Pokes Practice With Full Pads on Day Three

March 24, 2006

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

After two days of practices with no pads, the Wyoming Cowboy Football team donned full pads for the first time this spring on Friday. The NCAA allows 15 spring practices, of which three must be non-contact practices. The earliest a team can conduct a full-contact practice is the third practice of spring drills.

Friday afternoon's practice was held in perfect conditions on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium -- 47 degrees and sunny skies.

On the first day of full pads, the Cowboys' practice schedule shifted focus to include a larger number of offensive versus defensive team drills.

"Friday's and Saturday's practices will include more `O' versus `D' drills," said assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske. "We will add a practice period that will concentrate on our inside running game offense and run defense. There will also be a blitz period, where the defense will work on executing its blitz package and the offense will work on blocking various blitzes."

The inside running period featured nine offensive players -- linemen and backs -- against the front seven of the Cowboy defense -- defensive linemen and linebackers. In addition to the running game, the Pokes also ran their daily seven on seven passing drills, pitting the Cowboy receivers and backs against the linebackers and secondary.

While Friday was the first day of full pads, Breske emphasized that the full-padded practices would be "thud" practices, meaning that the tackling would prohibit taking players completely to the ground.

"These next two practices will have a faster pace to them , and will be more intense," said Breske. "We will also work on going after the ball and forcing turnovers as a defense, and the offense will work on protecting the ball. But we don't believe in taking players to the ground in spring practice. We want to prevent as many injuries as possible."

This year's spring roster includes only a few players totally new to the Cowboy Football program, unlike the start of fall drills when the bulk of the new signees join the program. Because of the smaller numbers during spring practice, returning players are able to get more repetitions.

"The spring does allow us to get our returning players a lot of reps," added Breske. "For example in the secondary, we have two junior cornerbacks in Julius Stinson and Michael Medina, who have both played for us the past two seasons, but they haven't played in starting roles. This spring they are getting a lot of reps, as are two young corners in T.J. Atwater (a redshirt freshman) and Marcel Gipson (a true freshman). These added reps are important for us, as coaches, to observe what our players are doing well and what they need to work on, and they are important for the players. The kids need to take advantage of this time.

"The other thing that the added reps in spring practice gives us is the opportunity to develop some depth at all of our positions. On defense, we feel like we will be three deep on the defensive line and at the linebacker position by the time spring ends."

The Cowboys will also practice at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.

On the injury front, junior wide receiver Michael Ford and sophomore linebacker Mike Neuhaus have both missed practice time this first week of spring drills due to hamstring strains. Ford has a strain to his right hamstring. Neuhaus strained the hamstring in his left leg.

Head coach Joe Glenn missed Friday's practice and will miss Saturday's practice, as well, as he was attending the funeral of his older brother, Mike, in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday.

Here is the updated schedule of practices for 2006 spring drills, with practice times. Practices are held on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium and are open to the public. Practices generally last approximately two hours.

2006 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule

Monday, March 20 3:15 p.m. (Non-contact)
Wednesday, March 22 3:15 p.m. (Non-contact)
Friday, March 24 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 11:00 a.m.
Monday, March 27 3:15 p.m.
Wednesday, March 29 3:15 p.m.
Friday, March 31 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, April 1 1:00 p.m. (Scrimmage)
Monday, April 3 3:15 p.m.
Wednesday, April 5 3:15 p.m.
Friday, April 7 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, April 8 TBA
Monday, April 10 3:15 p.m.
Wednesday, April 12 3:15 p.m. (Non-contact)
Thursday, April 13 6:30 p.m. (Spring Game)