Report Card: Wyoming’s inexperienced edge rushers impress
LARAMIE -- In this series, we'll assign a grade to all of Wyoming's position groups during the 2022 football season.
Craig Bohl's Cowboys exceeded all expectations last fall, finishing second overall in the Mountain Division behind Boise State.
UW (7-6, 5-3) fielded the third-youngest roster in the nation. At times, it showed. But there were plenty of bright spots, too.
There was the upset over Air Force, a four-game winning streak, including road victories at New Mexico, Hawaii and Colorado State and eventually a berth in the Arizona Bowl, the program's fifth postseason appearance since 2016.
Let's start the breakdown on the defensive side of the ball.
DEFENSIVE ENDS: B+
Wyoming's defensive ends had exactly zero combined sacks entering the 2022 campaign. To make matters even worse, Sabastian Harsh, the unquestioned MVP of the offseason, suffered a leg injury that would cost him the season before it even began. Even though Harsh was supposed to be the unit's top edge rusher, he hadn't tallied a sack in 13 previous games. Anxiety only rose when the Cowboys failed to get to Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito one time in the season opener. That all changed in a big way with Tulsa in town. UW registered four sacks, one each from defensive ends Braden Siders and DeVonne Harris. The Pokes would go on to rack up 37 total sacks -- second most in the Mountain West behind only San Jose State (39) -- on the season, led by Harris, who finished with 8.5. Siders tacked on seven and Oluwaseyi Omotosho added 6.5. Imagine if Harsh did play?
You might be wondering how this group didn't end up with an A? All of those guys listed above are sophomores or younger. Only Harris had a career start at the position coming into the season. My reasoning is simple -- the sack totals should've been way higher. Too many plays were left on the field. Defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel would agree. For example, in the Cowboys' heartbreaking 20-17 home loss to Boise State in late November, the pass rush was getting to Taylen Green. He just wasn't going down. UW was credited with nine quarterback hurries, six from the ends. It finished with zero sacks.
Marty English - Entering fourth season
Sabastian Harsh (6-foot-3, 237 pounds, sophomore); Braden Siders (6-foot-3, 240-pounds, sophomore), Brady Bohlinger (6-foot-2, 235 pounds, sophomore); Keelan Cox (6-foot-5, 240-pounds, sophomore); DeVonne Harris (6-foot-4, 225 pounds, junior); Haegun Hoffschneider (5-foot-11, 215 pounds, redshirt freshman); Kevin Sjogren (6-foot-5, 210 pounds, redshirt freshman); Tyce Westland (6-foot-5, 240 pounds, sophomore)
Ethan Day (6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Modesto Junior College, sophomore); Tell Wade (6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Wray, Colo.); Jordan Turnbull (6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Evergreen, Colo.)
Oluwaseyi Omotosho (Oregon State), Akili Bonner (Transfer Portal)
This unit should be a major strength on a defense that should be one of the best in the conference. Harris and Harsh could be the opening day starters when Texas Tech rolls into town Sept. 2 with its famous passing offense. Siders, who was named a Freshman All-American, could also get the call. Keelan Cox, an Alabama transfer, never saw the field in '22 after suffering a leg injury. He could also make an early impact after spending a year in the playbook. The goal is to be interchangeable. No matter who is on the field, offensive tackles beware. This group possesses that kind of talent. Throw in a couple of potential All-Mountain West players in the middle -- Cole Godbout and Jordan Bertagnole -- and opposing offenses are going to have their hands full.
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