Wyoming Football: News and Notes ahead of Illinois
LARAMIE -- You might have noticed a recurring theme on the Cowboys' first depth chart of the fall.
This team is young, across the board.
Just how young is this roster? According to ESPN, only Mountain West foes Nevada and Hawaii are more inexperienced.
"That doesn't mean we can't be a good football team, though," Wyoming's ninth-year head coach said Tuesday at his weekly press conference leading up to the season opener Saturday at Illinois.
UW was picked by the media to finish fifth in the Mountain Division, just ahead of lowly New Mexico. No players made the preseason All-Conference squad. Some experts in Las Vegas think the Pokes' ceiling is five wins.
Bohl is a tad more optimistic.
"We have an excited football team," he said. "I'm convinced we have a talented football team ... There's a lot of question marks."
Yes, yes there are.
Bohl and Co. have yet to name a starting quarterback. The injury bug has taken a chunk out of the lineup. The latest victims are defensive end Sabastian Harsh and running back Dawaiian McNeely. There's no timetable for either to return.
They join a growing list of sidelined players that includes Gunner Gentry (knee), Jeremy Hollingsworth (knee), Buck Coors (leg) and Air Force transfer, TJ Urban (knee). Those four will miss the entire 2022 campaign. Alabama transfer Keelan Cox (hip) is still at least seven weeks away from seeing the field.
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The entire two-deep features just one true senior. That is Eric Abojei, who is making the move one spot from guard to left tackle. Wisconsin transfer Deron Harrell is technically a senior, but said today he still has a medical redshirt season to burn, which he plans on doing in 2023.
True freshman Carson York will be the opening-day long snapper. Eight redshirt freshmen -- Jack Walsh (OG), Joey Braasch (RB), DQ James (RB), Forrest Scheel (LT), Emmanuel Pregnon (OG), Oluwaseyi Omotosho (DE), Braden Siders (DE), Wrook Brown (NB) -- are in the Pokes' two-deep.
We'll all find out together what the youngsters are made of. Kickoff from Memorial Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Here are some other news and notes from Bohl's season-opening press conference:
* With Harsh and Cox on the shelf, UW's defensive end unit got even younger overnight. Bohl said throughout the offseason that he was looking for a fourth guy to join DeVonne Harris, Omotosho and Harsh. That responsibility now rests with Siders, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound Colorado product, who has yet to play in a college football game. "(We're) a little bit thin, but Siders has done a good job," Bohl said, adding that none are household names.
* Like his coaching counterpart, Bret Bielema, Bohl didn't name his starting quarterback Tuesday, instead jotting down a "TBA." Why? "I don't know what Bret has said, but we will name a starter to be announced," Bohl said. Andrew Peasley, the only signal caller on this roster with any experience at the FBS level, was also tight-lipped about the situation Tuesday.
* Does Bohl at least have faith that his starting QB can get the job done in Champaign? "We feel good about the progress we've made, But until you really go out there and start playing against an opponent when things aren't scripted -- whoever the quarterback is -- (We'll see) how they respond," he said. "But the number of guys that we've had in there, we feel good about and they'll do a good job leading our offense."
* Illinois has a new offensive coordinator, but Bielema's M.O. can be compared to Bohl in many ways, especially when it comes to running the football. Last fall, the Fighting Illini finished the season with 468 carries for 2,083 yards. They attempted just 322 passes. Wyoming handed the ball off 543 times for 2,752 yards. The combination of Sean Chambers and Levi Williams accounted for 297 throws. "I don't want to say that the programs are mirrored because there's some differences to them, but I know coach Bielema does want to be physical and we do, as well," Bohl said. "That doesn't mean that skill players aren't going to come into play."
* Bohl has been looking for someone to take over the weakside linebacker spot in camp. Shae Suiaunoa, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound sophomore from Houston is that guy. Michigan State transfer Cole DeMarzo will back him up and Read Sunn will be the No. 2 middle linebacker being Easton Gibbs.
* There's one more "TBA" on Wyoming's first official depth chart. That is at the punting position where incumbent Ralph Fawaz and 2021 Texas State transfer, Clayton Stewart, have been battling it out. Bohl said last week that one of those players has emerged as the starter, despite not naming him. Apparently that changed.
* We should see Brassch get some carries out of the Cowboys' backfield this Saturday. The Columbus, Neb., native was impressive in the spring game and has continued to impress his coaches in camp. Bohl doesn't seem too concerned about Brassch stepping in for an injured McNeely against the Illini. "He's got good ability," Bohl said. "He's got good straight-line speed and he's got good size. You saw his explosiveness. It'll be fun to see him go out and compete."
* Stay tuned to 7220sports.com for all your Pokes news throughout fall camp and the season ahead. You can download our free mobile app right HERE. You can also subscribe to our daily newsletter right HERE.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players