Spring Practice Updates
Final spring practice sets up summer workouts
From CUBuffs.com … Monday’s dress rehearsal for the summer’s player-led practices allowed MacIntyre and his position coaches “to show us exactly how they want it done so we can replicate it over and over again throughout the summer,” said senior linebacker Woodson Greer III.
“When you finish spring ball and go into the summer, you’ll forget stuff you learned in the spring. I mean, it’s a three-month span until the next time you put on pads. These (player-led) practices keep it all fresher in our minds.”
Off-season rules adjustments will allow MacIntyre and his staff to be more involved this summer on a limited basis, as well as make student-athlete participation mandatory. “In the past we would have a kid go here or there,” he said.
Coaches will be able to spend a couple of hours a week during the spring and summer months. “Some weeks more than others,” MacIntyre added. “But you don’t want to cut into too much of the running and too much of the weight lifting because you only have so many hours. So it will vary week-to-week.”
MacIntyre pleased with Spring Game results
From CUBuffs.com … After reviewing tape of Saturday’s spring game, won the Black squad 21-17 over the Gold, MacIntyre said the Buffs’ effort “was good for the most part (but) I would have liked it to be better in some areas at times.”
He said the tape review revealed a few alignment errors, some players taking initial missteps and a few containment issues on defense. But, he added, the Buffs’ big plays “were legitimate big plays” – a sign that play-making potential is present even if it came in intra-squad competition.
“The spirit and attitude this spring and last was good,” he added. “There was a lot of competition and players were having lot of fun; you want to see that.”
Asked if his second CU team appears better prepared and more capable of winning games in the Pac-12 Conference, where the Buffs were 1-8 last season, MacIntyre said, “I sure hope so. I see areas where we’ve improved, but we’ve got to go do it on those Saturdays . . . when we add four or five starters who aren’t out here all spring into the mix and with a few more freshmen coming in and a couple of junior college guys, I think we’ll be improved.
“Now, we’ve got to go do it. But I feel like their mindset and their attitude is different playing Pac-12 teams. I always tell them, ‘You’ve got to believe it before you achieve it.’ So they have to believe it in their own minds. But I do see it and sense that.”
Senior walk-on wide receiver Wes Christensen wins award
From CUBuffs.com … Senior walk-on receiver Wes Christiansen won the team’s overall uncommon spring award, one named for late Buffs QB Sal Aunese. MacIntyre said after hearing former CU QB and current staffer Darian Hagan speak highly of Aunese on several occasions, he decided an award bearing Aunese’s name was needed. When it was time to bestow the award, “Every single coach said Wes Christiansen,” MacIntyre said. Christiansen won it as a result of his “effort and intensity . . . every day he comes to practice and works extremely hard. There’s never an attitude issue with anything he does. He’s an inspiration to the program.” Christiansen also was awarded a gold “uncommon” jersey for his play in Saturday’s spring game.
Captains announced – two sophomores included for the first time in CU history
From CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado named its captains for the 2014 season prior to its spring game on Saturday, including three players each on offense and defense.
And for the first time in program history, it includes a sophomore – and not just one, but two.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre informed the team prior to CU’s spring game Saturday of the players that were selected as the captains at a team meeting Friday night. Teammates voted and picked three seniors: offensive tackle Daniel Munyer, defensive tackle Juda Parker and safety Terrel Smith while junior wide receiver Nelson Spruce and sophomores Addison Gillam (linebacker) and Sefo Liufau (quarterback) rounded out the rest of the choices.
MacIntyre said he’s never been in a program where two sophomores have been named captains adding, “It was pretty impressive for their leadership as sophomores.”
“They just finished their freshmen years, so that’s pretty amazing… [they] know what we’re looking for in captains… we go over it, we give them examples,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘hey these guys should be captains.’ This is something we worked on and laid out there as to what we’re looking for as a captain.”
Liufau, who passed for 238 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s game for the Gold team in a 21-17 defeat, talked after the game about how “it’s a great honor” to be named captain as a sophomore.
“It means a lot and it’s a great honor for me to be named a captain,” he said. “But now I have to display [leadership] even more and be more vocal out there so that we can get better as a team.”
Gillam, the second sophomore captain, led CU last year with 119 tackles and had seven on Saturday. He repeatedly mentioned how “awesome” it was to be voted as captain.
“It’s awesome… and it’s great to know the team looks up to me and believes in me,” Gillam said. “They know I’ll do the right things on and off the field, so it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Senior leadership, however, will be just as important. As Parker, Munyer and Smith all enter their final seasons at CU, they will attempt to lead this team back to a postseason bowl for the first time since 2007.
Coincidentally, 2007 was the only other time dating back at least four decades that CU’s captains were chosen ahead of the season in the spring.
As captain, Parker is “humbled” and wants to influence the younger players that selected him as one of the six captains.
“When the team votes you as captain, it’s very humbling, because you know they feel that they’ll listen to me and see leadership qualities,” Parker said. “I want to help all the young guys so when I leave, we’re that championship team that you always hear and see about on TV.”
But more importantly, Parker won’t be satisfied if the end of the season doesn’t result in a postseason appearance.
“One of my goals has always been to help CU get to a bowl game. We’ve been talking about that since I was a freshman here and I see a lot of potential in our guys,” Parker said.
Spring Awards announced
From CUBuffs.com … Here is the roll call of this year’ spring honors as determined by the coaching staff; it includes two new awards named for Daniel Graham and Sal Aunese:
Eddie Crowder Award (Outstanding Leadership) – OG Daniel Munyer
Fred Casotti Award (Most Improved Offensive Back) – Phillip Lindsay
Joe Romig Award (Most Improved Offensive Lineman) – Stephane Nembot
Hale Irwin Award (Most Improved Defensive Back) – Chidobe Awuzie
Greg Biekert Award (Most Improved Linebacker) – Kenneth Olugbode
Dan Stavely Award (Most Improved Defensive Lineman) – DE Derek McCartney
Daniel Graham Award (Most Improved Big Skill Player) – TE Sean Irwin
Bill McCartney Award (Most Improved Special Teams Player) – WR Bryce Bobo
John Wooten Award (Outstanding Work Ethic) – WR Nelson Spruce
Dick Anderson Award (Outstanding Toughness) – DT Josh Tupou
Jim Hansen Award (Outstanding Academics) – PK Will Oliver
Sal Aunese Award (Most Uncommon Player) – WR Wesley Christensen
2014 Iron Buffaloes (Weight Room)
Defensive Line – De’Jon Wilson
Linebackers – Addison Gillam
Defensive Backs – Greg Henderson
Offensive Line – Kaiwi Crabb
Running Backs – Tony Jones
Tight Ends – Kyle Slavin
Wide Receivers – D.D. Goodson
Quarterbacks – Sefo Liufau
Specialists – Darragh O’Neill
“Pencil” Depth Chart released
A spring depth chart, like spring statistics, won’t carry much weight when Fall Camp breaks and the Buffs line up for real against the Rams on August 29th.
But there are a few insights to be gleaned from this depth chart, released the day before the Spring Game.
The “pencil” depth chart can be found here.
The starters (with a few notations):
Quarterback: Sefo Liufau (So.)
Running backs: Christian Powell (Jr.) and Tony Jones (Sr.) and Phillip Lindsay (R-Fr.) … Michael Adkins, second on the team in rushing last season, is currently 5th on the depth chart (behind Terrence Crowder). It should be noted, however, that Adkins was out for much of the spring with injuries
Wide receivers – starters: Bryce Bobo (R-Fr.); Nelson Spruce (Jr.); D.D. Goodson (Sr.) … Tyler McCulloch is not listed on the depth chart other than to note that he is currently injured
Tight ends: Sean Irwin (So.) … Irwin is listed ahead of last year’s starter, Kyle Slavin
Offensive line – starters: LT – Marc Mustoe (Jr.); LG – Kaiwi Crabb (Sr.); C – Alex Kelley (So.); RG – Daniel Munyer (Sr.); RT – Stephane Nembot (Jr.) … the list does not take into account Jeromy Irwin, out all spring with an injury, who will contest for the left tackle spot this fall … Crabb, Munyer and Nembot started all 12 games last season at their respective positions
Defensive tackles – starters: Josh Tupou (Jr.); Juda Parker (Sr.) … Justin Solis, a projected starter ahead of Parker, sat out the entire spring to focus on academics
Defensive ends – starters: Tyler Henington (Sr.); Derek McCartney (R-Fr.) … Two potential starters, Samson Kafovalu (academics) and Jimmie Gilbert (injury) are not factored in on this depth chart
Mike (inside) linebacker: Addison Gillam (So.)
Will (inside) linebacker: Kenneth Olugbode (So.) … Olugbode, who has impressed this spring, takes over for Derrick Webb, who graduated
Sam (outside) linebacker: Woodson Greer (Sr.) and Deaysean Rippy (So.) … Greer continues to hang on to his starting position from last year, though Rippy is expected to continue to challenge for the starting position
Cornerbacks – starters: Greg Henderson (Sr.); Kenneth Crawley (Jr.) … Yuri Wright is out for the spring game … Wright and newcomer Ahkello Witherspoon are expected to see considerable playing time this fall
Free Safety: Jered Bell (Sr.)
Strong Safety: Tedric Thompson (So.) … Thompson has had a solid spring as CU looks for a replacement for Parker Orms, though injured Terrel Smith will also be a factor at safety this fall
Nickel Back: Chidobe Awuzie (So.)
Punter: Darragh O’Neill (Sr.)
Kicker: Will Oliver (Sr.) … Oliver is also listed at No. 1 for kickoffs. Sophomore Diego Gonzalez was expected to assume those duties, but it is Oliver topping the list for now
Kick/Punt Returners … To be determined this fall
Long-snapper: Wyatt Tucker Smith … Smith, a transfer, has quietly moved into the job held for the past four years by Ryan Iverson
CU Video – Colorado Spring Game Draft
Wednesday practice notes
From cubuffs.com …
– MacIntyre is scheduled to meet with his seniors on Thursday to conduct a player draft for Saturday’s spring game (noon, Folsom Field). If the coaching staff has to intervene to balance the talent and account for injuries at some positions, so be it. But MacIntyre wants his players invested in the process. “There’s the movie coming out “The Draft,” the (NFL) draft is coming up, but we’re going to have the Colorado draft,” he said. “We’re going to video it and try to have some fun with it.”
