LARAMIE, Wyoming — Christmas is more than four months away, but Eddie Yarbrough compares his final season with the University of Wyoming football team to being a little kid on Christmas morning.
"It's always exciting to have some new presents put in front of your face," Yarbrough said.
For the first time in his career, the senior defensive end has the same defensive coordinator and defensive scheme in consecutive seasons. Despite all the changes and learning in the past, Yarbrough was a two-time All-Mountain West pick as a defensive end and was a preseason all-conference selection this season.
Now that the learning curve has flattened for Yarbrough and his line mates, there could be more tactical aspects involved. Yarbrough said in July during MW Football Media Day in Las Vegas that defensive coordinator Steve Stanard and defensive ends coach AJ Cooper might move him around to different sides of the field and even stand him up as an edge pass rusher, depending on the down-and-distance and foe.
And Yarbrough might not be the only one.
"Now that they have an understanding of what we're trying to do, I think we going to be able to use quite a few of our guys — not just Eddie — to put them in the best situations based on their athleticism and abilities," Cooper said.
"We have some guys with ability. Now it's fun on my part. We've got more competition, and now we can nail down what they do best."
Based on Yarbrough's experience and production, he seems like the best candidate to move around the field more than the other defensive ends. He enters this season with 28.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 quarterback sacks and 194 tackles in his career. Yarbrough also has forced three fumbles and recovered three.
At Grandview High in Aurora, Colorado, Yarbrough said he played left and right outside linebacker, as well as middle linebacker. In fact, when UW converted him to a defensive end when he arrived in 2011, Yarbrough said that was the first time he had ever played in a three-point stance.
Yarbrough said he played on the right side as a freshman at UW, but the rest of the time he has anchored the left. However, he also said that last year in practice Cooper had all defensive ends work on both sides of the field.
This season, Yarbrough welcomes the chance to do a lot of different things on different sides of the field.
"A lot of people sew their roots so deep on one side of the field that they don't feel comfortable going to the other side. I feel like that's not my case," he said.
"To be able to go from the right to the left, and not having offenses locked into running to one side, depending on where guys are at, gives us a lot more flexibility that I think will pay dividends. Being as comfortable as I am in this defense, and having the confidence in knowing what everyone else is doing — you can't buy that kind of confidence."
Added Cooper: "Eddie's a good football player. He sees the game. Is he the best athlete on the team? No. Is he one of the best football players on the team? Yes. When the lights turn on, he plays really fast. We're going to put him in some situations to help him out, and, in turn, it will help us out as a defense."
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com