Wyoming’s first season with a 4-3 defense was challenging to say the least.
UW allowed 30.3 points, 205.8 rushing yards and 351.8 total yards per game.
Eight starters return, including virtually everyone in the two-deep along the defensive line and linebacker. Three new starters need to be found in the secondary.
With a year of the 4-3 under the players’ belts, defensive coordinator Marty English’s top goal for the defense is simple, yet complex.
“Last spring was changing the defense and getting used to it. Now we want to start perfecting it, advancing it and growing with it,” he said. … “It’s not a new defense anymore.”
English said getting players to realize why mistakes were made and how to correct them will be emphasized this spring. So will having some players learn multiple positions.
For instance, a player like sophomore outside linebacker Devyn Harris may also learn to play in the middle in nickel situations so UW can utilize his athleticism in passing situations.
Look for senior Tashaun Gipson to see time at both cornerback and safety this season depending on the opponent and situation. He did that some late last season.
“It’s a challenge I’m willing to accept,” he said. “I feel like I’m a versatile player I feel like I can line up anywhere on the football field and make things happen.”
English said junior defensive tackle Kurt Taufa’asau is a player that “has got to show up and step forward.” Taufa’asau redshirted last season after transfering from New Mexico Military Institute.
English would like to find out where freshman Mark Nzeocha of Germany fits best, at safety or linebacker. At 6-3, 220 that should be fun to watch.
Linebacker Korey Jones and safety Luke Anderson — both junior-college transfers — can go a long way to securing starting jobs with a good spring. So could redshirt freshmen Darren White and junior James Caraway at cornerback.
And, English said UW will look at more ways to bring pressure other than with the front four. UW had 20 quarterback sacks in 12 games last season.
“In each situation we’ve got to figure out how to get our best 11 athletes out there to help us make it work,” English said.
I will have top five points of emphasis for UW football this spring in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com. Would love to hear yours.
Also see my column in Thursday’s papers on the next big challenge for UW interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley. It could be more daunting than when he took over last month for Heath Schroyer.