– Kyle Ringo from the Daily Camera reminded coach MacIntyre that the past two April 9th’s, Colorado lost two players to injury (Paul Richardson in 2012; Jordan Webb last spring) … “I’m glad you didn’t tell me,” MacIntyre joked after practice. “I would have been worried about it the whole day. So thanks a lot. I slept better. We had a good practice and it was physical and knock on wood, we haven’t had many injuries, which is good. I think we’re in better shape and practicing good.”
– Senior receiver Tyler McCulloch’s spring participation has been curtailed by a foot arch problem and what MacIntyre termed a “pinkie turf toe . . . I’ve never seen the injury before.” He said the 6-5, 210-pound McCulloch’s only path to healing is through rest: “We decided that it was better to make it now and let him start working in the summer. He’s been biking and doing all that . . . he’s played a lot of football and is a good player, so we wanted to get him 100 percent (for August camp).”
– The Buffs will have a light practice on Friday, play the spring game on Saturday, then conclude spring work with what amounts to player-led drills on Monday. Those will allow the coaching staff to preview and fine-tune how the players will conduct their summer workouts. MacIntyre introduced that type of final spring practice at CU last year and said it was highly beneficial.
CU assistant coach Klayton Adams – “We’re never going to be a fully spread team”
Full story at cubuffs.com … With the spread offense the college game’s latest rage and four- and five-receiver personnel packages helping fuel the epidemic, fullbacks have nearly joined football’s endangered species list.
Not so at the University of Colorado, where assistant coach Klayton Adams oversees a large, if not at the moment completely healthy, stable of fullbacks, tailbacks, tight ends and H-backs.
In their version of the pistol offense, the Buffaloes want to combine some elements of the spread while maintaining a power running game – thus giving Adams, offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren and head coach Mike MacIntyre no reason to eliminate the fullback/H-back role. In fact, it’s a position they cherish.
“The ‘21’ or ‘22’ personnel (package) is part of who we are,” Adams said Wednesday. “We’re never going to be a fully spread team. It’s part of our philosophy that we have to use that position. I think the other part of it is, when you look at personnel groupings, it’s a question of how do we get our best 11 players on the field as much as we can?
“When you’ve got a couple of good fullbacks – which I think we do – you’re going to put those guys on the field more often. Some of it has to do with who we’re playing, some of it has to do with who you have. I think we have a couple of guys who can be pretty good at that spot.”
…. At tight end, spring drills have seen improvement from senior Kyle Slavin (6-4, 240) and a mega-step forward from sophomore Sean Irwin (6-3, 235). Adams said Slavin, who caught nine passes for 68 yards and one TD last season, has “progressed past any other phase he’s been in” during the past week. “He’s really made strides.”
Slavin agreed: “It’s been a good spring. This is my senior and there’s a lot of urgency. There’s one more hurrah to try to get to that bowl game that I haven’t gotten to yet.”
Catching the ball, he said, “has never been a problem,” but his improvement has come in his footwork, handwork and steps in blocking in the running game.
Adams said Irwin’s play this spring compared to last has been “night-and-day . . . he’s understanding things better and just playing more football, and as a result getting more reps. I feel pretty good about that spot, but I still say you need three or four guys there to make it through an entire season. That position – like your entire offense – has got to be a toolbox. You’ve got to have a hammer, somebody who’s going to stretch the field and somebody who can do a little of both.”
Though green as Folsom Field’s turf, the position’s eye-catcher is Connor Center, a 6-7, 240-pound redshirt freshman who is still relatively new to nearly everything about the game.
“He’s developing as fast as anybody but has so much further to go than anybody,” Adams said. “He’s learning everything, his attitude is good, he’s working at it and enjoying himself. But right now he’s a ways away from being able to go into a game.”
CU signed two tight ends in its 2014 recruiting class – Dylan Keeney (6-6, 215) and Hayden Jones (6-6, 245). Keeney was an outside linebacker until his final year of high school and “can really run,” Adams said. And Jones might become that hammer in Adams’ tool box: “He’s a big guy who could play a lot of spots . . . you want to develop that position with different skill sets and I think that’s what we’re doing.”
Jordan Gehrke not conceding starting role
Full story at CUBuffs.com … This might sound like the usual spring song and resemble the usual spring dance, but the quarterback competition at the University of Colorado will run through the summer and possibly well into August camp.
Ho-hum? April business as usual, no QB surprises come September? Maybe, but maybe not . . . it’s best to stay tuned.
No, incumbent Sefo Liufau doesn’t have a lock on the starting job. Yes, Jordan Gehrke is providing the precise brand of spring competition that coaches envisioned when Gehrke signed on last May.
“And I think Sefo sees it,” offensive coordinator/QB coach Brian Lindgren told me on Monday. “Jordan’s an athletic guy. When things break down he’s done a nice job of making plays with his feet or keeping his options and finding somebody downfield. I’ve been really pleased with how he’s picked up the offense. Coming out of the first 11 practices I think he’s definitely pushing Sefo on a daily basis.”
Liufau agreed: “There’s a lot of competition; he’s pushing me every day. (Gehrke) has improved a lot since last fall in every aspect. If I look over my shoulder, I know he’s there.”
Does that mean the competition will be kept open after Saturday’s spring game and for the foreseeable future? Perhaps predictably but certainly truthfully, Lindgren answered, “Yeah . . . with us, that’s the way (coach Mike MacIntyre) wants it. The competition is always going at every position. We’re trying to bring Jordan along and give him reps with the ‘ones’ . . . I’m excited; I think he’s still got a lot of room to develop between now and fall camp, with the work he can do this summer on his own.”
… That’s why it’s called competition, and it’s why Gehrke is feeling pretty good about the spring he’s had.
“I’ve been competing every single day,” he said. “I think I’m right there with (Liufau). I’ve been doing some really good things and I’m going to keep it up and let things take care of themselves.”
Gehrke, who transferred from Scottsdale Community College and was the next-to-last signee in MacIntyre’s first recruiting class, says a redshirt season in 2013 enabled him to “dive into the playbook and make sure now I know every single answer in every coverage. Out here this spring it seems a lot easier; I’m not thinking I’m just playing. My knowledge of the game is much improved.” ….
Josh Ford denied sixth year of eligibility
From the Daily Camera … Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre said running back Josh Ford’s appeal to the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility has been denied, ending his college career.
Ford, a product of Mullen High School, spent four seasons on the CU roster at running back after transferring from Barton Community College in Kansas. He played in two of his four seasons. He redshirted in 2010 and missed all of last season after suffering a high ankle sprain in August that kept him out all season.
In 2011, Ford had 22 carries for 128 yards and one touchdown.
In 2012, Ford had 27 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown.
Ford is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in sociology.
Final spring scrimmage produces nine offensive touchdowns
The Colorado offensive posted nine touchdowns – five passing; four rushing – in the final scrimmage for the Buffs before the Spring Game next Saturday. In a 110-play indoor scrimmage (for comparison – CU averaged 69 plays per game last season), the Buffs finished with 446 yards of total offense (4.55 per play).
Quarterbacks … In 14 drives, Sefo Liufau went 13-for-25 for 139 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Buffs to 42 points. Jordan Gehrke, meanwhile, went 8-for-18 for 97 yards and two touchdowns in his 13 drives. Walk-on quarterback Trent Sessions did not participate (though wide receiver Wes Christensen did attempt a pass … which fell incomplete).
Running backs … Overall, the CU offensive unit had 48 rushes for 234 yards during the morning scrimmage (a 4.9 yards per carry average), with four touchdowns. In all, there were five carries for at least 13 yards in the best showing by the running backs so far this spring. Seven players had at least five carries, with no player carrying the ball more than seven times. Michael Adkins led the group with seven carries for 42 yards and a five-yard touchdown run. Phillip Lindsay had two of the four touchdowns (four and 23 yards), finishing with five carries for 34 yards. The final rushing score came from Terrence Crowder on a 12 yard run, with Crowder posting six carries for 32 yards. The only back other than Adkins with seven carries was Tony Jones, who had 24 total yards. Christian Powell, seeing his first action in a scrimmage, had five carries for 14 yards.
Wide receivers … Junior walk-on Cheldon West, who came to Colorado from Moorpark College in California, led a quartet of wide receivers with four catches in the scrimmage. West’s four receptions for 38 yards included a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sefo Liufau. Also posting three receptions (for 28 yards) and a touchdown was D.D. Goodson. New Buff Lee Walker collected a four yard touchdown amongst his three catches (for 17 yards), with Wes Christensen the fourth receiver with three catches (for 18 yards). Nelson Spruce continued his fine spring with a pair of catches, with one going for 51 yards. The remaining two touchdowns of the scrimmage were scored by sophomore walk-on fullback Jesse Hiss, on a 45-yarder from Jordan Gehrke, and tight end Sean Irwin, who opened the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Liufau.
Defense … The Colorado defense, while giving up nine touchdowns (in a game-and-a-half of plays), did have some good performances. Linebackers Addison Gillam (who else?) and Ryan Moeller led the unit with eight tackles apiece. Defensive linemen Derek McCartney and Tyler Henington, meanwhile, both continued their fine springs. McCartney had seven tackles, a sack, a third down stop, a fumble recovery, a pass broken up and a quarterback hurry, while Henington had six tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss, two third down stops and a quarterback hurry. Defensive back Chidobe Awuzie had four tackles, with his overall effort good enough for him to be awarded the gold “uncommon” jersey for the second time.
Special teams … There were no punts or kickoffs during the scrimmage, but the CU kickers were perfect when given the chance. Will Oliver was good on all five of his extra point attempts, while making all three of his field goal attempts (from 28, 36, and 50 yards). Walk-on Chris Graham was 3-for-3 on extra points and hit his only field goal attempt, that coming from 30 yards out (Diego Gonzalez did not participate).
Miscellaneous … The Colorado offense, for all of its production, went 6-for-18 on third down attempts (and 1-for-5 in fourth down attempts – three situational) … There were only three penalties during the scrimmage, with the offense picking up two (for 15 yards) and the defense only one (for five yards) … The offense went 6-for-8 in the red zone, with five touchdowns, a field goal, and two fourth down stops … In addition to the sacks posted by McCartney and Henington, sacks were posted by defensive tackle Clay Norgard and walk-on safety Richard Yates.
Quotes from coach Mike MacIntyre –
From CUBuffs.com …
On having only five practices (of 15 allotted) remaining this spring … “I’m going to petition the NCAA for five more”.
