Spring Wrap: Wyoming Cowboys
By Ken Pomponio
Spring drills have hit the finish line in the Mountain West Conference with all 12 squads having put the wraps on their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went In Laramie where Dave Christensen’s Cowboys are coming off a 4-8 season:
- The no-huddle offense has been a staple of Christensen’s four-year run at UW, but this spring, the coach has emphasized a quicker pace to the proceedings with designs on a true up-tempo attack. The goal is more plays and more pressure on opposing defenses, and from the looks of things this spring, the Pokes are well on their way. Junior QB Brett Smith is at the helm entering his third season as the team’s starter.
- Linebacker was a pre-spring question mark with Wyoming having lost their top two ’backers — and top two 2012 tacklers — in Ghaali Muhummad and Korey Jones, who combined for an impressive 209 stops. But a pair of newcomers, redshirt freshman Lucas Wacha, an undersized (200 pounds) but play-making OLB, and JUCO transfer Jordan Stanton, a 245-pound thumper in the middle, have stepped forward and are in line for significant action this fall.
- The Cowboys finished 2012 ranked 106th in FBS total defense and 97th in scoring D, and the issues start up front where UW produced a Mountain West-low 14 sacks. The Pokes simply need more pressure from the front four, and it was hit and miss all spring with drills ending on a downer for the D as the team’s top three QBs were a combined 32-of-50 for 428 yards and six TDs in the spring game.
- The line situation isn’t much rosier on the offensive side of the ball as the Cowboys only return two starters and neither of them is All-MWC center Nick Carlson. And with senior guard Tyler Strong, one of the two returning starters along with sophomore guard Jake Jones, battling injury issues the second half of the spring, it left two redshirt juniors, a sophomore and a pair of redshirt freshmen manning the front. Strong is expected back for the start of fall camp, but, suffice to say, the offensive line remains a work in progress.
Spring game standouts
- Smith was outstanding as the offense overcame a slow start to defeat the defense, 92-60, completing 9-of-13 passes for 168 yards and three scores.
- Senior wideout Robert Herron was equally impressive on the other end, hauling in four passes for 116 yards and a pair of TDs.
- Wacha capped his strong spring with a team-leading eight total tackles and two passes defensed, including an interception on the first series.
- Senior cornerback Marqueston Huff finished with six total tackles and returned an interception 54 yards for the defense’s lone TD.
Fall camp, of course, before the Cowboys kick off with a rugged test: an Aug. 31 trip to Lincoln to face the Big Ten’s Nebraska.