Nick Hirschman ready to take the field if called upon
While the future of the Colorado quarterback corps brightened considerably this week with the signing of former Texas quarterback Connor Wood, the present depth chart is a bit unnerving.
Behind senior quarterback Tyler Hansen there are no quarterbacks who have taken a snap in a Division 1-A football game. Red-shirt freshman Nick Hirschman, who missed over a week of fall practice with a foot injury, is the primary backup.
Reason for concern?
Not according to Hirschman.
“I didn’t feel like I was far behind at all”, Hirschman told BuffaloSportsNews.net. “I was able to get in the playbook while I was hurt, and I didn’t fall behind. I got on the tape. The only thing I couldn’t do was move. So I wasn’t far behind at all. I attended all the meetings. The first couple days when I wasn’t out at practice they said there was no point to be out there just standing around. So I was in the training room.”
Is Hirschman ready to lead the team if called upon? “It’s very exciting,” said Hirschman. “Any time an athlete gets an opportunity to go out and show what he can do it’s very exciting. Of course you never wish for anybody to get hurt, but if that unfortunately happened to go down, I’d be ready. It would be a smooth transition and I think the guys trust me. I trust all of them to be doing there jobs. It will be my first college playing experience. No matter when I get to step on the field, I’m going to be ready and I’m going to be excited to do it.”
Jon Embree Press Conference Quotes – August 30th
On the status of the team for game week – “A lot of energy and enthusiasm, inside and outside, in the program right now. We’re looking forward to getting on this plane Thursday, and heading out to Hawai’i.”
On facing Hawai’i without some of the star players from last season – “As long as they have the trigger guy, it doesn’t really matter. I equate it to Peyton Manning (and the Indianapolis Colts) last year. They had some guys go down, and they just plugged some new guys in, and he just kept on going … We just have to do the best we can as far as pressuring him, trying to get our hands up, that’s one thing that you can do to try and negate the quick throws, and make him hold it a little bit longer. You have to be good at getting into your zone drops.”
On his confidence in senior Travis Sandersfeld and freshman Greg Henderson – “I have a lot of confidence in them. I believe a lot in this team; I believe a lot in these players … I think that Greg Henderson has had a very good camp … Travis (Sandersfeld) is doing a very good job. Part of being a good player is knowing what you can’t do, and Travis does a good job with that. He does a good job of using angles. He has good ball awareness, he’s a physical player. So I feel comfortable with both of those guys being out there.”
On what the defense needs to do to stop the Warriors – “Unless we put 12 guys on the field, we’re probably not going to show him something that he hasn’t seen. So what I’ve been impressing upon our guys is that we have to do a good job of tackling. When you look at that offense, when they get the big plays – when an eight yard gain becomes a 20-yard gain, that’s when you have problems. That’s when they start to get a little swagger, a little attitude with their offense.”
On the Hawai’i defense – “They’re physical; they run. They are really good up front. Their two defensive tackles are really good players – they do a really good job of getting a push. When you watch their defense play, they play as a unit.”
On the importance of the first game to the program – “I’ve been saying since Day One that this is a big game. It’s an opportunity for us to bring the bricks back. It’s a big game because it’s the first game … As far as setting the tone for the program? What the guys will find out is that every game is a big game. If we want to accomplish the things we say we want to accomplish, as a team and as a program, you can’t put too much importance on one game, and not enough on the next one. So I have made this a big game because it’s the next game. And I’m going to put a lot of importance on Cal because it’s the next game, and I am going to do that every week.”
On the CU seniors – “It’s important to me that these seniors go out of here with a good experience. I look back here on my time at Colorado, and it was tremendous … I’ve been around for many of the bricks which have been put up, and the one which stands out to me is the 1986 brick: ‘Nebraska 10, Colorado 20′. It was important because it was the first time we had beaten Nebraska in 18 years. And it was important because that game was kind of a watershed moment for this program, and it helped springboard us … I want these seniors to have (a similar experience), because one day they are going to be sitting on the couch, watching a college football game, and their kids are going to ask, ‘Hey daddy, did you ever …?’. My kids asked, ‘Did you ever beat Nebraska?’ – it was important to be able to say, ‘Yes’ … I want (the seniors) to have the same experiences I had … I want them to be able to say, ‘This is why I came to Colorado’ “.
Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen Press Conference Quotes
On preparing for his senior season – “We have won some big games but we haven’t done much. We want to compete for conference championships and we want to go to big time bowl games and we haven’t done that so we want to leave on a special year.”
On senior running back Rodney Stewart – “‘Speedy’ has matured a lot. He has changed from the quiet little freshman guy who didn’t talk at all and now he won’t shut up. He is one of the more vocal guys on the team and years prior, he wasn’t like that.”
On his health and his role in the Colorado offense – “I haven’t been hit since October so it is going to be interesting but I think I am going to enjoy it. “I think it is going to feel good.”
Will he run in the new offense? “I think with this type of offense, with what they are asking me to do, I think I am going to be a game manager and get the ball out, let the playmakers outside and Rodney get after it and let them make plays. That is what I want to do as a quarterback, let guys outside work for you and focus on making sure the protection is right, making sure you know what guys outside are doing so you can get the ball out to them and let them go run 60-yards and get some touchdowns.”
Senior safety Anthony Perkins Press Conference Qoutes
On the goals of the seniors for their final season as Buffs – “There is definitely some unfinished business that we need to get accomplished in order for me to be able to look back and know that I did something significant. I feel like there is still much to be done.”
On the new offensive and defensive schemes - “The whole mentality of the offense right now is they are going to come right at you and that definitely affects your mindset as a defensive player. [Our opponent] may know exactly what we are going to do but stopping it is a whole ‘nother’ deal. We’re going to get after you no matter who we’re playing, no matter where we’re playing. It is going to be just as physical, just as intense, no matter what the situation is.”
Jon Embree Quotes – August 29th
On playing Hawai’ian music during practice – “Yeah, we had a little music going, just so they will get used to it – not going out there and being hypnotized. So we played a little Hawai’ian music, just so they can get used to it. What happens is, you end up blocking it out. I asked the guys if they had been playing the music throughout practice, and they said ‘yes’. After about two minutes, you learn to shut it out. Just another way for them to concentrate, and focus on the task at hand.”
On game week demeanor – “A lot of excitement and energy. I told them that we don’t play tomorrow, so let’s just keep building. Let’s keep improving; there’s a lot of work still to do … They had a lot of fun out there (on Monday night), which is important also.”
On keeping out of harms way – “I told them to stay out of trouble. I told them that after the first Saturday scrimmage, that if they mess up, they are jeopardizing their time here … and you have to look out for each other as teammates. I told them about the journey we want to go on, and the things we want to establish, means you’ve got to sacrifice. If it’s not important enough for you to be home at a certain time, if it’s not important enough to you to walk away from something, then we’re just fooling ourselves. They’ve done a good job so far of protecting each other, and keeping out of trouble.”
On preparing for Hawai’i – “They are an excellent team. They won ten games last year. We were fortunate to win (last season in Boulder). Anytime you win ten games, you have got to be doing a lot of things right. So, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Jon Embree Quotes – August 26th
On preparing for the time change next weekend – “We’re going on Hawai’i time. We’ll get them up at 8:00 o’clock, which is noon for these guys, they’re probably used to sleeping until noon. So we probably won’t have to change much. We’ll practice at night (the Buffs will practice from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Monday – Wednesday next week), just so we get used to running around that time frame. Other than that, we’ll just go on their time”.
On sight-seeing in Hawai’i – “It’s all business. They can see (Hawai’i) when we land and again when we take off. They can see everything they need to see then. We’re there for one reason.”
On his experience in coaching in Hawai’i – “I’ve coached over there. We’ve played two bowl games over there (the 1993 and 1998 Aloha Bowls, both Colorado victories), so I’ve been around it. I don’t see it as being a factor, I really don’t. Even though it’s early over there, with it being a 4:00 game (it won’t make a difference). If it was a ten o’clock game, or a seven o’clock game, where it was midnight back here, I could see it, but with it being at four o’clock, it’s just like a night game here.”
On the two Aloha Bowl wins – “We beat Fresno State with Trent Dilfer, and then we beat Oregon with Akili Smith. We have played well over there on that island. Unfortunately, none of those guys are on this team (and CU didn’t have to play the University of Hawai’i in those games). There were a few things in our favor in those games. But our guys are excited”.
On Hawai’i’s home field advantage – “They’ve done great in defending their home turf. They’ve done a good job with their program over the past few years. You win ten games, that says a lot. So it will be a lot of fun, I’m excited.”
On whether Hawai’i quarterback Bryant Moniz (who threw for 5,040 yards and 39 touchdowns last fall) is “legit” – “Yeah. Those guys get kind of a bad rap. I was with Colt (Brennan, Hawai’i quarterback from 2005-2007) in Washington. He’s unbelievably accurate. Colt may not have had the ‘NFL arm’, but he’s real accurate, and throws the ball on time. And that’s what matters in that system. If you can be accurate and throw on time, there’s guys open all over the place. The thing that jumps out in seeing some things, and his interviews and all that. It’s the same thing I like about Tyler (Hansen) - you can tell (Moniz) is a leader, you can tell the team follows him. You can tell the team hangs on every word he says. You can tell he commands respect on both sides of the ball. Coach Mac used to say, ‘be careful when you play a senior quarterback, no matter who it is or where it is’. (Moniz) had a great year last year, I think he led the nation (in passing). He doesn’t get the respect he’s earned, because not enough people see him play.”
On resting stars – “There out there today. Speedy (Rodney Stewart) - the last two practices have been really good. I’m excited. I’m excited for these players. I’m excited for them to have their opportunities.”
