(UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Cowboy coaching staff started practice out differently on Thursday, beginning with a PUP, Pass-Under-Pressure, period to challenge the offense to make decisions under pressure. A variety of blitzes were incorporated into that period from new defensive coordinator Hazelton’s defensive unit.
∙Competitiveness was definitely on display in Thursday’s final 11-on-11 period of practice. Following an interception by safety Marcus Epps, the Cowboys’ No. 1 offense bounced right back with big pass plays from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver C.J. Johnson down the middle and tight end Tyree Mayfield down the sideline.
∙Thursday’s practice concluded on a forced turnover by the Cowboy linebacking corps. Weak-side linebacker Ben Wisdorf tipped a pass that was intercepted by middle linebacker Adam Pilapil, who returned the interception for a touchdown.
∙A couple young defensive tackles have been seen rotating in with the No. 1 and 2 defensive units. Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson have both been taking some reps with the top defensive units. Jackson made an impressive play for a young defensive lineman when he anticipated a screen pass and forced the offense to throw the ball away.
∙On the offensive line, freshman center Patrick Arnold is taking some snaps with the No. 1 and No. 2 offensive units. He is sharing those reps with sophomore Gavin Rush, who started every game for the Cowboys at left guard a year ago but was moved to center during 2017 spring drills. With the loss of 2016 All-America center Chase Roullier, the Cowboy coaching staff is trying to determine the best combination of players on the O-Line to replace Roullier. Redshirt freshman Jace Webb came out of spring as the projected starter at left guard with Rush at center. Webb and Rush have also both been sharing reps at left guard in fall camp.
∙Running backs Milo Hall, Nico Evans and Kellen Overstreet continue to share snaps with the top offensive unit. Hall came out of spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart with Evans and Overstreet sharing the No. 2 spot.
∙Freshman punter Tim Zaleski continues to punt the ball well. He averaged 40.7 yards per punt on nine punts on Thursday, including long punts of 50 and 51 yards.
∙On the injury front, senior fullback Drew Van Maanen (hamstring) and senior nose tackle Sidney Malauulu (back) were both at practice on Thursday but didn’t participate in contact. Bohl said they would both be brought back over time. Redshirt freshman linebacker Skyler Miller and junior linebacker/nickel Chavez Pownell Jr. both had slight hamstring strains, but nothing that should keep those two out of practice according to Bohl.
∙Thursday’s practice was conducted in 1/2 pads. Friday’s practice will be the first practice this fall that the Cowboys will be in full pads.
Quoting the Coach (Quotes from Head Coach Craig Bohl)
“There was a lot of energy out their today,” said Bohl. “We did start out practice with a third-down-and-long, pass-under-pressure series. I thought our defense looked pretty explosive. We’ll watch the tape to see if it was because we were playing so well on defense or if we were doing some things marginally on offense. There is always a balance there, but without question I think we’re further along with our defensive front and have more athleticism and guys with more explosive abilities. That is going to be an area that is really going to help our defense this year.
“I think our kicking game is coming around well. You’re always concerned when you loose a senior punter like Ethan (Wood), but I think (Tim) Zaleski has really done a good job. He’s striking the ball well, and we’re pleased with that.
“We continue to install a lot of our offensive and defensive systems as we go through camp. I believe we’re making progress there. That is always a process. You would like it to look perfect, but if it were all perfect we wouldn’t need to practice. We are utilizing all 29 practices available to us leading up to our first game. It is important for us to take every advantage of the practices we have available to develop our football team.”
When Asked About Any Young Defensive Linemen That He and His Staff Are Looking at to Possibly Play in 2017
“Inside, we’re looking at Ravontae Holt,” said Bohl. “I think he can bring something special. He’s still a little bit under-sized but I think he has some excellent strength and along with that has good quickness. At defensive end, I don’t see any freshmen rising to that level right now, but certainly at defensive tackle I think we need to take a hard look at one of those freshmen to provide added depth. Right now I would say Ravontae may be a little bit ahead of the others.”
When Asked About Freshman Punter Tim Zaleski
“There were a couple things we liked about him coming out of high school,” said Bohl. “First of all, he’s got long levers (legs). He was a real good athlete out of St. Rita High School in Chicago. He’s got a competitive nature, which is a skill set that you’re always looking for. There is no doubt about his ability. I’ve seen him connect on a couple punts of 60 yards. He hasn’t had a chance to punt in a game yet. There is always a difference between practice and a game, but I think he’s going to have a great career here.”
