Aug. 9, 2005
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The beginning of fall practice couldn't have come soon enough for the Wyoming Cowboy Football team, and finally on Tuesday afternoon the Pokes took to the practice field for the first time in preparation for the 2005 campaign.
The excitement to begin fall practice stems from the fact that 19 of 24 starters return from last year's 7-5 Las Vegas Bowl Championship team.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, Sports Illustrated released its Preseason Top 25 rankings, in which Wyoming was selected No. 25. The Cowboys were the only Mountain West Conference school picked in SI's Preseason Top 25. Two-time defending National Champion USC was picked No. 1 by Sports Illustrated. Wyoming's 2005 season-opening opponent, Florida, was ranked No. 3 in the preseason ranking.
The last time Wyoming was ranked in the Top 25 at any point of a college football season was the 1998 campaign when the Pokes reached the No. 25 spot in both the Associated Press media poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll during the season. The last time Wyoming ended a season in the Top 25 was the 1996 season when UW finished No. 22 in both AP and USA Today with a 10-2 record.
Head Coach Joe Glenn and his staff put the Cowboys through two hours of practice Tuesday on the practice field south of War Memorial Stadium. That was Wyoming's traditional practice location up until five years ago when the football team shifted practices to the North Forty, a block north and west of War Memorial Stadium.
The practice was what you would expect from the first day of fall drills. Players wore only helmets, jerseys and shorts -- no pads. The practice focused on individual skill development, limited team drills and indoctrination of freshman into their first week of college football.
"You have to go as if you have pads on," said UW's third-year head coach Glenn. "But you have to be smart about it and not hit each other. We're not here to beat up Wyoming.
"These early practices are all about install, install, install. Installing our systems is at breakneck speed for everyone -- our offense, defense and special teams. We're going 100 miles an hour right now."
In terms of injuries on the first day, Glenn mentioned that sophomore tight end Wade Betschart will have to have a knee looked at by trainers after suffering a sprain in the first day of drills.
When asked about the running back position, which is one of the few positions undecided entering the fall, Glenn said, "I thought the tailbacks all ran hard today. It's just hard to tell what a running back can really do until you start tackling and see how they can break tackles, cut, run to daylight and pass protect. But they all showed athleticism, some speed and quickness. I think we have some athletes there, but I sure would like to see Ivan (Harrison) and Joseph (Harris) out there. Until they get healthy we've got five to six guys working hard to earn playing time."
Both Harrison and Harris went through offseason surgery. Harrison had his right knee and right shoulder operated on, while Harris had his left knee scoped.
Coach Glenn also mentioned that the day is coming soon when the Cowboys will begin practicing on the new artificial turf surface in War Memorial Stadium. Installation of the Desso Challenge Pro 60 artificial surface is nearing completion, and Coach Glenn and his team are anxious to get on the new field.
"We look forward to getting in our stadium and start pounding down the rubber on that new turf," said Glenn. "We've been told we could be in War Memorial Stadium either tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday. That will be a great thing for us to be able to practice on the field we play our games on. We will use it mostly for team drills during the season. The south practice field will be used each day for individual position work."
Wyoming will continue with one practice a day on Wednesday through Sunday. Practice times on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday will be 3:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, the team will practice at 9:15 a.m., with the annual Wyoming Media Day to be held on Friday afternoon.
Two-a-day practices will begin Monday, Aug. 15 with practices at 9:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next two weeks. Single-day practices will be held at 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. After Sunday, Aug. 14, the Pokes will not practice on the next two Sundays -- Aug. 21 and 28.
Two scrimmages are slated for the fall -- both on Wednesdays. The first scrimmage is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 10 a.m., and the second scrimmage is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.