On senior Matt Bahr listed second on the depth chart, ahead of sophomore DaVaughn Thornton – “He does a good job blocking; he does a good job catching the ball when it’s thrown to him. Just his overall grasp of the scheme. Matt was a guy we didn’t get to evaluate this spring, because he was out with injuries (post-season shoulder surgery). He made an impression quickly, and then just kept building on it.” On whether Bahr (a converted offensive tackle) is “athletic” enough – “He gives us enough athleticism there. I don’t know, when we’re playing hoops, when he’s going to be drafted (laughs).”
On the leadership of senior safety Anthony Perkins – “I hate to use the cliche, but he’s the quarterback back there. He gets them lined up. He knows where he’s supposed to be, he knows if someone’s not where he supposed to be, and helps make it right. I think if you look at the team last year, when he got hurt, the production in the back end dropped significantly.”
Schedule for Friday, August 26th: Practice (4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 25th
On Thursday’s practice – “It was really good from a physical standpoint. We were banging and getting after it. Guys were pressing a little bit, but I can tell we’re getting closer to a game. They’re trying a little to hard to be perfect, instead of just trusting their technique and doing their job. So I’m happy where we are from a physical standpoint, now we’ve got to get the details down of our assignments, the mental aspect of the game, which I think over the next two days, and of course next week, we can get that accomplished.”
On hitting in practice on Friday – “No. We’ll hit a little bit on Monday, and then that’s it. Tomorrow we’ll be in ‘spiders’. We’ll just try and get some timing things down in the passing game; some more assignment stuff for the defense, in the secondary, and just keep working the details of the game plan.”
On improvement in team unity – “I’m not sure what it was last year. But one of the first things I did when I got here was to blow up the locker room, I changed in around. I moved the walk-ons and seniors and freshmen, the black kids, the white kids – I just moved it all around so that we didn’t have any cliques. And I’ll do it again after this season’s done. I felt it was the one of the quickest ways for us to get to know each other. Like I said, we’re not going to have the best talent, but we can be the best team … To be the best team, we have to know each other and trust each other … They seem like they like each other; they seem like they know each other. I guess we’ll find out when we hit some adversity, just how tight we really are.”
Schedule for Thursday, August 25th: Practice (4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
On momentum building toward the season opener – “Some. There is still some lingering, ‘the game’s a ways away’, with some of the guys”.
On Wednesday’s practice – “The offense today I thought had a heckuva practice, until the last period of practice, we didn’t finish. But we’ll get it. They don’t have a choice. But we’ll get it.”
On whether the culture has changed with regard to away games – “I don’t know. I haven’t been with them on away games. This will be my first away game with them. We’re going to just keep preparing. We’re going to keep talking about it, and we’re going to keep making sure they understand what they need to do to win. We’ve got to have confidence, and confidence comes from preparation. Only they know if they have prepared like they need to. A lot of the things we’re trying to do in practice is to expose the guys who haven’t prepared, or don’t know what they’re doing. So that we can either not have them in that situation or not have them out on the field, so that we have our best opportunity to win.”
On the play of the tight ends – “(Senior) Ryan (Deehan) has had a solid camp, he really has. I’d like him to be a little bit better in a few things, but, for the most part, he’s had a really solid camp. That group in general has had a pretty good camp.”
On the play of his co-starters at center, sophomore Gus Handler and red-shirt freshman Daniel Munyer – “I have confidence in both of those guys. Gus Handler’s had just a great summer, and he’s earned everything that he is getting.”
On this Saturday’s “scrimmage” – “We call it a ‘scout’ scrimmage. It’s really a mock game. We go through substitutions; special teams situations; where do we go for pre-game warmup. We’re just in helmets, so it’s not like a real scrimmage … All those things, we need to know where we’re going.”
On the running back depth chart – “I wish there was a little more definition in (the rotation). We have Speedy and just some guys. I wish some guys would separate themselves, I’d like that. You know. (Running backs coach) Eric (Bieniemy) could probably speak to that more, what he is looking for in those situations. They all flash, they all have different strengths. I just wish one of them would say, ‘I’m the next guy. I’m taking that role’.”
On the play of junior safety Ray Polk – “Ray is physical, and he runs really well. I like his attitude. I think he has really good range. I wish he was younger. I know we’ve got him for two years, but I think he’ll be a very good player for us here when it’s all said and done.”
Schedule for Wednesday, August 24th: Practice (4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 23rd
On Tuesday’s practice – “It was good today; a little sluggish in spots. At the end, they got a little bit tired, but it was good. We did some live work today, ones v. ones, so that was good. And guys got after it, so I was glad. We were tackling good, and hitting.”
On the return of backup quarterback Nick Hirschman, who missed last week with a bad ankle – “Yes, he was a full participant. He threw some in there today, he was doing some stuff. He did everything as a normal backup. He’s been participating since Monday, even threw some on Friday.”
On contact in practice – “We’ll continue to hit through this week, and then we’ll see where we’re at as far as what we do next.”
On the play of Josh Hartigan, David Goldberg and Juda Parker in the new Jack (Outside) Linebacker position – “I think Mike (Tuiasosopo) and Kanavis (McGhee) are doing a good job of getting those guys off of the ball, and converting from run to pass rush moves, so I expect those guys to do a good job in putting pressure on the quarterback.”
On depth at linebacker, then on depth in general - “I wouldn’t say pretty deep (at linebacker), but we have decent depth. We’re not where I’d like us to be from that standpoint. When I am comfortable with our depth is when we have great scout teams. When you have guys like Chad Brown on your scout teams, but he’s going to be a great player for you … I remember some of the scout teams that we had (in the early 1990′s), and some of the guys who were on it. When we get to that point, that allows you to have better quality practices. It allows you to do some things, more things from a physical standpoint … I’m not knocking the guys we have now, but I feel like when we get to that point (of having exceptional scout teams), that’s part of the deal about building a program.”
On junior linebacker Jon Major, who led the team in tackles last season before being injured midway through the season – “Major’s done very well. He’s a captain, so that says a lot when your peers think that much of you to vote you a captain. Jon’s had a very good camp. He’s got better in the pass game, and that’s were I felt he needed a lot of work, just watching him from last year. He’s got a lot better feel for that, so, I’m pleased with him.”
On preparing for the Hawai’i game – “We’ll get going on that stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that they do, so we’ve started mixing some of that stuff in.”
On the reason for the elevation of freshman wide receiver Tyler McCulloch to co-starter (along with senior Toney Clemons) – “He gets open and he catches the ball. A simple task, but it’s obviously not something everyone can do. He has a knack for it. He has a knack for finding the seems, makes the tough catches in the middle. He plays physical. That’s what I liked about him on his tape, was how physical he was. When you get those long touchdown runs? That’s because you have wide receivers downfield blocking. That’s the difference between a 12-yard run and a 60-yard run. It’s your wide receivers, and what they are doing in your running game. I think (McCulloch) has got a bright future here.”
On recruiting “sleepers” like McCulloch – “You can make recruiting numbers say anything you want them to say. When you recruit, you’ve got to find guys who fit your system; guys that have the mentality that you want. When I look at programs like Iowa – I don’t know what their recruiting classes are every year, but I can guarantee you that they are probably not in the top 30 in recruiting every year, let alone top ten. But they find a way to be in a BCS bowl every four years, because (Iowa head coach) Kirk (Ferentz) does a great job of finding linemen, a great job of finding players for his system. Same with Wisconsin. I mention those two programs in terms of recruiting because they are similar to us, in terms of the numbers of in-state players that you are going to have consistently every year. This is a very good year this year in Colorado (in terms of elite prospects), but normally, you’ll have what, three or four guys? So you have to go out of state, just like Iowa. They have to go out of state. Wisconsin, they have to go out of state. So you have to do a good job of identifying, you have to do a good job of coaching them up when they get here. A lot of times you can get guys who are five stars or whatever they are, and they have peaked out. They don’t know how to compete; they have maxed out. (Recruiting) is an inexact science. You can make the numbers say whatever you want them to say; you can spin it however you want. At the end of the day, I’d wish they would rate classes when they graduate. Then we’ll know who had what kind of class.”
Schedule for Tuesday, August 23rd: Practice (4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 22nd
On the new depth chart, which is littered with freshmen - “We’re just trying to put the players who have performed the best in camp. I played as a freshman; they trusted me (in 1983) … (This group of freshmen) have a sense of urgency, and that’s okay. We’ve got to play them.”
On whether Daniel Munyer and Gus Handler at center might both play in the opener against Hawai’i – “They’ll both play. There’s no ‘might’.”
On the offensive line in general – “(Offensive line coach) Steve (Marshall) feels great about having eight pretty solid ones, especially going in there with the heat. With the situation work, getting in as many fresh bodies as we can. We’ll do that on both sides of the line … We have to play a lot of people. That’s why last week was so important from that standpoint, figuring out which guys you can play.”
More on the high number of freshmen in the depth chart - “The other thing about having this many freshmen playing, and being around it. They’re going to go through this, and have some experience to draw on. I’ll never forget how Coach Mac used to bring guys on certain road trips, because it was a big game. It was like, ‘This guy’s going to play football for us at one point, I want him to see what it’s like in a hostile environment, playing in front of this crowd in two years’ … Maybe it’s getting Tyler McCulloch or Nelson Spruce around, being involved in some of those game situations. One day, we’re going to need them. Maybe this year; maybe two years down the road. I think it’s hard for a kid when he starts for the first time, and its also the first time he’s playing, but he’s been on campus for three years. Three years experience on campus is not experience. Experience is being in the ballgame, and being around it, or at least seeing it. I think it’s important that we get those guys around it as much as we can.”
On the 3-4 alignment on defense – “From a personnel standpoint, it’s a good fit, and we can do a lot of different things out of it.”
