LARAMIE — Levi Williams is doing everything he can to try to give Wyoming’s defense an idea of what it will see from Missouri’s quarterback come next Saturday.

But it’s going to be hard for anyone on the Cowboys’ roster to mimic Kelly Bryant’s skill set.

Williams, Wyoming’s true freshman quarterback, is running the scout-team offense as the Cowboys continue preparations for their Aug. 31 opener against Missouri, which is set to reintroduce to college football what was perhaps the nation’s top graduate transfer in the offseason.

“That’s really challenging,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said of getting his defense looks. “We’re trying to do that. Levi is doing that right now. We’ve broken a lot of (Bryant’s) game tape down when he was at Clemson, and he’s a dynamic quarterback.”

It’s been almost a full calendar year since Bryant last played in a game since losing his starting job at Clemson to true freshman Trevor Lawrence after the first four games of last season. But he’ll bring a wealth of talent and experience into War Memorial Stadium.

Bryant went 16-2 as a starter for the defending national champions and finished his lone season as the full-time starter in 2017 as a finalist for the Manning Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback. Bryant threw for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions that season and has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for his career.

And whether it’s a designed run or a busted play, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has been a threat with his legs, too. Bryant has 973 career rushing yards and 16 rushing scores, including 11 during that 2017 season.

“I know that’s added a lot,” Bohl said. “I know they’re inching into the top 25, and I can see that.”

Freshening up

Wyoming’s practice Friday morning was its 19th since the start of fall camp. With game week looming, Bohl said his team will start easing up on the physicality in order to try to get to the opener as healthy as possible.

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“We’re getting down the home stretch here,” Bohl said. “Next week, we’ll really back off on the amount of contact.”

Wyoming will hold one more practice this week Saturday, which Bohl said will include a light situational scrimmage.

“There won’t be a lot of live contact, but we want to make sure we cover all of the scenarios,” he said. “It’s somewhat of a dry run before a ballgame.”

Injury report

Running back Trey Smith was held out of practice again as he continues to go through concussion protocol. Defensive end Solomon Byrd (high ankle sprain) and nickel back Keyon Blakenbaker (toe) also missed practice, but Bohl said both are progressing to the point they’re expected back next week.

As for Smith, Bohl said he’s hoping to have the Louisville graduate transfer back in the fold next week.

Redshirt freshman Leevi Lafaele is fully covered from offseason shoulder surgery, Bohl said. Lafaele is listed as Josiah Hall’s backup at one defensive end spot while Byrd is No. 2 behind Garrett Crall at the other.

Redshirt freshman

True freshman running back Dawaiian McNeely is not eligible to play this season and will take an academic redshirt. Bohl said McNeely, who can still practice, is the only newcomer that isn’t eligible for games.

That leaves Smith, Xazavian Valladay and fellow freshmen Titus Swen and Alphonzo Andrew Jr. as the available scholarship running backs this fall.

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Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter


College Sports Reporter

Davis Potter is the University of Wyoming athletics reporter. An Alabama native and 2011 Auburn University graduate, Potter joined the Star-Tribune in 2018 after five years covering Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference. He lives in Laramie.

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