Spring was a time of experimentation for Wyoming.
Defensive coordinator Chris Tormey looked at a lot of players at different positions. Some moves look to be permanent, others remain to be seen.
UW will show both 4-3 and 3-4 looks. The buck position (combination defensive end and outside linebacker) often will dictate the formation — along with the down-and-distance and opponent.
Don’t get caught up in the formations. UW showed a lot of formations last season, and in the first four since Dave Christensen has been the coach. The goal is to get the best 11 players on the field. Some of those players emerged during the spring. Others already asserted themselves prior to spring, and others still need to be found when fall camp starts in early August.
The Cowboys will try to put more pressure on the quarterback in 2013, after just 14 sacks last season. That could come from a variety of different positions and angles. Those who follow the team also know the run defense must improve (232.3 yards per game last season) as does the third-down defense (51 percent conversion rate).
One thing I drew from the spring that the starting 11 guys should be decent — but not dominant. The depth after that still is a work in progress.
Here is my position-by-position breakdown of the defense, and some thoughts:
Projected starters: Patrick Merterns (Sr., DT or NT), Sonny Puletasi (Jr., DE), Eddie Yarbrough (So., DE or DT); Siaosi Hala’api’api (buck).
Who else plays: Uso Olive (R-Fr., DT or NT); Justin Bernthaler (Sr., DE or DT).
Need to see more from: Troy Boyland (Jr., DT); Chase Appleby (R-Fr., DT or NT); James Diamanti (Fr., DT); Sam Hardy (R-Fr., DE or DT).
My thoughts: Expect the starters, along with Olive and Bernthaler (who missed much of spring with an injury) to be in the rotation and all see a lot of snaps. Boyland is a junior-college transfer who is 6-2, 310 pounds, but needs to be in better shape and maybe drop some weight to be effective. Diamanti is a true freshman who did some good things along the line on special teams (blocked a field goal in the spring game), and could this season. He enrolled at UW in January and the time in the program helped a lot. UW would get a big boost if Boyland, Appleby and/or Hardy show improvement in fall camp. Hala’api’api moved from middle linebacker early in the spring, and could be good at the buck. Yarbrough was the team’s most improved lineman after the spring, and I think their best lineman overall. He is best at DE, but got some looks inside as spring went on.