On productivity this spring compared to last year … “But you’ve got to judge (productivity) from where we went from to where we ended up. So we’re starting ahead but we’ve got to raise it to another plateau. Hopefully we have.”
Measuring offensive productivity and improvement, he said, starts with the quarterback and his offensive line: “When your quarterback is comfortable with everything and your offensive line understands it, you can do a lot more and look efficient at it, which is what’s happening.”
On defensive productivity … Spring defensive improvement – specifically in Friday’s scrimmage – has been more difficult to gauge because “we’ve got a couple of kids banged up. But they’re playing hard and doing some good things. I think we’re playing more physical and playing harder all the time, which is good.”
On the play of newcomer Lee Walker … MacIntyre said Walker had a “really good” practice on Wednesday. On Friday, Walker “made plays,” MacIntyre noted, “but he probably could have made a couple more. We’ll see on film”. Nonetheless, MacIntyre said he’s seen the 6-foot, 180-pound Walker “make a jump this week as opposed to before spring break. He probably got comfortable, knew where to line up, knew where the practice field was and all that kind of thing.”
On the play of red-shirt freshman running back Phillip Lindsay … “He’s doing exactly what I thought he’d do,” MacIntyre said. “He’s a really good running back, he’s really good on special teams, he competes. He is tough, really tough. He’s kind of a Tasmanian Devil, he just keeps going. I love him. He gives us another fast, quick guy like Michael.”
On the return of running back Christian Powell … “It was good to see Christian out there,” MacIntyre said. “He didn’t carry a lot but it was good to see him take hits, move around on the field and not worry about (his knee).”
On the efforts of the field goal kickers … “Our field goal kicking was excellent, which was big,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve got an excellent field goal kicker (Oliver) and a new snapper (JUCO transfer Wyatt Smith). We’re working on all of that . . . it sounds like it’s simple (but) it’s really not. I think we’ve shored that up and got every situation covered.”
Josh Moten the first to suffer a major injury this spring
From the Daily Camera … Colorado senior defensive back Josh Moten suffered a torn achilles tendon for the third time in the past year during Wednesday’s practice and was scheduled for surgery Friday, coach Mike MacIntyre said.
Moten’s career could be over unless he decides to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.
“It’s his third time in nine months,” MacIntyre said. “So that’s really, really, really sad. The kid has done a great job getting back. He’s done a great job in school.”
Moten, a product of Carson, Calif., who was recruited to CU by Dan Hawkins in 2009, led the team in special teams points in the 2012 season. He rose to the top of the depth chart at one point during spring ball in 2013, but tore his achilles in May and reinjured it in July last year leading to a redshirt season.
Missing all or most of two full seasons because of injury is a key component of most successful appeals for a sixth season of eligibility. But Moten also had a redshirt season in 2010 that might affect an appeal should he decide to pursue one.
Spring game will use a running clock
From Dave Plati, CU SID … CU’s annual spring game is Saturday, April 12; the format, barring major injuries between now and then, will be the Black & Gold game where the team has been split into two, with a running clock except for the final two minutes of each half. There will be four 12-minute quarters, with roughly a 10-minute halftime. It will be televised live on all seven Pac-12 Networks.
This year’s spring game will kickoff at 12:07 p.m. at Folsom Field, and will end by 2 p.m. as the P12N will then shift to two other spring football games. There will be a handful of short commercial breaks (2 minutes in length).
RADIO BROADCASTS: KKZN-Radio (AM 760) will broadcast the game live; two journalism school class simulated broadcasts will also take place.
NOTE: After the spring game, it will be CU’s annual healthy kids day with student-athletes from all 17 varsity sports participating with area youth in a number of activities.
CU working hard on “Replace P-Rich” by committee approach
Full story by B.G. Brooks at CUBuffs.com … “We’re going to have to do it collectively,” CU wide receivers coach Troy Walters said about replacing Paul Richardson. “I think the guys know that everyone has to contribute in some way. If we get two or three guys to do what ‘P-Rich’ did then we’ll be in good shape. Then, we need Nelson Spruce to continue what he did last year – particularly at the end of the year when he had a few monster games.”
Of course, the Buffs’ 2014 offensive needs don’t stop with Spruce, whose final three games last season produced 18 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Against California, Spruce made eight catches for 140 yards. When Richardson declared his eligibility for this spring’s NFL Draft, Spruce suddenly became CU’s top returning receiver after catching 55 balls for 650 yards and four TDs last fall.
By comparison, Richardson’s 2013 productivity – 83 catches for 1,343 yards and 10 TDs – more than doubled most of Spruce’s numbers. The statistical slack to be taken up by Richardson’s departure exceeds significant, but Walters believes it can be done.
Immediately behind the steady Spruce, a junior, in last season’s stats was D.D. Goodson, a senior who should benefit from a full season and a spring at his relatively new college position. Primarily a slot receiver last fall after switching from running back, Goodson made 22 catches for 306 yards and two TDs. His chemistry with quarterbacks Sefo Liufau and Jordan Gehrke should be improved come August.
Walters has three other returning receivers with experience – seniors Tyler McCulloch (14 catches, 138 yards, one TD) and Keenan Canty (3 catches, 33 yards), and sophomore Devin Ross (six catches, 24 yards).
Among three promising freshmen receivers signed in 2013, Ross was the only one who didn’t redshirt. The other pair – Bryce Bobo and Elijah Dunston – are joined by Lee Walker, a 2013 Arizona signee who failed to qualify but straightened himself out academically and is already enrolled and participating in spring work.
“I’m definitely getting acclimated now,” Walker said. “Coach is telling me don’t let the depth chart pressure you, just get used to things so when fall comes I can be on it.”
In terms of knowing the offense, Walker is in catch-up mode and admits, “It’s been tough on him. We’ve thrown a lot at him, he’s trying to get adjusted to school, a new environment, how we practice and do things . . . but he’s learning. He’s a great kid and a tremendous worker who wants to be good.
“I think he’s going to take a major step between now and (August) camp. He should help on kickoff returns with his speed and explosiveness. I’m looking forward to what he can do once he really understands the offense and can play at full speed.” …. story continues here …
Transcript of Mike MacIntyre’s first post-spring break meeting with the press
Below (March 31st) is the CUBuffs.com notes from coach MacIntyre’s post-practice press conference.
Here is the full transcript, with the video posted at BuffPlayBook.com:
On getting started after spring break … “Everyone got back. We had a good practice today, some gorgeous weather. We had a good, lengthy practice. They were fresh-legged, and ran around well”.
On goals for the second half of spring practices … “We still want to keep getting more efficient. I want to improve our pass rush, keep working on that, something we’re trying to improve on. Offensively, we trying to make sure we find the receivers that are going to be doing the bulk of the playing for us”.
On adding 6’2″, 260-pound defensive end Leo Jackson to the roster (Jackson comes to CU from Foothill College in California after playing there his freshman year. He will enroll this summer, and will have four years to play three in Boulder) … “We needed another D-Lineman. He’s real athletic, real bright, and we’re excited. Anytime we can get someone like this, you know Ahkello (Witherspoon) was a four-for-three. If you look for those guys in the junior college, those who were (full) qualifiers, that are very bright. Also, their bodies have grown some more, because they’ve been in college for a year. (Jackson) was actually a year out before that, so he’s going to be a 20-year old sophomore, which will be good for us”.
On T.C. McCartney taking a position with the Cleveland Browns … “T.C. went to the Cleveland Browns (Monday), as a quality controller, which is good. I’m happy for him to get into pro ball, so that’s a good opportunity for him”.
On T.C.’s brother, defensive end Derek McCartney … “He’s doing really well. He’s had one of the best springs at defensive end, he and Tyler Henington have done some good things this spring. We were hoping that Derek would come on, he’s gotten quicker and stronger. He gray-shirted, so he’s just a freshman, which is exciting for us. He’ll be a 20-year old freshman, which is a good deal. He’s 245-pounds now, he’s quicker and more athletic. To me, he’s done a really good job this spring, and so has Tyler Henington. I’m pleased with those two guys with what we’ve seen so far”.
On the development of the young receivers … “I think it’s going to take a couple of the guys (to replace Paul Richardson). I think the three freshmen (Bryce Bobo, Elijah Dunston, Lee Walker) have all shown signs. We’ll just need to put them now into more situations in the second part of the spring to see who will make some plays. I hope (to have a better idea of which new players will be able to contribute this fall coming out of the spring). That’s our plan. We hope to put them into enough situations where we can see that. We have certain plays called at certain times with certain guys in, to see who can make the plays”.
On the return of senior safety Terrel Smith (who sat out last season with a shoulder injury, and the first half of the spring with an ankle injury) … “He did a good job today. He made an interception in a one-on-one drill. I’ll watch him on film. I’m sure he’s a little bit rusty on some things, but it was good to have him out there”.
On the return of running backs Christian Powell and Michael Adkins (both who sat out much of the first half of spring) … “They were both practicing today. They were a little limited, but they both practiced and made some full speed runs … Christian looked good to me from what I saw with the naked eye, but the tell-tale sign will be tomorrow when they wake up, to see what kind of swelling and that type of thing they’ve had – hopefully none”.
On the positions for Derek McCartney and Jimmie Gilbert (Gilbert is sitting out practices this spring with an injury, but is expected back for Fall Camp) … “Jimmie was playing left (defensive end); Derek was playing right, but ends can switch either side. You’d like them to be able to do that. Tyler (Henington) coming on has really helped us, because he is real physical. Jimmie and Derek have long bodies, and they’ll be excellent pass rushers. They’ve got to get their hands up and tip some balls. It would be good to get two 6’4″ guys who can run and who are pretty physical. That would help us”.
Coach MacIntyre: First practice back after spring break a success
Notes and quotes from CUBuffs.com …
Overall … Coach Mike MacIntyre said all but one player who finished the first seven practices returned and were “fresh-legged . . . we had a good, lengthy practice in gorgeous weather.”
On the defensive line … MacIntyre singled out two players who showed well during the first half of spring work. He said freshman Derek McCartney, a 2013 grayshirt who is now a freshman, and junior-to-be Tyler Henington have “had the best springs of the defensive ends.”
MacIntyre said he “was hoping” the 6-3, 245-pound McCartney would begin to assert himself. “He’s gotten quicker and stronger. He’s a 19- going on 20-year-old freshman, which is a good deal.”
Henington, a 6-2, 245-pounder, played in 12 games last season and recorded eight tackles (six solo, with one third-down stop and three QB pressures).
