Kyle Slavin may see his first action against Washington State
In the first four games of the 2011 season, 25 players have taken the field for the first time as Buffs (see list, below).
This weekend the total could reach 26.
Assistant coach J.D. Brookhart said Wednesday that he expects red-shirt freshman tight end Kyle Slavin to play Saturday in Colorado’s inaugural Pac-12 Conference game, against Washington State. Slavin, 6-feet-4 and 235 pounds, red-shirted in 2010 after earning all-state honors at Chatfield High School.
“Kyle, actually, I think will be more involved this week,” Brookhart said. “With the minimal reps he has had, he knows what he is doing.”
Slavin was a standout during spring drills but did not see any action in CU’s first four games this fall. “He’s still a year of development from where I’d like him to be,” Brookhart said. “He’s still a little baby-faced. But he plays with a good pad level. It’s important to him. He just needs to get stronger.”
The 25 seeing their first action this fall include:
Two seniors – wide receiver Logan Gray; offensive lineman Sione Tau
One junior – wide receiver (and former defensive back) Makiri Pugh*
Three sophomores – tailback Josh Ford*; offensive tackle Jack Harris; center Gus Handler
Seven red-shirt freshmen – tailback Tony Jones*; cornerback Josh Moten; center Daniel Munyer; offensive lineman Kaiwi Crabb*; safety Justin Gorman*; wide receiver Keenan Canty*; linebacker Lowell Williams*
Twelve true freshmen – guard Paulay Asiata*; linebacker Brady Daigh*; defensive back Will Harlos*; cornerback Greg Henderson; offensive lineman Alex Lewis; wide receiver Tyler McCulloch; punter Darragh O’Neill; kicker Will Oliver; linebacker Juda Parker; linebacker K.T. Tu’umalo*; wide receiver Austin Vincent; defensive back Kyle Washington*
* – participation to date mainly on special teams
So, which freshmen from the Class of 2011 still have their red-shirts?
Ten are left … Athlete Jermane Clark; running back Malcolm Creer; quarterback Stevie Joe Dorman; linebacker Woodson Greer; defensive back Sherrard Harrington; center Alex Kelley; offensive lineman Marc Mustoe; tailback D.D. Goodson; defensive end Stephane Nembot; and wide receiver Nelson Spruce
Brian Lockridge moving to defensive back
Desperate times call for desperate measures …
Senior Brian Lockridge, buried on the depth chart at running back, and only an occasional contributor on special teams, is looking to get on the field before his senior year runs out.
“I wanted to contribute; the last couple of weeks I’ve been on the sideline doing nothing – and that included the special teams,” Lockridge said. “I just brought it to their (the coaches’) attention – if you guys can use me, I’m a senior with nine weeks left. If I can do anything to contribute to the team, that would be great.”
B-Lock” probably factored in these stats: Zero carries through four games this season at tailback and just four kickoff returns for 51 yards – although that last entry may increase.
On Tuesday morning, Lockridge approached offensive coordinator/running backs coach Eric Bieniemy and defensive coordinator/secondary coach Greg Brown about a position switch. On Tuesday afternoon, for the first time in his football career, Lockridge was playing defense.
It’s only been a day and a half, but Lockridge calls the move “a good change-up for me. When I get the technique down it’ll help. And communicating with our safeties (Anthony Perkins, Ray Polk) will help me out a lot. Other than that, it’s just playing ball and being active. I’m having fun.”
Lockridge arrived in the CU football offices early on Wednesday morning, meeting again with Brown. Head coach Jon Embree admitted the switch to defense wouldn’t be easy at this point, but added, “He runs well . . . you just have to limit the things you have him do and go with it. I didn’t watch him too much (Tuesday); I was watching what was going on up front rather than the back end. I’ll know more (Wednesday).”
Lockridge moves to a unit which has seen no fewer than seven players go down with injuries.
