Wyoming’s football team used one of its practices to prepare for its season-opener a week from today at No. 18 Nebraska to show the fans in Cheyenne what it has.
Dubbed as the “Cowboys in the Capital,” UW practiced for about two hours at Cheyenne Central’s Riske Field. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the event. Players and coaches signed autographs after practice.
It was a good outreach effort by UW, and one of the first major efforts from the football program in quite some time. It makes sense to come to Cheyenne as it has more than 8,000 UW alumns living there.
“I looked up in the stands at one time and I said ‘holy cow, this place is packed,’ ” coach Dave Christensen said. “There were lines everywhere. It was great.”
The players also seemed to enjoy it.
“It was neat to practice in front of an atmosphere like this,” junior quarterback Brett Smith said. “I expected it. There is a lot of passion for Wyoming football in this sate, and it is always great to play in front of the Wyoming fans. I think this was kind of an ego boost for everybody.”
Added junior conrerback Blair Burns: “It’s great to come out an show them what we are made of. It was a great opportunity to practice in front of fans. Next week we are going to be playing in front of 90,000. Maybe next year we ill take it around the state.”
Some news and notes from Saturday’s practice:
–Christensen on the practice: “It was great to be able to leave Laramie, come over here in a place we haven’t been and come out focused. I thought the work was good today. It was the longest practice we’ve had this year, and longest one we will have all year.”
–Christensen said freshman walk-on Ethan Wood may have an edge to become the starting punter now, but he has not locked down the starting job yet. “I don’t have to finalize anything until 6 p.m. Saturday (at Nebraska).”
–Redshirt junior left offensive tackle Walker Madden — a starter — was left in Laramie with the flu, but Christensen said he should be fine by Monday. Redshirt freshman Nathan Leddige replaced Madden. It was the first time since fall camp started that someone from the starting five among the O-line didn’t participate in a practice or scrimmage.
–True freshman wide receiver Tanner Gentry practiced with the No. 1 offense, ahead of junior Trey Norman. Gentry has made a fast move up the depth chart since fall camp started.
–Junior tight end J.D. Krill has had issues with dropped passes during camp, and after he caught a pass during a team period he left with what looked to be a foot injury.
–Smith looked sharp throughout practice, and connected on three long touchdown passes to senior receiver Robert Herron (who made a nice catch in the end zone), junior receiver Jalen Claiborne and junior receiver Dominic Rufran.
–Junior DeAndre Jones, who was the starter at one of the two cornerback positions prior to an injury a couple of weeks ago, got some reps at safety with the No. 2 defense. It appears junior-college transfer Tyran Finley will start opposite of Burns at Nebraska.
–Finley also has worked a lot as a punt returner, but he had a case of the drops Saturday. Don’t be surprised if Claiborne or even Rufran will return punts if Finley can’t consistently secure the ball.
–Burns had an interception of sophomore backup quarterback Jason Thompson during a 7-on-7 drill.
For more on UW’s outreach effort in Cheyenne, as well as the importance and challenges of that, see my column in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and at wyosports.net.