March 23, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboy football team returned to the practice field on Tuesday, March 23 following a week off for the University's spring break. Tuesday's practice was the first of three this week for the Pokes, who will also practice on Thursday and Saturday. Tuesday's practice was in full pads and concluded with three, eight-minute periods of 11-on-11 as the Pokes build up to a Thursday practice that will include about 20 -25 plays of scrimmaging. On Saturday, the Cowboys will conduct the first of three full-fledged scrimmages for the spring. It will begin at 9 a.m.
"Today was about what I expected after coming back from a week off," said Christensen. "We started out strong. There were some good hits. The intensity level and enthusiasm were there. We were a little sluggish at the end, but that is just being on break. I expect by Thursday that we'll start to get our wind and our legs back. I thought overall we practiced pretty well today, and it should crank up on Thursday when we get some live scrimmage plays in practice.
"Our kids have worked extremely hard in our winter-conditioning program, and hopefully they took the seven or eight days they had off to relax and reenergize. Thursday, we'll try and give them each about 25 scrimmage plays apiece and then Saturday get about 50 scrimmage plays. We just want to focus on getting better each time we come out here in the spring."
When asked about some offensive lineman practicing at different positions on Tuesday, Christensen said that they were experimenting with a number of different combinations and would continue to experiment throughout spring.
"We're trying players at a different spots on the offensive line," said Christensen. "We'll be shuffling guys around as we had three offensive linemen graduate. You'll see a lot of guys moving around this spring as we try and find the best combination."
Through four spring practices, the second-year head coach is pleased with where his team.
"I think our competition level has increased dramatically from when we started spring a year ago," said Christensen. "We're a much faster, physical team than we were a year ago, and I think we've established some strong practice habits, which I've seen in each of our first four practices this spring. They were all energetic, upbeat practices."
UW began the spring by holding three of their 15 practices prior to spring break. Christensen said that there are several reasons he likes spreading out spring practice.
"The biggest advantages in splitting spring practice around spring break is in keeping players healthy and in teaching," said Christensen. "Spreading spring out as long as we are allowed gives us the advantage of never having to schedule padded practices on back-to-back days. We meet with our players on non-practice days as much as we can to focus on teaching on those meeting days."
As Christensen and his staff prepare the Cowboys for their first scrimmaging of the spring, he and his coaches will be looking to evaluate all the players on the roster -- veterans, as well as young players.
"The competition at every position is what we will be looking for in the scrimmages," said Christensen. "This is the time of year when redshirts from a year ago or other players who weren't on the depth chart have a chance to show us what they are capable of and how they've improved. There are a number of positions where we had seniors graduate, so we now have to establish who can help us either as a starter or provide us depth at a number of spots."
One player has left the squad since the beginning of spring practice. That player is walk-on running back Lorne Bridgford, who transferred to UW in the fall of 2009 from Central Washington University.