The secondary’s run of injuries began early. CU lost freshmen Sherrard Harrington and Jered Bell to injuries in August, then lost senior Travis Sandersfeld (fractured fibula, Week 2) and sophomore Parker Orms (leg, Week 4). Sandersfeld could be another couple of weeks away from returning, while Orms is listed as day-to-day.
Earlier injuries were suffered by seniors Arthur Jaffee (knee) and Vince Ewing (knee). Jaffee is questionable this week, while Ewing could miss another two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 8. Also, sophomore Paul Vigo is sidelined with a pulled hamstring.
Jon Embree Post-Practice Quotes – September 28th
On Brian Lockridge’s decision to move to defensive back – “He sent a text message to coach (Greg) Brown, I think Monday night. He did a little bit yesterday (during practice). I didn’t know if it was a ‘just in case’, or to play a lot, but he went over there. He’s trying to learn, and get a grasp of things.”
On Lockridge’s chance of playing – “Everybody’s got a chance … He’s done well. He really has … Espy (former wide receiver Jason Espinoza) is over there, so we’ve got a few guys out of position, playing a different position, so we’ll see. Got to play ’em, right? We’re down. It’s amazing how injuries only hit one spot on your team. For us, it’s corners. I’m sure there will be opportunities. It’s going to be a very hot day, so as things progress, you’re going to have to spell guys here and there.”
On center Daniel Munyer practicing on Wednesday – “I’m sure he worked his way (into practice), so we’ll see how sore he is (on Thursday). To me, that’s really the sign – guys always feel good, and then they wake up the next day, and maybe don’t feel as well. If we don’t have him back as full time this week, hopefully for next week, and for sure against Washington (October 15th). I can’t imagine it being any longer than that.”
On leading the Pac-12 in pass defense, despite all of the injuries – “Smoke and mirrors (laughs). We’ve been fortunate, but now we’re in the Pac, so, you’ve got a very good quarterback this week, you’ve got ‘the Franchise’ (Andrew Luck of Stanford) next week. You’ll know more after those two games – if we’re still leading after that, we’ll be very happy.”
On the kickoffs out-of-bounds. Are the kickers being coached to kick to the corner – “No. What we would like them to do is kick it between the hash and the number. If we call a ‘deep left’, we’d like to see the ball kicked between the hash, and the numbers on the left, so we only have to cover from the right hash – basically, you’ve eliminated a third of the field.”
Jon Embree Press conference Quotes
On Washington State’s statistics – “Their stats are Play Station kind of numbers. When you watch them, they are explosive. On the first play of the game against San Diego State they go 80 (yards for a touchdown). Their receiver, No. 86 (sophomore wide receiver Marquess Wilson), is a real good player, he reminds me a little bit of our guy, 6 (sophomore wide receiver Paul Richardson). They have some other guys they go to with the ball. 84 (senior wide receiver Jared Karstetter, who is 6’4″) another big wide receiver. He gets down the field, plays big in the red zone … And they are doing it with a backup quarterback … Paul (Wulff) has got them playing very well”.
On Washington State having a bye before playing Colorado – “We’ll play a couple of teams (who will have byes). I think Washington has a bye before us; Arizona State has a bye before us. I think when you get this late in the season, or at this stage in the season, you may tweak a few things (in terms of play calling), but I think it’s more about health. I know their center was injured, a couple of other guys were nicked up, so we’ll see if they come back. But that’s probably the biggest advantage for them, it’s just having the ability to get some guys healthy.”
On the health of the Buffs – “We’re plugging along. It’s a part of the game. We’re thin right now at corner, so we’ll see if Parker Orms makes it back, somehow, miraculously, so we’ll see on that. Travis (Sandersfeld) is still a ways away. (Paul) Vigo, he’s a week or two. So there’s a few guys that we’re not going to have, but, you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to keep grinding … On the offensive line, we’re closer. We just have some guys who are going to have to play hurt. The only thing that’s going to make it better is time, and we don’t have time, so they’re just going to have to find a way.”
