LARAMIE – Wyoming is only four weeks away from opening the 2022 season.
The Pokes put the pads on for the first time during Friday’s fall camp practice as preparation for the Aug. 27 game at Illinois continues to ratchet up.
“It was pretty aggressive,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “I really was pleased with our first offensive line. I thought they probably executed, it was significantly better than the twos. Encouraged with that.”
The offensive line will be led by Eric Abojei, who has moved from left guard to left tackle, and Frank Crum, who is entering his third season as the starting right tackle.
Abojei is listed at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, and Crum measures 6-7, 315, on the updated roster. The duo has combined for 50 starts during their UW careers.
Sophomore Nofoafia Tulafono has taken over the starting center spot with Latrell Bible’s decision to leave the team. Junior Zach Watts and redshirt freshmen Emmanuel Pregon and Jack Walsh are the leading candidates to start at the guard positions.
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Bohl said one of the key position battles during camp will be finding a reliable backup behind the two pillars on the line.
“We’re developing a couple prospects at offensive tackle for depth,” Bohl said. “We need to find a third guy behind them.”
True freshman DeShawn Woods, the highest-rated recruit in program history, is expected to redshirt.
UW recently added junior college transfer Forrest Scheel to the roster to compete with Caden Barnett, Carlos Harrison, Jack Lookabaugh and JJ Uphold.
Bohl has mentioned the first-string O-line as a unit performing well a couple times during the first three post-practice interview sessions, but that doesn’t mean the coach isn’t pleased with the progress on the defensive line.
Nose tackle Cole Godbout and defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole are two of the best interior linemen in the Mountain West and will be in the mix to be team captains.
Defensive ends Oluwaseyi Omotosho and Sebastian Harsh flashed their pass-rush skills Friday.
“For us to generate some pressure with our down guys is going to be important. We can’t (just) continue to stunt,” Bohl said. “I’m confident that we’re going to see some more productivity from that spot, which we’ll need.”
The roster attrition has been well documented with 15 players entering the portal and nine transfers arriving since the end of the 2021 season.
Bohl had to hire two new assistants, defensive tackles coach Oscar Giles and offensive line coach Joe Tripodi, but both coordinators are back.
Tim Polasek will be entering his second season as offensive coordinator after replacing Brent Vigen, who left to be Montana State’s head coach. Jay Sawvel is entering his third season as the defensive coordinator.
“It helps us a lot,” Bohl said. “As a head coach, if you’re a CEO head coach, that really means a lot. For those guys to know the program is really important, to know the players. Much more of a comfort zone.”
The best news of the day: Bohl reported no injuries following Friday’s physical practice.
“The level of intensity certainly was different.” — Bohl.