LARAMIE — Wyoming has lost another significant contributor for the season.
And what was already a thin interior on the Cowboys’ defensive line has gotten thinner.
Defensive tackle Ravontae Holt sustained a torn ACL last week that will sideline him for the entire season, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. Holt, who was in line for his first season as a full-time starter, watched practice Friday in street clothes and wasn’t at practice Monday or Tuesday during the open viewing period.
“It was unfortunate,” Bohl said. “There was a surgery that was done a couple years ago and the graft didn’t take, and it’s gotten torn. He’ll have that surgery again.”
The 6-foot-4, 272-pound junior started the final four games last season. He’s played in 21 career games with seven starts.
Redshirt freshman Mario Mora had been repping with the first-team defense alongside nose tackle Javaree Jackson in Holt’s absence and will stay at the top of the depth chart. Victor Jones will also rotate in after playing 11 games as a redshirt freshman last season.
It’s another hit to a position that was thinned out after last season when Wyoming lost three interior linemen off the two-deep (Youhanna Ghaifan, Sidney Malauulu, Conner Cain), and Bohl wasn’t ready to name anyone else the Cowboys are comfortable enough with at this point to join that rotation. Fifth-year defensive end Josiah Hall has played inside at times during his career, but Bohl said the team will evaluate other interior linemen before possibly giving Hall a look there.
Freshman defensive tackle Alonzo Hall could miss the Aug. 31 opener against Missouri if not more games with a fractured foot. As it stands, Wyoming has a three-man rotation between its two positions on the interior.
“It’s a concern,” Bohl said of the depth. “We’ve been pleased with the progress of the other guys. Certainly last year we were much deeper on the interior of the defensive line, but it’s time to grow up. I believe our opponents don’t really care how thin we are. We’ve got to get our guys ready to go.”
Holt is the third projected starter Wyoming has lost for the season because of an injury. Offensive linemen Gavin Rush and Zach Watts went down with knee injuries in the spring.
Muma ‘keeps showing up’Chad Muma solidified his spot this spring as Wyoming’s third linebacker behind seniors Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia, and the sophomore has done nothing to lose that designation in fall camp.
“Chad Muma keeps on showing up,” Bohl said. “He’s a guy that played some last year. He understands our defense more. He’s a guy that we’re really going to count on, and he’ll play an awful lot through the course of the year.”
Muma, who has the flexibility to play at either the middle or outside linebacker spots, played in all 12 games last season, primarily on special teams as a true freshman.
Bohl said consistency is still an issue among the receiving corps at times. Asked specifically where the group needs to make strides, Bohl didn’t hesitate.
“We need to have some of those guys make plays when the ball is up in the air and it’s contested,” he said.
Wyoming tied Air Force for the fewest passing yards per game in the Mountain West last season. C.J. Johnson, who led the Cowboys in touchdown catches in 2017, has given up football after sustaining a significant knee injury that season, leaving the receivers still in search of consistent playmaking ability even when they’re not wide open.
“I always say there’s two hungry dogs and one piece of meat, and one dog is getting the meat,” Bohl said. “We need to get the meat.”
Two more games set for TV
Wyoming’s home games against New Mexico (Oct. 19) and Nevada (Oct. 26) will air on AT&T SportsNet, the MW announced Tuesday.
Earlier this week, it was announced the Cowboys’ regular-season finale at Air Force on Nov. 30 will be carried exclusively on Facebook as part of the league’s partnership with Stadium. Games against Idaho (Sept. 14) and Tulsa (Sept. 21) are the only ones that don’t yet have a network designation.