Cowboys to Practice in Full Pads for the First Time on Friday

Aug. 7, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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The Wyoming Cowboys concluded their fourth fall practice on Thursday, and following the practice head coach Craig Bohl began his address to the media by commenting on progress he's seen from the Cowboy quarterbacking corps.

"Today was our second day in half pads, and we're making progress," said Bohl. "We are pleased with our quarterback progress. I think we've gotten better there. Tommy (Thornton) is our No. 2 guy there, but he did some good things today.

"Colby (Kirkegaard) is of course a mature guy. Even though he's had to operate in different offenses here, he is a fifth-year guy and his maturity comes into play. The other thing is Colby takes coaching well, and he owns his mistakes. Many times the quarterback position has so many other people that function around them, and human nature sometimes says to point fingers at somebody else. Colby's attitude is he is ultimately in charge of this group and if something goes wrong that comes back on him, so we've appreciated his leadership.

"Colby has also done a good job of learning our offense, and Brent Vigen (UW offensive coordinator) has done a good job with him teaching him our offense, which is complicated."

Bohl was asked if he and his staff had made any other early evaluations at the quarterback position, with seven QBs in camp.

"We have," said Bohl. "Sam Stratton -- we'll still have him at quarterback, but he'll probably take on some other roles on our football team, as well. We looked at our two young quarterbacks -- Austin Fort and Nick Smith -- and gave them a few more repetitions today. What does help is we double rep, and there is no better learning tool for a quarterback than doing 11-on-11 work, so by having two teams going all the time it helps not only the quarterbacks but all the young players.

"I think both of our freshmen quarterbacks are a little bit further along than what a lot of freshmen are. They're both very bright, and that was indicated from their high school transcripts. Sometimes that doesn't automatically transfer to the football field, but in this case both of them are bright football players. They see things well, but nonetheless this is not a simple offense for the quarterback. This is a pro-style offense. They will have to garner a lot of knowledge, but so far they're doing a nice job with that."

As the Cowboys prepare for their first full-padded practice on Friday, Bohl was asked if the approach to the first full-padded practice would change dramatically.

"We will have a little bit more contact, but what we don't try to do is change things drastically," said Bohl. "Just because we're in full pads, we don't want to make it a hit fest. We're going to try to continue to improve, continue to install elements of our offense, defense and kicking game. What you find, unlike the days when I played, is when you get guys out there going full speed you're going to get guys banged up and hurt. We're really mindful to try and prevent injuries and focus on installing our systems and teach the fundamentals, as opposed to just having guys bashing each other."

The first-year head coach was also asked if there were any other young players who he had seen yet, who might be able to help the Cowboys this coming season.

"Typically you might find guys in the secondary (defensive backs), who may be able to step in as young players and play in a backup position and play a part in covering kicks and playing on special teams," said Bohl. "We are a little bit aways from making those decisions, but our special teams coach, AJ Cooper, has been culling through our depth chart as we've started to install, and we're starting to project (who might be able to help us). But those decisions will come at the back end of camp.

"I can tell you this, we are encouraged by some of the athleticsm of some of our freshmen at the skill positions."

On the defensive side of the ball, Bohl once again praised the performance thus far of some of his veteran defensive tackles.

"Patrick Mertens has had a really good fall camp, and Troy (Boyland) has done a nice job of backing him up," said Bohl. "That is a place where we will have to grow some young talent for depth.

"I think we'll have to continue to look through our squad to add depth at linebacker. We will lose a lot of linebackers next year, so we've got to start developing depth there, as well."

Bohl updated the media on some early injuries after Thursday morning's practice.

"We're not in full contact yet, but Nathan Leddige, who we had targeted as our starting left tackle, went down with a concussion today. I don't know the severity of it yet, but we'll take a cautious approach in bringing him back. The young Stanton (Joshua Stanton, younger brother of senior linebacker Jordan Stanton) does not have a torn Achilles, as we originally were afraid of. They (the athletic trainers) don't know exactly what the injury is yet, but it is positive that it isn't his Achilles."

The first 30 minutes of morning practices will be open to media and the general public. Student-athletes and coaches will be available for interviews with the media Mondays-Saturdays after morning fall practices. The Cowboys will utilize War Memorial Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility for fall drills.

2014 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule

Monday, Aug. 4 - 9:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets, Practice #1) | 1-2 p.m. (Media Day Luncheon in Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites) | 2-3 p.m. (Media Day Interviews on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium)
Tuesday, Aug. 5 - 8:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets Practice #2)
Wednesday, Aug. 6 - 8:30 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Thursday, Aug. 7 - 8:30 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4)
Friday, Aug. 8 - 8:30 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Saturday, Aug. 9 - 8:30 a.m. (Practice #6) | 3:30 p.m. (Practice #7)
Sunday, Aug. 10 - 2:45 p.m. (Practice #8)
Monday, Aug. 11 - 9 a.m. (Practice #9) | 3:50 p.m. (Practice #10)
Tuesday, Aug. 12 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #11)
Wednesday, Aug. 13 - 9 a.m. (Practice #12) | 4 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, Aug. 14 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #14)
Friday, Aug. 15 - 9 a.m. (Practice #15) | 4:20 p.m. (Practice #16)
Saturday, Aug. 16 - 11 a.m. (Closed Scrimmage, Practice #17)
Sunday, Aug. 17 - No Practice
Monday, Aug. 18 - 8:20 a.m. (Practice #18) | 2:50 p.m. (Practice #19)
Tuesday, Aug. 19 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #20)
Wednesday, Aug. 20 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #21)
Thursday, Aug. 21 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #22)
Friday, Aug. 22 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #23)
Saturday, Aug. 23 - 11 a.m. (Practice #24)
Monday, Aug. 25 - First Weekly Press Conference at Noon