July 30, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Anticipation is high for kickoff of the 2013 University of Wyoming football season as Wyoming returns one of the nation's top passing offenses from last season, keyed by All-America candidate Brett Smith at quarterback and 2013 Biletnikoff Award Candidate Robert Herron at wide receiver. The next step in the Cowboys' preparation for the 2013 season will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 8:45 a.m. when they conduct their first practice of fall camp.
Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen will welcome back 15 starters -- seven on offense, seven on defense and his team's starting place-kicker -- as he begins his fifth season guiding the Cowboy Football program.
All Fall Camp practices (Aug. 6 to Aug. 21) will be open to media and the general public and will be conducted on the grass practice field just southwest of War Memorial Stadium or on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.
The Cowboys will hold three fall scrimmages on: Sunday, Aug. 11 (10:00 a.m); Saturday, Aug. 17 (10:00 a.m.); and Wednesday, Aug. 21 (8:45 a.m.). Those scrimmages are all free and open to the media and the public.
In regard to UW's 2013 television schedule, it was announced on Monday that an additional television game has been added to Wyoming's 2013 schedule. Texas State and their conference, the Sun Belt Conference, announced Monday that Wyoming's road game at Texas State on Saturday, Sept. 28 will be televised live on the Longhorn Network, beginning at 5 p.m., Mountain Time.
A year ago, Wyoming ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference and No. 39 in the nation in passing offense, averaging 265.4 yards passing per game. Smith keyed that offensive attack, ranking No. 5 in the nation in points responsible for, generating 20.2 points per game. The only four individuals he trailed in that category were: 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M (21.7 points per game); quarterback Tajh Boyd of Clemson (21.5 ppg); and fellow quarterbacks and 2013 NFL draft picks Matt Barkley of USC (20.4 ppg) and Geno Smith of West Virginia (20.3 ppg). Wyoming's Smith also ranked No. 11 in the nation in passing efficiency (157.7 rating), No. 16 in total offense (308.5 yards per game) and No. 21 in passing yards (283.7 yards per game) as a sophomore in 2012.
The Cowboys are coming off a strong finish to the 2012 season. Wyoming won three of its final four games of the year after Smith regained his health. He missed two complete games and part of a third due to injury last season. Wyoming lost those three games by three points to Toledo, by two points to Cal Poly and by one point to Air Force.
Returning, along with Smith, is one of the deepest receiving corps Wyoming has had in many years. That talented receiving group is led by senior Herron, who has been named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Watch List after catching 31 passes for 657 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. Like Smith, Herron missed time due to injury in 2012. He played in eight of UW's 12 games and was the only player in the Mountain West to record two games of over 150 receiving yards last season (173 yards and two TDs at Texas and 187 yards and two TDs vs. San Diego State). While he fell one game shy of qualifying for conference and NCAA rankings, Herron's average of 82.1 receiving yards per game would have ranked No. 2 in the conference. Both Smith and Herron earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors last season.
While that explosive receiving unit did suffer one key loss with the graduation of senior Chris McNeill, who led the Cowboys with 63 catches for 722 yards on way to earning Second Team All-MW honors, every other player who caught a pass last season returns. In addition to Herron, juniors Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne and senior running back Brandon Miller each caught 30 or more passes on the season.
Wyoming will focus on improving its running game in 2013 to balance its offensive attack. The running back position also has depth with senior Miller, sophomore Shaun Wick and two talented freshmen in Omar Stover and Joshua Tapscott all vying for playing time. Add to that group short-yardage specialist Tedder Easton, a senior, and the always dangerous Smith, and Christensen's spread offense would appear to have plenty of weapons to improve on its impressive offensive numbers of a year ago.
Defensively, the Cowboys know they must improve in 2013 to contend for their third bowl game in the last five seasons. The defense returns seven starters from last season, and has made the switch from a 4-3 to 3-4 defensive scheme to better suit the team's personnel.
Included among the returning starters are defensive linemen Patrick Mertens, a senior, and Sonny Puletasi, a junior. The secondary is deep with experienced senior Marqueston Huff, and talented juniors Blair Burns and Darrenn White returning. The linebacking corps receives a big boost with the return of senior Devyn Harris, who was injured in the 2012 season opener and missed the remainder of the season. Harris is the projected starter at middle linebacker. He has 16 career starts to his credit. Sophomore Siaosi Hala'api'api, who took over for Harris at middle linebacker, returns to play the "Buck" outside linebacker position this year. While the defense suffered some key injuries down the stretch last season, specifically losing senior defensive linemen Kurt Taufa'asau and Miraldo Michel to injury for several games, it created an opportunity for current senior Justin Bernthaler and current sophomore Eddie Yarbrough to excel and gain experience.