On defensive back Josh Moten – “He’s a competitive guy. His issue has just been consistency. He’ll get a nice long look this week … He’s a kid who has been maturing. When I first got here, he was a question mark. He’s done a great job academically; he’s done a great job in the weight room. He’s just needed time. He’s a freshman, so we’ll see how he’s maturing. He’s going to get a long look to see if and how he can help us … He has the physical skills, from his size. He has good speed. It’s knowing what to do and knowing how to do it. That’s been the biggest issue with Josh.”
On freshman cornerback Greg Henderson – “I told him that every week, as a freshman, you go out there with a target on you. They got him last week. Obviously, there are going to be times when they make plays on you, but he has been very good. But, when they are going four-wide, everybody in the secondary is going to have a target on you.”
On the effect of the Buffs’ lack of depth on recruiting – “It will definitely help on the recruiting trail, but at the same time as a coach you just have to be creative and find ways on how to minimize things and protect guys in certain situations. Guys that are playing and are healthy, have to raise their game. There are a lot of things that come out of it; it helps you as far as building depth and for the future because you are playing guys that maybe won’t normally be playing. If there is a positive, that would be it. I would rather have the guys healthy.”
On the importance of the Washington State game for both teams – This is a big game for both programs. I talked to our players about it. Obviously, playing the first Pac-12 game in the school’s history and with our issues on the road, if we are going to have any chance to accomplish anything you have to win at home. We lost one at home to Cal and obviously, now that I’ve been with this team for four games, you see how amazing it is when we get on a plane and the difference when we play at home, as far as looking at it from their perspective. Paul [Wulff], I got to spend a little bit of time with him; real good guy. They lost a lot of close games last year. They were in a lot of games late last year and I felt like them and Arizona State, who was in a similar situation – obviously their talent level at Arizona State is a little different than what they have Washington State from the standpoint of the sheer number of guys they have coming back – but I felt that both of those teams were going to be teams that were going to be very dangerous in the conference. Just because you get to a certain point when you are building a program and if you look at what he is doing and trying to do, you could just tell that they got to the point where they didn’t accept losing anymore. Being close wasn’t good enough. They came out this year and they have a good start, they started fast and obviously I know this is probably the next step in their progress – they have to beat a team like us at our place. It will be a hotly contested game.”
On the importance of winning the first Pac-12 game in school history – “I told the team this, ‘It would be a shame for you seniors to be sitting around four or five years from now sitting there thinking, ‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda’. The moment is now, the time is now. I understand we are building a program and all that but I want to win now. I want these guys to experience it. I am not about forsaking this year for the future.”
On what he talked about with the team after the Ohio State defeat – “We had a team meeting yesterday and I had a discussion with them about the fact they need to start seeing themselves for what they are capable of. I am an honest guy and I am not going to B.S. the guys and tell them, ‘You are this’ when they’re not. We have some good players. Do we have a bunch? No. Do we have a lot of depth? No. But we have some good players and those good players have to see themselves that way and take it upon themselves to [step up]. They can’t have an off game.”
On his phone conversation Sunday with Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell, who is also in his first season as a head coach – We talked about personnel. I heard his perspective on our players. I shared that with [our players] and I think some of them were probably shocked at his opinions, how highly he thought of our guys. They need to understand that they are good, that they are capable.”
On focusing on what the Buff players can do, rather than what they can’t – I’m going to answer that question in two parts. One, a guy like [Anthony] Perkins, he doesn’t run as well as he used to, but he always finds a way to take the proper angle, he always finds a way to be just deep enough or just close enough or whatever it is to handle what his limitations are. Travis Sandersfeld is the same way. He knows what his limitations are, but he doesn’t let himself be put in that situation. That is one of the things that I am mad at myself and you talk about special teams, because of our lack of depth, in a perfect world, I’m playing all of my guys all the time. Because of our lack of depth, I’m trying to protect some guys at certain positions and certain players because if they get hurt, there is a drastic drop off. So you look at a guy that plays 60 plays a game and do you risk him getting injured or put some guys out there, either a younger guy or another guy in special teams to protect your guys and it bit us. It didn’t just bite us; it took a huge chunk last week. I’m mad at myself for that. It is not those kids’ fault. I’m asking them, and as a coach you have to be careful of asking kids to do things that they can’t do, and I asked kids to do that and it exposed us. Moving forward, we just have to roll the dice. If it is 40 guys that play in a game, than it is 40 guys that play in the game, and they’ll just have to go until they can’t go anymore. That is where all that is.”
