Wyoming football dealing with injuries this spring

April 3, 2018 GMT

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Last year, the Wyoming football team had arguably the Mountain West’s best defense. This spring, the Cowboys likely could put together a solid defense just with injured players. (Hypothetically, of course.)

Carl Granderson, Kevin Prosser and Josiah Hall at defensive end. Sidney Malauulu, Conner Cain, Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson at defensive tackle. Ben Wisdorf at linebacker. Marcus Epps at safety.

It may not be a full 11-man lineup, but it’s been a barrage of injuries nonetheless.


“Our D-line, it’s depleted,” safety Andrew Wingard said. “It was depleted during the season last year. So, it’s good for a lot of guys getting reps and stuff, but I would like to see big ol’ 91 out there flying around with Kevin.”

Despite the cadre of players in street clothes at practice, the Wyoming coaches say they’re still able to do what they want to do this spring.

“It’s a deal where sometimes the young guys up front, they’ll mess up a fit here or there, but really, it helps us in the back end,” defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton said. “Because then the backers and Dewey and those guys that play in the box a bunch have to learn that, ‘If this happens, OK, now I can make that fit right.’ They just use their fundamentals, and it works out OK.”

The Cowboys’ offense hasn’t been immune, either. Receivers C.J. Johnson, John Okwoli and Jared Scott won’t return this spring. Running back Kellen Overstreet recently suffered a shoulder injury.

The silver lining is players further down the depth chart are getting experience.

“We’re looking at (it) that way, but how we practice, it’s a real challenge,” coach Craig Bohl said. “Because we believe in double-repping. So, to do that, it takes a lot of people to operate. And most teams don’t do that in the spring. I know everybody’s making adjustments.

“I think we’re on task right now. ... We’re a little bit razor thin at some spots, but a lot of the guys who were injured that are not partaking in spring football, we’ve got a pretty good book of experience on them.”

Bohl said that Hazelton joked at one point that this spring has been like free agency, with so many new players stepping in.

“At some point in the season we’re going to be nicked up like we always are,” said Hazelton, a former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant, “and to give those guys an opportunity to get a ton of reps right now really helps them for the fall and for the season.”


Still, the Cowboys would prefer to avoid the number of nicks they had to endure last season, especially on defense.

“There’s always going to be casualties of war, so you can’t prevent everything,” newly hired associate director of sports performance Eric Donoval told the Casper Star-Tribune. “What you can do is to put these guys in a position to hopefully avoid those things, and it starts with getting them very strong. It starts in the weight room. These guys have got to be strong. You’ve got to be strong to change directions. You have to be strong to play football, especially at the line of scrimmage. So it starts at the weight room by getting these guys really strong.

“And then what we try to do is transfer that strength in the weight room over to efficient movement on the field. You see a lot of injuries happen when guys aren’t moving efficiently. They overstride, they pull a hamstring. They don’t put their foot in the ground efficiently to change directions and their knee buckles. So, getting these guys to understand their body, how to manipulate their body to move efficiently can really help reduce the risk of injury.”


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com