The kicking game is in good hands, with junior place-kicker Stuart Williams returning after converting 7 of 12 field-goal attempts last season in his first year as a starter.
Fans may purchase tickets to 2013 Wyoming Cowboy Football games by going online at GoWYO.com/tickets, by calling the UW Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or 307-766-4850, or by stopping by the ticket office on the west side of UW's Arena-Auditorium.
2013 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 6: 8:45 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #1)
Wednesday, Aug. 7: 8:45 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #2)
Thursday, Aug. 8: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Friday, Aug. 9: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4), 1:00 p.m. (Media Day)
Saturday, Aug. 10: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Sunday, Aug. 11: 10:00 a.m. (Scrimmage #1, Practice #6)
Monday, Aug. 12: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #7), 3:45 p.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #8)
Tuesday, Aug. 13: No Practice
Wednesday, Aug. 14: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #9), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #10)
Thursday, Aug. 15: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #11)
Friday, Aug. 16: 8:45 a.m. (Shells, Practice #12), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #13)
Saturday, Aug. 17: 10:00 a.m. (Scrimmage #2, Practice #14)
Sunday, Aug. 18: No Practice
Monday, Aug. 19: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #15), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #16)
Tuesday, Aug. 20: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #17)
Wednesday, Aug. 21: 8:45 a.m. (Scrimmage #3, Practice #18)
Thursday, Aug. 22: No Practice
Friday, Aug. 23: Begin Regular-Season Practice Schedule
Monday, Aug. 26: First Day of School, 3:00 p.m. (First Monday Press Conference of Season)
2013 Wyoming Letterwinners Returning/Lost
Letterwinners Returning: 37 (19 Offense, 16 Defense, 2 Special Teams)
Letterwinners Lost: 21 (5 Offense, 13 Defense, 3 Special Team)
2013 Wyoming Starters Returning/Lost
Starters Returning: 15 (7 Offense, 7 Defense, 1 Special Teams)
Starters Lost: 9 (4 Offense, 4 Defense, 1 Special Teams)
Offensive Starters Returning (7)
Jake Jones, So., OG (12 Starts in 2012)
Dominic Rufran, Jr., WR (12)
Tyler Strong, Sr., OG (12)
Brett Smith, Jr., QB (10, Missed 2 Complete games due to injury)
Jalen Claiborne, Jr., WR (9)
Robert Herron, Sr., WR (8)
Brandon Miller, Sr., RB (8 -- 5 at RB / 3 at WR)
Other Offensive Players Returning With Starting Experience in 2012 (8)
D.J. May, So., RB (3 Starts in 2012. May was injured in summer conditioning drills and will likely redshirt in 2013.)
Trey Norman, Jr., WR (3)
Riley Lange, Jr., TE/H-Back (2)
Jason Thompson, So., QB (2 -- 1 at QB / 1 at RB)
Shaun Wick, So., RB (2)
Tedder Easton, Sr., RB (1)
Colby Kirkegaard, Sr., QB (1)
Austin Traphagan, So., OT (1)
Defensive Starters Returning (7)
Blair Burns, Jr., CB (12 Starts in 2012)
Marqueston Huff, Sr., CB (10)
Siaosi Hala'api'api, So., LB (9)
Sonny Puletasi, Jr., DE (9)
Darrenn White, Jr., FS/CB (8)
Patrick Mertens, Sr., DT (6 -- 4 at DT / 2 at DE)
Chad Reese, Jr., SS (6)
Other Defensive Players Returning With Starting Experience in 2012 (5)
Justin Bernthaler, Sr., DE (3 Starts in 2012)
Eddie Yarbrough, So., DE (3)
DeAndre Jones, Jr., CB (2)
Mark Nzeocha, Jr., LB (2)
Devyn Harris, Sr., LB (1, Started the first game of 2012, then missed remainder of season due to injury)
Special Teams Starters Returning (1)
Stuart Williams, Jr., K (12)
Special Teams Starters Lost (1)
Tim Gleeson, So., P, (12 Starts in 2012)