CU also has signed a defensive end – Leo Jackson from Foothill College in Los Altos, Calif. – who is expected to be available for the 2014 season. Jackson (6-3, 275) will have four years to complete three seasons of eligibility.
MacIntyre characterized him as “real athletic and bright . . . you look for those guys; we know so many JC coaches that we’re able to find qualifiers that are bright and their bodies have grown since they’ve been in college for a year.”
He added that Jackson, who played at North High School in Atlanta, had been “out a year before that, so he’s going to be a 20-year-old sophomore” when he arrives at CU this summer.
On the play of the wide receiver corps … Offensively, he said the search continues for a cadre of receivers “that are going to do the bulk of the playing for us.” Replacing Paul Richardson, MacIntyre reiterated, “will take a couple of the guys . . . we just have to find out when we put them in different situations during the second half of spring and see who makes plays on the ball.
He mentioned redshirt freshmen Bryce Bobo and Elijah Dunston, sophomore-to-be Devin Ross and freshman newcomer Lee Walker as having had eye-catching springs thus far.
The plan is to have the top receivers identified when spring ball ends. “I hope so,” MacIntyre said, adding that the candidates will be given looks in “enough situations . . . we’ll have certain plays called at certain times and throw certain guys in so we can see who makes the plays.”
On the return of Christian Powell and Michael Adkins to practices … Running backs Christian Powell and Michael Adkins returned to practice Monday, but were still “a little limited” by previous injuries, according to MacIntyre. “They made some full-speed runs (and) Christian looked good to me, to the naked eye; we’ll find out on film. The tell-tale sign will be (Tuesday) morning when they wake up, what kind of (knee) swelling they have – hopefully none.”
On which players were wearing “U” jerseys in practice … Sporting “U” jerseys Monday were offensive lineman Daniel Munyer and linebackers Woodson Greer and Addison Gillam, who earned the “uncommon” designation for plays made in the final scrimmage before spring break.
Latest video from CU Football Video
Proving Grounds: Uncommon Teaser
Buffs to welcome back four starters for the second half of Spring Practices
Colorado will have at least four potential starters back in helmets and pads when Spring Practices resume on Monday. Between them, the four – running back Christian Powell, wide receiver Tyler McCulloch, cornerback Kenneth Crawley, and safety Terrel Smith – have played in 102 games for the University of Colorado, with 72 combined starts. They were all out for the first half of spring ball, but all are expected back for the second half.
Christian Powell, running back – 22 career games, 21 career starts – The junior running back missed the first half of spring after undergoing minor knee surgery. Powell is expected to be a “full go” in the second half of spring ball, with coach MacIntyre indicating that the offense will be practicing with more “heavy sets” now that Powell will be available to participate.
Tyler McCulloch, wide receiver – 37 games, 12 starts – McCulloch, a senior this fall, missed all of the first half of spring practices with an injury, but may be available for practices in the second half. In his absence, Wesley Christiansen and Bryce Bobo have had a good first half to the spring.
Kenneth Crawley, cornerback – 22 games, 20 starts, including ten starts last season. The junior cornerback suffered a hand injury early on in spring drills, but is expected to participate (albeit with a hand cast) in the remainder of spring practices.
Terrell Smith, safety – 31 games, 19 starts – The senior safety underwent surgery last September 5th for a chronic shoulder injury. Smith is still recovering from the surgery, but was listed as “probable” for the start of spring practices before being sidelined with an ankle injury. He is expected to participate more in the second half of the spring.
Spring Game details announced
From CUBuffs.com … Details for the University of Colorado’s annual Spring Game are set with a busy day slated full of activities on CU’s Folsom Field.
The intrasquad Black & Gold game, which has happened in some form or fashion every year since 1963, will kickoff at Noon MT and be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Networks. Afterwards, the Buffs will host Healthy Kids Day presented by Country Buffet, available to all kids eighth grade and younger.
Admission is free to both events as fans will get their first look at the 2014 Buffaloes. All seats in the stadium and the Byron R. White Club Level will be open for fans. Seats that are still available for purchase as season tickets will be marked fans can buy them that day.
Healthy Kids Day is slated to start at approximately 1:30 p.m. and has become a tradition of its own where CU student-athletes and coaches will run skills and fitness stations. All kids eighth grade and younger and participate and the first 1,000 will receive a free CU t-shirt.
Buffs have two kickers
An excellent article on Diego Gonzalez from CUBuffs.com. The entire article can be found here.
The conversation (with special teams coach Toby Neinas) centered around a kicker named Diego Gonzalez. “This guy is a cannon!,” said Neinas. “He’s like a power plant!” Now, it has long come to be accepted that Neinas has never been tightfisted when handing out compliments but, an almost blatantly flattering critique of a sophomore kicker who has yet to play a snap at Colorado might leave some scratching their heads. Those people are not yet familiar with Diego Gonzalez.
Gonzalez came to Colorado last summer on the strength of a reputation that now spans two countries. He hails from Monterrey, Mexico, and down there the locals saw him as a kicker whose otherworldly potential eventually became so transparent that he made for the perfect representative to bridge a gap between Monterrey and NCAA Division I college football that has rarely been crossed. Coaches don’t often venture into those waters for talent but it didn’t take long before word of Gonzalez’s renowned kicking prowess had gotten their full attention.
… “I’m really happy with my decision,” said Gonzalez. “I had to really do my research because I couldn’t make official visits. (Neinas) and this staff made a great impression on me. They were really nice during the recruiting process and they showed that they care about their players not only on the field but off it too.”
After last year’s mandatory redshirt year (per NCAA transfer rules), one he spent avidly learning MacIntyre’s system and the intricacies of big-time college football, Gonzalez and his talents will become officially eligible to take center stage this fall. He came into the spring as the team’s second-string kicker behind incumbent Will Oliver but, he has already made it clear that he will not be content with secondary status. He fully expects to battle Oliver for the top spot at both placekicker and kickoff specialist this fall.
“I’m ready to take over that role,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve been ready for the whole year since I came here and now I finally get a chance to compete. I’ve been looking forward to this. I know I’m good enough.”
… “It’s Will’s job to lose in my mind,” said Neinas. “But Diego has been kicking very, very well in camp. I would love for those two guys to just fight it out because they’re both extremely talented. I think that both of them have a lot of power. Right now I’d love to see those guys battle. I really would. Making a decision like that is being a coach. I know that.”
… “I actually think in a perfect world I would like to see us split the job,” said Neinas. “But the job’s going to go to the best guy. Don’t be surprised if that happens. Last year, Will did such a great job of being fresh in week 14 which is hard to do at that position. If we can get both of them in the mix it would ease all of that and allow us to be a little bit fresher a little bit longer through the year. So, there’s always that option.”
“We have two great kickers,” said Neinas. “Some teams don’t even have one. And for that we should feel very fortunate.”
Buff DC Kent Baer: We’re so much further ahead than we were a year ago, but we’ve got a long way to go”
The Daily Camera has posted an interview with CU defensive coordinator Kent Baer. The article can be read in its entirety here.
In 2012, the Buffs forced 15 turnovers, only three of which were interceptions. CU went through the final eight games that season without picking off a pass and the Buffs didn’t score a defensive touchdown all season.
By comparison, last season the Buffs forced 21 turnovers and scored four defensive touchdowns, two on interceptions and two on fumble returns.
Now in his second spring in Boulder, Baer is raising the bar considerably. He said he wants to eventually get to a point where the Buffs are forcing 40 or more turnovers in a season. Obviously it would be a major accomplishment to get there in 2014. Baer says he hopes the Buffs will at least close the gap.
“I was pleased with our turnovers last year,” Baer said. “We were in the 20s. I’d like to get in the 40s. It’s something we emphasize every day. We do the turnover circuit every day. We make a big deal about tipped balls. To me, when you get a tipped ball, that’s half a turnover as far as we’re concerned.
“It’s a huge part of emphasis, but that ought to be in just our every DNA.”
… “We’ve got so many things we’ve got to get better at,” Baer said. “We’ve got to get better at third downs. We’ve got to get better at red zone. We’ve got to get better at playing more physical. We’ve got to get better at competing every snap.
“We’re so much further ahead than we were a year ago, but we’ve got a long way to go. It’s glaring with some things.”
… “The good news is the kids understand how fast we practice and what we expect and the amount of reps we get,” Baer said. “So it’s not like we come out and it’s all new to them. Last year it was all new, even through 15 practices, it was pretty new.”
Second scrimmage produces new stars
Colorado ran through a 83-play scrimmage on Friday, with names like Malcolm Creer, Keenan Canty and Yuri Wright atop the statistical charts.
Sefo Liufau threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers during the scrimmage, going 9-of-17 for 145 yards. After a sluggish start in which the offense failed to score on its first seven series (with the defense posting a safety on a ball snapped out of the end zone), Liufau hit his stride. Liufau first connected with Bryce Bobo for a 51-yard touchdown, then hit running back Phillip Lindsay for a 23-yard score on the offense’s next possession. Liufau finished off his four-touchdown performance with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Wes Christensen and a 10-yard pass to tight end Sean Irwin.
Liufau’s competition at quarterback for the spring, Jordan Gehrke, did not fare as well in the second scrimmage. With only one fewer series behind center (seven to Liufau’s eight), Gehrke went 11-for-16 for 128 yards and no touchdowns. Gehrke was also sacked five times (Liufau once). Still, coach Mike MacIntyre was not displeased with Gehrke’s effort. “I would say (Liufau’s) being pushed,” MacIntyre told the Daily Camera. “Both of them, I feel like, have done well,” MacIntyre said. “… Sefo hasn’t done anything to lose the job by any stretch, but it’s exciting to see that Jordan is right there on his heels, not that far of separation because at that position, you better have a couple guys that can play.”
All four of the touchdowns scored in the scrimmage came through the air, with no scores coming on the ground. Overall, the Buffs had 83 yards rushing on 24 carries (a 3.5 yards per carry average). Senior Malcolm Creer had the best morning, with 32 yards on four carries, with a long of 19 yards. The only three rushers with over ten yards in the scrimmage were Phillip Lindsay (3-for-16 yards), Michael Adkins (5-for-15) and Donta Abron (3-for-12).
