Finley hopes to give a struggling UW defense a boost

He’s a senior by class only.

One of the changes Wyoming made defensively was putting senior cornerback Tyran Finley in the starting lineup when it plays at Washington State Saturday.

Tyran Finley

Tyran Finley

But it’s not like Finley has a ton of game experience with the Cowboys.

The junior college transfer started in UW’s opener in 2013 at No. 18 Nebraska, but injured a knee and was lost for the season. He was granted a medical redshirt.

Last year, with new coach Craig Bohl and staff, Finley struggled to adjust to a new system. He played in 11 games, but early on most of that time was on special teams. But in UW’s 45-17 win at Fresno State on Nov. 1, 2014, Finley had two interceptions and returned one of them 51 yards for a touchdown. He led UW with those two interceptions, and the team had only one other interception that season.

During spring drills, Finley was beat out by redshirt freshmen walk-ons. And, he missed about a week because — for a lack of a better term — he needed an attitude adjustment in Bohl’s opinion. But now, as a senior Finley gets a chance to start just this third game for the Cowboys and play in his 15th game of his career. And, he gets to do it against a pass-happy team like Washington State that may throw it 60 times Saturday.

Steve Stanard

Steve Stanard

A big reason for putting Finley in there is his speed. He needs to be fast being just 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds. Defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said he liked what Finley did in UW’s 48-29 loss to Eastern Michigan, especially in the second half. He hopes that will continue this week and throughout the season.

“You have a young man that is a senior and that has been finding his way,” Stanard said. “He’s doing a much better job of doing that, along with his ability to deal with adversity on the field.”

During the early portions of Tuesday’s practice, Bohl payed close attention to the defense, and Finley in particular. He told him, and I am paraphrasing here, that he wanted him to have tight coverage on a certain Washington State receiver. Bohl told Finley something along the lines of: “If he goes up into the stands for a hot dog, you put the mustard on for him.”

Known as “Smiley” among his teammates and coaches, perhaps this could be a spark UW’s struggling defense so desperately needs, and not only brings a smile to Finley’s face, but to other UW players, coaches and fans. Because let’s face it, there hasn’t been much to smile about so far this season.

Practice notes

Bohl said prior to Tuesday’s practice that redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman has looked good so far this week in practice, but hasn’t run at full speed yet due to a strained MCL ligament in his right knee that prevented him from playing last week against Eastern Michgian. Bohl said Coffman has told him

Kevin Prosser

Kevin Prosser

that the knee is feeling better. … Bohl said sophomore quarterback Josh Allen will have surgery Wednesday after suffering four breaks to his collar bone against Eastern Michigan. …  True freshman linebacker Kevin Prosser is getting some snaps this week at defensive end. Prosser (6-2, 197) has played some this season on special teams. … UW practiced in full pads Tuesday, and worked a lot of tackling early on — just like last week. … NFL scouts from the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints were at practice. … The 23 true and redshirt freshmen UW has played is tied for the second-most nationally among FBS teams with Florida State and North Carolina State. Clemson has played the most with 27. UW has played 14 true freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen so far this season.

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net, for my story on true freshman offensive lineman Zach Wallace, who will make his first-career start at right tackle for the Cowboys this week. For a video interview with Wallace, go to wyosports.net.