Cowboys Conclude Third Week of Spring Drills, First Depth Chart of Spring Released on Friday

April 12, 2013


Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader

On Friday, the Wyoming Cowboys concluded their third week of spring drills with a two-hour practice in the Indoor Practice Facility. The first depth chart of spring was also released on Friday, but head coach Dave Christensen told reporters following the practice not to read too much into a depth chart that changes on a daily basis.

"The first depth chart means nothing in that it might change later today," said Christensen. "I'm going to go in and watch the film of this practice with my staff, and we will continue to make changes daily. If someone doesn't come out and play to the level he needs to play at, he is not going to keep his spot on the depth chart.

"We are developing some good depth at several positions. The difference between offense and defense is we are still experimenting with where some guys are going to play on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, I think we have established where guys are going to play, but we still have competition for all those positions. Defensively, some guys are still being moved around to find out what the best position is for them. There is a lot of good competition out there."

A couple of positions where the competition is so close that no one single player is listed No. 1 on the depth chart are the running back position and the offensive right tackle spot. At running back, sophomores D.J. May and Shaun Wick and true freshman Omar Stover were all listed as co-projected starters. At offensive right tackle, redshirt junior Connor Rains and sophomore Austin Traphagan are listed as co-starters.

Some new faces that are currently at the top of their positions in the initial depth chart for the defense include: first-year, junior-college transfer Jesse Sampson at free safety; redshirt freshman Lucas Wacha at weakside linebacker; and redshirt freshman Uso Olive at nose tackle. On the offense, first-time potential starters include: redshirt junior Walker Madden at left offensive tackle; redshirt freshman Chase Roullier at center; and first-year, junior-college transfer J.D. Krill at tight end.

Some of the players who have been moved to new positions are sophomore Siaosi Hala'api'api, who played middle linebacker as a true freshman in 2012 but has been moved to the "Buck" position, which is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. He currently is No. 2 on the depth chart behind returning starter Sonny Puletasi. Juniors Mark Nzeocha and Nehemie Kankolongo played strong safety and running back, respectively, a year ago. They are now No. 1 and No. 2 at the strongside linebacker spot. Sophomore Zaquoya Parham, a former running back, has been moved to cornerback this spring, and redshirt freshman Cortland Fort, who came into the program as a cornerback a year ago, has been switched to strong safety. Both Parham and Fort are listed second on the depth chart at their respective positions.

When Christensen was asked to comment on some of the key positions such as running back, offensive tackle and the new tight end position being incorporated into the Cowboy offense this season, he had this to say, "I like what we're doing from a scheme standpoint, running the football. I think we're getting better at it, but we need to continue to execute at a higher level. We're throwing the ball fairly well. We are getting more experience up front, so we're improving in our protections. But we're a ways away still.

"I think he (J.D. Krill) is an individual who's made constant improvement. He's a guy who came here and is doing a good job of learning the system and learning how we practice. He's still working to get in shape. He does some good things, he makes some mistakes. I'm pleased with where he's at, but he's a work in progress, and we're still working on what he can bring to our offense. He adds to the package. The more variety you have in your offensive package, the more difficult it is to defend."

Christensen was also asked to evaluate the two safety positions on defense, with different combinations being rotated in with the No. 1 and No. 2 defensive units.

"We need to see what Jesse (Sampson) can do," said Christensen. "It's a little bit different when you're playing with the No. 2 defense against the No. 2 offense than it is playing with the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense. It's a different level. We've got to experiment with some other twos and see what they can do when they play against ones, to see if they can play against better competition. We'll continue to shuffle guys from now until the first week of the season to find out who we think are the best 11 on both sides of the ball."

In terms of special teams, Christensen was asked about the spring performance of junior place-kicker Stuart Williams, who returns as the Cowboys' starting kicker and who Christensen said would be put on scholarship this coming summer.

"Stu (Williams) kicked pretty good last year," said Christensen. "But he has been extremely consistent this spring. We have a snapper coming in this fall that will probably help all our kickers even more in the fall. The snaps are getting back a little slow right now, but Stu is still getting the kicks off in good time. He has done a great job. He looks stronger. We're going to put him on scholarship this summer. We feel real comfortable with him handling our place-kicking duties."

When asked if he could single out any individuals who stood out or made big moves thus far this spring, Christensen said, "There have been a number of guys who have had good springs. I don't like to single individuals out. We would expect every player in the program to improve, and I don't think there is a guy out here who hasn't made improvement. I'm pleased with their effort. I'm pleased with their intensity level. We're practicing faster. We're practicing harder. We're practicing more physical. As a whole those things are all happening, but we still have a lot of work to get done before we're ready to play a game."

Some of the notable returners who aren't included in the depth chart due to the fact that they have been injured and either haven't participated in spring drills or have been limited in the spring are: senior running back Brandon Miller; senior defensive end Justin Bernthaler; senior wide receiver Spencer Bruce; and junior wide receiver Josh Smith.

The Cowboys return to practice on Monday, April 15 for an 8 a.m. practice. All spring practices are open to the media and the general public. The next scrimmage is scheduled for Wednesday, April. 17.

2013 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, March 26 - 6:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #1)
Wednesday, March 27 - 8 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #2)
EASTER BREAK: Friday, March 29 Through Sunday, March 31
Monday, April 1 - 8 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Wednesday, April 3 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #4)
Friday, April 5 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads / 50% of Practice Will be a Scrimmage, Practice #5)
Monday, April 8 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #6)
Wednesday, April 10 - 8 a.m. (Scrimmage #1, Practice #7)
Friday, April 12 - 8 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #8)
Monday, April 15 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #9)
Wednesday, April 17 - 8 a.m. (Scrimmage #2, Practice #10)
Friday, April 19 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #11 / Coaches' Clinic)
Monday, April 22 - 8 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #12)
Wednesday, April 24 - 8 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #13)
Friday, April 26 - 8 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #14)
Saturday, April 27 - 2 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice, #15)