LARAMIE — The fear Wyoming coach Craig Bohl had entering the week regarding punter Tim Zaleski’s injury has been confirmed.
Now the Cowboys are left with virtually no experience at the position.
Zaleski will miss the rest of the season after an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, Bohl said Tuesday. A sophomore, Zaleski had started all 18 games since the start of last season, averaging 39.9 yards a punt this season.
That leaves junior Ryan Galovich, who had not punted in a game until last week, in line to make his first career start Saturday against Hawaii. Bohl said Galovich has looked “pretty good” in practice but also said he may look at some other options there, too, without getting specific.
Bohl wasn’t surprised to hear the official diagnosis on Zaleski, who was tended to by trainers on the Cowboys’ sideline for a lengthy amount of time late in the third quarter of Wyoming’s 34-14 loss to Boise State after trying to make a tackle on his final punt. Bohl said during his weekly press conference Monday he didn’t figure Zaleski would be available for the rest of the season.
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“Losing your punter, if that in fact happens, that’s a big, big hit,” Bohl said. “We’re going to need to absorb that and make some plans.”
The work of punters often goes unnoticed, but Zaleski helped flip field position for a team that’s struggled to maintain drives this season. The UW offense ranks 10th in the Mountain West in passing offense and last in total offense. Zaleski had two punts of more than 50 yards this season while nine of them pinned the opponents inside their 20-yard line.
Galovich’s lone career punt to this point covered 27 yards in the fourth quarter last week after Zaleski went down. Bohl said he’s as optimistic as he can be about his new punter’s ability to get the job done given Galovich’s lack of game experience.
“We’ve got confidence, but I’m going to work with him more this week,” Bohl said. “I go up to Jacoby (Golf Course), and I feel pretty good when I’m on the driving range. But when I get out there in front of a Cowboy Joe event and there’s 200 people, I don’t do so well. It’s a different feel.”