August 28th

Georgia suspends starting tailback

Eigth is definitely enough.

Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey, who led the Bulldogs in rushing last season, was suspended for at least the first game of the season after being charged with a hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license.

Georgia opens with Louisiana-Lafayette, so Ealey will not likely be missed, but the problem for head coach Mike Richt, who is hearing whispers after his Bulldogs went 8-5 in 2009 (and who have given up 34 or more points ten times over the past two seasons – one more time than Colorado during that span), is that Ealey is not the first of his players to be arrested this off-season.

Ealey is the eighth.

Sophomore tailback Dontavius Jackson left school after being suspended for six games after being charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

Sophomore wide receiver Tavarres King was suspended for one game after being charged with underage possession.

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the team before pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.

Linebacker Montez Robinson was kicked off the team after being charged with battery/family violence.

Backup punter Trent Dittmer was kicked off the team after being charged with public intoxication.

Offensive lineman Josh Parrish was charged with underage possession and possessing a false ID, but is still with the team.

Backup cornerback Jordan Love was charged with obstruction after failing to provide his full name to police.

Most of the charges are misdemeanors, and most of the players will be on the field against Colorado come October 2nd.

But it does give you pause. Any guesses as to whether or not a Colorado coach could withstand such an off-season?

August 27th

Buffs up to eight watch list candidates

Senior tackle Nate Solder continues to rack up preseason award recognition. In addition to being named to the Playboy preseason All-American team, Solder is on the official watch lists for the Outland Trophy (top interior lineman) and the Lombardi Award (top interior lineman/linebacker). This week, Solder added the Lowe’s Senior Class Award watch list. Solder is one of 30 players on the list, which is given to the nation’s top senior athlete. This fall, Solder has become the Colorado player with the most preseason honors since Mason Crosby in 2006.

Also nominated this week was junior running back Rodney Stewart, who was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. The Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, was awarded to Rashaan Salaam in 1994, with Chris Brown finishing second in the balloting in 2002. Stewart, who is already 30th on the Buffs’ all-time rushing list after two seasons, is one of 49 candidates named to the official watch list.

Other Buffs previously nominated:

Junior guard Ryan Miller: Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)

Senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight: Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)

Senior center Keenan Stevens: Rimington Award (top center)

Senior cornerback Jimmy Smith: Thorpe Award (top defensive back)

In 2009, only two Buffs were on national award watch lists: tight end Riar Geer (John MackeyAward / top tight end); and punter Matt DiLallo (Ray Guy Award / top punter).

 

August 26th

Missouri suspends starting running back indefinitely

Missouri team captain Derrick Washington has been suspended indefinitely from the team for unspecified disciplinary reasons. “As I tell my players, when something happens like this I won’t comment on it.” said head coach Gary Pinkel. (see UPDATE, below, for more on the reasons behind the suspension).

Washington, a senior tailback, led the team in rushing each of the past two seasons, posting 1,078 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008 as a sophomore, and 865 yards and ten touchdowns last season. (Washington had 99 yards on 22 carries in Missouri’s 36-17 win in Boulder in last season; and had 83 yards on 17 carries in the 58-0 embarrassment in Columbia in 2008. Washington scored the first touchdown of the game in contests).

Depth is now a concern for Missouri, which will start sophomore Kendial Lawrence next weekend against Illinois. Lawrence ran for 219 last season as a freshman last season. Third-team running back De’Vion Moore has been limited in fall camp, as he is nursing a foot injury.

Missouri, which has beaten Colorado by an average score of 44-10 over the past four seasons, hosts the Buffs on October 9th in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

UPDATE: It is being reported that the reason behind the suspensioin of Washington is a potential sexual assault charge, stemming from a June 19th incident in which a woman, a Missouri graduate, accused Washington of entering her apartment and sexually assaulting her. “I am pressing criminal charges,” the woman, who was not identified, said in her complaint. “I fear physical retaliation.” The woman who made the allegations, however, did not appear for a hearing on July 21st, and the protective order issued on her behalf was dismissed. However, the request for an order can be reinstated, and the fact that Washington was suspended by the team the week before the season opener lends credence to the notion that the issue has not yet been fully resolved.

School policy at Missouri does not allow a player with a felony charge cannot return to the field until the case is dismissed, or charges reduced to a misdemeanor.