Twelve different receivers caught passes during the scrimmage, with Keenan Canty (3-for-45 yards) and Nelson Spruce (3-for-16), the only two with more than two catches. One receiver Buff fans have had a keen interest in is newcomer Lee Walker, who had a pair of catches Friday, with one going for 35 yards; the other for ten (Walker also had a kickoff return of 40 yards).
On the defensive side of the ball, there was a name atop the tackles chart which wasn’t there all of last season. Defensive back Yuri Wright, who red-shirted last season, led the Buff defense with eight tackles (seven solo). Wright also had two tackles for loss, two third down stops, and two passes broken up. Linebackers Brady Daigh (six tackles, one tackle for loss) and Addison Gillam (five tackles, two quarterback sacks, and two third down stops) were next on the list.
In all, the defense posted seven sacks. In addition to the two by Gillam, defensive lineman Tyler Henington had a pair, with Derek McCartney, Clay Norgard, and Josh Tupou also getting to the quarterbacks. Defensive back Tedric Thompson picked up the only interception of the scrimmage (off of Trent Sessions), with Richard Yates recovering a fumble caused by Josh Moten.
There was limited kicking during the scrimmage, with three different Buff kickers making all five extra points. A 43-yard field goal attempt by Will Oliver was blocked by Woodson Greer, while Chris Graham made it a two-for-two start to the spring for the walk-on, hitting a 31-yard field goal. Incumbent punter Darragh O’Neill had four punts, averaging 38.4 yards per kick, while newcomer Diego Gonzalez had one punt for 50 yards.
Transcript of Mike MacIntyre’s post-scrimmage quotes
Video of coach Mike MacIntyre’s post-scrimmage meeting with the press can be located at BuffPlayBook.com.
Opening statement … “First of all, who was in charge of the weather today? Whoever that was, ‘good job’.”
On impressions of quarterback Sefo Liufau in the first half of spring practices … “Very good. Like I’ve said after the first couple of days, I’ve noticed that there is a little bit more zip on the ball. He was stronger. I think he was completely healthy, his body was fresh. He’s throwing off of his back foot better, rotating his torso better, so he’s got more zip on it, so he can be more accurate. I thought he was good before, but he’s gone out and done things coaches have told him to do over the off-season on his own, and he’s improved in that area. So I was pleased with that”.
On what Liufau had been asked to work upon during the winter break … “Throwing through his back leg, bringing his hip through. Not locking out his front leg as much. He has really worked on that and done that well. He had good mechanics (last year), but if you can work on just a couple of things and fix them, you can do it. If you have to work on everything, you’ve got no chance, but you can if you have good mechanics at first, so I thought he did a good job of working in those areas … The other thing is that he has a very good command of the offense now, knows where to go with the ball. That helps you, too. You’re not late on a throw, you can anticipate better, which is extremely important at quarterback”.
On working on the short passing game during the scrimmage … “It’s important to us to have a high completion ratio to go with a good run ratio. We feel like that’s how you move the football and keep other teams off of the field and how you can win football games. Defensively, I thought they were doing a little bit more man-to-man today. Usually, if it’s a man-free type principal, you’re trying rub-routes, quick routes, trying to get quick throws, and then you attack it deep at different times … I let the coaches call everything, and they kind of have plans for each other. I don’t bring a script, they have to go off of what they see, and I think that helps us out a lot”.
On overall impressions of the scrimmage … “Overall, I thought both sides did well. I thought in the first scrimmage that the offense pretty much dominated. I thought the offense got off of the goal line a couple of times (when put there in situational drives), but defense stopped the drives. I thought the defense did better in the red zone today. And I think that they played harder, were aggressive. I thought both sides did well. You know, when you’re the head coach, you want both sides to do well. When you’re the offensive coordinator or the defensive coordinator, you just want to see your side of the ball do well … I was pleased with our kicking, and our field goals. I felt that went well. We got a lot done”.
On what he told his team heading into spring break … “Well, the first thing I told them is do the right things on spring break. The second thing I told them is that I want them to be fresh. I want them to run during spring break, do their core work. So they can’t just go and sit on the beach all day. They’ve got to do some things to prepare to come back … After spring break, we’re going to have some kids back that weren’t able to practice before spring break, so we’ll do a few different things. Like offensively, we didn’t have our big fullback (Clay Jones) and we didn’t have Christian Powell, who is our power runner. So we’ll do a little more emphasis on heavy sets. Then defensively, we’ll have to be able to be prepared for those heavy sets, so we’ll be preparing for teams that run more heavy sets the first part of spring practice when we come back”.
On taking a week off in the middle of spring practices … “I think it’s better to do it this way. You think about spring practice – there’s no game coming up. You’re hitting and hitting, and you get to the middle of it and you’re kind of like ‘ugh’. This way, this gives them a fresh break, and they’ll come back wanting to hit each other again. I was wondering about it, because I’ve done it for awhile. So I called David Shaw at Stanford. They have three weeks off between theirs. They’ve done it, and they’ve won a bunch of games with three weeks off in between. So, they are able to do really well. He says that it keeps them fresh, and players keep playing. It’s worked really well for them, so we’ll keep doing it”.
On red-shirt freshman running back Phillip Lindsay … “He looks 100% to me. He’s very physical; he’s very quick. Phillip will help in a lot of different ways, not just as a running back. He’ll help us in special teams areas as well”.
On the status of defensive back Kenneth Crawley … “He’ll be back when we come back. He had to get his finger re-set and put a pin in it. So they just had to give it time to make sure (it healed correctly), and then they’ll put a little cast on it, and he’ll be playing when we come back (on March 31st)”.
On some players wearing gold jerseys … “What we’re doing with the gold jerseys is that we call it ‘uncommon’. And we want ‘uncommon’ effort. So we watch a guy on offense, a guy on defense, a guy on special teams, and if we see an excellent effort, an all out effort play – a guy that might have gotten knocked down, but he gets back up and he runs by everybody and jumps over the pile, just to show that needs to be consistent. We thought that (the gold jersey) was a great way to reward them for that effort. So when we give that out in front of the whole team, and show clips of what they’ve done in practice. If we can get everybody doing that, then we’ll be an exceptional team”.
Buffs pick up a preferred walk-on linebacker
Texas linebacker Lance Cottrell tweeted today that he will be a preferred walk-on linebacker for Colorado. Tweeted Cottrell, “I’m going to the University of Colorado. God’s plan worked out perfectly”.
Cottrell is a 6’2″, 205-pound linebacker from Plano, Texas. Cottrell is considered to be a two-star prospect by Rivals, and a three-star prospect by Scout, the No. 74 outside linebacker in the nation. Rivals bio Scout bio
Cottrell was an early commit to SMU in the spring of 2013, but that commitment didn’t work out, and now Cottrell is a going to be a Buff.
Here is a link to Hudl.com highlights of Cottrell in action.
And here is a picture of Cottrell trying on a CU uniform, posted on Twitter:
Transcript from Mike MacIntyre’s post-practice comments (3/17)
Sorry about the delay, but better late than never! It’s been a busy week …
On practicing right tackle Stephane Nembot at left tackle … “We were moving him around. The other day we put him over there (at left tackle) and he looked pretty good. We want him to try and be able to do both. Sometimes it’s hard for players to be able to do that, but I think he can. We’ll know more after watching film today” … On expectations this year … “Considering that was the first time he ever started a football game in his entire life was our CSU game, he really improved as the year went along. I see him as getting stronger, more flexible, just his understanding of the game … I’m really seeing that mature on him. Knowledge = Confidence = Playing Fast. He’s got more knowledge, so it gives him more confidence, so he’ll play faster and pick up his blocks better. So he just needs to keep working at it, keep doing it, moving up in the knowledge/confidence area – he has the athletic ability – he will play better”.
On players who have improved since last season … “I think (wide receiver) Bryce Bobo has done good out here. (Walk-on wide receiver) Wesley Christensen made some good plays in the scrimmage Friday. Defensively, I think (defensive lineman) Josh Tupou is getting better and more active, as he did at the end of the year. The end of the year last year he was making tackles for loss – things that he should do all the time. He should show up, and he’s started doing that. I think that (quarterback) Sefo (Liufau) has been really accurate, which is good. It seems like to me that Kenneth Olugbode is playing really well at linebacker. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing; he’s really, really smart”.
On what has pleased him so far this spring … “I think the overall effort. It’s been good at every practice – I think that is important. I think the flow of practice has been good. After a year, we don’t have to re-start everything, which is good. We can get a lot of reps done, which is good. Overall, we have been a lot more aggressive, more physical this week. (During the first week of practices) we were installing so much, we couldn’t really be as physical. Now we’re able to do more one-on-one competition, more physical things, things which will help us be a more physical football team”.
More on Kenneth Olugbode … “He was a high school tailback, played linebacker. He was WCL Player-of-the-Year. He played good on special teams for us last year. He played good when Derrick Webb got banged up. I hope he keeps coming on. I really do, because that Will linebacker is a really critical position – tackling guys in space, being able to fill on the run. Hopefully, we’ll see when the real lights come on, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing he’ll be a good player for us”.
On other players at the Will linebacker position … “Ryan Severson, who is another athletic (former) tailback. (He and Olugbode) were both Players-of-the-Year in that same conference. Ryan had a great practice (last) Wednesday. It was like the light bulb came on. In the scrimmage he did good, but he’s starting to understand the schemes. Having those types of speed athletes out there, that were high school tailbacks, who gained over 1,500 yards, who are good athletes. They were both over 3.5 students (in high school), and I’m pleased with both of those guys so far”.
Akhello Witherspoon: “I still have to get better. I’m definitely not where I want to be yet”
Josh Casey, a graduate assistant SID for the Media Relations Department, has put out an article on transfer defensive back Akhello Witherspoon. It’s a good article, if a bit over the top.
Cornerback Akhello Witherspoon is a unique talent. He and his lanky 6-3, 180-pound frame recently stumbled into the consciousness of those who represent big-time college football as he was in the midst of a stellar freshman year at Sacramento City College. For most of the time since, he has been the fortunate victim of a tug of war between suitors, most of which would come just short of selling their souls for the rights to such a talent.
By December, after a few months of this, he had finally decided and then publicly announced that he would be attending the University of Colorado. Head coach Mike MacIntyre could finally give out a sigh of relief. After a long recruiting process, they had at last gotten their man.
“He is a big, athletic corner who is smart and has very good range and speed,” said MacIntyre shortly after the signing. “He’s unique because over the last 16 months or so, he’s really sprouted growing and he still has the same speed and quickness. We had been targeting him for some time because we saw something special in him.”