On the punting choice of freshman Darragh O’Neill over sophomore incumbent Zach Grossnickle – “You know, ‘Dar’ beat him by about half a yard in (head-to-head competition), and .01 something on hang time, so I went with Dar. We’ll see how he does. We’ll see if he takes off like the young kid (freshman placekicker Will Oliver) did. I told Zach, that doesn’t mean you quit competing. I told (senior transfer Mark) Brundage that too. Sometimes kids react differently. Sometimes kids, when they’re in a competition, they don’t perform as well as they are capable. Then, when there is no pressure on them, they relax and find their groove. Sometimes other guys, they win a competition, they relax and say, ‘Okay, I got it’, and don’t perform. So, we’ll always be evaluating, throughout the whole year. The depth chart is fluid, it’s always going to be fluid. So don’t ever feel like, ‘Hey, I’m the guy, so I can just relax’.”
Embree reconsiders dressing down team
As fall camp shifts into preparation for the 2011 season, practices are moving to 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily, with the first on-field work since Friday’s scrimmage taking place Monday afternoon.
Before taking the field with his new depth chart and a closed facility, head coach Jon Embree softened some of his language from Friday.
“Talking with other coaches – some guys whose opinions I value – and reading what other programs in our conference are doing, I feel better,” he said. “There’s a lot of programs trying to (develop depth and avoid injury) and that’s the only way to develop the depth you have. No matter how ugly it may have been, that’s what we had to do to evaluate . . . I feel better about it from that standpoint. I’m still not happy with the results, but I understand it’s part of what camp has to be.
“When I look at camp as a whole, I feel like we had 17 really good practices. I mean really good practices. We had one that was OK, and we had the one that I felt was not good enough. So when I look at the big scheme and the roster from a health standpoint, camp was good. Some of the other guys I talk to have (injury) issues; we’re good from that standpoint.”
Notes and quotes from Monday’s scrimmage will be posted here as soon as they are available …
Second scrimmage lacking
Summing up the 105-play Friday scrimmage, Colorado head coach Jon Embree was to the point: “The defense played well, the offense was not good enough.”
The lack of production on offense will lead to changes in the depth chart, which is to be updated and released on Monday. “We’re going to have changes on the depth chart,” Embree told reporters after the scrimmage. “It’s the same three or four guys – and that’s the thing on offense, all it takes is one guy (misfiring). It’s the same three or four guys consistently making mistakes at the critical times.
“From a depth standpoint, we have to stay healthy. There are guys who continually show they can’t do it or they won’t do it. We’re going to have to stay healthy and we’re going to have to get creative. If we get some injuries at some positions . . . I’m not going to just put somebody in because they’re next on the depth chart.”
Embree was clearly frustrated about how his team performed, and the small number of players he can count on with less than two weeks to go before the September 3rd opener at Hawai’i. “We’re at that point where I know what (a few of the front-line players) can do. I want everyone healthy for Hawaii. Maybe it’s paranoia or whatever, but I was really conscious about that going into this thing. I didn’t want to get anybody hurt. We need to be able to prepare Monday full speed ahead.
“It’s been a hard week physically. It seems every day there’s a new seven guys coming down with something or being ruled out or fighting their way through it. But it is what it is.
“I know it’s ugly and it’s frustrating. I know the offensive coaches wanted to do some things and do more . . . I probably handicapped them some, but I just want to evaluate guys. I want to see how guys play, how when things aren’t going good who can pull themselves out of it. (Friday) confirmed what I thought about some of the guys.”
Schedule for Friday, August 19th: Scrimmage- not open to the public - 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Jon Embree Quotes – August 18th
On Thursday’s practice – “We’re definitely a tired team. We rested some guys today. We didn’t have Tyler (Hansen) throw or do anything today, so we can get some other guys some reps. Some guys had some opportunities to show what they know and what they can do. I was disappointed in how some of the backups played, and what they did. So that was disappointing from that standpoint. The kicker was good; 91 (freshman Will Oliver) kicked it through every time, so I was pleased with that.”
On freshman quarterback John Schrock: “I was pleased with 14 (Schrock) and his decision making … I think he definitely solidified himself as the No. 3 guy (over fellow freshman Stevie Dorman and junior transfer Brent Burnette). I feel good about our quarterback position … We can run the whole offense with (Schrock). That’s been the good thing about him getting all the reps in practice with Nick (Hirschman) resting his foot, and then us not using Tyler at all today. He’s been in a lot of two minute situations, which is critical for that position. He’s been in some situations where he’s had to think and figure out what we want to do … Being quick with his decisions and understanding there is no wrong decision. I’m not going to get mad if it’s third-and-12 and you had a guy open and you got us seven (yards) and we take the points (by getting the field goal unit closer). That’s okay, because if you sit there and hold it, like he was doing earlier, we’re getting sacks. Now we’re definitely out of field goal range, and some of those sacks turn into turnovers. I feel very comfortable with John Schrock if we needed to play him.”
On the play of backups - “I was disappointed in a handful of guys that need to step up, that are backups, and they’re not doing it. So we’ll make plans accordingly … Some guys think that their opportunities are going to be, ‘well, you’ve got 12 plays, now show us what you can do’. What they don’t understand - I’m evaluating every day, every play, every rep. I don’t believe in the, ‘Oh, it’s game day. I’m going to play better’. So that’s what they have to understand. Every time they are out there, we’re putting it on tape, and they’re going to be evaluated. Some of these guys don’t understand that, and that’s okay. I’m not going to let them prove me wrong on game day. They’re not going to be out there. That’s just how it is. I look to the guys who do it right in practice. The guys that we know who will do it right on Saturday. There may be a more talented guy standing next to me, but I’m okay with that. I’m not going to let some guy go out there and beat me, and lose the game, and then have some guy say, ‘Well, he did it in practice. What made you think he wouldn’t do that in a game?’ . That’s okay. We need to know who we can count on, and who we can’t”.
On giving a scholarship to walk-on senior Kyle Cefalo – “Kyle’s been great on and off the field. Like I told the guys last night, I’d rather give it to a known commodity, than giving it to a guy coming in new, where you don’t know what you’ve got. Kyle’s been tremendous here, since I’ve been around him; he’s earned it. So we put him on scholarship.”
On the influence of defensive coordinator and secondary coach Greg Brown – “If you look at what was our passing defense when he was here, and what it was like the year he was gone for a year. Same players. I think that speaks for itself … He’s got tremendous experience. You’re talking 15 years in the League. He’s been a college coach at different levels. Sometimes I think when you look at a college coach at lower levels, at a different quality of player, you have to be creative. You have to be a good teacher if you’re going to get your players to have success. He’s been able to do that at every level. He’s always had success. I like his temperment. To be in the back end, you have to forget that last play. I think he has a good balance of when to get on guys, and when to help them get on to the next play.”
On the play of junior defensive end Nick Kasa – “Nick is going to help us a lot. Nick has had a good camp. As far as the star stuff (Kasa was one of the highest rated players of the Dan Hawkins regime), I don’t pay attention to that. You’re a zero star when you get here. You’ve got to start over. So that (Kasa’s rating) doesn’t affect me one way or the other. He’s had a very good camp. He was off to a decent spring and then got hurt and missed most of spring, so that was a little disheartening, because I know in the back of his mind, and Jon Major, and a couple of others, about staying healthy. Like I said the other day, along the defensive line, whether you are a starter or a backup, you’re going to see equal snaps, so that doesn’t matter. So I feel comfortable in what he brings”.
Schedule for Thursday, August 18th: Practice (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.) (Last practice open to the public) and a walk-through (5:45-6:30 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 17th
On running two minute drills during Wednesday’s practice – “I’m doing it as a form of conditioning. There’s just some more situations; being aware of a few things – wanting to work a few field goal attempts with no time on the clock; work the ten-second run off (the new penalty which can be imposed this year). We had that (penalty) in the League, but we just wanted to get the guys used to that and understand what that is, and how we’ve got to react … We did all right (with the drills). We’re down some bodies at the receivers. We need to be better there, in better shape. I know they’re tired, but they’ve got to keep pushing themselves.”
On how much he’s looked at Hawai’i – “A ton. I’ve seen every game on both sides, and I have certain opponents of theirs that I have watched, five or six times, both sides.”
On whether facing a 5,000-yard passer keeps him up at night – “Nope. I like my guys. I do. I like my guys. We’ll see; we’ll see. But I like my guys. I like what they’re doing back there. I think guys are starting to step up. I think we’re figuring out what we need to do from a defensive standpoint, to kind of give us our identity on that side of the ball. It’s a great test, right out of the box. We’ll know after that game what we need to work on.”
On the good play of the defensive line - “I’m confident in the whole team right now. Some guys who I think are doing well … our D-line has been maligned (in the past), but I think they have had a very good camp … I think we have good quality. I feel like there is not this huge drop off when one guy comes out and the next guy comes in. More importantly, I feel like they all play together; they all play for each other; they pull for each other. You need to have that up front, because the starter may play 50 plays, and the next guy may play 45 … Just because you’re the first guy out, doesn’t mean that the guy behind you is not going to get a lot of reps.”
On the play of the offensive line – “I like what our O-line is doing when we’ve got our (starting) five in there. We look bad at times, but that is because we are moving guys around in there, cross-training them. Left side; right side, they get their lefts and rights mixed up at times, and that makes us look bad, but I’m not overly concerned about that, because we are developing depth, and that’s what we need to do on that side of the ball.”
On the play of red-shirt freshman cornerback (and former quarterback recruit) Josh Moten – “J-Mo has played well the last couple of days. He really has. He’s one of the few guys out there who catches it when he touches it. That’s always good. He’s had a couple of picks in some of these situations, and he’s doing a good job of being aggressive, being physical. J-Mo has certainly put himself in the mix. He’s just to make sure he’s doing something on (special) teams now … He’s made some really good plays, he really has.”