Friday Will be the First Day of Full Pads for the Cowboys in Fall Camp and Bohl Was Asked About Friday’s Practice
“We will have some drills in tomorrow’s practice to help us evaluate our players in full pads,” said Bohl. “There are going to be some activities in tomorrow’s practice that will be a little bit more aggressive, but we also have to keep in mind a balance. If we’re going to use all 29 practices, you can’t have a hit fest everyday. You have to spread some of those activities out.”
Bohl was Also Asked to Comment on the Cowboys New Long Snapper, Kolton Donovan
“Losing Brendan Turelli (a four-year starter) to graduation was a key loss,” said Bohl. “Not a lot of people may have known who he was, and that was a good thing because he never made any mistakes. But we think Donnie (Kolton Donovan) has really come along. The team has embraced him, and he has a good competitive nature, as well.”
Scottie Hazelton and Jake Dickert
Enter First Fall Camp on Cowboy Coaching Staff
Scottie Hazelton (Fort Lewis ‘97)
Scottie Hazelton was hired as Wyoming Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach in January of 2017. Hazelton comes to Wyoming from the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, where he was the assistant linebackers coach the past three seasons. He previously coached with Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl for five seasons at North Dakota State from 2007-11 — the first three seasons as the Bison defensive line coach and the last two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
In his first season as NDSU’s defensive coordinator in 2010, the Bison made their first appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, advancing to the quarterfinals. The next year in 2011, NDSU won its first FCS National Championship.
“Scottie Hazelton brings a great body of experience, having coached in the NFL, in the PAC-12 and the Mountain West,” said Bohl. “Most importantly, he was an architect of the start of our great defenses that we had at North Dakota State.
“Scottie and I have a long history together. We’re excited about welcoming him, Brooke and their family to Wyoming. He hails from Colorado, so he is very familiar with this area. Scottie will add a great deal of vision coordinating our defense — a defense he has many years of experience in running.”
“I’m so excited to become a Cowboy,” said Hazelton. “Even though I’ve never lived in Wyoming, it feels like I’m coming home because of the history I have with Craig (Bohl) and his staff. I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to help continue the tradition and culture of Cowboy Football. I’m anxious to get started. Go Pokes!”
For the 2014-16 seasons, Hazelton served as the assistant linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. In the 2016 season, the Jaguars ranked sixth out of the 32 NFL teams in total defense, allowing opponents only 321.7 yards per game. The Jacksonville defense also ranked No. 5 in pass defense, giving up only 215.2 yards per game. Hazelton worked with linebacker Paul Posluszny, who in 2016 ranked No. 8 among all NFL players in total tackles, with 133 and in 2015 ranked No. 2 in the NFL in tackles per game, averaging 9.5. Another Jaguar linebacker that Hazelton assisted coaching was Telvin Smith, who tied for 16th in the NFL in tackles in 2016, with 118, and tied for sixth in the NFL in 2015, with 128 tackles.
Prior to earning the opportunity to coach in the NFL for three seasons, Hazelton coached 18 years at the college level. He served as the defensive coordinator at Mountain West member Nevada in 2013. Hazelton was the linebackers coach at USC in 2012 on a team that earned a Sun Bowl berth versus Georgia Tech.
Hazelton was part of Bohl’s staff at North Dakota State for the 2007-11 seasons. His final two seasons with the Bison, Hazelton served as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. His first season as defensive coordinator in 2010, NDSU’s defense ranked No. 7 nationally in both scoring defense (allowing only 18.21 points per game) and turnover margin (+1.07 per game), was 15th in pass efficiency defense (105.7 rating) and ranked 19th in sacks (2.57 per game).
In 2011, the Bison defense ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense (allowing only 12.73 points per game), was No. 8 in turnover margin (+1.20 per game), ranked 17th in rushing defense (118.73 yards per game), was 19th in sacks (2.67 per game) and was 20th in total defense (315.93 yards per game).
He was the defensive line coach for NDSU from 2007-09. In 2008, North Dakota State led the FCS in pass defense (116.82 yards per game), ranked second in sacks (3.36 per game), fifth in total defense (254.0 yards per game), fifth in tackles for loss (8.55 per game) and 19th in scoring defense (19.18 points per game allowed).
