With only four days remaining until the season opener at Nebraska, Wyoming took the field on Tuesday morning for a practice in full pads. Here are my observations from the practice, which lasted just about two hours:
Finley will 'get his opportunity'
While also showing flashes of explosiveness in multiple punt returns in the team's three scrimmages, junior college transfer Tyran Finley has been inconsistent in practices with the ability to catch punts.
His worst day may have been on Saturday, when Finley dropped at least three punts and seem to have difficulty reading depth as well as wind.
For now, Jalen Claiborne is listed as the starting punt and kickoff returner. That will change, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said after Tuesday's practice, when Finley proves he can catch the football.
“(We have) enough confidence (in Finley) to be the backup. He’s going to get his opportunity. He’s done a better job the last few days," Christensen said. "But if you’re not consistent in practice, you won’t be consistent in the games. And if you’re not consistent in practice here, you’re not going to get to do it in games.”
NFL scouts from the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers both visited Tuesday's practice. By my count, that makes the third time this fall that the Jets have visited Laramie.
Obviously, Gang Green has their eyes on at least one Cowboy. Whether it's Brett Smith, Robert Herron, Marqueston Huff, Tyler Strong -- that's anybody's guess.
There wasn't too much red to be seen on Jonah Field on Tuesday, but two possible contributors were limited in practice.
Free safety Chad Reese sat out of practice once again, after injuring his right foot earlier in camp. Christensen said on Monday that Reese may not be ready for the opener. Tight end J.D. Krill also wore red but participated in some drills, after hurting his foot in Saturday's practice in Cheyenne.
Herron rises to the top
Senior wideout Robert Herron caught at least three touchdowns on Tuesday, consistently beating his man on deep balls and coming down with leaping grabs.
Of course, for those who have watched a number of Wyoming practices this fall, this is nothing new. And for Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith, he has faith in Herron to throw a ball up and give him the opportunity to make a play.
"He puts on display the talent and overall athleticism he has, going up and catching passes and blowing by cornerbacks," Smith said. "I definitely have the confidence in him to do that."
Look for much more on Herron in this weekend's "Coin Toss."
Positioning the newcomers
Freshman wide receiver Tanner Gentry and transfer cornerback Tyran Finley are both starters -- but that doesn't mean they have completely adapted to the Cowboys' playbook.
Both players seemed to have a few plays on Tuesday where teammates or coaches had to tell them to shift their positions, due to some miscommunication about the play.
Of course, for first-time starters, this is bound to happen. The Cowboys just hope those kind of mistakes occur more in Tuesday practices than primetime games that count.
Hayes makes pick
Freshman cornerback Timmy Hayes made one of the defensive plays of the day on Tuesday, jumping to intercept a tipped pass while playing with the first-team defense.
While Hayes is listed second on the depth chart behind junior Blair Burns, he'll certainly be counted on in nickel and dime packages. And throughout an impressive fall camp, Hayes has shows the ability to make plays.
Subbing the Bucks
Wyoming's defense showed both 3-4 and 4-3 looks in Tuesday's practice, and it's possible that they'll experiment with some of both on Saturday.
In 3-4 looks, though, both Sonny Puletasi and Siaosi Hala'api'api were given significant reps with the starting unit at the Buck linebacker position.
While Puletasi took most of the first-team reps in the preseason, it's logical to think that the two players will sub in and out frequently this fall, to keep each guy fresh and explosive in rushing the quarterback.
There was a little bit of unnecessary enthusiasm in practice on Tuesday, as players broke out into short scuffles in two separate instances. The more physical of the two altercations involved Gentry and freshman cornerback Jabari Holland.
While the outbursts are expected during hot, tiring football practices, Christensen said his team can't afford to waste time and risk injuries.
“We’ve got practice. We don’t have time for scuffles. You’re going to see it out there; these guys are working hard," Christensen said. "But as long as it doesn’t carry to the locker room and nobody gets injured, we’re okay.”
Learning the fight song
At the conclusion of Tuesday's practice, Wyoming's players took a knee surrounding their head coach and Christensen yelled, "Cue the music!"
The team proceeded to sing the school's fight song as the tune blared over the loudspeaker. Some players and coaches were more enthusiastic than others, and after it ended Christensen told his players to continue studying the lyrics, as they would sing it again tomorrow and the next day, until they get it right.
“We sang it after our team skit night, and it wasn’t to our standards. And we plan on winning, and when we win we sing that song to the crowd," Christensen said. "So just like anything, if we don’t do it well enough we’re going to continue to prepare and makes sure we’re ready when the time comes.”
We'll see if the time comes on Saturday.