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Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

BRONCOS TURN IN FIRST PRACTICE

Photo By: Photo courtesy Western Michigan Athletics

Different location, similar results for Western Michigan and its effective practice habits.


The Broncos conducted their first on-site practice at AT&T Stadium on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic and it went a lot like the ones they’ve held back home in Kalamazoo, Mich. Coach P.J. Fleck described the 90-minute, high-energy session as “elite.”


Consistently generating high-level practices has helped propel the Broncos (13-0, 9-0 Mid-American) to No. 15 in the College Football Playoff rankings and into a Jan. 2 matchup with No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten).


The players normally practice in 30,000-seat Waldo Stadium, so they might have been excused for being distracted by the enormity of 100,000-capacity AT&T Stadium. But once practice started, they kept their focus on the field as they worked in shoulder pads and helmets. The team showed a little rust from a brief Christmas break but nothing concerning, Fleck said.


“I thought we were able to knock some of the time off, those types of cobwebs off,” Fleck said. “They had four days off and then they had yesterday in terms of travel. We were able to cover every [game] situation we possibly could. It was basically a full practice with all of our install in. We were going full speed – we condition during practice. I thought they responded very well.”


“Everybody is as healthy as they can possibly be,” Fleck said. “And I thought they did a nice job of being as hydrated as we would expect them to be coming in here after a four or five-day layoff. But now we have got to be able to continue to change to our best in that area and to continue to take care of our bodies, which these guys do a tremendous job of that.”


Fleck gave the players most of the evening off. Some planned to spend their time in the hospitality room at the team hotel and they also had the option of attending the Dallas Mavericks-Houston Rockets game Tuesday night.


The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic celebrates its 81st anniversary on Monday, January 2. Airtime on ESPN is set for noon CST, with kickoff slated for 12:01 p.m.


This marks the third consecutive year for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl to be a part of the ESPN bowl lineup. Bob Wischusen and Brock Huard will provide the call from the booth with Allison Williams reporting from the sideline.


ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner for the fifth consecutive year. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Rod Gilmore in the booth and Quint Kessenich on the sideline to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This is Sham's 20th consecutive year as the Classic's play-by-play voice and his 24th overall.

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