On junior transfer cornerback Makiri Pugh moving over to wide receiver – “He wants to try, try to look at receivers. So we’ll go ahead and let him go there.” On whether Pugh has a chance to play – “We have to see. It’s hard to evaluate him right now. I guess we’ll find out more in the spring.”
Schedule for Wednesday, August 17th: Practice (8:30 – 11:00 a.m.) and a walk-through (5:15-6:15 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 16th
On the passing game – “I’m not worried about our passing game (even though it may appear that the offense is struggling) … We’re doing play-action pass movements. We’re doing ‘nakeds’ and bootlegs. Our defense knows they’re doing it, so they’re calling blitzes to make us throw hot. So, no. I’m not worried about where we are with our passing game.”
On the saga of the punters – “They both (sophomore Zach Grossnickle and freshman Darragh O’Neill) did well today. Grossnickle is a little bit ahead, because he’s been a little more consistent … but that’s not saying much. We’ve got to be way better … But I’d say (Grossnickle) is a little bit ahead right now.”
On whether red-shirt freshman walk-on Josh Ford has a chance to play – “Yes he does. Josh just keeps making plays. He keeps showing up. He’s does that since spring (practices).”
On the status of the offensive line – “You know, we feel good. We’re moving guys around – center to guard, guard to center, guard to tackle. That’s part of the issue with the passing game. A guy thinks he’s at tackle and he’s the guard. You know, it’s a different call, so a guy’s coming in free. We have a good idea who are five guys are, but we are working guys in other positions, so if we have an injury, they can move in. It’s not their first time doing it. It may cost us some reps in practice, but it’s what we need to do. Because we don’t have true depth as far as saying, ‘Okay, we have these ten guys’. We’ve got to use eight guys to fill the ten spots, so we’re moving guys all over the place. That’s why sometimes you see a guy coming in Scot-free on pass protection, our guys forgotten he’s not the left tackle, he’s the right guard. There’s a lot that has to go through their mind … But when they are in there at their right positions, they do a good job at it.”
On the status of the centers (note: senior Shawn Daniels has been slightly injured, and has been held out of some of the most recent practices) – “They’re both (sophomore Gus Handler and red-shirt freshman Daniel Munyer) doing well. They’re both doing very well, and Kaiwi (Crabb) was in some at center also.”
On the number of players who have the flu – “We’re getting killed by the flu. Guys are taking four bags of IV … but, like I told them, they came out and practiced. They got after it, they were physical. (The morning practice) wasn’t perfect, but that’s okay. USC has got 19 people hurt, I asked how many of our guys are hurting, and they all raised their hands, but we aren’t having that many guys out of practice”.
On holding out some starters due to injuries – “(Senior running back Rodney Stewart)’s hamstring was a little tight. It gives us a chance to work other guys. That’s what we need to do. Same with (sophomore wide receiver Paul) Richardson, his groin was a little sore. We know what he can do. We’ve got to evaluate other guys … I bet we’ve had 15 to 20 guys hit (with the flu). We’re like a M*A*S*H unit, we’ve got so many IV’s. Most guys are getting two or three bags. But all but (red-shirt freshman tight end Kyle) Slavin and (freshman defensive back Will) Harlos were able to practice today. I think that says a lot about the mindset of these guys.”
On the release of an updated depth chart – “Probably after the second scrimmage (August 19th). Probably during the week of the 22nd.”
Schedule for Tuesday, August 16th: Last of the three two-a-day practices (8:30 – 11:00 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 15th
On review of the scrimmage tapes from Saturday – “Early on offensively, we were having one guy break down here or there, so, after seeing that, that was disappointing. But nothing that we couldn’t fix, so it was good for them to be in that kind of environment, under that kind of pressure – getting them to think and react. That explained why we started kind of slow on offense. We have to start fast. We have to start creating our own momentum. We’re learning how to do that a little bit, but we’re not where we need to be as far as that.”
On clearing up position battles – Yeah, I think I know who are corners are going to be, so we’ll see if they finish like that. I’m not announcing it now, but I think that (Saturday’s scrimmage) cleared that up. I think that there are some guys at the back end, at the safety position, who can help us. Also, on the defensive side, I felt a couple of the young ‘backers played particularly well. So, we’ll see how some of the guys fit in on the special teams with us, and get that cleared up”
On the receivers - “I felt some of the receivers started distinguishing themselves (during the scrimmage)”. Was Toney Clemons one of those? – “No, we’ve got to figure out a way to get him more consistent. He’s hard on himself, I don’t know what it is, but it’s just something we just have to keep working with him on. I’m sure if you ask him, (he’ll say) he expects more of himself than what he’s done.”
On the return of defensive back Parker Orms – “I really wasn’t watching him much today, but the good news is I don’t see him riding off today on a cart, so there’s a positive sign. I think that having him back, and having him in the mix, and having him going will help us back there.”
On senior right guard Ryan Miller not seeing much action in practice on Monday – “We’re trying to find our combination up front … That was the reason for some of the problems early on, just some of the communication. Guy has been playing center now he’s guard, going from tackle to guard or guard to tackle, just trying to get these guys to communicate. We’re battling some things right now, a lot of guys are going through I’d guess what you would call the flu bug, so that’s why we were a little lethargic. Also, guys are beat up and sore. But they keep ‘making the pads talk’, so that’s an encouraging sign, because we are going to feel like this in Week eight. So let’s see how we react in Week eight when we’re beat up, sore and tired like this.”
On it being good to have Chidera Uzo-Diribe (who suffered a neck injury last week) back in practice – “Yeah. I was teasing him – I still haven’t got the note from his mom saying that it was okay for him to come back to practice, cause he was begging me to practice from the first day back. He wanted to come back out, and I told him, ‘Get a note from your mom and we’ll do it’. He still hasn’t produced one, but it was great having him back out there.
On the play of senior defensive end Josh Hartigan – “Josh Hartigan also had a good day out there, coming off of the edge … One of the things as coaches that we’re trying to see is who is out there asserting themselves. There were plenty of times out there today when I normally would have had a different reaction, but I just wanted to see if some of the players would take it upon themselves to say something, because we’re on the sidelines come gameday. So, they’ve got to learn how to lead out there on the field and get after each other in the right way, when things are going as they should be (and Hartigan is one of those players assuming a leadership role)”.
On naming a starting punter mid-week, as previously discussed – “After today, gol-ly, I don’t know. In a perfect world, yeah (he will name a punter this week). We’ll put the pressure on them tomorrow, see if someone just asserts themselves … no one wants it. No one wants to do it … it was average at best (on Monday). And that’s just because I don’t know anything else to say.”
Schedule for Sunday, August 14th: Academic meetings; no practice.
Jon Embree Post-Scrimmage Quotes – August 13th
On the scrimmage overall – “Overall, I’m happy. I don’t think we started sharp, offensively, that was a little disappointing. But I was happy from the standpoint that we ran the ball. We were physical. The defense was hitting people. The passing game got going; once again we were rusty. We came out throwing early. It was not as sharp as I would have liked. We came out of it healthy, That was the main thing. I’m happy with where we are after the first week … It was physical; there were some guys taking some shots. I’m glad we came out of that one healthy.”
On the play overall – “There were not a lot of mental mistakes. The one thing I am disappointed in are the penalties on the offensive side. I think we had five illegal procedures; we can’t have that. We’re working different people at center, so it’s always going to be a little bit different, but that’s no excuse. We’ve got to be dialed in, it doesn’t matter who is in there.”
On whether the number of sacks which would have been given up (if the quarterbacks had been live) were attributable to poor offensive line play, or good defensive line play: “I think our D-line has had a very good camp, so I think it’s a combination. Some of the things we’re doing on offense, we’re moving people around – Because of some guys being nicked, we’re moving people around, just trying to evaluate people. So it’s a combination, I think it’s more D-line than our guys. Off the top of my head, I would say that there were probably five or six sacks. But I just tell the official to let it go. We need to see the ball throw, we need to see the people on the back end … Our defense is giving us a lot of different looks. Our defensive is doing a lot of things which is going to help us and make us better.”
On freshman quarterback John Schrock – “John Schrock’s doing great. I’ve been very hard on him, because he’s made some mistakes that he can’t make at the quarterback position. At the same time, I’ve got to remember that he’s just a freshman. But he has a good awareness of where to go with the ball; he has a good feel for the offense … He’s a guy that I think, had he been used differently in high school, we wouldn’t have got him as a walk-on … He’s probably entrenched himself as the number three guy (behind Hansen and Hirschman).”
On whether freshman Nelson Spruce has played well enough to make the travel team – “Yes. We’ll see what he can do with special teams, to help solidify that. He had a good scrimmage. (Nunmber) 87 (freshman wide receiver Tyler McCulloch) had a good scrimmage. I think those two freshmen wide receivers have put themselves in a position to have a chance to contribute.”
On freshman D.D. Goodson - “D.D. ran well. We’ll see how it looks on tape; we’ll see how the running backs guy (Eric Bieniemy) thinks about him. But my initial impression is that he did run well.
On whether a decision has been made as to a starting punter – “No. I think we’re going to just have these guys keep competing, keep putting pressure on them; put them in more situations. The main thing I want from that position is good hang time. I just want a guy who can kick it 40 yards, and make the guy fair catch it. I don’t need Superman; let’s just start there and build off of that.”
On the kickers – “Castor and Oliver both had good scrimmages … I think if Justin continues to do what he’s doing, we’ll have two good kickers. I’ve been here before when we’ve had one kicker for the longer kicks and one for the shorter kicks, and that could be (Castor’s) role, along with kickoffs. He still has an important role … And (Oliver) still has to go. Like I say, we’re one week in … I’ve got to keep putting those guys in pressure situations.”