Hazelton’s coaching career began in 1996 at his alma mater, Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. He was the defensive backs coach at Fort Lewis from 1996-99 and was the interim defensive coordinator in 1998. He served his first stint at North Dakota State from 2000-01 as a defensive graduate assistant coach. He moved on to a full-time coaching position at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., in 2002 and ‘03, serving as the defensive backfield coach. Hazelton was hired next at Missouri Southern in Joplin, Mo., for the 2004 and ‘05 seasons where he was the defensive coordinator. In 2006, he became the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich., for one season before returning to North Dakota State in 2007.
Hazelton played his college football at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. He was a three-year letterman at linebacker from 1992-94, and earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Fort Lewis in 1997.
Hazelton has his wife, Brooke, have two daughters, Ava and Sophie, and two sons, Bode and Crew.
Jake Dickert (Wisconsin-Stevens Point ‘07)
Jake Dickert joined the Wyoming football staff in February 2017. He brings with him 10 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level. He spent the 2016 season as the Safeties Coach and Co-Special Teams Coordinator at South Dakota State. Earlier in his career, Dickert was a part of Bohl’s coaching staff at North Dakota State from 2008-10.
“Coach (Jake) Dickert is a well-experienced secondary coach,” said Bohl. “He had the opportunity to coach in the National Championship Game at the Division II level at Minnesota State, Mankato. I’ve known Jake for many years. He’s a bright, ambitious young man. He communicates extremely well with players, and will add a great dimension to our defensive staff.”
“My family and I are honored to have the opportunity to join Coach Bohl’s staff at Wyoming and continue to build on the foundation of Cowboy Football,” said Dickert. “I am excited to get to know the players and have an impact on their lives on and off the field. Coach (Bohl) has created a culture of football here that I firmly believe in, and I can’t wait to get started.”
In his one season on the South Dakota State coaching staff, Dickert helped guide the Jackrabbits to the 2016 Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship and a No. 8 seed in the 2016 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs, where they advanced to the FCS National Quarterfinals.
As defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Minnesota State, Mankato for the 2014 and 2015 seasons Dickert was part of a coaching staff that led the Mavericks to back-to-back Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) championships and consecutive NCAA Division II Playoff berths, earning their way to the 2014 National Championship Game. Minnesota State posted a combined record of 24-3 over that two-year span. Dickert’s 2014 defense ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (allowing opponents only 12.9 points per game), No. 4 in turnovers gained, No. 12 in pass defense efficiency and No. 15 in total defense. In 2015, the Mavericks ranked No. 5 in the nation in scoring defense (16.1 points per game), No. 3 in rushing defense, No. 7 in pass defense efficiency and No. 6 in total defense. He coached 16 All-Conference players, three First Team All-Americans and a two-time Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
In his first season as a college defensive coordinator in 2013 at Augustana, Dickert’s defense ranked No. 20 in the nation at the NCAA Division II level in scoring defense, giving up only 19.5 points per game. Augustana ranked second in the NSIC in pass defense, third in rushing defense and third in total defense. He coached five All-Conference players at Augustana.
In 2012, he served as the defensive backs coach at Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks ranked
No. 18 in the nation in turnovers gained (25 total) and No. 23 in interceptions (13 total). Southeast Missouri State ranked No. 2 in the Ohio Valley Conference in pass defense. Dickert also coached a First Team All-Conference strong safety at Southeast Missouri.
Dickert spent the 2011 season as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach at South Dakota, where the Coyotes ranked No. 2 in the Great West Conference in fewest passing yards allowed, pass defense efficiency and interceptions. He coached three All-Conference performers while at South Dakota. On special teams, the Coyotes ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in punting average and net punting and had an individual rank in the Top 10 in punt return yards.
He joined the North Dakota State coaching staff in 2008 as a defensive graduate assistant on Bohl’s staff. In 2009 and 2010, he was elevated to serve as safeties coach for the Bison. The 2010 NDSU team advanced to the FCS National Quarterfinals.
Dickert began his college coaching career in 2007 as a defensive graduate assistant at his alma mater, Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
He played football at Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 2002-06. Dickert earned All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) honors as a wide receiver his senior season of 2006. He also was named his team’s Wide Receiver of the Year both his junior and senior seasons. UW-Stevens Point was twice ranked in the nation’s Top 25 during his playing career.
Dickert earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary math education from Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2007, and completed his master’s degree in general education, also from UW-Stevens Point in 2009.
He and his wife, Candice, have three children, daughter Rylee and sons Jett and Jace.