And while we’re on the issue of Missouri …

On Thursday, senior cornerback Munir Prince was taken to the hospital by ambulance after a collision with a teammate on a punt return. Prince was in intensive care after Prince suffered a temporary loss of sensation in his arms and legs. There was no immediate word on Prince’s long-term prognosis. Prince played in eight games in 2009, and was in competition for a starting role this fall.

August 25th

Ahles getting better the reason for the starting nod

One of the most intriguing notations in the new depth chart was when Tyler Ahles was listed ahead of B.J. Beatty as the number one outside linebacker. Beatty is a senior; Ahles a junior. Last season, Beatty started ten games; Ahles two. Last season, Beatty was on the field for 497 defensive snaps; Ahles 307.

Has Beatty fallen back, or has Ahles started playing better?

“Tyler has really been coming on,” said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. “He has really grown up, really matured … He does a nice job of watching film and he has very sound technique all the time. He is a strong guy as well.” As for Beatty, Hawkins did not see significant reduction in playing time for the senior. “They’ll both roll in there,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins also noted that Beatty missed a number of practices this fall with a hamstring injury, which also contributed to the alteration of the depth chart.

No Predictions …?

Whether Dan Hawkins’ “ten wins, no excuses” statement in December, 2008, was a prediction for the 2009 season, or just his way of making a statement about getting the team focused for every game, it’s hard to say.

What is certain is that Hawkins will not be forced to relive that moment this year.

Far from being asked about predicting a record for 2010, Hawkins was simple asked Wednesday about whether this was his most talented team, and even on that question, he was equivocal. “Well, we’ll see,” said Hawkins. “The proof will be in the pudding once we hit the field.”

Hawkins did acknowledge that this was his fastest team to date. “No question, much faster,” said Hawkins. “We’re much faster.”

Compare Hawkins’ quotes with those of Colorado State second-year head coach Steve Fairchild …

“Offensively, we stunk up the field today,” said Fairchild after the Rams’ scrimmage last Saturday. “We had 16 penalties, 12 procedures. … I put that on the players and coaches; we just didn’t show up like we wanted to play. We’re not accountable offensively.”

Fairchild went on to say, “If I’m Dan Hawkins right now, I’m feeling pretty good about this game, after watching this offense.”

Before any Buff fans run off to place bets on Colorado for next weekend, recall what Fairchild said about this time last year, before his first game against Colorado. “Tell Dan if we were playing tomorrow,” said Fairchild, “it would be silly of me to call a pass play the way our quarterbacks are playing.”

All first-time starter Grant Stucker did against the Buffs a few weeks later was to complete his first pass for 11 yards, then throw a 57-yarder a few plays later. Before Buff fans were settled into their Folsom Field seats, the Rams had a lead they would never relinquish.

Pick your coach-speak. Hawkins says, “The proof is in the pudding”. Fairchild says, “We stunk up the field”. Two different philosophies of addressing the press and motiviating his team.

Fairchild is 1-0 against Dan Hawkins … but 0-8 in Mountain West Conference play.

Guess somebody figured out who’s lying …

August 23rd

Where’s Waldo?

There are a number of freshmen who might see action against Colorado State, but only one true freshman is virtually guaranteed to see the football at some point during the game.

Name that true freshman …

A good guess would be wide receiver Paul Richardson, who came to Boulder via UCLA just as fall camp was opening. Still, there are a number of quality wide receivers in the lineup, and Richardson might not have a ball thrown his way in what would likely be limited action in the opener (though it would be expected that Richardson will see more playing time as the season progresses).

There are other freshmen in the two deep on the offense, including running back Quentin Hildreth, tight end DaVaughn Thornton, and utility back Scott Fernandez, but those three players are all red-shirt freshmen. Also a red-shirt freshman is punter Zach Grossnickle, who is a starter, but is a player Buff fans hope to see only a handful of times agaisnt Colorado State.

Give up?

Try freshman Ryan Iverson. A walk-on, Iverson is listed as the long-snapper for the Buffs in the most recent depth chart. Someone has to get the ball to Grossnickle, and Justin Drescher, a four-year starter at the position, graduated. Iverson and senior Joe Silipo have both been working to be the replacement for Drescher. Silipo has been given the short-snapper duties, while Iverson is listed as the short-snapper.

As a result, unless Paul Richardson gets thrown a pass, or freshman kicker Justin Castor is involved in some sort of fake field goal, the only true freshman Buff guaranteed to see the ball against Colorado State is a walk-on, Ryan Iverson.

