No big surprises among the starters and backups. This first depth chart pretty much held true from the start of fall camp in early August. Here is the link to the depth chart: http://www.wyomingathletics.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/wyo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/depth-chart
Some things that caught my eye:
–The two junior-college defensive tackles: Kurt Taufa’asau and B.J. Sumter are both No. 3. Taufa’asau worked with the No. 2s a lot during camp. Sophomore Ben Durbin and true freshman Tyler Strong are the backups behind sophomore Mike Purcell and redshirt freshman Patrick Mertens.
“Both those kids have a redshirt year and we think they can be great prospects here,” Christensen said. “If we can redshirt them and they had a year to grow in our program they both could be impact players for us.”
Christensen added the decision to redshirt those two isn’t final, merely and option at this point.
–The depth chart listed sophomore James Caraway and true freshman Robert Herron as the No. 1 kickoff return duo. But during his news conference Christensen said sophomore outside linebacker Ghaali Muhammad will join Caraway. He said it was an “executive decision.” Herron is still in the mix, but Christensen wanted a more experienced player out there in Muhammad.
Last year’s top duo was cornerback Marcell Gipson and running back Alvester Alexander. Both averaged between 22 and 23 yards per return. Gipson said he was disappointed not to be returning kicks, but understood the move when the coaches told him they wanted to keep him on the field more as a cornerback. Alexander is the only running back on the roster with game experience.
–UW will have a linebacker return kicks in Muhammad and a linebacker kicking the ball off in junior Oliver Schober.
“I’m glad we’ve got a guy that can kick (the ball) in the end zone, and it doesn’t matter that he plays linebacker and looks like Vin Diesel.”
Schober also is listed as the backup behind junior Brian Hendricks at middle linebacker, and Christensen said Schober will play in the opener.
As far as the possiblity of getting Hendricks and Schober on the field at the same time, Christensen said: “I don’t know. We’ll have to see.” Christensen later said it’s a possibility both will play at the same time.
–Secondary coach Alex Grinch said the first cornerback to come off the bench in passing situations will be true freshman Marqueston Huff. Huff also is listed as the backup behind junior Tashaun Gipson.
–The Cowboys played 12 true freshmen and started eight last year. According to the two-deep heading into this game the only freshman starter is Mertens, but he is a redshirt freshman and was in the program last season.
–As far as the No. 2s go on offense and defense, 15 of the 22 have never played in a game at UW, including all five offensive linemen. Three are true freshmen: Huff, Strong and right tackle Justin DiRe.
–Christensen said he doesn’t plan to rotate guys in and out along the offensive line right now.
“I like our second guys, but our first five are definitely our first five at this point and time,” he said.
See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on UW’s first depth chart and other news and notes.
And a reminder that I will have a live chat at 3 p.m. Friday to discuss the Cowboys’ opener and anything else UW or sports related. A link will be posted later this week. And I will live blog Saturday’s season-opener beginning at 6:30 p.m.