Aug 7, 2013 - From staff reportsPerfect weather welcomed the Wyoming Cowboys football team on Tuesday morning as they 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.
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 practiced 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 every day."
, 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."
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