Position battles left to be decided

Offensive line coach Denver Johnson indicated before camp opened that he wanted to have his starting lineup in place after the second scrimmage. From the start, Johnson pretty well had three offensive line positions filled – Nate Solder at left tackle; Ryan Miller at right guard; and Keenan Stevens at center. Two jobs were left open – right tackle and left guard. When the depth chart was released, however, at least one postion, right tackle, was still up for grabs, with sophomore Bryce Givens and red-shirt freshman David Bakhtiari still battling. The other position, left guard, may have been decided, with junior Ethan Adkins listed as the starter, but junior Mike Iltis is still trying to find his way into the lineup.

Another position left undetermined in the latest depth chart is the position of kicker. Senior Aric Goodman has been challenged by true freshman Justin Castor and junior Marcus Kirkwood, with apparently no resolution. All three players are listed on the depth chart as potential first-team kicker, although Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins has hinted that Goodman has the edge over the two potential replacements. It would not be a surprise to see Goodman come onto the field for extra points and field goals, but, unlike quarterback Tyler Hansen, it would be fair to say that Goodman does not have a long leash, and must demonstrate he can translate quality kicks in practice into points on the field.

Stat of the Day

According to the media relations department, the Buffs’ opening day roster had collectively played in 847 games. The opening day roster in 2010, if it holds up as presented this weekend, will present a lineup with 1,540 games – almost double what Colorado fielded just a year ago.

Experience counts – we hope.

August 21st

The waiting is over …

On Friday, Tyler Hansen was informed that he would be the starting quarterback on September 4th against Colorado State, beating out senior Cody Hawkins. “I’m excited … it’s something I’ve worked long and hard for,” said Hansen, who started the final seven games of the 2009 season.

It was time to name a starter, according offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau. “We met as a staff and I met with coach Hawkins, and we thought this is the best decision for the team,” said Kiesau. “Right now, today (Saturday) to let our team know who our starting quarterback is two weeks prior to the first game. We didn’t want this to continue hanging over our heads.”

If you want to lose sleep over the next few weeks, though, you can also read too much into the following … “It was kind of like last year, where Cody was ahead by a sliver, and right now Tyler is just ahead by a sliver,” said head coach Dan Hawkins. “Their numbers are so close (now) it’s scary. But that’s not everything by any means.”

Cody, for his part, at least is saying the right things. “(I will) learn to accept my role, just as I did when I was a starter or when I was a red-shirt,” said Cody, who will be a senior this fall. “It’s all about winning championships for the Buffaloes. I’m going to be ready if my number ever gets called, but until then I’m going to grind it out and try to get the Buffaloes some victories anyway I can.”

We’ll give the last word to Kiesau, who said that Tyler Hansen will not have to fear being on a “short leash” this fall. “That’s a very uncomfortable way to play, and I want Tyler to know that,” said Kiesau. “We told Tyler to run with it. I told him, ‘You’re the starting quarterback; don’t look over your shoulder. Don’t play tight. Just go have fun and play. Don’t look behind you … that’s why we named you the starting quarterback.’ ”

For the last two weeks, Hansen, who was getting about 60 percent of the snaps with the No. 1 offense, will be taking about 75 percent of the snaps, according to Kiesau.

The preliminary depth chart has been released, with a few surprises.

A few highlights  …

– Colorado may open with two seniors and a junior at wide receiver. Senior Scotty McKnight is listed as a starter, joined atop the depth chart by senior transfer Travon Patterson and junior transfer Toney Clemons. Despite having three upperclassmen on the field for the opener, only McKnight will take the field having caught a ball in a Colorado uniform. Clemons and Patterson, though, will be sharing duties with sophomore Will Jefferson and freshman Paul Richardson, respectively.

– The offensive line is filled with familiar names. The left tackle position will be manned by senior Nate Solder, with the right tackle position still being contested between sophomore Bryce Givens and red-shirt freshman David Bakhtiari. The guards are both juniors, with the right guard manned by Ryan Miller; the left guard position taken by Ethan Adkins, listed ahead of junior Mike Iltis, who started the final game of the 2009 season at that position. The center position falls to senior Keenan Stevens. The naming of Solder, Miller, and Stevens was not much of a surprise, as all three have been nominated for national awards.

– The running back pecking order is as expected – junior Rodney Stewart; junior Brian Lockridge; and red-shirt freshman Quentin Hildreth. Buff fans will have to wait and see which of the four freshmen running backs will be the first to have their red-shirt removed this fall (running backs coach Darian Hagan has stated that at least one, and perhaps two, of the freshmen recruits will play in 2010).

