The Wyoming football team will lean on a seasoned defense in 2023

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 11:14 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - One of the biggest strengths of the Cowboys this season will be their experienced defense; ten starters returned to Laramie for another year.

That has allowed each position group to maintain a high level of chemistry and display strong leadership to some of the other players who are working their way up.

”As a whole defensive line, I feel like we’ve gotten closer. With the older guys, we just know what [the younger guys are] thinking, they know what we’re thinking. So it just gets easier to start going off of them and them going off of us,” defensive end DeVonne Harris said.

“You know, cornerback’s a hard position. Every little detail can be exposed into a touchdown. So I’m just trying to like tell [the younger guys] ‘hey, critical errors-- we can’t make them.’ Because everybody will see them, so just kind of instilling that in them,” cornerback Jakorey Hawkins said.

Not only are the vast majority of starters coming back, but several have earned high praise coming into the season. Harris, defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole, and linebacker Easton Gibbs were each named to the Preseason All-Mountain West team-- with Gibbs earning Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

There are also six players on the defense boasting two or more years of starting experience. With so many key guys well-adjusted to the college level, the unit is in prime position to make a leap from the 23.9 points per game they allowed last season.

All in all, there’s no shortage of confidence amongst the players.

”Yeah I mean we definitely want to be one of the best defenses-- if not the best-- in the Mountain West. You know, we’ve kind of preached a lot this camp on turnovers, forcing more turnovers. That’s just going to be big for not only the defense, but for the offense as well,” Gibbs said.

“You know, I mean [there’s] high expectations [for us]. I feel like we’re going to be good under pressure and be able to prove everybody right in that we’re going to be a special group. So I’m excited to go out there with them,” Bertagnole said.