Jordan Bertagnole is making quite the first impression.
Wyoming wasn’t planning on having to rely on its freshman defensive lineman this much, but Bertagnole has answered the call so far this season. It’s the Casper native’s first extended playing time for the Cowboys after redshirting a year ago.
Bertagnole made the most of it Friday with the best showing of his young career.
After notching three tackles and a sack in his collegiate debut against Nevada, Bertagnole followed it up with seven tackles in the Cowboys’ 31-7 win over Hawaii. The 6-foot-4, 254-pounder also notched 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks — all career-highs — in helping UW limit the Warriors to 233 total yards.
“Bert did some exceptional things tonight,” UW coach Craig Bohl said.
A preferred walk-on from Natrona County High School, Bertagnole wasn’t expected to be a significant part of the rotation along the defensive front this season, but attrition has changed that. Defensive tackle Ravontae Holt rejoined the fold this fall after missing all of last season with an ACL injury, but nose tackle Mario Mora and top backup Claude Cole opted out because of medical concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
That elevated Bertagnole to a spot on the Cowboys’ two-deep entering the season, and UW’s depth on the interior was further depleted Friday when Holt left the game in the first half with an undisclosed injury. Bertagnole got the majority of the snaps the rest of the way, helping UW notch five sacks and hold the Warriors to just 4.1 yards per play.
“I always knew he had potential, and I think he really stepped up to the plate,” nose tackle Cole Godbout said. “We had two big guys opt out, and we didn’t know if Ravontae was going to be back. I think he really stepped up, and I think he’s had a huge impact for our team.”
Bohl said the team should get more information on the severity of Holt’s injury over the weekend, adding the Cowboys hope to have him back for Thursday’s game at Colorado State. If not, Bertagnole would likely make his first career start.