|Posted April 2, 2008|
Pack football opens drills
CSU-Pueblo begins first spring practice with 80 players.
(Click here to view KKTV-11's coverage of the Pack's first practice)
By JOE E. CERVI, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
John Wristen's tolerance for mistakes lasted about three minutes Tuesday.
The head football coach at Colorado State University-Pueblo started screaming midway through the first of 24 five-minute sessions at Dutch Clark Stadium.
Ah, the sounds of spring football.
"It took that long?" Wristen joked. "Obviously we're going to make mistakes, and this is where we need to work everything out. But you get beat when you make mistakes. We want it done right and this is where it starts.
"This was a great day, a fun day. Everyone seemed to be ready for what we're trying to do and was excited to be out here."
Tuesday marked the first of 15 spring practices allowed in college football. But it was spring in name only.
Players were on the field, ready for action in sweats and helmets, well before sunrise. Darkness (no lights were used at the stadium) gave way to clouds and temperatures hovered near freezing throughout the two-hour workout. The wind, strong enough to blow the flags on the tops of the goalposts around, dropped the wind-chill factor well into the 20s.
Assistant coach Hunter Hughes wore shorts Ñ not to prove how tough he was or to celebrate April Fool's Day Ñ but because he thought it was going to warm up.
The team's practice jerseys still hadn't arrived, so the ThunderWolves received a little help in that department from Pueblo West and Centennial high schools.
"We got 80 guys out here and we're like the Bad News Bears with our uniforms," Wristen said with some players wearing black Cyclones practice tops while others wore white Bulldogs mesh jerseys. "But we got everyone out here on time and we got it done. Just getting out here is getting something accomplished."
While there is no way to determine after one official practice exactly who will play where in the fall, Wristen was pleased overall with the work ethic of his players and coaches.
"We've got to improve our tempo in practice," he said. "We don't have a lot of time and we need to get the most out of what time we do have."
Practice periods ranged from 7-on-7 drills to individual workouts.
While most college football programs use spring drills to help settle position battles and allow potential starters much-needed repetitions at their respective positions, CSU-Pueblo hasn't had football in more than 20 years. That means all positions, from quarterback and wide receiver to punter and long snapper, are up for grabs.
Offensive lineman Kyle Tilford made a big impression Tuesday. Then again, at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, Tilford makes a big impression every day. Tilford, who played two years at Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, played center with the No. 1 offense Tuesday.
"It was a good first day," Tilford said. "We've only had the offense in for a couple of days and we didn't make that many mistakes, so that was a good sign. They are bringing in some pretty good players and everyone seems to be on the same page."
ThunderWolves assistant coach Wayne McGinn has spent more than 20 years in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference as a player and coach. He said CSU-Pueblo is right on track after the first practice.
"We're headed in the right direction; we just have a long way to go," he said.
The team will practice again today and Thursday at 7 a.m. Sunday, players will don pads for the first time. That practice begins at 3 p.m. All practices are free and open to the public.