The Cowboys practiced for roughly two hours on Wednesday morning, the second to last time they'll officially practice before heading to Lincoln on Friday. And though the middle-of-the-week practices can get somewhat monotonous, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen liked what he saw from his team.
“It’s a grind out here on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We get a lot of reps in, probably close to 120 on each side throughout a less than two-hour practice," Christensen said. "So it was good. We got our work done.”
The team will be off tomorrow besides team meetings and film study, and then will have a short practice on Friday morning before leaving town.
Here are my observations from Wyoming's Wednesday practice:
Finley leaves, then comes back
Starting cornerback Tyran Finley looked like he pulled something after dropping a punt at the beginning of Wednesday's practice. The transfer player, who has struggled to catch punts recently, left the field for a significant period of time before eventually coming back.
In his absence, freshman Timmy Hayes practiced with the first team at cornerback and Dominic Rufran caught punts alongside starter Jalen Claiborne.
When Finley did return, he played with the second team throughout the remainder of practice. The injury didn't appear to be serious, and I'd expect him to start on Saturday night. Still, it may be something to keep an eye on.
Wyoming safety Chad Reese wore red again on Wednesday, and it looks more and more likely that he'll miss the game on Saturday. In his weekly press conference, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said Reese might not be ready to go.
Tight end J.D. Krill participated fully on Wednesday, after hurting his foot in the team's practice on Saturday in Cheyenne. Krill ran entirely with the second team, and it appears despite his health that Spencer Bruce will be the starting tight end on Saturday.
Defensive lineman Eddie Yarbrough wore a red pullover today, but he still participated in nearly all drills. I don't expect that the injury is anything to worry about.
Wood handling punting duties
Freshman walk-on Ethan Wood handled most of the punting duties on Wednesday. He was named the starter over Stuart Williams when the depth chart was released on Monday, and he appears to be progressing nicely in that role.
It's still possible that Wyoming could use both punters on Saturday, but I expect Wood will get the entirety of the snaps as long as he keeps performing.
The Wyoming defense came up with a couple big interceptions in Wednesday's practice. The first came as the second-team offense was nearing the goal line. A Jason Thompson pass was tipped into the air and picked off by junior corner Blair Burns, who then took off running down the left sideline.
This prompted defensive coordinator Chris Tormey to yell, "That's a touchdown! That's a touchdown" as Burns ran.
To give you a visual, it looked nearly identical to the interception Burns returned for a touchdown against Colorado State last season.
Later on, safety Marqueston Huff also picked off a pass thrown by scout team quarterback Tommy Thornton.
Come Saturday, the Cowboys are hoping Taylor Martinez performs like the Wyoming quarterback assigned to impersonate him.
Handling the humidity
The weather forecast calls for near triple digit temperatures in Lincoln on Saturday, hotter than anything Wyoming has experienced in a practice thus far.
The Cowboys have done a few things to simulate the heat, including wearing long sleeves throughout many of their practices. If they stay conditioned and hydrated, Christensen isn't concerned about the effect the heat could have on his players.
“(We'll use the) same program we’ve used every year. Humidity hasn’t been an issue for us yet," Christensen said. "I would imagine it shouldn’t be much of a problem on Saturday night.”
Friday night fun
For the first time in the Christensen era, the players are scheduled to go to a movie on Friday night in Lincoln, as a way to relax and keep their minds off the game.
In the past, I was told that the Cowboys would spend most of the night in their hotel room, thinking about their assignments and staying off of their feet. The movie, I think, is a good way of keeping the team loose after all the game preparations have been taken care of.
“We’ll get there, have dinner, go to a show, have a team meeting and go to bed,” Christensen said with a grin.