Wyoming Cowboys Complete First Fall Practice on Tuesday Morning

Aug. 6, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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Perfect weather welcomed the Wyoming Football team on Tuesday morning as the Cowboys completed their first practice of fall camp. With temperatures in the high 70s on a bright sunny morning, 103 Cowboys took the field on UW's South Practice Field at 8:45 a.m.

Following Tuesday's first practice, fifth-year head coach Dave Christensen met with the media to talk about the opening practice.

"I liked the energy level and intensity I saw out there today," said Christensen. "We did drop too many balls today, but we'll get that fixed. I thought overall the effort was there.

"We'll get in and watch the video for about four hours and begin to evaluate everyone. We practice so fast, that it is really hard to evaluate everything while the practice is going on because we don't slow down."

One of the positions on the team that will be watched closely in fall camp is the center position where junior-college transfer Albert Perez is pencilled in as the starter. Perez arrived on campus in July, and Tuesday was his first practice with the team.

"I was pleased with what I saw from Albert (Perez) today," said Christensen. "I didn't see a bad snap, in fact I saw all good snaps. I saw good speed and quickness from him. He is real athletic, and I feel good about him. Again, we'll watch the tape and get a better idea, but he certainly has come in and shown a good understanding of our schemes. He is a real intelligent football player -- very savvy and smart. That helps a lot when you are coming in and trying to pick things up in a short amount of time."

On the defensive side of the ball, Christensen was asked to comment on his veteran secondary.

"I'm of course watching the offense during practice, since I'm calling the plays," said Christensen. "But I think we do have a lot of really good athletes back there, competing. I'm anxious to get in and see the film and see how they performed today.

"I think there will be great competition in the secondary. We have four to six guys who can play corner and compete there and about the same amount at safety. It is just a matter of finding out who the top guys are and let them compete everyday."

One of the big changes to college football rules this coming season is the so-called "targeting" rule, which is being implemented to try and reduce injuries, particularly to the head and neck of players, by eliminating use of the helmet in tackling. Christensen was asked if he and his staff had already begun the process of educating their players in regard to the new rule.

"It is probably the biggest change that has happened to college football in quite some time," said Christensen. "There is a teaching video out that the NCAA and officials have put together, which we have watched as a coaching staff and discussed. We will do the same with our players, and try to teach them the proper way to tackle. You can still be very physical and make big hits, but you have to do it the right way -- between the waist and the shoulder pads -- and so we are going to coach them that way."

Leading the Wyoming offense for the third consecutive season will be junior quarterback Brett Smith, who has been named to the 2013 Manning Award Watch List for the second year in a row. Christensen was asked to evaluate of his junior quarterback following Tuesday's practice.

"Brett was sharp today. His arm looked real good -- strong," said Christensen. "I thought he made good decisions. I'll analyze the film as things move a lot slower there, but I was pleased with the way he came out and the way he is throwing the football."

The Cowboys will practice again at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, leading up to their first scrimmage on Sunday at 10 a.m. The fifth-year head coach of the Cowboys was asked what his goals were for his team in preparation for that first scrimmage of fall camp.

"From an offensive standpoint, we will probably have about 95 percent of the offense in after day four," said Christensen. "Early in fall camp, we are going to rep, rep, rep, rep, rep and just continue to get better at what we are doing and fine tune everyday, along with continuing to work on improving practice habits. We will get into shoulder pads for a couple days (Thursday and Friday), so we'll get used to hitting and then get into full pads on Saturday. Sunday, it will be about time to see what guys can do and give us a better idea of what we need to work on from that point on."

Captains Named for 2013 Season
Christensen announced on Tuesday the four team captains that were selected in a vote by the team. The two defensive captains selected are senior free safety Marqueston Huff and senior defensive lineman Patrick Mertens. On offense, senior offensive guard Tyler Strong and junior quarterback Brett Smith were selected as 2013 captains. The three seniors were each selected as team captains for the first time in their careers. Smith was also voted a team captain as a sophomore last season.

"It's a great honor for me to have my team vote me as a captain," said Mertens. "It is probably one of the more special things that has happened in my life, and I'm honored to be selected to help lead our team."

"It feels even better to know that the selection was based on a vote of my teammates," said Smith. "That is the best part about it -- that it was voted on by the team."

Position Changes
A couple players have changed positions since 2013 Spring Practice. Junior Riley Lange of Parker, Colo., has moved from the offensive side of the ball, where he played Tight End/H-Back the past two seasons, to the defensive side of the line of scrimmage, where he will play Defensive End. Lange has played in each of Wyoming's last 25 games, dating back to the first game of his redshirt freshman season. He has five career starts to his credit. Freshman Oscar Nevermann joined the Cowboy Football program last spring from Stockholm, Sweden. He worked with the wide receivers last spring, but has since been moved to running back.

New Faces
In addition to members of the 2013 signing class that was announced last February, a couple of late signees also went through their first practice as Cowboys on Tuesday. Those two late signees are: Tyran Finley, a junior-college transfer from Contra Costa Community College in California; and Jarrod Darden, a transfer from the University of Colorado. Both Finley and Darden were on campus this summer and participated in summer conditioning drills.

Finley, a cornerback, is originally from Birmingham, Ala. He earned First Team Region III All-California honors from the California Community College Football Coaches Association as a sophomore in 2012, and intercepted nine passes last season.

Darden, a wide receiver, graduated from CU this past year, but had one year of eligibility remaining and chose to transfer to Wyoming.

This fall's Cowboy Football practices are open to media and the public. Photos and video are allowed for the first 30 minutes of each practice.

Three fall scrimmages are scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 11 at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 8:45 a.m. and are open for both the public and media. Media will be allowed to shoot photos and video of all of the three scrimmages from the sidelines.

2013 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 6: 8:45 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #1)
Wednesday, Aug. 7: 8:45 a.m. (Non-contact, Practice #2)
Thursday, Aug. 8: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Friday, Aug. 9: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4), 1:00 p.m. (Media Day)
Saturday, Aug. 10: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Sunday, Aug. 11: 10:00 a.m. (Scrimmage #1, Practice #6)
Monday, Aug. 12: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #7), 3:45 p.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #8)
Tuesday, Aug. 13: No Practice
Wednesday, Aug. 14: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #9), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #10)
Thursday, Aug. 15: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #11)
Friday, Aug. 16: 8:45 a.m. (Shells, Practice #12), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #13)
Saturday, Aug. 17: 10:00 a.m. (Scrimmage #2, Practice #14)
Sunday, Aug. 18: No Practice
Monday, Aug. 19: 8:45 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #15), 3:45 p.m. (Shells, Practice #16)
Tuesday, Aug. 20: 8:45 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #17)
Wednesday, Aug. 21: 8:45 a.m. (Scrimmage #3, Practice #18)
Thursday, Aug. 22: No Practice
Friday, Aug. 23: Begin Regular-Season Practice Schedule
Monday, Aug. 26: First Day of School, 3:00 p.m. (First Monday Press Conference of Season)