Monday, August 10, 2009

Barry fitting in at linebacker

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming redshirt freshman linebacker Adam Barry gets ready for a snap Monday in practice.

By Richard Anderson

Let’s see … get hit or doing the hitting? It’s looking like an obvious choice these days for redshirt freshman Adam Barry, the former quarterback turned linebacker.

During Monday’s practice that saw the Cowboys put on all of the pads, Barry got a couple of licks in and kind of liked it.

“I’m just glad I am not getting hit anymore and I’m actually going out hitting,” Barry said with a smile.

Third on the depth chart at quarterback coming out of spring drills at quarterback and not even counting two highly touted newcomers coming in with Austyn Carta-Samuels and Robert Benjamin, Barry saw the writing on the wall.

With head coach Dave Christensen describing him as a true football player because of his aggressiveness and physicality, Barry went to the coaching staff suggesting a move to the defensive side of the football.

“I’ve always liked contact. That has always been something that, as a person, even at quarterback, I’ve enjoyed the contact part of it. To actually be able to go out and do it now is pretty cool.”

Now 20 pounds heavier at 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds, Barry is fitting in at linebacker.

"It’s fun; I’m having a great time. I just have to keep working,” Barry said. “I have to keep getting that defensive mentality rather than just being a quarterback. I’ve turned into a linebacker, so it has been fun.”

Barry has always like to hit, playing linebacker through his sophomore year of high school. Maybe the biggest adjust is remembering that he is at linebacker and not quarterback.

“You just have to mentally prepare and realize that this is where I am at now and that this is what I want to do,” Barry said. “Everybody else on the first string defense or the second string, is doing a great job, so I am excited to see how our defense is doing this year."

Like many of the Cowboys on Monday, that first good hit or two got his juices flowing.

“I need a couple more to flip that switch. Like I said, I just have to get that quarterback mentality out of me and turn into a linebacker,” Barry said.

Walking off the field late Monday morning, Barry said it was a good day.

“Now we just have to keep getting after everybody each and every day,” he said.

Christensen thought it was a good day as well. After practicing Thursday and Friday without pads, the Cowboys put on the shoulder pads for Saturday and Sunday and did some limited popping.

There was plenty of intensity again on Monday.

The emphasis at the start of full-padded practices was being physical, and several of the drills in Monday’s practice reflected that. A combination of one-on-one blocking and tackling drills were present throughout the practice.

“We want to work on increasing the physicalness of our football team,” Christensen said.
“We’re doing more competitive drills now, and are trying to challenge the players to be more physical and competitive on both sides of the ball. Every one of our live drills, both offense and defense, will be scored to create competition. Obviously, when you’re in full pads you’re hoping to get a very, very physical practice.”

In one of the more competitive of those one-on-one drills, the Cowboy running backs and wide receivers faced off against the linebackers and defensive backs. In that drill, one offensive and one defensive player each laid on their backs with about five yards separating their two helmets. As the whistle blew, each player scrambled to their feet with the offensive player trying to gain five yards and the defensive player trying to stop his opponent from gaining five yards. It came down to the final one-on-one challenge that was won by the offense to give them the victory in that drill.

In the end, it was the defense who won the day. During the final period of practice the No. 1 offensive unit faced the No. 1 defensive unit, No. 2s faced No. 2s and No. 3s faced No. 3s in 11-on-11 competition. With the competition close, Christensen announced to the team that the competition for the day would be decided by whichever unit won the final period. The ball was placed inside the defense’s own 10-yard line for a first and goal situation. After several series, the defense held the offense out of the endzone on the final play of the final series to give the defense the narrow victory in the day’s competition.

“It was up for grabs right down to the end," he said. "It could have gone either way, but from my vantage point on my sideline the defense held them out of the endzone. Some on the other sideline were signaling touchdown, but we don’t have instant replay out here at practice, so the defense got today’s victory.”

In addition to physical play and competitiveness, the installation of the Cowboys’ playbook is
pretty well set, Christensen said.

“We’ll install at a pace at which our players can handle," he said. "Offensively, we felt that we were trying to put a little bit too much in this first weekend, so we backed off a little bit for a day, but we’re back on track now.

“We’ve got a certain amount of our offensive, defensive and special teams’ systems that we need to get installed before each of our scrimmages, so we have set that schedule and will stick to it closely.”

Christensen said that many of the positions are still up in the air and movement on the depth chart won’t really begin until after Friday’s first scrimmage.

“All the kids are working extremely hard,” he said. “We’re evaluating them on a daily basis in drills, but we won’t make any decisions until we start scrimmaging -- and we have four scrimmages scheduled. The only thing I will say at this point is we will probably start moving some of the younger kids into some special teams’ roles.”

Injury Ward
Senior offensive tackle Ryan Otterson suffered a mild concussion in Monday’s practice, which caused him to miss the remainder of drills. Sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks strained a hamstring and was held out of contact drills and sophomore running back James Davis had swelling in a knee, which caused him to miss practice.

Up Next
Tuesday will mark the first day of two-a-day practices for the Cowboys, who are also scheduled for two-a-days on Thursday and Saturday. Each of those three days, practices are scheduled for 8:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

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