Wyoming’s OC bringing energy, emotion to re-engineered offense
LARAMIE -- Wyoming's first-year offensive coordinator fancies himself as quite the cook.
On Twitter, Tim Polasek often shows off his menu for the evening, which includes pork belly burnt ends, ribs and chicken wings, among other delicacies for carnivores.
He smokes. He grills. He even tosses some things straight into the oven.
Another one of Polasek's specialties is the New York strip steak.
What's his secret?
"A key to the perfect steak is a really hot grill early on and then low and slow the rest of the way," he said with a smile.
The real question is: what will be the key to finally bringing a balanced offensive attack to Laramie?
"Just getting our weapons the football in areas where they can do stuff with the ball," Polasek added. "That's about as simple as I can say it. Those are the things that we're trying to do."
Wyoming opened its fall camp Friday in Laramie. This day can serve as a learning experience, from forming a huddle to lining up in correct spots. Not for this veteran-laden squad.
In the past, camp was the time to get into shape. That's an antiquated way of doing business these days. Polasek said it is evident this crop of players put in plenty of work in the offseason.
The quicker the fundamentals are picked up, the faster the Cowboys can get to business. That started early today. Polasek said the carry over from spring is apparent.
What will make this offense successful, Polasek said, is doing the little things right.
"You know, a key for us offensively I think is staying true to who this program is -- being tough, physically and then being tough mentally -- being a disciplined outfit," Polasek added. "That's not sexy to talk about, but the more you do look at successful football teams, they don't turn the ball over and they don't hurt themselves."
Yes, the Cowboys are still going to rely on the running game. It will still be the featured attraction on Saturdays in Laramie. Expect plenty of footballs in the bellies of Xazavian Valladay and Trey Smith. But imagine what adding a passing element could do for this group and its chances of unseating Boise State in the rugged Mountain Division.
Is Sean Chambers the guy to get that done?
So far, Polasek likes what he sees.
"I think Sean is a gifted guy. I think Sean is a great athlete," he said. "I think everybody in our room that is a quarterback, you got to make your mind up and say, 'this is really important to me that I'm a really good quarterback -- not just an athlete, not just a thrower -- and take complete ownership of the offense.'
"We want those guys to be the CEO of the offense."
How about Levi Williams?
"He's an unbelievable worker," he said. "I think he's motivated to be the best he can be -- for the group. I think him and Sean both see themselves in a competitive situation. However it shakes out, I have the full expectation that they'll both embrace their roles and do what they have to do for that role to affect the offense in a positive fashion."
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Polasek said the terminology of the playbook hasn't changed much. It's how the offense goes about its business that features the biggest difference. Words like "energy" and "emotion" have been tossed around since spring. It's on display daily.
"I would think it would be different," he said. "Just my mentality, my personality is so different than Brent's (Vigen), who did a good job here. But what my expectation of what I want to see from a practice standpoint probably does raise the level of anxiety a little bit ... That's kind of who I am."
Even the defense has taken notice.
"You know, it's a lot of moving pieces -- a lot," middle linebacker Charles Hicks said. "I feel like that helps us because it's going to make other teams way easier to play. Going against them though every day, it's not easy just to play certain formations. There was a formation today where I'm like, 'what formation is this?' It's crazy."
Williams, who is currently No. 2 on the depth chart at quarterback, said this new offense will feature the tight ends, different wide receivers and the running backs. That doesn't sound out of the norm.
It has been around here.
Last fall, in six games, tight ends -- Treyton Welch, Nate Weinman, Jackson Marcotte and Parker Christensen -- combined to catch 12 passes for 184 yards and zero touchdowns. Williams completed just 16 passes to guys out of the backfield. Valladay and Smith tallied 123 total yards and zero touchdowns.
Five different wide outs caught a pass last year. Ayden Eberhardt led the way with 16 grabs for 252 yards, 132 of which came in a single game. He caught, you guessed it, zero touchdowns.
Friday marked the beginning of Eberhardt's sixth training camp in his UW career. He said he took a peek at the clock at the Cowboys' first practice today and it was nearly over already.
"My favorite part is, I would say the emotion that we're all playing with right now, and the emotion that we are building up in practice," he said. "Everyone is pumped up about a play or going quick, different things like that ... This is fun. This has been really awesome."
While Polasek isn't showing his hand or sharing his playbook and strategies with the world quite yet, bet on one thing this fall -- nothing will be for lack of trying.
"You feel his presence," senior offensive guard Logan Harris said. "... He's really good. He's a really good teacher and coach."