– The Buffs’ offense does not have an official fullback. Instead, Colorado has listed the role of “utility back” – tight end; fullback; halfback; tailback – to be manned by 6’4″, 290-pound Matthew Bahr and 6’3, 275-pound Scott Fernandez. The utility backs will be used primarily for blocking on short-yardage and goal line situations, though Fernandez did catch a three-yard touchdown pass in the first fall scrimmage.

– Along the defensive line, their are four familiar names. At defensive end, the Buffs will line up senior Marquez Herrod and junior Josh Hartigan, listed ahead of sophomores Forrest West and Nick Kasa. In the interior, junior Curtis Cunningham will be joined by sophomore Will Pericak. Herrod, Cunningham and Pericak all started every game for the Buffs in 2009, so there will certainly be continuity along the defensive line (Josh Hartigan is listed as a starter on the depth chart, but the reality was in 2009 that Colorado started every game with three defensive linemen and a nickel back on the field).

– The linebackers will be led by senior Michael Sipili, joined by junior Tyler Ahles and sophomore Jon Major. The surprise here is that junior college transfer Evan Harrington, who had been receiving praise from his coaches, is listed third on the depth chart at inside linebacker, behind Major and junior Patrick Mahnke. Ahles started two games in 2009 at strongside linebacker; the other ten were started by Ahles 2010 backup, senior B.J. Beatty.

– In the secondary, senior cornerbacks Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith will take on the leadership roles, with junior Anthony Perkins and sophomore Ray Polk (the former running back recruit) starting at safety. Owing to the understanding that in today’s college game, the opposition requires additional defensive backs to be on the field in most instances, the Buffs have listed the first two nickel backs who will be seeing action, red-shirt freshman Parker Orms and junior Jonathan Hawkins. Brown, Smith, and Perkins all started the majority of the games in 2009, with Ray Polk also earning the start in three games as a red-shirt freshman.

– On special teams, the only known about the kickers heading into fall camp was that Zach Grossnickle would be the punter. With only freshman walk-on Dillan Freiberg for competition, the job belongs to Grossnickle. At kicker, though, no decision has been made, as senior Aric Goodman, freshman Justin Castor, and junior Marcus Kirwood are all listed as potential starters.

– The return game will be of great interest to Buff fans in 2010. The punt return team averaged 3.3 yards/return, good for 117th in the nation in 2009. Senior Travon Patterson and junior Toney Clemons, the Buffs’ two transfer wide receivers, will try and improve upon that average. The main kickoff return man will be junior Brian Lockridge, who had a kickoff return for a touchdown against Oklahoma State last fall.

 Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins likes to talk about “groupings”, and does not put, in his words, much weight to which players are on the field for the first play of a given game. Still, having some idea of how the Buffs will lineup on September 4th is important, and gives some insight as to which of the newest Buffs are believed by the coaches to be game ready.

Let the games begin … !

 

August 19th

Second scrimmage short on specifics

The Buffs conducted the second scrimmage of fall practice, and did so under a shroud of secrecy.

No statistics were released, but the consensus of the “game condition” run of 120 offensive plays was that the Buffs saw positive results from the running game. “The holes were crazy”, said junior running back Rodney Stewart. “Even against the number one defense, there were some good holes.” Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau was pleased to see positive results from a running game which ranked 113th in the nation in 2009 (87.9 yards per game). “We ran the ball well today,” said Kiesau. “I liked the way the running backs played. The guys on the offensive line have been together for awhile … That continuity is good.”

“We’re still building. We’re not there yet,” said Kiesau. “But we’re working toward that.”

And the starting quarterback will be … ?

The naming of the Buffs’ starting quarterback, according to head coach Dan Hawkins after spring practice, and during the summer, would not come until after the second scrimmage of the fall.

Well … we’re waiting …

Nope. Not there yet. At least officially. “They were both efficient,” said Kiesau. “There were no bad decisions from that standpoint (the only interception, of Tyler Hansen by linebacker Michael Sipili, came on a tipped ball). They were both fine.”

Kiesau did not indicate that he had a timetable for naming a starter between Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen. “(There is) never a right time (to name a starter),” said Kiesau. It’s whenever one guys steps up. We’re grading these guys every day in practice, in every drill, every 7-on-7 … from meetings to practice, to film. When one guy kind of appears and emerges above the other, we’ll name a starter.”

