April 3, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
With one week of spring training under its belt, Wyoming is a much improved football team, according to its head coach.
That was the pronouncement of Joe Glenn after his Cowboys completed their fifth practice of the training period Saturday afternoon.
With a blustry southeast wind making conditions miserable, the Pokes practiced for two-and-a-half hours. They were not quite as sharp as they had been in the previous four outings, according to the head man, and he blamed the conditions.
"You probably couldn't tell it by today's practice, but we have had an excellent spring thus far," Glenn says. "I thought for the first time the weather affected us a little, and we have had three tough days weather-wise. The football gods seem to be mad at us," he grinned. "It was pretty tough to throw and catch out there today.
"Are we a better football team? Without a measuring stick--we don't have a game to use as one--yes, we are improved. In terms of our strength and speed, and our understanding of what we want done, we are better. How much? Couldn't tell you until Sept. 4. But we all know this is a better football team than we were a year ago.
"I have a great deal of confidence in the team culture," Glenn says. "After one week, I would have to say I'm cautiously optimistic, and that's heavy on the optimistic.
"I can tell you that these guys are getting better every time we take the field because they want to learn, they want to get better. We are putting in a few new wrinkles, and it's certainly easier to add things when the core is already in place. These guys understand what we want done, and therefore it's easier to make subtle changes."
Even though the Cowboys limit the hitting during spring training, their toughness is not questioned by the head coach. "We're not worried about their heart and toughness," Glenn says. "These guys will be tough enough when the time comes. I certainly don't need to have a bunch of them on the sideline (with injury) during the most important learning phase of the season. A group can improve their tackling without beating each other up. I know this, we are aiming at the center of the bullseye, not just the bullseye. Our spring philosophy is to learn the system, and turn in the equipment at the end of the 20 days, healthy."
There are a number of things going on that has put a smile on Glenn's face. The play of Corey Bramlet at quarterback is one of those things. The running back and receiver situation, the improvement of the offensive and defensive lines, and the advancements in the secondary are all very positive, according to the head coach.
"Corey looks comfortable out there. He looks good on the horse, as they say. He's tall in the saddle. He's poised and comfortable. If he hadn't have looked like that as we started spring ball, I would have been worried. But he looks very good. The backup situation will be a battle. Each of those guys brings something different. We haven't settled on a backup yet. All of them are doing some good things."
Glenn continues to be impressed with the running back improvement, as well as at receiver. "I think we have an opportunity to be better at both spots," he says. "Right now there are six receivers who give us a very solid corps. We like what are running backs are doing as well."
The o-line is certainly bigger and stronger. "Chase (Johnson) is having a good camp," Glenn says. "At his size (6-8, 307, and only a sophomore), he has a chance to make a living at this game. Trenton (center Franz) is so smart, and such a good leader. We moved (Jason) Karcher to right guard (from tackle), and he's playing well. We've been impressed with the walkon Hunter Richards at tackle. He is about the same size as Chase, and he works so hard, especially in the weight room. He's doing a good job, and very definitely has a chance."
A couple of new faces on the defensive side have made an impact there, both along the defensive front. End Aaron Robbins, who moved from tight end, has an excellent shot at a starting role as does redshirt Dusty Hoffschneider at nose guard. Both have played exceptionally well. We are bigger, and have more depth up front on defense," Glenn says.
"I think we are solid at linebacker. Everybody there understands what we want. Randy (middle linebacker Tscharner) is a lot more comfortable. (Guy) Tuell is bigger, and looks good. I like what's happening in the secondary. A guy who is really coming along is John Wendling. He is very athletic, but he is bigger and stronger than he was a year ago. He's more confident, more aggressive. He's just a different player than he was last year. I think he is going to be a solid starter for us at free safety. I think he is one of the most improved athletes on the team."
The Cowboys will practice on Monday and Wednesday this week, in pads, then take Friday and Saturday off for Easter. Their two major scrimmages are scheduled for April 17, and April 24, which will be the spring finale.
"We are so much further down the road than we were last year," Glenn says. "We just won't know how much improved we are for another 154 days. . .the opener with Appalachian State (Sept. 4)."