Wyoming Cowboys Begin Spring Drills On Thursday

March 22, 2000

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

University of Wyoming headfootball coach Vic Koenning will welcome back 12 returning starters and atotal of 37 returning lettermen when spring practice kicks off for theCowboys on Thursday, March 23.

Koenning, who had served as Wyoming's defensive coordinator the pastthree seasons, enters his first spring drills as a head coach. The 40-yearold head coach is encouraged by the enthusiasm his team has shown coming outof winter conditioning.

"I thought everyone got on the same page during winterconditioning," said Koenning. "The team, as a whole, took their effort toanother level. It was fun to watch them push themselves to a point they hadnot been before."

A total of 81 student-athletes will take part in spring practice.Some notable returnees who will see only limited action in the spring due tooffseason surgeries are senior safety Al Rich, senior noseguard Jeff Boyleand junior defensive end Pat Hirsch. All three returning starters will seelimited action in position drills, but will not take part in any contactdrills. Rich underwent offseason surgery on his shoulder. Boyle underwentknee surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament hurt in the fourth gameof last season against Idaho. Hirsch is also recovering from offseason kneesurgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament torn in the second game oflast season against Weber State. One player who will miss all of springpractice is junior offensive guard Brian Johnson, who suffered a rupturedpatella tendon in weight training during the winter.

The NCAA allows 15 days of spring football practice. Three of thosepractices must not involve any contact drills. Four practices may includelimited contact but no tackling. Eight days of practice allows contact withtackling, and of those eight days of contact, three may include full-scalescrimmages.

Koenning said the first two days of spring ball, on Thursday andFriday, will focus on the offensive and defensive units working separately-- the offense and defense will not face off until the first day of contactdrills on Saturday, March 25.

Entering his first year as a head coach, Koenning commented on whathe hopes to accomplish in the spring.

"This will be a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary spring for us, at leaston the defensive side of the ball, because we have several key players whowon't be participating in spring practice," said Koenning. "We have as manyas 10 individuals, between injured players and new players coming in thefall, that we expect to challenge for significant playing time on ourdefense next season.

"In the future, we hope that we can set the foundation for ourfootball team in the spring,and I think we will be able to do that somewhat offensively this year."

Koenning did add that a positive aspect for the younger players onthe squad entering spring is that they are going to get an opportunity toshow the new Wyoming coaching staff what they can do.

"The younger players will get a lot more reps this spring because ofthe players who aren't available to practice," said Koenning. "This is agreat opportunity for some of those young guys to impress us. We don'texpect the young guys to be dominant players right away, but it's importantthat they show steady improvement."

While he said that the structure of spring drills would not bedramatically different from his previous three seasons at UW, one facet ofspring practice that he does want to improve upon is increasing the tempo ofthe practices.

The Cowboys will practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week,with Saturday being the first day of full contact drills. They will takeSunday off and resume practice on Monday. Spring practice will conclude onSaturday, April 15 with the annual Spring Game in War Memorial Stadium. TheSpring Game will be open to the public.