Interviews with players, though, do seem to suggest that a starter is in place – Tyler Hansen. Through spring practice, through summer 7-on-7 drills, to running with the “ones” in earlier practices, all signs point toward Hansen being the starter September 4th. The receivers have indicated as much, as have the running backs and offensive linemen. Hansen himself indicated that he was getting about 80% of the reps with the first offense. Still, Kiesau remains non-committal. “I’ve tried to divide it 50-50 and keep them both sharp,” said Kiesau when asked about Hansen’s 80% comment. “We have to keep them both sharp. Whoever the starter is, we’re going to need the other guy as well.”

As for the defense …

Defensive coordinator Ron Collins has his work cut out for him. Last season, the Buffs could not stop the run, finishing 80th in the nation in rush defense, and could not keep the opposition out of the end zone, coming in at 88th in scoring defense. Even the heralded pass defense (34th in the nation in 2009), surrendered way too many big plays last year, as the Buffs gave up 53 plays of over 20 yards, 15 of those going for over 40 yards.

And this season … ?

“We’re way beyond where we were last year, and as good as at any time last fall,” said Collins. “We feel good at where we’re at.” The Buff defense did not have any touchdowns of their own in the second scrimmage (after scoring two in the first scrimmage of the fall), but Collins did hint that if the Buffs’ quarterbacks had been “live”, the defense may have come up with a few more plays of their own. Collins cited the work of red-shirt freshman Paul Vigo, who “has had an excellent camp”, as well as freshmen corners Josh Moten, Jered Bell, and Terrel Smith. Despite having strong returning starters at corner by the names Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith, Collins sees the young defensive backs as having the best opportunities to see playing time this fall. “Up front, we’ve got a pretty good core (of players),” said Collins. “It’s going to be tough for young guys to break in.”

Other notes of note

Be prepared to hold your breath in the Mile High air, Buff fans, as come the opener, Aric Goodman may be back as the placekicker. “Goodie (Goodman) holds a slight edge there,” said Hawkins of the placekicking race, though he did concede that true freshman Justin Castor and junior walk-on Marcus Kirkwood “are in general kicking pretty good” … The quote of the day came from quarterback Tyler Hansen, talking about wide receiver Toney Clemons and a short hitch pass which Clemons turned into a 49-yard touchdown. “It was just a little hitch and he stuttered … Ray (Polk) – his ankles are still out there, I think.” … In perhaps the best news of the day, Dan Hawkins said that he was not aware of any significant injuries.

 

August 18th

Practice Notes

The Buffs’ second scrimmage of the fall has been moved from 12:00 back to 10:00 a.m. due to an expected decline in the weather on Thursday (not that it will matter much to most Buff fans – the practice is closed to the public – but we might get scrimmage notes and quotes a little bit earlier as a result). “We just want to play a game and just kind of get it going,” said Dan Hawkins of the scrimmage. “”Guys are going to have to kind of rally, and just get into a lot of intangibles of ‘If you make a good play, what is your attitude? If you make a bad play, what is your attitude?’ Kind of figure some of that stuff out.”

For the past four years, the long-snapper duties were handled by Justin Drescher. Senior walk-on transfer Joe Silipo was set this spring to take over those duties, but he was briefly suspended for off-field issues. Freshman Ryan Iverson was invited to join the team as a preferred walk-on in April, and the two will compete for playing time this fall. “Both of those guys have done a really good job,” said Hawkins. “I think if we had to start tomorrow, Joe would probably be the short snapper and maybe Ryan would be the long snapper.”

August 17th

Practice Notes

With practices closed to the public, information is coming out on a “need to know” basis, and, for the most part, Buff fans don’t need to know.

It is being reported that red-shirt freshman offensive tackle Jack Harris, who has been impressing coaches this fall, did not practice Tuesday after spraining his shoulder at Monday night’s practice. There is no indication as to how long Harris might be out of action.

True freshman defensive lineman Dakota Poole, the late signee from Canada, was seen with an arm in sling Tuesday. While it was not expected that Poole would play in 2010, he is an ex-rugby player with little football experience, so any lost practice time will hurt Poole’s development.

Junior running back Rodney Stewart also missed practice Tuesday, but apparently not due to injury. Dan Hawkins commented about taking away the scholarship of Stewart’s alarm clock, leading to speculation that Stewart overslept and was late for the Buffs’ morning practice (Colorado conducted practice from 8:30 -10:30 this morning, and will have morning practices on Wednesday and a morning walkthrough on Thursday before the second scrimmage of the fall – 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.).

