Aug 11, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorFull pads was the story on Saturday at Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium as the Cowboys practiced in full pads for the first time this fall.
The offense enjoyed some good production from its quarterbacks and a number of receivers, while the defense stood out in a goal-line series late in the scrimmage.
Head coach Dave Christensen continued to be impressed with the strong effort he saw from his team during the first week of fall camp, but he encouraged his team to be more physical as Saturday's practice progressed.
"We were physical at times today, but it is something you have to do consistently," said Christensen. "We'll keep harping on it. Again it was the first day in pads. I was pleased with the effort out there. We just need to be a more physical football team."
The Cowboys competed in a number of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 situations during Saturday's practice. The offense generated 377 passing yards during those periods.
Junior quarterback Brett Smith, sophomore QB Jason Thompson and senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard each threw touchdown passes.
Smith hit junior wide receiver Trey Norman on a 15-yard TD strike during a 7-on-7 period. Smith then connected with senior wideout Robert Herron for a 10-yard touchdown during the same 7-on-7 period.
Thompson's touchdown pass was a 29-yarder to transfer wide receiver Jarrod Darden, during 7-on-7.
Darden transferred to UW from the University of Colorado this summer.
He completed his bachelor's degree at CU with one year of college eligibility remaining, so will be eligible to play for the Cowboys this season.
Kirkegaard's TD pass was the longest of the day, a 54-yarder, and was also caught by Darden, during an 11-on-11 period.
Darden's 83 total receiving yards on those two TD receptions led the Pokes.
Norman had six total catches for 45 yards and one TD on the day.
All of his catches were on passes thrown by Smith. Redshirt freshman Nico Brown also caught six passes to tie Norman for the team high. Brown tallied 82 total receiving yards, with five of his six catches being on passes thrown by Thompson. Brown's other reception was a 46-yarder from Smith.
Other notable receivers on the day, included junior Jalen Claiborne (3 catches for 43 yards), junior Dominic Rufran (3 receptions for 26 yards), redshirt freshman Tanner Simpson (3 catches for 20 yards) and Herron, who caught one pass for 10 yards on the TD throw from Smith.
The defense stood out in the final period of Saturday's practice -- a goal-line period. With the ball placed at the defense's nine-yard line, the No. 1 offense faced the No. 1 defense, the No. 2 offense faced the No. 2 defense and the No. 3 offense was matched up against the No. 3 defense. The defense consistently kept the offense out of the end zone to conclude the day's nearly two-hour practice.
The Cowboys defense also had a couple young defensive backs step up with big plays on Saturday. Redshirt freshman strong safety Cortland Fort intercepted Thompson on a long pass to the end zone during a 7-on-7 drill.
True freshman strong safety Xavier Lewis intercepted Smith on a tipped pass during an 11-on-11 period.
Christensen commented on the two young defensive backs after Saturday's practice, and added that he was looking forward to seeing all the young Pokes in their first scrimmage on Sunday.
Absolutely, they're (Cortland Fort and Xavier Lewis) competing well and the competition level is rising," said Christensen.
"We'll get to see some of those young guys live tomorrow, so I'm excited about that."
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.