Friday, August 7, 2009

The dog days of preseason practices

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming players do a little extra running at the end of Friday's practice.

By Richard Anderson

It was apparent from the first practice six months ago that the Wyoming Cowboys’ workouts under Dave Christensen were no nonsense and at a high pace.

And that was just spring drills.

Two practices into the fall season, there’s no letting up.

The Wyoming coaches put the Cowboys, sans pads, into a quick-paced, two -hour workout Friday morning outside on the practice field south of the War Memorial Fieldhouse.

As if the Cowboys ran enough during that time, they closed things off with a lap drill (by position) of the field that saw the players take at least four laps, with each lap capped off with some sit-ups and a slight rest

It went fairly smooth for those in top shape and not so smooth for others, particularly the offensive linemen who did some extra running after the troops were dismissed.

It was an eye-opener for many.

“If you train hard enough all summer, it should be a breeze,” Christensen said. “Apparently, some guys didn’t do quite what it took to get themselves ready to go. But we have a lot of time and we’ll get them there.”

Christensen almost sounded surprised when asked by the media about the extra running. He said it was just a part of conditioning and their "Winning Edge Program."

Two newcomers, Robert Benjamin and Austyn Carta-Samuels, looked like rabbits leading the quarterback and running backs pack on the first two laps, with veterans Karsten Sween and Dax Crum pacing themselves. In the last couple of laps, the young pups fell back a bit.

“It was a new experience, it was pretty tough on me,” Benjamin said, still trying to catch his breath walking off the field. “It’s just expectations. I have to step up and work hard. I just have to get it taken care of.”

The key now, Christensen said, is to make sure the players understand the speed and tempo of the practices.

“That is first and foremost. We have 47 new players our there. We have a lot of teaching to do in that area,” he said.

The first-year Cowboy coach, though, did said that he was happy for the most part with his returning players.

“They picked up here they left off in the spring in developing those habits,” Christensen said. “I think our defense is doing a good job, particularly our older guys pursuing to the ball. Offensively, we’re still trying to figure out a few things there. But there are signs that we will be OK. Like I said, it is early. Two gosh-darn cloth practices, you won’t find a whole lot out. (Saturday) we’ll put on the shoulder pads and we’ll start to see some things. And a few days after that, we will put (all of) the pads on.”
Although the Cowboys were not donned in pads, Friday was still a pretty physical practice.

“That’s football,” Christensen said. “We have to practice at a certain speed and tempo and we’re going to do that. Our practices should be faster now than when we are in full pads because we are lighter.”

And of course, it is just beginning.

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