beat during Wyoming's annual spring game, rushing for 85 yards on just six carries. That included a 55-yard touchdown jaunt.
* Ralph Fawaz, a freshman walk-on from Oklahoma, was named Wyoming's starting punter. He was in a battle all throughout camp with Texas State transfer Clayton Stewart. Fawaz has never punted in a collegiate game, sitting behind Nick Null in 2020. You can read about that competition right HERE.
* Were you shocked to hear there was a competition for the starting placekicker spot? John Hoyland, an a Freshman All-American last fall, was pushed all offseason by Buffalo's Luke Glassock. "There's some real comfort in the fact that you have two guys that you feel are really capable of doing it," he said. Bohl is also the kicking coach. You can read about Hoyland right HERE.
* Braden Smith, the super senior from Lakewood, Colo., survived a late push by Rome Weber to earn the starting spot at strong safety. Bohl said Weber, after opting out last fall, finally had his legs under him during camp. You can read about that battle right HERE.
* Jaylen Pate will start at defensive end opposite of Crall when the Bobcats come to town in five days. Solomon Byrd, who led the team with 6.5 sacks in 2019, opted out last season and is now second on the depth chart. Pate saw significant playing time last fall and registered a sack against UNLV. You can read about Pate right HERE.
* Defensive end Teagan Liufau is listed as the Cowboys' new long snapper, replacing Read Sunn, who handled those duties in 2020. Bohl said Sunn -- also a back-up linebacker -- was injured during camp. The severity of that and whether Sunn will play this season are unknown.
* Last but certainly not least, Chambers got the starting nod under center over Levi Williams, who started five of the Cowboys' six games in 2020. "Sean, I think, is learning how to play quarterback more," Bohl said. "There's a lot of things that we do in our system -- that's a pro-style system -- that through the years as a program, or as a quarterback matures, we're able to put more on their plate. His accuracy has improved significantly. And you know, we chart that all the time ... It will be fun to see Sean get out there." You can read about that right HERE.
* Wyoming's offensive line has 145 combined starts under its collective belt. Zach Watts, Rudy Stofer and Latrell Bible have all started for the Cowboys. This year, they are listed as back ups, though Bohl reiterated they will all play. Wyoming's starting five is: Alonzo Velazquez (LT), Eric Abojei (LG), Keegan Cryder (C), Logan Harris (RG) and Frank Crum (RT). You can read about those guys right HERE.
* Trey Smith, Bohl likes to joke, is an old man. The 25-year-old running back is beginning his third season in Laramie after coming from Louisville as a graduate transfer in 2019. Bohl referred to an ESPN article this summer that named the Cowboys the No. 1 team in the nation for stability. You can read that right HERE. He says Smith is an example of that. "It's been great having Trey out there," Bohl said. "His maturity, his ability, and all those things have added a great deal of stability and focus to our football team."
* Chambers was asked whether on not he can continue to play the way he has over the last three seasons. What does that mean? The QB summed it up perfectly right here: "I want to do everything in my power to stay on the field, whether that's, you know, run out of bounds or just playing smarter, I think, is what I have to do," he said. "Taking unnecessary hits is just not in the game plan nowadays."
* Crall has lined up across from a Vigen-coached offense for the past four seasons. Does that give him any confidence heading into the Saturday tilt with the Bobcats? "Yeah, he is the head coach, but they bring in assistant coaches from a lot of different teams that also bring new aspects to the offense," Crall said. "So, you can't really get set in stone on what they're going to do."
* Stay tuned to 7220sports.com for all your Pokes' coverage as we approach the kickoff to the Cowboys' 125 season of college football.