Fifth-year Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen said the team’s first practice Monday following its 37-34 loss at No. 22 Nebraska (was No. 18 prior to the game) was the best he’s seen since he has been the coach at UW.
Christensen had more praise for his team following Tuesday morning’s practice at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.
“I thought we were really sharp offensively, and that’s where I am at mostly (during practice),” he said. “I need to watch the film and talk to the defensive coaches, but it sounded like they were pretty positive on how things went down.
“I thought our protections, routes and the passing game was really on. That’s encouraging.”
Christensen said junior cornerback Tyran Finley was questionable Monday for Saturday’s home-opener against Idaho. Finley was injured late at Nebraska, and was on crutches Tuesday. True freshman Tim Hayes took Finley’s spot with the No. 1 defense. Hayes intercepted a pass from sophomore backup quarterback Jason Thompson in practice.
Junior buck Sonny Puletasi hurt his right ankle at Nebraska, but returned to the game. He practiced Tuesday but was limited. Sophomore Siaosi Hala’api’api took the majority of the snaps with the No. 1 defense.
Senior running back Brandon Miller and junior receiver Dominic Rufran took turns returning kicks with junior receiver Jalen Claiborne. Finley and Claiborne were UW’s starting kickoff return duo at Nebraska.
Christensen is not sure what Idaho (0-1) will do on both sides of the ball based off one game film (a 40-6 loss at North Texas) and with a new coach in Paul Petrino. But that’s not the biggest emphasis for the Cowboys right now.
“We’re going to execute our plays,” he said. “We will prepare for anything and work on a number of different things (Idaho) has not shown at this point and time. We always have to expect the unexpected.”
There were not a lot of new guys wearing red jerseys (indicating illness or injury) Tuesday. Guys who remain in red are junior safeties Jesse Sampson and Chad Reese, and defensive ends Riley Lange and Sam Awrabi.
Junior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton and senior Devyn Harris will compete this week to see who starts. Harris started at Nebraska. Stanton had eight tackles against the Cornhuskers, Harris had seven. Stanton took a lot of snaps with the No. 1 defense Tuesday.
The team continued to practice the school’s fight song. Last week Christensen had them sing it after practice, and that was the case again Tuesday. UW sings the fight song to its fans after victories.
“We’ve made some progress,” Christensen said. “We’ve gone from the phase of just saying ‘watermelon’ to actually singing the words.”
Junior quarterback Brett Smith is a candidate for the Davey O’Brien Award, given annually to the best quarterback in college football. Fans can vote by going to VoteOBrien.org.
UW is ranked 82nd out of 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in this week’s USA Today poll. Idaho is 121st.
Scouts from the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were at Tuesday’s practice.
See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net for more on UW football, including a story on sophomore running back Shaun Wick, who recorded his first-career 100-yard game at Nebraska. Also go to wyosports.net for a complete report from all of the 11 other Mountain West teams.