On the play of the cornerbacks – “Corners? I’m pleased. I may be the only one. I like 20 a lot (freshman Greg Henderson). I like his demeanor; I like the fact that he’s physical. I like him a lot. I thought 25 (sophomore Ayodeli Olatoye) and 32 (sophomore Paul Vigo) did some good things. Sandersfeld did some good things. I know we need corners, and I just feel like some players will emerge. I think the guys are getting more comfortable in some of the things we’re asking them to do. And I think that helps is that our guys (on the defensive line) are getting some pressure, so they’re not covering all day long.
On players who stood out during the scrimmage – “On the defensive side, (freshman defensive back) Kyle Washington, (freshman defensive back Will) Harlos, and Henderson. I really felt like those guys really stepped up. On the offensive side, I was glad to see No. 87 (freshman Tyler McCulloch) do some stuff. I thought 5 (senior running back Rodney Stewart) ran well. He’s got to learn that – all I need is four yards. He doesn’t have to try and get 30 yards, 40 yards, every time he carries the ball. Just get us four. Tyler (Hansen) did well. He started a little bit rough. I want to get him more aggressive, with his leadership; with his teammates. I want him to be more vocal than he’s been.”
Schedule for Saturday, August 13th: Scrimmage – 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., down on the practice fields. (Note: This will be the only scrimmage open to the public. The second scrimmage, scheduled for Friday, August 19th, was to be open to the public, but is now closed. The reason cited is parking. It will be summer graduation next weekend, and students will begin moving onto campus for the fall semester. No parking spaces = No open scrimmage).
Jon Embree Quotes – August 12th
On evaluations during the Saturday scrimmage – “We’ll evaluate everybody tomorrow, as best we can. Some players like Chidera (Uzo-Diribe, who was injured during Wednesday’s practice) will be on a ‘pitch count’, but other than that, we’ll be trying to evaluate as many guys as we can.”
On how the scimmage be conducted – “Situational, as far as just starting it out on the 20 or the 30. I doubt we’ll do anything starting in the redzone; we may do some of that just to get some kicks, but I’ve never been big on that. You end up with 49 points, and you feel like you’ve done something, but there all 25-yard drives.”
On what he hopes to get out of the first scrimmage – “Just to see how well guys know what we want them to do; how they are with details; how well they can think when there are no coaches on the field … It’s just good to get them out there and see how well they play when they don’t have that security blanket.”
On the injury to quarterback Nick Hirschman – “He’ll be out here tomorrow. Like with Parker (Orms), when you have a foot like that, it’s just the swellinging issue you’re dealing with. You want to keep him elevated as much as he can. We’ve got him in a boot. If not tomorrow, for sure next week … He’s doing everything else, there’s just no need to have him out here and making things worse. We want him to heel as quickly as he possibly can.”
On the importance of special teams – “A lot of places, coaches look at (special teams), and players look at special teams as a punishment; doing something extra. They want to be the position coach, or as a player, they want to play their position. They don’t understand the importance of special teams and being on it. Having someone who understands that (special teams coach J.D. Brookhart) was huge.”
Schedule for Friday, August 12th: Practice (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.); walk-through (5:15 – 6:15 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 11th
On naming a new punter – “I know who I think it is, but I want to be 100% sure … Hopefully, we’ll have it finalized by early next week. We’ll kick some in the scrimmage, I don’t know how much, but then we’ll put the screws to them on Monday. So, hopefully by Monday we’ll have our punter.” Embree went on to say that all three of the punters – senior transfer Mark Brundage; sophomore Zach Grossnickle; and freshman Darragh O’Neill – were all still in the competition. “I believe it’s like the quarterback position. The sooner they know, then the more they can relax. It’s just a different mindset. I would like to decide early, then let them prove me wrong one way or the other … I think it’s easier on a guy when he knows if he’s the guy or not.”
UPDATE: Quotes from after the afternoon practice – “We had a punt off to get it down to two. (Freshman) Darragh O’Neill is definitely in it. I’ll see who the other will turn out to be, but it will probably be (senior transfer Mark) Brundage going at it. We’ll see when I see the stats, but that’s what it looked like here on the field”. As for Zach Grossnickle, last year’s punter, and the apparent odd man out? “That by no means does it mean for him to stop working. Just like I told (Justin) Castor (who lost out on the kicking job earlier this week), ‘Keep working. Things happen. Keep working’.” And a final decision? – “Mid to late week (next week). Unless one of the two clearly distinguishes themself.”
On picking the 70-man travel roster for the season opener in Hawai’i – “Friday we’ll continue to go over it. We’ve got to wait and see on some guys, from a health standpoint. But, to the coaches, it’s pretty clear cut … We’ll come up with our list, and then see how the scrimmage (Saturday) shakes out. There are some guys who are very good ‘shorts’ players, but who are really good in pads. That’s why the scrimmage will still be very important from that standpoint. We’ll get a chance to see if they can separate themselves.”
On Chidera Uzo-Diribe getting back to practice – “He wants to practice. I talk with (the trainers) on that. I know what he can do. I’m comfortable with what he can do; in his abilities … I want him for Hawai’i. We’ll see how sore he is”.
On Brian Lockridge – “He has just a tailbone bruise, so that’s why he hasn’t been running … This gives us the opportunity to look at some of the younger guys. We’ve got to make sure that we’re evaluating them too.”
On the Thursday afternoon practice – “About three-quarters of our practice will be with the freshmen; with our ‘threes’, guys who maybe aren’t getting a lot of reps. It will be more of a teaching (practice), getting them more involved with things.”
On freshman D.D. Goodson – “He has a chance to help us on (special) teams and offensively. That’s another guy we’ve got to get some more evaluation on, him and (freshman running back) Malcolm Creer. So we can see who can do what; how it all fits” … On Goodson as a returner – “Good quickness; good hands as far as catching the ball. He’s a real natural at getting underneath it, at catching it. He shows good quickness, at getting to the hole … He’ s got some wiggle to him. After we get the punting thing going, we’ll have more time to evaluate the returners.”
On freshman quarterbacks – “(John) Schrock’s progressing, even faster than Stevie Joe (Dorman). That’s been encouraging, so we’ve been getting him some reps. They’ve both got a long ways to go, but you just have to bring along those guys as they pick up what they can. We don’t want to throw them out there in the middle of the ocean … we may never get them back!”
On centers and corners, anything worked out? – “Nope. Nope. Still open tryouts … We’ll hope to have it down to four cornerbacks by the end of scrimmage. I can say that Travis Sandersfeld has done well.”
On the play of Tyler Hansen – “He’s really sharp. He was a little rusty at the beginning of camp. I don’t know if he was just pressing a little bit, trying to be perfect, but he’s good. He does a good job of getting us out of the huddle, getting in the right plays; all of those different things that we need to do. He does a lot of little things that don’t necessarily show up … getting the ball snapped, getting the right motion, a lot of detail things. He does a good job with that … He does a heckuva job throwing the ball on the run … He’s a good player.”
On Friday’s practice – “It will be even more special teams. We’re going to do all phases, so it will be a heavier special teams practice. We’ve been doing a lot of drills. Now, we’re going to start trying to put some of the pieces together.”
Schedule for Thursday, August 11th: Second of three two-a-day practices – 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.; 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Jon Embree Quotes – August 10th
On sophomore defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who was taken off the field with a head/neck injury – “Chidera’s going to be fine. I think it’s similar to what happened to DaVaughn (Thornton), so I’m sure he’s going to be sore. He’s just a little bit of tingling I guess. So (what the trainers did) was just precautionary. You never want to take a risk on something like that. I guess he just landed kind of funny on his neck/shoulder, so what was done was precautionary … He was conscious; talking. He had feeling and everything.”
On Uzo-Diribe’s efforts this fall – “He’s been great. We’ve put him inside some (at defensive tackle). He does a great job of using his hands and getting on the edge. He’s a guy that I forgot that we didn’t have much during the spring (due to a toe injury). It’s been good seeing him out there.”
On the defensive line in general – “I’m happy with our D-line depth as a whole. Both inside and outside, we have some guys who can spell each other, because … the way we play, we’re going to have to roll guys. We’re going to have to get everybody who is traveling, who is up for the game, ready at the D-line position.” On the incoming freshmen, Juda Parker and Stephane Nembot – “I would expect both of those guys to be involved some.”
On the intensity on Wednesday (after Embree complained about the lack of intensity in the Tuesday afternoon practice) – “The intensity was what I wanted (Wednesday morning); what we need … I told Mike Bohn this in my interview, I’m not a ‘want’ guy, I’m a ‘need’ guy. We need to practice at a certain level. We’re not good enough to just roll our helmets out there. We can’t let the standard dip because we’re sore, tired, or whatever. We have to go at a certain pace and a certain tempo … That’s on us too as coaches. We talked at the coaches’ meeting last night, ‘We’ve got to get it out of them’. I know it’s hard; I know it’s a grind. Everybody else is in that same situation. This is your opportunity to separate yourself; to get ahead. We have to practice with that mindset; have that mentality.”
On the recovery of sophomore defensive back Parker Orms – “He’s starting to work back in. We’re doing some individual work with him now. I’d like to have him back Monday or Tuesday … It all depends on the swelling in the calf.”
On the search for a third wide receiver after sophomore Paul Richardson and senior Toney Clemons – “We’re all right. We’ll see in the scrimmage. We have to be better at catching 50/50 balls. They have got to be better when you have to compete for a ball. You have to go up and catch it – you have to. We have to be better about that.”
On freshman defensive back Greg Henderson – “I got on Greg today. Here’s what I see from Greg. He’s there every time – now make the play. Great feet, hips, he’s there with them when he runs. Now – just don’t let them catch the ball. As he continues to grow, and get some confidence … A lot of these guys think they have to be perfect … A lot of these guys press because they don’t want to let the team down, but just ‘go play. Trust your technique, and everything else will take care of itself. You’ve got ten other guys out there who’ve got your back.”