Awhile back, when I was extolling the virtures of the latest receivers to be added to the Buffs’ lineup, I neglected to mention junior Kyle Cefalo (and a loyal CU at the Gamer called me on it!). Cefalo, a transfer from Oregon State, though, has caught the eye of his head coach. Cefalo is “crafty, quick-footed, and a lot faster than people think,” said Hawkins. “He’s a guy who can turn a four-yard hitch into an eight-yard play. He’s going to turn and get up the field.”

Dan Hawkins indicated today that the Buffs – all of them – will be wearing helmets with the Ralphie logo come September 4th. The Buffs have been practicing in helmets without the logo since the start of fall practice, and Dan Hawkins did not indicate what it would take for a player to “earn their Buff”, or whether any had done so to date.

Second scrimmage will have “Game conditions”

 The second fall scrimmage, to be conducted Thursday outside the eyes of the public, may help decide the starting lineup for September 4th. Still, Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins remains non-committal. “I’m a kind of guy who’s looking for contributors,” said Hawkins. “I’m just not in the mind-set of ‘we’ve got 11 spots, and everybody lines up behind those 11 letters’, because it depends on what the down and distance is and the personnel and all those kinds of things … I just love to see who’s going to be a contributor.”

Colorado State has named its starter – a true freshman – for the opener. It has been speculated and hinted that the Buffs may name a starter at the position with the most attention, quarterback, after the second scrimmage.

Or Dan Hawkins might just name the “starting contributor” at quarterback …

Deehan a surprise nominee for the John Mackey Award

Colorado junior tight end Ryan Deehan spent most of the 2009 season backing up senior Riar Geer. Deehan played in all 12 games, collecting a total of ten passes for 91 yards, with all ten catches coming in only five games. Deehan had three catches against both Colorado State and Kansas State, with his 34-yard catch against Toledo being a season high.

Not exactly all-conference statistics.

Now, though, Deehan has become the sixth Buff player to be placed on an award watch list. Deehan is one of 35 players named to the Mackey Award watch list, given to the best tight end in the nation. “It’s a great honor,” said Deehan. “Hopefully, now I can come through and perform.”

With the Buffs’ wide receiver corps recently upgraded in terms of speed, the middle of the field might now be open for a tight end down the middle. “Now we have fast guys outside to stretch the defense, unlike in past years,” said Deehan. “It gives us tight ends more room, because there is so much else they have to pay attention to. Everyone’s kind of helping each other.”

Deehan will go up against four other Mackey award nominees this fall, as tight ends from Colorado State, Cal, Kansas, and Missouri have also been nominated.

Daniel Graham became the first Buff to win the John Mackey Award in 2001.

August 16th

Player updates

A number of players have been having making a good impression on the coaches.

Red-shirt freshman offensive tackle Jack Harris – “I’m not so sure that Jack Harris hasn’t played as well as anybody in there,” said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. Harris has been working with the second team offense, but is getting more and more playing time.

Overall, along the offensive line, there appear to be three positions set – Nate Solder at left tackle, Keenan Stevens at center, and Ryan Miller at right guard. Sophomore David Bakhtiari is a leading candidate at right tackle, edging out 2009 starter Bryce Givens and Jack Harris. At left guard, meanwhile, junior Ethan Adkins is trying to withstand the challenges of junior college transfer Eric Richter and junior Blake Behrens.

Senior tight end Luke Walters – A sixth-year senior who received an extra medical hardship season, has been competing with redshirt freshman DaVaughn Thornton for playing time behind starter Ryan Deehan. “I think he’s finally got that leg (which was broken) 100 percent,” said Dan Hawkins. “He is running really well, and obviously he is a smart guy (Walters graduated with a degree in Geography last December), and he can catch the ball, too .. he can pose some problems for people.”

Red-shirt freshman linebacker Derrick Webb – “Derrick Webb is having a great camp,” said linebacker coach Brian Cabral. “Derrick  had a good spring, and is having a great camp. I am really liking that.”

Red-shirt freshman safety Parker Orms – “The kid is just a football player. He has a feel for the game,” said defensive backs coach Ashley Ambrose. “God gave him that talent where he just understands the game, he understands where he needs to be and he’s a playmaker … And he is a great kid, too. He is quiet, he just goes about his business. Sometimes you wonder if he’s getting it, but he’s getting it.” For his part, Orms felt he could have contributed last season as a true freshman, but he’s glad now that he waited. “I felt like I could help last year, but at the same time, I still needed a lot of work,” said Orms. “I came in at 165 (pounds) and now I’m at 190. It’s huge for me. I can definitely feel it when I’m hitting people … I feel a lot more confident, which lets you play a lot faster.”

