Ready to tailgate and watch football in Laramie?
LARAMIE -- Things are starting to feel way too ... normal.
Wyoming will host its annual spring game Saturday inside War Memorial Stadium. Fans are not only welcome, they're encouraged. Plus, it's free. Gates will open at 1 p.m. and the simulated "game" is set to kickoff at 2.
Tailgating in the main lot opens at 10 a.m. Yes, actual tailgating. Barbecue, beers, friends. That's free, too. The parking anyway. Some concessions will even be available.
The university has also lifted all mask mandates outside on campus. Though social distancing -- and masks -- are encouraged, it's not mandatory.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said in a press release. “What you’re seeing is players are really embracing and appreciating the things they enjoy about college football. We’re in hopes that we will be able to take another step forward this fall. I’m happy to know we’ll have fans in the stands this Saturday, and I think it's just one more way we can embrace that we’re returning to some semblance of normalcy.”
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* A third tight end is drawing attention this spring
* UW football team sends emotional video to young fan with cancer
* Linebackers Gibbs, Hicks in heated battle for starting spot
* Could Treyton Welch be the Pokes missing piece on offense?
How about the actual game?
Wyoming is returning 95% of its roster from a season ago, including a veteran-laden offensive line that is three-deep at some positions. Sean Chambers and Levi Williams are still battling it out at the quarterback position. A loaded backfield, led by returning two-time Mountain West rushing champ, Xazavian Valladay, is still very much expected to be a focal point of this newly "re-engineered" offense led by new offensive coordinator, Tim Polasek.
Those six 2020 opt outs -- Titus Swen, Solomon Byrd, Mario Mora, Claude Cole, Devon Wells-Ross and Rome Weber -- are all back in the mix. Middle linebacker Chad Muma returns for another junior season after finishing third in the nation with 71 tackles in just five-in-a-half games.
One position battle to keep an eye on Saturday is at outside linebacker, where Easton Gibbs is giving incumbent, Charles Hicks, plenty of competition. Also, who will handle kickoff and punt return duties this fall? In fact, who will do the kicking off for the Pokes? All-American placekicker, John Hoyland? Luke Glassock? Ralph Fawaz?
Hell, in the word of Bohl, Saturday will be a time to "celebrate" playing the game of football after a forgettable 2020 campaign that was nearly stolen by the COVID-19 virus.
“We want to be able showcase our football program to our fans on Saturday,” Bohl said. “It is an opportunity for our fans to come and watch our players perform in person and see how much progress we’ve made. It’s been a long time since we’ve played in War Memorial Stadium, so we’re excited about that. Things that will be important for our program on Saturday are, one, to give our players, particularly our younger players, a game-like experience where coaches are on the sidelines, officials are out on the field and fans are in the stands. We want to replicate as much as we can what it’s like to play in a game.
“Another important aspect is to give us, as coaches, another evaluation of our players," Bohl continued. "We want to see who can make fundamental plays in a game situation -- who can block, who can tackle, who can throw the ball well, who can catch the ball. It’s not going to be a complicated schematic game. We’re not trying to game plan against an opponent. We want to be able to evaluate our players from a fundamental standpoint."
Many have inquired, but the spring game will not be streamed, per the school.
Here is more information about Saturday's game:
∙2 p.m., M.T. in War Memorial Stadium, Saturday, May 8
∙The Spring Game is Free and Open to the Public
∙Parking will be Free on Saturday in the Ford Stadium Lot
Face Coverings and Social Distancing
∙Fans are encouraged to wear their own face coverings. Face coverings will be recommended but not required at outdoor gatherings per a release from the university on April 13 that stated: “Starting May 8, masks will no longer be required outdoors on campus. Masks will be required for indoor gatherings and recommended, but not required at outdoor gatherings.”
∙Social distancing at the Spring Game will be encouraged.
∙An open container permit will enable fans to tailgate in the Ford Stadium Lot on Saturdayfrom 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
∙Gates to War Memorial Stadium will open at 1 p.m.
Season-Ticket Sales Promotion
∙Starting Friday, May 7 at 4 p.m. through Monday, May 10 at 10 a.m., anyone who buys football season tickets online, over the phone or in-person during this time-frame will get: The same number of complimentary single-game tickets to any (2) events of their choice for either Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Volleyball or Wrestling in 2021 (through Dec. 31, 2021).
∙This includes any fans who renew, sign up for a payment plan or anyone who commits to the 2021 football season with a payment from Friday, May 7 at 4 p.m. to Monday, May 10 at 10 a.m.
∙On Monday afternoon, May 10, the UW Athletics ticket office will e-mail everyone who took advantage of the promotion informing them of next steps
∙Ticket Representatives will be available at the War Memorial Stadium Ticket Office near Gate 4 on the east side of War Memorial Stadium from Noon until Halftime on Saturday, May 8
∙Ticket Representatives can review prices and available seat options for fans on Saturday.
∙Fans may also contact the Ticket Office online at GoWyo.com/tickets or call at 307-766-7220
∙After 1 p.m., fans will be able to purchase food and drink at the Concession Cabin in the Southwest Corner of War Memorial Stadium.
∙Roxie’s will be serving beer in the area under the south video board.
∙Pizza Hut will be serving food out of its trailer that will be parked at the south end of the stadium.
∙Kettle Korn will also be serving at its stand in the south end zone area
∙Brown and Gold Outlet will be selling merchandise on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium
∙UniWyo Federal Credit Union will be sponsoring a face-painting station at the Spring Game
∙Smith Beverages (Budweiser) will also be conducting promotional activities on Saturday
* A Wyoming press release contributed to this report