Aug. 16, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
University of Wyoming head football coach Vic Koenning is pleased with the way his Cowboys have practiced during their first week of fall drills. While the third-year head coach is quick to point out there is a lot of work ahead in two-a-day practices, he stated that he has seen some of the best practices of his UW tenure during this past week.
"Our practices on Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon were the best two practices I've seen since I've been here," said Koenning, who is entering his sixth year at UW -- three as defensive coordinator and three as head coach. "This group has given an outstanding effort throughout the first week. I like the aggressive attitude, and intensity this team has shown thus far. On Thursday, we had probably six skirmishes between players, and that was after three days of two-a-days. Even toward the end of Thursday's practice, players weren't letting up. They pushed through the heat in the afternoon, and maintained a high level of competition. When you have that type of competitive spirit between individuals it is going to make you a better football team."
Friday morning, the Cowboys practiced for two hours focusing on a variety of special down and distance situations, as well as red-zone and goal-line situations.
"In addition to those two great practices (Wednesday and Thursday), the kids did a good job of bouncing back on Friday morning, fighting through their fatigue and they had another good practice," said Koenning. "That is a very positive indication of the leadership on this team."
Among the veterans who have been providing much of that leadership, according to Koenning, are senior defensive lineman Jon Aimone, senior offensive lineman Rob Kellerman and junior wide receiver Ryan McGuffey. Koenning also said that the offensive line as a group has provided much of the early leadership.
"The offensive line is a group that I have challenged extremely hard," said Koenning. "They have responded to that challenge. They're developing the kind of tough, hard-nosed attitude that I think will be necessary for us to be successful offensively."
The three practices on Wednesday morning, Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were all conducted in full pads. The Pokes were scheduled to practice Friday afternoon in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) prior to the first scrimmage of the fall to be held Saturday morning.
Saturday's scrimmage will be held in War Memorial Stadium at 9:30 a.m. The scrimmage is closed to the public.
The Saturday scrimmage will include approximately 100-110 plays. Koenning said that he wants to give both the No. 1 and No. 2 offense about 45 plays each during Saturday's scrimmage. The scrimmage will pit the No. 1 offense versus the No. 2 defense and No. 2 offense versus the No. 1 defense.
The defense started fall practice a little bit ahead of the offense, according to the head coach, but the offense has begun to impress as several of the veterans on offense have stepped up.
"Early on in camp, I think the defense was having its way with the offense, a little bit," said Koenning. "But as veterans like Malcom Floyd, Ryan McGuffey and Brock Ralph have been cleared by the doctors and trainers to do more, the offense has definitely made a move."
Floyd, McGuffey and Ralph were all held out of drills last spring due to injury.
The development of the running backs has been another area that has strengthened the offense, says Koenning.
"As our running backs have begun to develop, the offense has picked it up a level," added Koenning. "Leonard Jones is having a really good camp. I thought he would give us an added dimension with his allusiveness, but he has made an impact even sooner than we had expected. We have four running backs right now that are doing a nice job and are competing for playing time."
Jones started six of 11 games at wide receiver for the Cowboys as a sophomore in 2001. He had 23 receptions for 221 yards. But in high school, Jones was an outstanding running back at Montbello High School in Denver, Colo. His senior year of high school, Jones rushed for 2,164 yards and set a state of Colorado single-game record with 584 yards rushing against George Washington High School. He was a First Team All-State selection at running back.
The goal for Saturday's scrimmage is to simulate approximately half of a game, giving each unit 45-50 plays. The practice will include: special teams' coverage, special teams' returns, the offense coming out from its own 20-yard line and own 40-yard line and will conclude with two-minute drill situations.
The Cowboys are also planning on holding a closed scrimmage Wednesday, Aug. 21.