By all accounts, Witherspoon has been classified as a “late bloomer.” It’s a rationale scouts often use to describe a player who was repeatedly overlooked until he ultimately fell through the cracks. In this case however, in reference solely to football, it happens to be accurate.
… Witherspoon is a unique talent. Such stature, length, speed and football acumen is rare at cornerback. Too often, the position has been littered with under-sized players who lack the instinctive characteristics needed to defend that blend of skill, size and quickness that has come to define the position of wide receiver.
“I think my length and ability to run benefit me most as a (cornerback),” said Witherspoon. “I think I could have played on offense but, I’m a cornerback at heart. I love playing the position.”
Witherspoon is something some coaches might never see: a defensive back with all the talent and athleticism to play wide receiver and all of the luck to have never been coerced into it. He is for all the intents and purposes, what coaches are describing when they mention the prototypical cornerback. Only his raw and unrefined familiarity at the position has kept the football world from full-blown levels of hysteria in describing his skill.
“I still have to get better,” said Witherspoon. “I’m definitely not where I want to be yet. I want to work on my press technique and just try to be more patient. I also want to use my length to get into receivers earlier. That’s what I want to focus on this spring.”
Coach MacIntyre lists standouts from the first five practices
Colorado has conducted five of its allotted 15 practices this spring. At his post-practice meeting with the media, Coach MacIntyre was asked to name the standouts over the first third of CU’s spring practices, and he came up with five names.
From the Daily Camera … MacIntyre said redshirt freshman wide receiver Byrce Bobo and senior Wes Christiansen have been solid in a competition to find a replacement for Paul Richardson, who left school one year earlier to jump to the NFL.
On the defensive side, MacIntyre said he has liked what he’s seen from defensive tackle Josh Tupou.
“At the end of the year last year he was making tackles for loss and harasses and things that he should do all the time,” MacIntyre said. “He should show up. He should be a guy that shows up and he’s doing that now.”
MacIntyre said linebacker Kenneth Olugbode is a making plays and is “really, really smart.”
MacIntyre also mentioend quarterback Sefo Liuafu has improved his accuracy in the early portion of spring.
Buffs conduct first scrimmage of the spring
Below is the complete story on the scrimmage from CUBuffs.com, but first, here is a transcript of Coach MacIntyre’s post-scrimmage press conference. If you want to watch the video, it can be found at BuffPlaybook.com.
Coach MacIntyre’s comments:
On the play of the quarterbacks … “They did really well. I thought they moved in the pocket, made some good plays. They knew they weren’t going to get hit, so that gave them a little more time, but I thought they were accurate and did some really good things”.
On the scrimmage in general, in which each drive started at the 50-yard line … “This was just an abbreviated scrimmage. We made it really hard on the defense, putting the ball on the 50 every time, so we’ll work some backed up stuff (like putting the offense back inside its own 10-yard line), so they’ll have to manage that, understanding the different situations. Today it was really scripted to make sure that we got a lot of redzone work, which put a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense. The offense really did a good job on that; the defense didn’t do as well as I really would have liked, but thank goodness it’s (only) the fourth day”.
Who are some of the players who stood out? … “Of course, I thought (junior wide receiver) Nelson (Spruce) did good (four catches for 48 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sefo Liufau). It looked like (red-shirt freshman wide receiver) Bryce Bobo made a few plays (two catches for 29 yards). Those types of plays stuck out, but I’ll watch the linemen (on film) to see who made people miss, and who tackled well”.
On the play of red-shirt freshman running back Phillip Lindsay … “I thought he did well today (eight carries for 12 yards and a touchdown). He fumbled the ball once, which can’t happen. I think that’s typical, though, when you really haven’t been hit in two years (since he got hurt). He got hit a little bit in ‘show’ (scout) team, but we babied him through the fall to make sure his knee was okay. But his quickness and speed and catching the ball, and hitting the hole, was good. I think he’ll just get better and better. I was pleased with what he did today except for the fumble” … On what Lindsay needs to work on between now and September … “Keep running the offense, keep attacking. Keep getting used to being hit, holding on to the football. But he has speed, agility and toughness … He drove through the pile a few times, ran through some tackles, so his knee is back. None of that is an issue. So it’s just getting used to everything”.
On the progression of sophomore linebacker Addison Gillam … “Addison did well today (eight tackles, six unassisted). He’s a little bit bigger and stronger, so I’m hoping he will pop the guys back a little bit more, cause a few more turnovers. I didn’t see anything glaring that he did wrong out there, but I’m pretty sure he played good. We’ll see on the film”.
On Gillam improving on last year’s performance, when he led the team (and set a freshman record) with 119 tackles … “Just a little more recognition. Just a little more opportunities to force turnovers. At the Mike (inside) linebacker I think he can cause some more fumbles, some more interceptions. I expect him to make some more of those, because he was close to doing that last year, and he dropped a few, and was just barely off on a few. I think as he develops his recognition, he should come out with 10 or 12 tipped passes, three or four interceptions, a couple more caused fumbles – the turnover side of things. He made a bunch of tackles (last season), now he’s got to improve on the takeaway side of it”.
On sophomore linebacker Clay Norgard playing defensive tackle (which would be his third position – fullback, linebacker, defensive tackle) in three years at Colorado … “We will keep Clay at defensive tackle. That’s where he played in high school. We just need to try and beef him up some (from 240-pounds). I think against a spread football team, when they are throwing it all of the time, and they are not doubling him as much, with his quickness he’s really a natural in there. Now, he’s little for in there. When we play teams who are going to pound and power us, he won’t be able to be in there much, and he won’t probably want to, as there will be 600-pounds doubling him. But when he’s one-on-one, and pass rushing, when quickness and stunting (come into play), I think he’ll be hard to block, and he’ll be able to give us an inside pass rush”.
On junior defensive tackle Tyler Henington … “We might move Tyler out to defensive end. He’s running a lot better, and he’s quicker. We can move him inside and outside, and he can give us a quick pass rusher inside. Against teams with a big tight end, he’s quick and powerful enough and has good leverage, he can help us some there as well. You will probably see him at both spots”.
On adding transfer linebacker Deaysean Rippy to the lineup … “I think Rippy’s in there, learning what to do. I think (sophomore) Kenneth Olugbode is really freakin’ good. So there’s a really good battle going on in there with those guys … Deaysean is learning how to play in there. He’s a real physical kid, and once he figures that all out, he’ll be a really good player in there”.
On sophomore running back Michael Adkins not playing in the scrimmage … “He twisted his ankle a little bit on Wednesday. He did the individual (workout) and we didn’t think he was ready to go. We didn’t want him gimping around on that, and get something else hurt, so he should be back (next week)”.
Buffs run through a 71-play scrimmage on Friday
From CU SID Dave Plati … Though it was just the fourth practice of the spring and only the second in pads, University of Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff put the Buffaloes through a 71-play scrimmage Friday morning at Folsom Field.
The scrimmage was classified as the “50 on in” and took place in the latter half of the session, as per NCAA rules; schools are allowed to tackle over 50 percent of a practice only three times. The offense on all 12 possessions began at the 50-yard line, and in the end produced five touchdowns and a field goal.
“The quarterbacks did really well, moved in the pocket and did some really good things,” MacIntyre said. “They knew they weren’t going to be hit, so they had a little more time, but overall they did some good things.”
“This was just an abbreviated scrimmage, we made it really hard on the defense by putting the ball on the 50 every drive,” he continued. “We will do some more things backed up the rest of the spring. We were really scripted today, we got a lot of red zone work done, so that was an enormous amount of pressure on the defense. The offense did really well, the defense didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked.”
Sophomore quarterbacks Sefo Liufau and Jordan Gehrke had nearly identical statistics, Gehrke leading six possessions and Liufau four; reserve walk-on Trent Sessions managed the other two. Gehrke completed 12-of-17 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown (168.1 rating), while Liufau was 7-of-11 for 108 and a score (176.1 rating); neither was intercepted.
Of the 65 plays from scrimmage, 33 were designed rushes and 32 passes (including three quarterback sacks); the other six were placement kicks in the session, which lasted all of 48 minutes and once again saw CU run an up-tempo offense. MacIntyre was one of nearly 100 coaches who came out against the proposed rule change to keep offenses from snapping the ball until 10 seconds had run off the 40-second clock. The Buffs snapped the ball quite often a second or two on either side of that mark Friday.
“I have to go watch the film, we’ll go back and evaluate and look at different schemes,” MacIntyre said. “Nelson (Spruce) did good, he made some plays, Bryce Bobo made some plays at receiver that stuck out but I’ll watch the linemen and see who made people miss and who tackled well, that kind of thing.”
Spruce caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, Bobo had two for 29; Wes Christensen led all in yards with two for 79, one where he broke free from two tacklers and darted 31 yards into the end zone.
Tony Jones paced the running game with 37 yards on six carries, including a 24-yard sprint for a touchdown. Phillip Lindsay and Donta Abron both added short 1-yard runs for scores. The Buffs were minus their top two runners from last fall, Christian Powell who is out following a pre-spring knee scope and Michael Adkins, who suffered a slight ankle sprain on Wednesday.
“Phillip did well today, he fumbled once, he can’t do that,” MacIntyre said. “His quickness and speed and hitting the hole was good. He’ll just get better and better, I was pleased with him other than the fumble.”
Defensively, last fall’s leading tackler, Addison Gillam, picked up where he left off. Gillam set the school record for tackles by a freshman with 119, which included 15 third down stops and 21 stops at or behind the line of scrimmage; he had a team-high eight tackles Friday.
“Addison did well today, he’s a little bigger and stronger so I’m hoping he pops the guys back a little more and causes more turnovers,” MacIntyre said. “I didn’t see anything glaring he did wrong. He can be quicker to recognize, have more opportunities to make turnovers, fumbles and turnovers. I expect him to force more turnovers, he was close to making a lot more of those so if his recognition is better, he’ll start making those plays. He made a bunch of tackles, now he needs the turnover side to get to the next level.”
A few experimental position moves always are the norm in spring ball, and perhaps the most noticeable was sophomore Clay Norgard lining up at defensive tackle, despite his smallish 6-foot-0, 240-pound frame.
“We will keep Clay at defensive tackle,” Mac said. “He played that in high school, we need to beef him up a little bit. Against spread football teams when they’re throwing it all the time, they won’t be doubling him all the time so he’s natural in there. When we’re playing teams that will pound you, he won’t be in there as much. But when it’s one-on-one, pass rush, stunting and moving him, he’ll be hard to block and give us an inside pass rush.”
