With a wealth of experience back, what are Wyoming’s spring objectives?

Wyoming cornerback C.J. Coldon lines up against receiver Wyatt Wieland during spring practice Tuesday at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

Davis Potter [email protected]

LARAMIE — Wyoming’s football team is starting fresh this spring.

As much as it can anyway.

The fact the Cowboys are going through spring drills at all is another step closer to normalcy given that it didn’t happen last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, but things aren’t all the way there yet. Practices, which will be held three times a week, will be closed until the spring game on May 8, and media sessions are still being conducted virtually for the time being.

UW coach Craig Bohl and his team are as glad as any college football program to leave 2020 in the past, particularly considering how things played out on the field. For the first time since 2015, the Cowboys, who finished 2-4 during the pandemic-shortened season, are going through a spring fresh off a losing season.

“There were some good things that we had, but there was a lot where it was a bad movie,” Bohl said. “We’re off to 2021.”

When it comes to the roster, though, the Cowboys aren’t exactly starting over.

With many sports seasons interrupted or canceled last year as a result of the pandemic, the NCAA granted all fall-sports athletes an additional year of competition. The majority of UW’s seniors chose to take advantage of that eligibility relief, so the Cowboys kept nearly their entire two-deep intact.

That includes 22 of 24 starters, 10 on offense and all 11 on defense. Yet Bohl said one of the tasks at the top of the to-do list for him and the rest of the coaching staff this spring is evaluating the returning personnel, which includes six players who opted out last season that went more than six months without getting any competitive reps until UW’s first practice Tuesday.

They include safety Rome Weber and defensive tackle Mario Mora, who were starters in 2019, and defensive end Solomon Byrd, who likely would have been a starter after leading the Cowboys in sacks (6.5) as a redshirt freshman. UW’s defense still finished in the top 30 nationally in points and rushing yards allowed last season, though the unit will be without two significant contributors up front this spring in defensive tackles Ravontae Holt and Jordan Bertagnole, who are still rehabbing injuries.

That will lend itself to more reps for Mora and some of the Cowboys’ younger defensive linemen over the next month, but it’s not just up front where the competition figures to be rampant. Bohl said every starting job is up for grabs.

“We’ll (evaluate) daily through practice, video tape and then grades on our scrimmages,” Bohl said.

The other primary objectives for the Cowboys this spring are to re-establish the fundamentals on offense, defense and in the kicking game and implement some “new twists” on both sides of the ball, Bohl said. UW has to find a new punter and kick returner following the departures of Nick Null and Dontae Crow, and the Cowboys are installing a new offense under first-year coordinator Tim Polasek.

Polasek will implement a pro-style system that’s similar to what UW ran under former offensive coordinator Brent Vigen, but he’ll add his own wrinkles to an offense that’s been looking to be far more multi-dimensional for the last few years. Quarterbacks Sean Chambers and Levi Williams are back to duke it out for the right to captain Polasek’s offense.

“He’s a fiery guy, which is good for us,” Chambers said of Polasek. “Every single day, he’s going to expect the best from us. I just love that about him. He’s going to bring his A-game every single day, and he expects us to bring our A-game right back.”

With the kind of seasoned roster Bohl and his staff are largely familiar with, the Cowboys ultimately want to use their 15 spring practices to get most of their depth chart set going into the summer. Bohl said there could still be some tinkering come fall camp, but he would ideally like to have most positions sorted out well before then.

“It’s going to be a very competitive spring,” Bohl said, “and we’re looking forward to how our players sort themselves out on the depth chart.”