On the tight ends – “Right now, I’d say we probably have four (most likely seniors Ryan Deehan and Matthew Bahr, sophomore DaVaughn Thornton, and red-shirt freshman Kyle Slavin) that we can play with … They all have a different skill set … As coaches, you don’t ask players to do what they can’t do, so if Matt Bahr is the blocking end, we’re not going to ask him to go out and catch a corner route … But we need them. We need them because they help bring the physical element that we need for our run game.”
Schedule for Wednesday, August 10th: Practice – 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.; Walk-through – 4:45 – 5:45 p.m.
Jon Embree Quotes – August 9th
On whether the Buffs have a new No. 1 kicker - “Yep. Will Oliver. We had 24-yard field goals, and he made ten in a row. The other guy (Justin Castor) had three opportunities, couldn’t make ten in a row. That guy (Will Oliver) did it his first time. He’s our kicker.” Will this decision be subject to change?: “It’s like the quarterback, right? How long are we going to just keep pretending? If I’ve got a guy, and I think that it’s him, and I have confidence in him … I know he may have a bad day here or there, but you know what? He’s come out and earned it. He’s had two very good days when he has not missed. I’ll take my chances right now with him.”
On recruiting Will Oliver to be a starter as a freshman – “I knew we needed someone. All I heard when I got here was about the Cal game and that we had kicking problems. So I did know we needed to get somebody … He’s got a work a little better in getting some lift, but that will come. Like I said, he’s had two very very good days. The pressure was on them, neither one of them knew what was going to happen today. (Oliver) was ready; he was prepared.”
On what he sees in Oliver: “He seems confident. The thing I like about him, he’s been in some pressure situations. One day, he struggled a little bit, got down. But the other days, he’s responded. So, we’ll see.”
Will he do the same type of competition with the punters? – “We’ll see. We’ll get it down to two, and out of those two, figure out who the one is. I told them that they are on notice. They don’t know when, but they know it will happen.”
On handling kickers as part of the team – “I try to coach them with kid gloves, but I just can’t. I’ve got to be me, so, if you can’t handle me, you can’t kick for me. It’s like any other position. I can’t all of the sudden become gentle and kind … You have to be thick-skinned. I want a guy who embraces pressure. I spent some time with Mason Crosby this summer; he embraces pressure … I want a guy who embraces pressure, who wants that. I don’t want a guy (who says), ‘I can’t kick today, I’m a little sore’. Everybody’s sore. Everybody’s tired and beat up. If you want to be on this team, we all have got to do it together.”
On senior transfer Logan Gray – “He’s starting to get a grasp, get a little more comfortable. His first couple of practices, I was like, ‘Where is it? Where is it?’. I think he’s getting comfortable now. I don’t know if it’s just the weirdness of being in a whole different environment … but his last two practices have been pretty good. He’s going up, so that’s’ always encouraging.” Coach Embree also noted that, since Gray also played quarterback at Georgia, that he gives the team some flexibility in terms of travel (having an emergency quarterback on the roster), as well as on the field, with reverse passes and option plays.
On red-shirt freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman being kept out of practice – “He has a foot or ankle [injury] and we just don’t want it to get bad. I would assume a week or two, just to be safe.” Then, when Embree was asked about Hirschman’s availability for the first scrimmage on Saturday, Embree said, “Yeah, I am not going to scrimmage him. We need to look at those other guys and see who the third [quarterback] is.” … Guess that makes it pretty clear who the No. 2 quarterback is …
On freshman linebacker Woodson Greer, who was wearing a “no-contact” jersey on Tuesday – “Yeah, we are running him, getting him in a little better shape. With him, he is coming off shoulder surgery, he had it like five and a half months ago so we just want to make sure we ease him into it. He has done a good job in the classroom as far as learning the stuff but I just don’t want to get him out there and we get banging, he gets fatigued and then we lose him for the whole year because he needs to be able to practice and go against the one offensive unit and see how it is.”
Schedule for Tuesday, August 9th: Practice – first of three two-a-day practices (8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., with the second practice in shorts)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 8th
Overall – “Our intensity level didn’t change from what it has been (in the first day practicing with pads). We had a back-up scrimmage; we had some penalties that we just can’t have; we roughed a kicker on a tight punt, which we just can’t do … The offensive line did a good job of asserting themselves. We are a little dinged up there so guys are getting a lot of reps but it doesn’t matter. They are starting to take on the identity that we need … but the offense totally won it today.” Is that a good thing? – “Yes. because the defense won it the past three days.”
On limiting two-a-day practices (the first of which comes Tuesday) – “I understand it. (Two-a-days) came about to get guys in shape. Players now are working out all summer, if not year-round, so they’re in shape … It is a violent game, so there is only so much you have in you. There’s a fine line in practicing and learning how to do things, and embracing it (without having to have two-a-day practices)”.
On sophomore defensive back Parker Orms, who sat out of practice for the third straight day – “He’s the guy in the golf cart – to keep his leg elevated.” On Orms’ return – “I’m hoping to have him for the scrimmage. I’m hoping to have him Thursday. That’s me – the trainers might have a different deal”.
On Evan Harrington establishing himself as the top fullback – “Yeah, he is. They’re both physical (Harrington and Tyler Ahles, both of whom moved over from linebacker last season to play fullback), Evan’s just a little bit further along in the playbook, and understanding what we want, how we block and how we want it done. So he has the edge right now.”
On wide receiver Toney Clemons, who was called out by Embree on Sunday (see August 7th quotes, below) - “Toney practiced today. He did it. Now, can you do it tomorrow? Anybody can do something once, so hopefully, he continues on. But he had a great attitude (Monday), he understands it’s about him getting better, about him helping the team. He’s a pro when it comes to that. He understands what the criticism is all about.
“I know they’re college kids and all that, but there is only one way to do it, and if you’re not doing it, your teammates need to know. That’s how it is; we’re a family. I don’t necessarily look at it as calling someone out. We’re a family. We all know everyone’s business. So I’m going to make sure that teammates know when someone isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do, and when guys are going above and beyond – because we need to know.”
Schedule for Monday, August 8th: Practice – first practice in pads (8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.); Walk-through (4:45 – 5:45 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 7th
Overall – “It was very good, very good from a defensive standpoint. They are making a lot of strides. Offensively, we have one guy at wide receiver right now. Nobody wants to step up so we’ll just play with one. So that was disappointing. The kickers, the competition was good. [Justin] Castor got the best of it today. But I am very happy with the practice. The thing that pleases me the most about it is being very physical. So now when we get the pads on, nothing should change so I am very pleased with that aspect of it.”
On the wide receivers - “Yep, that’s the one (that is playing well, sophomore Paul Richardson). Toney Clemons is dropping too many passes. We got guys running wrong routes, guys can’t compete for balls in traffic. Guess what? You are not going to be open when you catch the ball. You have to catch the ball in traffic. Can’t catch in traffic? Can’t play. So we’ll find someone or we’ll just play with one.”
On the status of injured cornerback Jered Bell – “It’s unfortunate for Jered. It is what it is. We go 13 weeks. If we are fortunate, we’ll have the same starting lineup but we probably won’t. This will just give us an opportunity to develop some other people. It will give Jered an opportunity to learn from a coach’s standpoint, watching tape and seeing it from a different perspective. He can make this positive if he chooses to.”
On Parker Orms, who watched practice on Sunday – “He just strained his calf. He wants to be around watching practice and I saw him standing on it. He comes in, the swelling is down, then he stands for two and half hours and the swelling goes back up. So we just wanted him to keep it elevated as much as possible. I think we are making good headway with him.”
Schedule for Sunday, August 7th: Practice (8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.); Walk-through (4:45 – 5:45 p.m.) – in shells (first practice in pads on Monday)
Jon Embree Press Conference Quotes – August 6th
- On first three practices – “Fall camp has gone very well so far for us … The intensity level keeps rising … The thing I am most pleased about with these guys is that they seem very physical, and there are not a lot of mental mistakes, it is more technique stuff … It shows they’ve been working all summer in the playbook, watching tape, and seeing how things fit.”
- On staying in a hotel during camp, rather than in dorms – “We needed to be better as a team, as far as knowing each other … We have them rooming offense and defense, and trying to split them up and make it as diverse as possible, to try and get guys who don’t know each other to room together”.
- Why the different approach? – “The only way we’re going to win is if we’re the better team on that day. We are not going to have the best players; I’m okay with that, but we can be the better team … Part of that is trust, and the only way you’re going to trust somebody is if you know them. That’s why we’re doing it.”
- What are his expectations for this team? – “I don’t have expectations as far as numbers. I have expectations that we’re going to hit you in the mouth. I have expectations that we’re going to compete. I have expectations that the other team has to beat us, that we’re not going to go out there and lose.”
—- Sorry for the interruption, but the above two sets of quotes gave me chills. They remind me of the first time I heard Bill McCartney speak. It was the week of the Nebraska game, in Coach Mac’s first season, 1982. Colorado did not win that week, but the Buffs did compete, something we hadn’t seen during the Chuck Fairbanks’ years. If you need a short diversion, here is my write up of the 1982 Colorado/Nebraska game —–
- On traditions, in addition to bringing back past players with open arms – ‘We won’t have the inflatable thing, the tunnel, and the smoke. We’re just going to come out and run behind the buffalo … We’re going to bring back the bricks at some point … We’re going to do a lot of things that we’ve done around here before.”
- On running the ball – “I’ve got to beg Eric (Bieniemy) to run the ball, so that’s the first thing (laughs). It’s what we have to do. We have to run the ball for a couple of reasons. One, that needs to be our identity. If we are going to be a physical team, we need to run the ball and implement our will on the other team.
“The other thing about it, it helps our defense. If you’re on the field all the time, you’re not going to be a good defense … For us to be a successful program, that’s always going to be our staple. We have to be able to run the ball. We have to be able to control the clock; wear people down.”
