2010 Football Season Opens for Wyoming Cowboys As They Complete First Fall Practice

Aug. 5, 2010


First Fall Practice Photo Gallery

The Wyoming Cowboys officially opened preparation for the 2010 football season on Thursday when they conducted their first practice of fall drills, beginning on the grass practice field south of War Memorial Fieldhouse and concluding in the Indoor Practice Facility.

"I was pleased. I thought it was a good practice," said Dave Christensen, University of Wyoming head football coach "We got a lot of individual work done today. The intensity level was good, and the speed at which we practiced was very good.

"We had 44 new guys out here practicing with us for the first time today. These first couple of days, we're just trying to teach them good practice habits."

Thursday's practice saw the Cowboys practice in helmets but no pads to conform with NCAA rules requiring an acclimation period prior to teams progressing into full-padded practices.

"We had 44 new guys out here practicing with us for the first time today. These first couple of days, we're just trying to teach them good practice habits."
UW Head Coach Dave Christensen

The first day's practice focused on fundamentals throughout with players working with their individual position coaches on a number of skill drills.

About an hour and a half into practice lightning forced the Cowboys inside.

Shortly after moving inside, the Cowboys moved into a group period of 7-on-7 passing drills, pitting the receivers and backs against the defensive secondary and linebackers.

Highlighting the 7-on-7 session were four interceptions by the defense. Senior cornerback Marcell Gipson intercepted one pass, as did his brother, junior cornerback Tashaun Gipson. True freshmen Marqueston Huff, a cornerback, and Oliver Schober, a linebacker, also picked off one pass each.

The final period of the day featured a 10-minute period of 11-on-11, with the No. 1 offense running a set of pre-scripted plays versus the No. 1 defense. The No. 2 units from both offense and defense also ran through a series of pre-scripted plays, as did the No. 3 units from both sides of the ball.

During the 11-on-11 team period, the Cowboy offense executed a number of successful plays. Sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels hit senior wide receiver David Leonard on an 11-yard pass for a first down. Carta-Samuels also scrambled for 13 yards and a first down. Senior quarterback Dax Crum hit sophomore wide receiver Chris McNeill on two good gains -- one a 20-yarder and the other a 14-yard completion in which McNeill made a nice diving catch. Sophomore running back Alvester Alexander broke loose on a 25-yard run, while freshman running back Nehemie Kankolongo had a nice 14-yard run up the middle.

Redshirt freshman running back Tedder Easton (22) stretches to make a catch during Thursday afternoon's practice.

When asked about freshman Kankolongo running with the No. 1 offense and sophomore Alexander running with the No. 2 unit, Christensen said the running back position was one of many open for competition.

"Nehemie (Kankolongo) was No. 1 on the depth chart last spring before he hurt his knee, and you don't lose your starting spot because of injury," said Christensen. "But we know Alvester (Alexander) is a good football player and that position, like all of our positions, are open for competition.

"We're starting to develop depth where we have two quality guys at several positions. We have more depth and more skilled athletes across the board. Competition should be very good throughout this fall camp, and competition only makes you better."

Thursday's practice was the first time the coaching staff got a look at their 2010 team since spring practice ended on April 17. It was also the first time the Cowboy coaches saw their entire 2010 recruiting class in uniform.

"It was nice to see all of our guys back on the field," said Christensen. "When you have some new guys like Oliver (Schober) out here making plays, getting an interception and seeing the way he moves in the box it's exciting."

One player who returned to the practice field for the first time since being injured in the Colorado State game last season was sophomore wide receiver David Tooley. Tooley suffered a knee injury making a key catch in Wyoming's 17-16 win over CSU to end the regular-season and send the Cowboys to the New Mexico Bowl. The injury and surgery that followed caused Tooley to miss the bowl game and miss all of spring practice. Christensen was asked about Tooley's progress.

"Part of the process when you have surgery as serious as his is getting your confidence back," said Christensen. "I pulled him out at the end of practice today. We'll get him a little more work tomorrow, and then I think by next Monday or Tuesday he'll be full go. You've got to get your confidence back when you suffer an injury, and the only way to do that is to test it."

There were two Cowboys who switched positions between the end of spring practice to the first day of fall drills. Junior James Davis moved back to his original position of running back after experimenting at wide receiver last spring, and redshirt freshman Andrew Meredith switched back to defensive back after experimenting at running back in the spring.

Two members of the 2010 recruiting class who didn't make it academically and so are not on the Cowboy roster are junior college cornerback Austin Daniels and freshman running back Evan Williams

The first week of 2010 fall drills will feature one practice per day. Friday's and Saturday's practices will be at 8:45 a.m. Practices are open to the public. Media Day will be held on Saturday, Aug. 7 from noon to 3:30 p.m.

A "Fan Appreciation Day" will be held Saturday following Media Day from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium. The "Fan Appreciation Day" will give Cowboy fans a chance to come out and meet the players and coaches and get autographs during that hour.

All 2010 fall practices for the Cowboys are scheduled for the practice field south of War Memorial Fieldhouse and are open to the public. Wyoming's four scheduled scrimmages of the fall will be in War Memorial Stadium. On inclement days, the Cowboys will practice in the Indoor Practice Facility.