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Wyoming will lean on defensive line for increased production in 2015


LARAMIE, Wyoming — There's good reason why Steve Stanard's defense was more sieve-like than normal in Wyoming's scrimmage on Saturday.

In the spring, winning isn't always the top priority.

The defense gave up 371 rushing yards, something the Cowboys' defensive coordinator won't be thrilled with should it happen in a game this fall.

But in a spring scrimmage, it's understandable.

"Sometimes if you get caught up in winning spring football, you lose track of what spring ball is all about," Stanard said. "But we do want a better performance against the run game."

Eddie Yarbrough's absence for the majority of the Saturday scrimmage is one reason for the offense's rushing total.

The two-time All-Mountain West Conference defensive end played just five snaps. For Wyoming's staff, spring is about developing younger players.

"We're trying to develop some depth," UW head coach Craig Bohl said. "... There's only so many number of reps (for) an All-Mountain West player. So he's probably not going to play a lot in the spring game either."

Siaosi Hala'api'api's snaps were limited in the second scrimmage as well.

Defensive ends coach AJ Cooper knows what his seniors on the outside can do. That's a major blessing for him.

"It's allowed me to still be able to rep some guys and develop a little bit more than maybe some positions that are handcuffed right now," Cooper said. "That's been really helpful."

In the middle, juniors Chase Appleby and Uso Olive are listed as the Cowboys' first-team nose tackle and defensive tackle, respectively.

With the departure of sixth-year senior Patrick Mertens, defensive tackles coach Pete Kaligis is focused on finding a rotation.

"You're still trying to find the guys that are going to be able to play the role," he said, "because you're never going to make it with two guys."

Olive finished Saturday's scrimmage with three tackles and a sack.

Kaligis had trouble singling out one player who's impressed him this spring.

"Chase Appleby has made strides every day. ... It's been fun watching him make the gains that he's made," Kaligis said. "Uso's done a good job in the last couple weeks of just pressing the wall and getting better there. Conner Cain, too. He just works."

In that scrimmage, Stanard noted that, along with some of the top-end players being limited in their reps, there were also many changing parts.

That won't be an issue in the fall.

"We've got a lot of different combinations going in there right now," Stanard said. "... We don't really have the No. 1 defense all together at the same time because a lot of it is about evaluation. We're trying to evaluate individual players. That's what spring ball is all about."

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

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