True freshman defensive back Terrel Smith – “He’s all about hitting. I think he’ll be somewhere in there in the rotation,” said Ambrose. “He has actually worked his way up the charts … he has only been doing it a week and a half, but we like what we see from him. Once he gets it down, man, that guy is going to be good.”

True freshman running back Justin “J.T.” Torres – The first scrimmage netted seven carries for 35 yards for Torres, including a 14-yard run and a three-yard touchdown run. After the scrimmage and the first ten practices has led running backs coach Darian Hagan to acknowledge that of the four true freshman running backs, Torres is the most likely to see action this fall.

August 15th

Clark Evans, academically ineligible, to transfer

Former quarterback recruit Clark Evans will be transferring to Golden West College. Evans came to Colorado as a quarterback prospect, the No. 28 quarterback prospect in the nation according to Scout.com. This past spring, Evans switched to tight end, and was practicing behind starter Ryan Deehan and fellow red-shirt freshman DaVaughn Thornton. Evans was not academically eligible to participate this fall, and has opted to transfer. While not much was expected of Evans on the field this fall, his transfer, while not academically eligible, will count against the Buffs’ APR score for next spring.

Two back to practice

Defensive end Forrest West has been out for most of fall practice with a knee injury, but returned to practice Saturday. Forrest, a sophomore, is expected to contend for starting time at defensive end. Also back in uniform is B.J. Beatty. The senior linebacker, listed atop the depth chart at outside linebacker, has been out for several practices with an undisclosed injury.

Other than sophomore safety Vince Ewing (torn ACL, out for the season) and junior wide receiver Dustin Ebner (broken tibia, out for six weeks), the Buffs are relatively healthy. Several players did miss practice on Saturday, but head coach Dan Hawkins downplayed the injuries as “just nicks and bruises”.

 

August 13th

More from the first fall scrimmage …

The following players did not see action during the first fall scrimmage … linebacker Michael Sipili; safety Terdema Ussery; linebacker B.J. Beatty; offensive lineman Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner; defensive end Forrest West; and defensive end Tony Poremba. Wide receiver Dustin Ebner was injured during the practice. None of the injuries to anyof the above players has been reported as being a threat to playing time come the regular season opener.

The defense at the scrimmage was led by true freshman safety Terrel Smith, who has been playing with the second team defense. Smith had ten tackles on Thursday.  Following Smith on the tackle list was sophomore safety Vince Ewing, who had nine tackles. The defense recorded two sacks, one each by Evan Harrington and Liloa Nobriga.

The receivers were led by sophomore Will Jefferson. On the day Jefferson, who also had a blocked kick, had seven catches for 88 yards. The Buffs had only two touchdown receptions, one by Rodney Stewart on a 20-yard score, with the other coming from Scott Fernandez from three yards out. Fernandez is a 275-pound offensive lineman who is being used as part of a “jumbo” package on the goal line. Fernandez will be teaming up with Matt Bahr (290 pounds) to create more holes at the goal line. “In a short yardage situation, it’s pretty nice when you’ve got a couple of 300-pound guys who can line up in some spots where guys are a lot smaller than that usually,” said Dan Hawkins. “Now a 230-pound linebacker is running into a 300-pound back.”

Notes from the stats sheet … Zach Grossnickle handled all of the punting duties, with four punts for a 34.3 yard average. The good news – Grossnickle had a 50-yarder. The bad news – he also had one kick blocked … transfer Travon Patterson had two punt returns for 32 yards, including a 30-yarder … there were four kickoff returns, with the shortest going for 26 yards, the longest going for 41 yards – both by Brian Lockridge … Of the four freshman running backs, Justin Torres saw the most action, getting seven carries. Torres rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown, with a long run of 14 yards … Paul Richardson, the freshman from UCLA, had three catches for 19 yards. “We’ll probably use him,” said Dan Hawkins, when questioned as to whether Richardson, new to the Buffs just this week, might be red-shirted this fall.

August 12th

Offense shines in first scrimmage

After four straight losing seasons, anything different has to be good.

And it was different at the Buffs’ first scrimmage of fall practice.