Jon Embree Post-Practice Quotes
On whether things looked any different on film than they did live on Saturday – “We’re in a little bit of a difficult situation, but we’re going to go with our guys. Part of our issue on special teams is that we don’t have depth on our team, period. You don’t want to lose a (freshman cornerback) Greg Henderson, and expose him when he’s the only cornerback you have left, with Parker (Orms) and (Travis) Sandersfeld out. But we’re going to put them all out there. There are going to be a lot of starters out there on special teams from here on out. We’ve just got to see if we can whether the storm.”
On kickoff return and kickoff coverage breakdowns – “The penalties are just the guys … we’re asking guys to run 30 or 40 yards and get blocks. Sometimes, they are not able to do that, so that’s where you get holding and blocking in the back – you get outrun. That’s the issue on the returns. On the coverage, it’s a similar type of thing. Part of your coverage is predicated on you being at a certain yardline when the ball is caught. If you are not there, if you are not at that yardline, then that gives the return team more time to set up and get blocks, and gives the returner more time to read and find seams. That’s probably the glaring issue as you look at it.”
On Parker Orms being out for Washington State – “He’s just standing around. He’s okay for a photo. But running …”.
On who will take Orms’ place – “We’ll look at Deji (Olatoye), (Josh) Moten … that’s really about it. (Jason) Espinoza, but that’s it. Those are the last three guys. (Paul) Vigo has a pulled hamstring. So that’s like I say, how much do you want to expose Greg Henderson? It’s like that at a few positions, but it is what it is. We’ve just got to go with it. I had a team meeting. I think you can travel 70. I figure we’re at the point where we’re going to have to go with 58, maybe 56 guys and go. It’s going to have to be like it is in the (National Football) League, some guys are going to have to be able to go. We’re going to have to cross-train some guys for a couple of different things, and then you go with it.”
On tearing off the red-shirt of some of his remaining freshman defensive back recruits – “No. Nope. No. Nope. Nope. That’s it. That’s all we’ve got.”
On Rodney Stewart’s shoulder – “He was out here today. I think he’s okay – but we didn’t hit. He’s a tough kid, so we’ll see.”
On Stewart’s backups – “Tony Jones is doing well. We’ll get him going some more, too. The question now is the number three guy, as we continue on. This is only our fourth game, and we’re going to need a third guy at some point, guaranteed. We’ve got to keep developing that, see who that is.” Not Josh Ford? – “We did (have Ford as the number three), but he’s not contributing on (special) teams. I’m not going to just bring a guy (on the road) as a ‘just in case guy’. I’m not going to travel guys just to travel guys, you know. You’ve got to contribute. (Ford) and a few other guys had their chances on special teams the last three games. I’m not saying it’s his fault, but we see what the results are on special teams, so we’ve got to move on …”.
Washington State injury update
The Cougars will still be without starting quarterback Jeff Tuel this weekend. The junior starter was injured in the first quarter of the opener … and has not been missed. All his replacement, senior Marshall Lobbestael, has done, is produce as many wins as Washington State had all of last season. In leading the Cougars to a 2-1 record, Lobbestael is 18th in the nation in total offense, with 306.67 yards per game, and is ranked 6th nationally in pass efficiency.
Perhaps the Colorado defense would prefer Tuel to be healthy …
Other Washington State players on the injured list: defensive end Adam Coerper still on crutches and out for Colorado; freshman running back Rickey Galvin, out last week and still held out of contact; starting senior center Andrew Roxas was also held out of drills; and junior wide receiver Gino Simone is still out (calf injury).