“We may move Tyler Henington outside to defensive end a little more, he’s running better and quicker, MacIntyre said of the junior, who is some 20 pounds lighter than his playing weight last fall. “Against some teams we can move him in and out. Against teams with big tight ends, he’s 260 but hopefully can give us some good leverage.
Two others shined at defensive end: senior Juda Parker had six solo stops including two tackles for loss and a forced fumble, while redshirt frosh Derek McCartney registered two quarterback sacks, on one on third down.
The placekickers, Will Oliver, Chris Graham and Diego Gonzalez made all six of their kicks, all extra points sans a 38-yard field goal by Graham. There was no other live kicking in the scrimmage.
The Buffs will scrimmage two more times, on March 21 and April 4, ahead other spring game at Folsom Field; the latter is set for Saturday, April 12 with a Noon start. The Pac-12 Networks will televise the game.
Buffs conduct first spring practice in pads
A transcript of Coach MacIntyre’s post-practice comments:
On Wednesday’s practice … “It was good to get out of ‘pajamas’ (helmets and shorts) and get the pads on. I thought that they flew around and did some good things. It was one of those ‘non-tackle’ pad days. We’ll do a little bit more of the physical stuff on Friday, but today was definitely more physical than being in shorts”.
On the offensive line, practicing without Jeromy Irwin and Marc Mustoe, both out for the spring with injuries … “We’re trying to get all of them to get better, we’re trying different guys at different spots, which helps us for depth, which will also help us during games injury-wise. We’re trying to find the best guys who can play the different spots. Some guys can play guard, they can play center, but they can’t play tackle. Some guys can play tackle, but they can’t snap it. We’re trying to figure all that out, which gives us the luxury of doing that now. Of course, we’d like to have everybody out here, but (not having all of the players available) helps us take a look (at everybody else)”.
On the offensive line in general … “Well, this was our first day in pads. I really can’t tell until I get a chance to look at them on film … Then, as we get the scrimmages going, you can see a little bit more. Overall, I thought the guys who are moving out to play tackle, I thought they did well. It wasn’t just like people running by them (outside on the edge) which was very encouraging”.
On the possibility of Kaiwi Crabb, who started every game at left guard last season, moving out to tackle … “Right now, what I’ve seen so far, I think he can do it. Now, we’ve got to see as we keep scrimmaging and putting other things on him, but the first three days, he’s looked very nimble out there on his feet, which is good. He’s lost some weight, he’s trying to lose a little bit more, because out there you’ve got to be a little quicker. Inside you’re covered up, you’ve got a little more mass … especially with his height, he’s not real, real tall (6’3″)”.
On the overall effort on Wednesday … “It was better today. Every day has gotten a little bit better. I think that’s because they can see themselves on film and understand it and see it … less and less thinking as you go along, because you kind of install (plays and schemes) a little bit, so some of the kids who weren’t playing a lot last year, when you re-install, they’re a little bit slower with it. It slows them down a little bit, but they’re picking it up”.
On whether there are different schemes this year as opposed to last year … “There’s not a lot of different stuff, but half these guys were on the ‘show’ (scout) team last year, so they weren’t around it every day. They saw it, but they didn’t practice it everyday. So that’s the group, the second group, the backups that are moving in, that are a little bit sloppier at it than the guys who ‘repped’ it all of last year … We are adding a few wrinkles here and there, things that we think that can help us, that will feed to our strengths better”.
On the improvement of red-shirt freshman defensive end Markies Reed … “He’s looked good the first three days. We’ll see how he does as it gets more and more live, but he’s gone from 204-pounds to 238-pounds. He doesn’t look fat, and he’s physical and he can run. I’m excited about what Markeis will do”.
Monday practice notes
Full story at CUBuffs.com … “In today’s football, with the way the ball moves up and down so fast, you have limit teams,” MacIntyre said. “The old days of winning with 300 yards and 13 points doesn’t really happen much anymore. So, you have to realize that you’re going to give up a few yards and you can’t get so frustrated offensively or defensively. You just need to be able to make stops in the red zone and cause more turnovers in that area.”
MacIntyre knows that this pass-happy football era means that the defensive backfield is usually the most harassed unit on the field. In recognition of that trend, MacIntyre has spent most of the off-season thus far trying to upgrade a pass defense whose struggles were a key determining factor in last year’s defensive red zone problems.
Three of the team’s more high-profile recruits are defensive backs including highly-touted JUCO-transfer Akhello Witherspoon. And with the return of starter Terrel Smith and key contributor Josh Moten, two players who sat out with significant injuries last year, MacIntyre thinks some very healthy competition among that unit will be one of the biggest positives that will come out of the spring.
“So far it has been really good competition (among the defensive backs),” said MacIntyre. “They’re working hard and they’re competing. I’ve noticed that they’re competing hard and when we put pads on it will go to another level. Anytime you’ve got competition and you have to look over your right shoulder and look over your left shoulder then you’ve got a good football team because you know that guy can beat you out. We need to get more of that but I feel like we have quite a bit of that in our secondary right now. There’s a lot of good competition there. In our league, you need to be able to play well back there because are some many talented receivers.”
MacIntyre has always had a keen eye for talent in the secondary. He spent the majority of his playing career roaming that area as a free safety at Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt so, he usually finds himself drawn to watching that group during practice. MacIntyre believes that the attention he continually shows them not only gives him a chance to more accurately evaluate their talent, but it also indirectly helps to raise their level of play.
“We have really young defensive backs, so we’re trying to get more eyes on more people,” said MacIntyre. “That way we can coach them and they can coach them and they can catch up quicker. If you’re getting coached all the time and you know you’re getting seen all the time, then your intensity goes up and we’re able to correct stuff on the move quicker. Hopefully they don’t make the same mistake over and over. Hopefully they correct it and they start learning from it so that’s what we’re doing now.”
March 8th – Coach Mac: “I thought today went well … I was pleased with the effort”
Quotes from Coach Mike MacIntyre after Friday’s practice:
On the first practice … “I thought we got after it well. The first ones are a little bit rusty. I thought the quarterbacks threw well. I thought the timing between them and the receivers was good, which shows they have been throwing some on their own, which was very encouraging. I was pleased with the effort. We got a tremendous amount done … The flow of the practice went smooth, just a little bit rusty, which you would expect”.
Comparing Friday’s practice to the first practice a year ago … “We’re much farther ahead. They knew the snap count. We knew what we were doing; knew where to go on their drills”.
On increased expectations for this year … “We don’t talk about that. We just talk about every day getting better and better and better. It’s a process. As you get better every day … you can’t put the cart before the horse. It’s important that we do all the fundamentals, the daily grind of each player getting better and better … The kids expectations are to win every game, period. But you have to do the things (in practice) and in the classroom, in the weight room. The extra study, the extra effort, the extra focus it takes to get to those points. It doesn’t just happen by talking about future events, you talk about now, and ‘now’ takes care of the future”.
On being excited about getting back to the practice field … “I get about six ‘Christmas’s a year. I was thinking about that the other day, ‘I get another Christmas today’. I was excited last night when I went to bed. I really didn’t sleep a whole lot because I was excited about the anticipation of the day. It was fun getting after it (Friday). The kids were excited about practicing hard. We’ve got one more day of ‘pajamas’ (shorts and helmets, no pads), and then we put on pads, and that’s when I’ll really be excited”.
On having quarterbacks in camp who already know the system … “I thought Sefo (Liufau) was throwing it better today than I think he did anytime last year. I think he’s feeling better, and more comfortable. He’s throwing off of his back leg better. He’s doing some things that Brian (Lindgren) told him to work on over the off-season, and he’s done that … Jordan Gehrke has really improved also. We like the athletic ability of Jordan … You can tell they have been working on the things we’ve been telling them to work on, and so we were excited about the things both of those young men did today, so I’m excited. I really am”.
On finding a replacement for Paul Richardson … “We’re going to miss P-Rich, there is no doubt. There are some other seniors we are going to miss. Gus Handler at center … we had a few bad exchanges today, from kids doing it for the first time a lot … Chidera (Uzo-Diribe) off the edge … But there are some young kids I saw making plays out here today … they’ve just got to be able to do it in games. That’s how college football is. That’s how pro football is. Somebody’s got to step up … I was pleased with what I saw some of those young guys do here today”.
On improvements due to CU’s off-season program … “Our off-season program is still continuing. The way we’ve set up (spring) practice at three times a week is so that we can keep lifting. So that you don’t lift for a cycle, and then you are off for six weeks, and then you lift until May and then you go home for three weeks. You could have nine weeks where you don’t continuously lift. So lifting is continuing on through spring practices. Dave Forman and our of our strength coaches have done a good job. I think we’re bigger and stronger in the lower body. We’re in a lot better shape. We’re getting through practice a lot smoother. We did our “perfect 10’s” better than we’ve ever done at the end of practice. So I’ve been pleased with all of that. It shows they’ve been getting in better shape and getting stronger”.
From CUBuffs.com … “I thought today went well,” said MacIntyre of the first day of Spring ball. “The first practices are always a little bit rusty but I was pleased with the effort. We got a tremendous amount done. The flow of the practice went smoothly and I was impressed with some of the things I saw some of the young guys do.”
This time last year, MacIntyre didn’t know what to expect as he began his first spring camp in Boulder. Fast forward one year and MacIntyre now sees a team that has progressed.
“We’re much farther ahead (than we were last year),” said MacIntyre. “They knew the snap count and they knew what they were doing today. They knew where to go on the drills and everything. So, it was a lot smoother in some areas compared to last year.”
Opening spring camp with a sense of urgency escaped a team that was still trying to find its way as a foundation was being built. That sense of urgency seemed much more prevalent Friday as the great majority of the practice took place without the confusion and error that sometimes can typify spring football on many campuses.
In that aspect, the Buffs are ahead of last spring. Although it would be too early to know if that will manifest itself in anything positive for the season ahead, players and coaches are excited about what transpired on day one.
“It felt like things were clicking out there, which is great,” said quarterback Sefo Liufau. “Obviously there were a few hiccups here and there but I think for the majority of it we had a really good practice.”
March 7th – Spring Practices underway
Friday was a practice day … Practice # 1 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN shorts/helmets
(next up: March 10th— Practice # 2 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads-NT)
Coach MacIntyre looking for a more productive spring in Year Two
Full story posted at CUBuffs.com … Conventional wisdom implies that the second time around in anything should proceed more smoothly, with fewer errors and more productivity than the first attempt.