- On Eric Bieniemy – “The great thing about Eric is that what you see is what you get. He is relentless in everything he does. He is all in all the time … He is very good at multi-tasking … He’s intense; he’s very focused.” Embree also noted that Bieniemy would be calling all of the offensive plays (“I’ve hired good coaches, I should let them coach”), and that Bieniemy would be up in the booth during the games (“at least until they kick him out”).
- On the newly implemented celebration penalty – “I understand the spirit of it, but I’m not a fan of it … I understand about celebrating before (scoring a touchdown), and we’ve talked about it. We’re going to try and coach it up as much as we can. I hope it never happens, but kids are going to be kids … I just hope (the officials) use common sense on it. I really do.”
- On utilizing the tight ends in the new offense – “The joke in the offensive room, because they say that every pass read starts with the tight end … and that’s okay. It should! … I know I’m biased, but I believe that when you have good tight ends, you can create mismatches … When you’re good from the inside out, you’ve got a chance.”
- On Hawai’i being a “trap game” – “It’s not a trap game; we’re the underdogs. I got a text message, I guess we’re 11-point underdogs, so we’ve got our work cut out … I’m excited to go.”
- On former head coach Bill McCartney – “Since I left here (in 2003, to coach at UCLA), we’ve talked semi-regularly. Mac and I have always had a good relationship. Since I’ve been back, we’ve had a number of talks. He’s given me a lot of great advice … He’s a guy I’ve told that he can be around anytime. He can sit in on any meeting; any practice”.
- On McCartney’s leadership – “No disrespect to our players – the guys who were with Mac when I was here, but he tricked us a lot, into thinking that we were better than we were. We won a lot of games that we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to win”. Embree then went on to talk about the difficulties the team endured during the 1-10 season of 1984, including the brain injury to fellow tight end Ed Reinhardt. “We had beat Iowa State, I believe they missed a field goal late in the game for us to win (with 2:17 left, to be precise. Here is a write up of the 1984 Colorado / Iowa State game). We came in, celebrating, and we have (No. 5) Nebraska the next week. When we walked out of that locker room, I felt bad for what was going to happen to Nebraska.
“Now, they beat us (but not without a fight. My writeup for the game is entitled, “You tell ‘em, Bill!”), but in my mind, and in a lot of players’ minds, it was like, ‘Man, they have no idea what they’re in for!’. That was Coach Mac. That’s what made him such a great coach. He had a great way to communicate with you to get you to not see what your negatives were, but to understand what your strengths were … and why that was going to lead to victory.”
Any guesses on how Jon Embree intends to handle the 2011 season, when the Buffs will likely be underdogs in most of their games? …
Schedule for Saturday, August 6th: Practice (8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.); Walk-through (4:45 – 5:45 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 5th
Overall – “I thought we had a really good practice. We didn’t start fast on offense, but once we got going, I thought it was good. The defense did a good job on some little things, from a detail standpoint, that was better than yesterday … It was spirited, so that was good.”
On his son, Tyler, a UCLA senior, “spying” on the Buffs’ practices (UCLA doesn’t start practice until Monday) – “I’ll send him the tape, I don’t care! He was here for three days of spring practice. By the time we play them (November 19th). we won’t have anything left to hide. It’ll all be out”. (Embree also noted that he wouldn’t walk his son out at the beginning of the game, which is Senior Day at UCLA, noting that his energy that day will be on defeating his son’s team).
On Brian Lockridge, who was injured this spring, and is playing before Embree for the first time – “Good bursts with him; some good speed … good to have him out here for depth at that position.”
On the competition for starting punter – “I stand at the 40-yard mark (at the beginning of practice) and see how many (punts) get past me”. Noting that after two days of practice, the punters should have the line calls and formations down. “Tomorrow (Saturday), the competition starts in earnest”.
On his approach to voting in the USA Today coaches’ poll – “Alphabetical order … that way Colorado makes it in there (laughs) … I’m a sports addict; a sports fan. I feel like I have a good feel for it.” Embree then went on to say something which should make every Buff fan proud (and also give members of the Buff Nation, as the head coach went after one of Buff fans’ least favorite columnists … “The reality of it is, if you’re not number one, who cares? Right?”, then challenging the assembled media – “Who was No. 17 last year in the country? Anybody know? C’mon Henderson (John Henderson, from the Denver Post, who wore red on the day Embree was introduced as head coach), C’mon, Henderson, this is your job!”.
Embree concluded the meeting with the press by noting that he was in favor of a playoff – “I’m a playoff guy … Because the year we won the Big 12 championship (20o1), we made that run. I believe if we had playoffs, it would have been interesting what would have happened. We got hot at the end of the year … As a coach, you want to get better as the season goes on; it’s unfair to be punished for a loss early in the season.” Does it still bother Embree, ten years later, that Colorado defeated Nebraska, 62-36, but the Cornhuskers played for the national championship? – “Yeah, it still bothers me. It’s one of a handful of things that you don’t ever forget. How do come second in your division, and you play for a title …?”.
Nice to know that the end of the 2001 season still bothers Jon Embree, too …
Schedule for Friday, August 5th: Walk-through (6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.); Practice (5:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
Jon Embree Quotes – August 4th
On the first practice of fall camp – “It was actually good. There was a lot of carryover from what we did in the spring. The ‘ones’, the older guys got it figured out. Now we’ve got to get these younger guys. We’re getting some mistakes … but I felt it was a really good tempo practice.”
On the evaluation of new talent in camp – “Evaluating; especially the younger guys. See who can help us early” … How long will it continue? – “When we come out of the second scrimmage (August 19th), we have to know (who we are going to play in the opener)”.
On his “vocal” assistants – “We’ve got to be positive. At the same time, we’ve got to be demanding. If we see something, we’re not going to be shy about it.”
On the battle for starting cornerback – “Travis Sandersfeld looked good. Parker (Orms) looked good before he got dinged up (a cramp in Orms’ calf, not related to his knee injury). Deji (Olatoye) showed up. A couple of the younger guys: Kyle Washington; (Greg) Henderson … It was a good competition”.
On the move of running back Cordary Allen to tight end – “We’ve got a log jam at running back. With his big body (6’1″, 235-pounds as a red-shirt freshman), he might be able to do some things from the ‘move’ tight end position. It’s similar to what we do with the fullbacks, so he should have some knowledge of what we’re asking him to do.”
Bryce Givens no longer with the team
The star-crossed career of offensive lineman Bryce Givens will not continue at the University of Colorado. “That ship has sailed,” said Jon Embree after Thursday’s practice.
Thursday night, head coach Jon Embree announced that Givens, suspended by the school for an off-the-field incident last December, will not be a member of the 2011 Buffs.
As a sophomore in 2010, Givens was severely limited by injuries. After missing most of spring practices due to academic issues, Givens suffered a high ankle sprain during fall camp. Givens saw limted action in the first two games of the season (13 plays against CSU; 14 plays against Cal) before sitting out the next four games. Givens was in for 24 plays against Texas Tech, but then did not see the field again the remainder of the season.
In 2009, Givens, as a red-shirt freshman, was on the field for 524 plays, the fifth-highest total on the offensive line. Givens earned six starts that year, which proved to be the only starts he would see as a Buff.
Schedule for Thursday, August 4th: Walk-through (6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.); Practice (5:30 – 8:30 p.m.)
Buffs Report for Duty
While the first official practices are not until Thursday, the Buffs are now officially in camp. Wednesday’s schedule include the checking in of the players, physicals, and a team meeting.
A total of 105 players reported for camp, and only one, senior offensive lineman Blake Behrens, is reported to be limited for the start of fall practice (recently aggravated bicep). This same report did not mention senior running back Brian Lockridge, who has been tentative about his status all summer. Apparently, Lockridge is fully recovered from his ankle surgery last fall, which is good news for the Buffs and their fans.
There are a number of invited, or preferred, walk-ons this fall. Included on the list:
8 BRUNDAGE, Mark P 6- 1 180 Sr. TR Centennial, Colo. (Cherokee Trail/Rice)
65 LaMAR, Keegan SN 6- 1 265 Fr. HS Boulder, Colo. (Fairview)
23 NORTON, Parker WR 6- 0 190 Fr. HS Costa Mesa, Calif. (Newport Beach)
38 PLIMPTON, Nick FB 5-11 220 Fr. HS Phoenix, Ariz. (Chaparral)
14 SCHROCK, John QB 6- 4 215 Fr. HS Kansas City, Kan. (Shawnee Mission East)
38 THOMPSON, River DB 5- 9 160 Fr. HS Denver, Colo. (East)
92 WALKER, Casey DE 6- 4 220 Fr. HS Grand Junction, Colo. (Grand Junction)
33 YATES, Richard DB 6- 2 180 Fr. HS Denver, Colo. (Kent Country Day)
46 YELLEN, Cody TE 6- 3 225 Fr. HS Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (Mater Dei)
Among the 105 players are 30 newcomers, including 19 freshmen recruits – four of whom signed on after National Letter-of-Intent Day last February 2 – one junior college transfer, two four-year college transfers (one as an invited walk-on) along with the eight other true freshmen walk-ons listed above.
“I’ve been waiting for this day since spring football ended,” said Colorado head coach Jon Embree. “The players worked hard over the course of the summer, and we’ve had some leaders emerge just like you want to see. I’m very optimistic about our team and that they are committed to what we want to accomplish.”
What to look for from fall camp …
Let’s start with the obvious:
- Identify two new cornerbacks. In 2010, Colorado pulled off a statistical anomaly … The Buffs had two NFL draft picks at the starting cornerback positions, yet somehow managed to finish 110th in pass defense. New/old defensive backs coach Greg Brown has slotted sophomore Parker Orms and senior Arthur Jaffee atop the depth chart as fall practice begins. Will those two players be the starting cornerbacks on September 3rd … against 2010′s top-ranked pass offense?;
- Find two solid kickers. Colorado’s special teams have been an embarrassment for the past several seasons. Whether it was coaching, technique, confidence or talent, the fact of the matter is that the kicking and punting game have fallen far short of that which the Buff Nation has become accustomed. Sophomores Justin Castor and Zach Grossnickle are the returning players, but both will be challenged this August;
- Is Conrad Obi for real? Colorado returns its three starters from the 2010 defensive line – seniors Josh Hartigan; senior Curtis Cunningham; and junior Will Pericak. However, in the move to more of a 4-3 style of defense, there is now room for another starter, and senior Conrad Obi had a great spring. Can the previously forgotten/overlooked lineman (if that’s possible with a man who is 6’3″, 290-pounds) turn spring promise into fall production?; and
- Stay away from the “I” word. To date, 2011 has been fairly kind to the Colorado Buffs, at least in terms of injuries. While there was almost a score of players out for some or all of spring practices, most of those players were recovering from 2010 injuries, and will be a “full go” for fall practices. Only senior offensive lineman Blake Behrens was not listed as a “full go” for the start of camp (running back Brian Lockridge is still nursing an ankle injured last fall, but was not reported as being limited for practices). In addition, one 2011 recruit, center Alex Kelley, remains in California, recovering from a broken ankle (Kelley will grey-shirt, and enroll in January). Colorado is very thin at several positions, so avoiding injuries this fall will be paramount.
Other stories of interest:
- Who will be the starting center? With senior Mike Iltis calling it a career after suffering multiple injuries, the job of starting center will fall to red-shirt freshman Danile Munyer or senior Shawn Daniels or sophomore Gus Handler. Colorado’s success this year depends upon a ball-control, physical, smash-mouth offense. The offense lives and dies with the success of the offensive line. The offensive line gets its direction – and, to an extent, its leadership – from its center. This will be a competition worth following;
- Can solid backups be identified at quarterback and running back? Again, not to mention the dreaded “I” word, but Colorado is an injury away at these two positions from having to re-think its offense. Behind Tyler Hansen is junior college transfer Brent Burnette and red-shirt freshman Nick Hirschman (with true freshman Stevie Dorman entering the fray this August). If Hansen suffers an injury, the Colorado offense goes vanilla. The same is true, to a lesser extent, at running back. Rodney Stewart is a workhorse, but if he goes down, and Brian Lockridge is not fully ready to go, three underclassmen will vie for carries – Tony Jones; Josh Ford; and Cordary Allen. This August, the race will be to see which of those players is the first man at backup in come September 3rd;
- Will DaVaughn Thornton become a star? Colorado has two senior tight ends returning, Ryan Deehan and Matthew Bahr. However, with the new running attack, Colorado will be employing a number of two tight end sets. Stardom has been forecast for Thornton, now a sophomore. Will the former Denver East star become the next Daniel Graham … or Jon Embree?;
- Can a kick returning star be identified? Colorado all but abandoned the search for a kick returner during spring practices. The coaches, rather than work with what was there, opted to wait for fall and a fresh set of fast legs coming out of the recruiting Class of 2011. As fall camp opens, the Colorado depth chart lists starters for every position … except kick returner. Under that heading, the listing is “TBA in the fall”. Well, it’s now fall …
- How will key players, including safety Anthony Perkins, defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, linebacker Derrick Webb, and cornerback Parker Orms, fare in coming off of their 2010 injuries;
- Who will be a third wide receiver behind Toney Clemons and Paul Richardson? Will senior transfer Nelson Gray have an immediate impact?;
- Who will win the snapper position? Ryan Iverson handled long snaps last season, and was rewarded with a scholarship. Still, the sophomore faces competition this fall. May the best man win!; and
- Which of the incoming freshmen will have an immediate impact? There is plenty of raving going on about 6’8″, 280-pound defensive lineman Stephane Nembot. There is also a great deal to like about defensive lineman Juda Parker, wide receiver Nelson Spruce, linebacker K.T. Tuumalo, and linebacker Brady Daigh. The safest bets to see the field early, though, come from the defensive back recruits – Will Harlos; Kyle Washington; Greg Henderson; and Sherrard Harrington. There – as well as on special teams – the need is immediate, making it likely that several red-shirts will be torn off early in 2011.
Enough talk – let’s get 2011 started!!!!!!!!!!
Colorado practices to be a lesson in contrasts
Colorado head coach Jon Embree wants his team to be more physical than the Buff teams of the past five seasons. “You have to practice in such a manner that you can’t hide. You got to expose guys”, Embree told the Boulder Daily Camera. “You’ve got to let their teammates see if they’re doing what they’re supposed to do so that they can’t hide. You do those things and that will either make you tough or get you out of there.”
There are two problems facing Embree, however, as he seeks to improve his team. First, Colorado has one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, with 13 straight games without a bye week. Second, the Buffs are not deep enough or talented enough to withstand significant injuries.
So, do you work your team, and hope that you can avoid significant injuries and fatigue? Or do you lighten up the practices, preserving your team, but leaving yourself with the hope that the players will learn toughness without repetition?
“What this will do is give us an opportunity to learn how to practice some other ways because we can’t do like we would do in a normal season if you had a bye, say, in October, you know to recover,” Embree said.
Colorado starts fall practices next week, with the first team practice next Thursday night.
Pac-12 Media Days Notes, quotes and updates …
Colorado opens fall camp on Wednesday, August 3rd, when the players check-in and report for physicals. The first on-field practice will take place on Thursday, August 4th, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Leading up to the opening of fall camp, and in anticipation of Pac-12 media days, the CU media relations office has issued its 2011 Media Day Notes.
As usual, CU assistant athletic director/media relations Dave Plati has come up with some tidbits I never would have known. First, though, some important details …
- Two senior walk-ons, David Goldberg and Tony Poremba, have been placed on scholarship. As Colorado could give the scholarships and still remain under the 85 total scholarship limit, and as these scholarships will again be available for the incoming class of 2012, this was a nice move. Goldberg and Poremba have toughed it out for three years, without receiving much in the way of recognition (both played in three games in 2010 – Goldberg for 11 total plays (with two tackles) and Poremba for seven plays (one tackle). Congratulations, gentlemen, and thank you!
- Another scholarship was handed out to sophomore snapper Ryan Iverson. Unlike Goldberg and Poremba, Iverson saw extensive action in 2010, taking care of the snapping duties on all 63 of Colorado’s punts. Iverson has been penciled in as both the long and short snapper for the 2011 season.
- Only two players from the recruiting class of 2011 will not be on campus for the start of fall camp. We have known for some time that running back Rashad Hall did not qualify academically, and will be attending junior college. Offensive line recruit Alex Kelley broke his ankle running on a beach this summer, and, after surgery, would have been unlikely to see the field of play in 2011. As a result, Kelley will grey-shirt this fall, enroll at Colorado in January, and still have five years to play four with the Buffs.
- Two players will open the 2011 season on the Inactive Roster. One, defensive back Hunter Harrison, is a transfer from Ft. Lewis College, and is ineligible to play in 2011 under NCAA transfer rules. He will have four years to play three commencing in 2012. The other is junior offensive lineman Bryce Givens, who is listed as “suspended”, with no other explanation given.
First game trivia
- Colorado opens on the road for the first time since 1995. That might be good karma for new Colorado head coach Jon Embree, as in 1995, Colorado was also opening the season with a new head coach (Rick Neuheisel), who started his career at Colorado with an impressive 43-7 victory over No. 21 Wisconsin (for those of you in need of a little positive CU mojo, here is a link to the story of that 1995 game against Wisconsin).
- Neuheisel was the first full-time head Colorado head coach to win in his debut since William Saunders pulled off the trick in 1932.
- The Hawai’i game will represent only the fourth time since 1974 that Colorado has opened on the road. One of the games was my very first game as a Buff fan. If you can take it, here is a link to the 1980 opener against UCLA (fair warning: Colorado set a verrrry bad record in the first half of that game, a record still not matched).
- Colorado and Nebraska both jumped ship from the Texas League, but, ironically enough, both will play Ohio State this year. The last time Colorado and Nebraska shared a non-conference opponent was 1996, when both teams played Colorado State (The Buffs won their game against the Rams, 48-34, in the last game Colorado has played in Ft. Collins).
- The September 10th matchup against Cal does, of course, represent a scheduling fluke, as Colorado is playing Pac-12 opponent Cal in a non-conference game. What Dave Plati tells us: the last time this happened was in 1923, when Colorado played Rocky Mountain conference opponent Northern Colorado in a non-conference game. What Dave didn’t tell you: Colorado went 9-0 that season (including a 60-0 whitewash of Northern Colorado). That season – the last undefeated season in Colorado history – the Buffs shut out four opponents, gave up only a field goal to two others, and only a touchdown to the other three victims. In all, Colorado out-scored its 1923 opponents by an average score of 31-3.
Incestuous coaching relationships
- Okay, here is research I never would have undertaken … Dave Plati notes that CU’s hiring of Jon Embree, a former Buff, is not all that unusual. In all, there are 18 FBS teams in the nation who have alumni as head coaches, including all three head coaches in the state of Colorado (Steve Fairchild, CSU 1981; Troy Calhoun, Air Force 1989). What’s more, six schools, including CSU and Air Force, have at least half of their staff made up of alumni.
- Of those six teams, Utah is the leader, with six alumni. Five of the six (Utah, BYU, Colorado State, Air Force and Kansas State) are west of the Mississippi (Penn State the lone exception), with four of the six – until this season – members of the Mountain West Conference.
- A total of 19 schools have at least three alumni coaching their team, including Colorado, which has four (Jon Embree, 1988; Eric Bieniemy, 2001; Brian Cabral, 1978; Kanavis McGhee, 1995).