“Last year (players) were trying to learn snap counts, how we do our drills . . . they’ll be more familiar with that,” he continued. “There won’t be a learning curve there. We have to improve in emphasizing certain areas; I thought our tackling improved but we’ve got to get better still. We’ve got to improve our leverage – a lot of things to work on there. We’ve got to cause more turnovers and keep holding onto the ball, reduce our penalties . . . we’ll emphasize those areas every day in practice.”
To enhance off-season individual instruction, MacIntyre and his assistants met with those players who logged the most time by position during the 2013 season. Each player was shown tape of what MacIntyre and his staff deemed “30 good plays and 30 bad plays so they’d really understand” what is expected of them – and know that MacIntyre does expect more in Year 2.
Offensively, MacIntyre hopes to score more touchdowns and kick fewer field goals. “We need to concentrate on once we get across the 50 finding a way to get in the end zone. That’s a high emphasis for us,” he said.
Defensively, MacIntyre wants to make opponents kick more field goals and score fewer touchdowns. “It’s not a bend-don’t-break (defense),” he said. “It’s a find a way to stop them on third down, find a way to make them kick more field goals and miss some of them, too. It’s just the way the offenses are in our league.”
Goals on offense … Gone is Paul Richardson, CU’s potent offensive weapon and true game-breaking threat, so MacIntyre’s first spring looks will be at sophomore Devin Ross and redshirt freshmen Bryce Bobo and Elijah Dunston, as well as true freshman Lee Walker, who already is enrolled.
All are speedy, said MacIntyre, but speed alone won’t elevate one or more of the candidates. “We want to find out who can makes plays in a crowd, on vertical balls,” he said. “Some guys can run by you but they can’t catch it all the time. We have to make sure they can do that. It’ll be a big emphasis for us in the spring.”
Elsewhere on offense, replacements need to be identified for departed left tackle Jack Harris and center Gus Handler. Sophomore tackle candidate Jeromy Irwin will miss spring drills with a foot injury, creating an opportunity for someone else to rise.
Missing the pre-spring break portion of drills will be running back Christian Powell and fullback/H-back George Frazier, both out after knee surgery to repair meniscus damage. MacIntyre said their expected post-break return offers a chance to evaluate other running backs and receivers in the first half of spring drills, then switch the evaluation to tight ends and fullbacks/H-backs in the second half.
Dividing spring drills with spring break affords players like Powell and Frazier more healing time, as well as other players who might be injured in the opening half of drills. It also allows weight lifting and strength training to continue. Plus, noted MacIntyre, the prospect of spring break keeps players fresh and focused: “They push knowing they’ve got a break coming. Without a game right around the corner, that’s important for them.”
Among the running backs the Buffs offensive staff wants to scrutinize in Powell’s early absence is redshirt freshman Phillip Lindsay, a Denver South product who suffered a knee injury in high school but has successfully rehabbed it. MacIntyre said the 5-8 Lindsay has gained six to seven pounds, now weighing about 175, and figures to be a spring focal point with returning sophomore running back Michael Adkins at the position.
Lindsay is “real physical and quick,” MacIntyre said. “I can’t wait to see him now that his knee is completely well. He really looked good in the last half of the fall on the scout team when he started moving without having to think about it. He could help us on special teams – returning and covering.”
Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau, who took over as the starter in the fifth game last fall, should show the benefits of a full off-season conditioning program. Liufau’s targeted areas of improvement: “Better accuracy and timing, and knowing where to go with the ball,” said MacIntyre. In the running game, “He should know what right runs to get us into and if something’s coming, how to get us out of it . . . he got better there last year, but these things should be automatic. And he’s got to make good decisions in the red zone to get us points.”
CU’s pistol offense, imported from San Jose State by MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren, will be tweaked “according to personnel,” said MacIntyre. “You’ll find a lot of that as spring goes along. There are things we realize Sefo can do better, other things we’ll add to because of his strengths. Same with (Jordan) Gehrke; he’s got a few different strengths than Sefo and we’ll develop the playbook according to those.”
Goals on defense … MacIntyre expects upgraded competition in the secondary with the return of safety Terrel Smith, who sat out 2013 after shoulder surgery, and the addition of junior college transfer Ahkello Witherspoon.
“I think our secondary, through recruiting and some of the kids getting bigger and stronger, has really improved,” MacIntyre said. “But we’ve got to find a way to solidify our secondary – the nickel back, the dime back and the corners . . . I’m looking forward to those battles.”
Identifying a defensive end to replace sack leader (4) Chidera Uzo-Diribe is a priority, as is finding a replacement for Will (inside) linebacker Derrick Webb, who finished second in total tackles behind freshman Mike (middle) linebacker Addison Gillam (119-99).
Linebacker also gets a new face in Pittsburgh transfer Daeyshawn Rippy, the cousin former Buffs linebacker Doug Rippy. A 6-2, 210-pounder, Rippy will compete at the Sam (outside) spot with sophomores Ryan Severson and Kenneth Olugbode. Also, MacIntyre said charting the progress of linebacker Woodson Greer, who was sidelined late last season with a shoulder injury, is a priority.
Injury update -
TB – Christian Powell – knee – surgery to repair meniscus damage – OUT
FB – George Frazier – knee – surgery to repair meniscus damage – OUT
TB – Michael Adkins – knee – had postseason arthroscopic surgery to mend a chronic issue – PROBABLE
DE – Jimmie Gilbert – shoulder – had postseason surgery to mend a chronic issue – QUESTIONABLE
ILB – Addison Gillam – knee – had postseason arthroscopic surgery to mend a chronic issue – PROBABLE
CB – Jeffrey Hall – hip – had January surgery to mend chronic issue – OUT (Also … Suspended indefinitely after February arrest)
OLB – Woodson Greer – neck – suffered a stinger in practice on Nov. 5; missed last four games – PROBABLE
CB – John Walker – hip – suffered a contusion in practice (Nov. 19), missed last two games – PROBABLE
Those who were out for the season:
TB – Josh Ford – ankle – suffered a high ankle sprain (Aug. 11), underwent surgery (Aug. 19) – PETITIONING FOR 6TH YEAR
OL – Jeromy Irwin – foot – suffered a broken bone in his foot doing yard work at a friend’s house (July 30) and redshirted – OUT
FB – Clay Jones – neck – suffered a neck sprain against Central Arkansas (Sept. 7) – PROBABLE
DB – Josh Moten – Achilles – suffered initially in late May, was rehabbing and reinjured it a second time (late July) – PROBABLE
OT – Marc Mustoe – lower leg – suffered a fractured fibula against Charleston Southern (Oct. 19) – PROBABLE (LIMITED)
DE – Andre Nichols – back – injured in practice (Oct. 23), tests revealed herniated disk – QUESTIONABLE
S – Terrel Smith – shoulder – underwent surgery on Sept. 5 to mend a chronic injury and redshirted – PROBABLE
Full Spring Calendar and Rules for attending Practices
Colorado is allowed 15 practices over 34 days per NCAA rules (not including spring break); sessions break down as follows, tentatively listed below on the column on the right: three in shorts (no contact), four in pads (no tackling, or NT below), five in pads (tackling allowed 50 percent or less of the time), three in pads (tackling allowed throughout, as in extended scrimmages). The primary location will be the practice fields north of Boulder Creek; the spring game will be at Folsom Field.
… If you are going to any of the practices, here is a link to the practice jersey roster for the spring …
Calendar (dates, times approximate and subject to change; confirm daily with the CU Sports Information Office)
MARCH 7— Practice # 1 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN shorts/helmets
MARCH 10— Practice # 2 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads-NT
MARCH 12— Practice # 3 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads-NT
PRO TIMING DAY (1:00 p.m., Dal Ward Center/Practice Bubble; ’13 seniors: assorted sprints and drills)
MARCH 14— Practice # 4 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice, includes light scrimmage) OPEN pads
MARCH 17— Practice # 5 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads
MARCH 19— Practice # 6 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads
MARCH 21— Practice # 7 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30 a.m. scrimmage) OPEN pads
———————— Spring Break (March 22 through March 30) —————
MARCH 31— Practice # 8 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads-NT
APRIL 2— Practice # 9 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads
APRIL 4— Practice #10 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30 a.m. scrimmage) OPEN pads
APRIL 7— Practice #11 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads-NT
APRIL 9— Practice #12 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN pads
APRIL 11— Practice #13 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN shorts/helmets
APRIL 12— SPRING GAME (Practice #14; meetings TBA, 12:00 p.m. game; Pac 12 Network, KOA-Radio) OPEN pads
APRIL 14— Practice #15 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) OPEN shorts/helmets
„« PRACTICE ACCESS (MEDIA & PUBLIC): All spring practices are generally open; on rare occasions, the last 20 minutes or so may be a closed period. Photography and video are permitted during the first 20-30 minutes; see below for additional information.
„« PLAYER INTERVIEWS. There is availability after practice SID personnel are on hand to coordinate). A reminder that no player interviews can take place without requesting through the SID office (and as always, it is the player’s prerogative to grant or not); the SID staff will coordinate interviews at other times of day. The interview window post-practice is generally 15-20 minutes; the players have to shower, change, eat and then have classes either at Noon or 1 p.m. If you are posting a video interview on the Internet, please inform subject of that intent so they have the option to change clothes, clean-up, etc.
„« PRO-TIMING DAY (March 12: afternoon session with last year’s seniors) is open to pre-registered media, not the public; media can register in advance with the sports information office.
„« SPRING POLICIES: Media members must wear their CU season credential (anyone taking notes or photos must be credentialed media). No cell phones, pets, camera phones, video cameras or pets permitted. Other restrictions may take effect (for safety) if the weather force the team indoors into the practice bubble.
„« CELL PHONE POLICY: Cell phone activity at any practice (other than the spring game) by the media and public is prohibited inside authorized areas during practices. This includes calls, text messaging and live blogging as well as transmissions to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
„« PHOTOGRAPHY RULES: Credentialed photographers will be allowed photo access for the first 20-30 minutes of most practices except scrimmages (no time constraints). CU’s standard photography guidelines must utilized (no wide shots to show formations or recording of quarterback cadences; up close and tight as in the fall, and coaches may also request additional plays or other things not be filmed or photographed, etc.).