The offense out-shone the defense, racking up 664 yards of total offense in 133 plays (in a normal game, the Buffs might run 65-75 plays). Tyler Hansen rans with the “ones” most of the day, and posted 278 yards of total offense when in charge (on 43 plays), to 275 yards (on 58 plays) for Cody Hawkins (freshman Nick Hirschmann accounted for most of the remaining yards –  99 total yards on 28 snaps).

The offense, led first by Hansen, then by Hawkins, put together two consecutive 80-yard drives to open the scrimmage (so much for the “situational” scrimmage Buff fans were told to expect).  In all, the offense posted eight touchdowns (four during short yardage drills), while the defense posted two touchdowns of their own, one an 82-yard fumble return (the first ten by defensive lineman Curtis Cunningham; the remaining 72 yards by safety Ray Polk after a lateral from Cunningham); the other on a 29-yard interception return by Parker Orms.

Most of the damage by the offense was done through the air, as the Buffs had 482 passing yards to 191 rushing yards. Rodney Stewart had the most carries (12) and the most touchdowns (three), but gained only 26 yards. The highest rushing totals came from Brian Lockridge, who had 46 yards on ten carries, and Quentin Hildreth, who had 42 yards on nine carries.

“My feeling is, we moved the ball well in the first half,” said offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau. “I know we had one third down period where we were really good (Hansen completed nine-of-ten against the second team defense). But I have to say we’re a long ways from playing four quarters against an opponent, that’s for sure.”

Castor to the rescue?

True freshman kicker Justin Castor connected on all three field goal attempts in the first fall scrimmage, hitting from 36, 29, and 52 yards. On the day, the Buffs’ kickers hit on four-of-five, with Aric Goodman hitting on his only attempt (32 yards), and Marcus Kirkwood missing from 37 yards (the kick was blocked).

Again, waay to early to tell for sure, but it does at least appear, after the first week, that the Buffs might have an option other than Aric Goodman for placekicker this fall …

 

August 11th

Rodney Stewart wearing a blue jersey

Rodney Stewart, the only Colorado running back with more than a handful of carries as a Buff, is being held out of practice after being involved in a car accident Saturday night. Reportedly, Stewart was not injured, and keeping Stewart out of contact drills is precautionary.

“He got smashed by a car on Saturday night, so we just wanted to be precautionary,” said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. “We wanted to be careful with his head and neck.”

Speedy looking for a 1,000-yard season in 2010

In 2009, Rodney Stewart rushed for 804 yards, but missed the Toledo game due to injury, and was banged up enough during the year that there were three other games in which he had ten or fewer carries. Even with the lack of playing time, Stewart and his position coach, Darian Hagan, felt that Speedy could have had a 1,000-yard season. “We probably came together with the thought that he probably left 400 yards on the football field – just by missing reads, doing his own thing, being out of control, missing cuts,” said Hagan. “If he fixes those things, he can have a great year.”

Hagan pointed to one run last fall in particular. Against Texas A&M, Stewart ran through the line of scrimmage, and was in the clear. “He starts zigzagging down the field,” Hagan said. “I almost ran to the Buffalo in the middle of the field to meet him. I”m like, ‘Just run! You run a 4.35 (in the 40-yard dash), but you run a 4.8 running side to side. Run vertical and score a touchdown!’ “. Stewart concurs. “No more of that,” said Speedy. “If I get through a hole like that. I’m just going to run until they catch me.”

Stewart believes that off-season film study, as well as his experience, will help him be a better back in 2010. Hagan sees another reason for optimism. “He’s gotten really, really stronger,” said Hagan. “He’s put on about ten pounds. And he has unbelievable vision.”

Two years ago, Rodney Stewart was a “throw in” recruit, a Signing Day bonus who didn’t receive much attention. After all, the Buffs already had Ray Polk (the No. 11 running back prospect in the nation) verbally committed to play at Colorado, and then, that morning, on national television, the number one running back prospect, Darrell Scott, put on a CU hat. Stewart, at 5’6″, 170-pounds, was thought to be a good pickup – as a kick and punt returner.

Fast forward two seasons. Scott is now at South Florida, and Ray Polk looking to earn a starting job at free safety. The other back Stewart might have shared time with this fall, senior-to-be Demetrius Sumler, has opted to ply his trade elsewhere.

As a result, there is no question that Rodney Stewart is the number one running back at Colorado. Only junior Brian Lockridge, with 12 carries for 53 yards in 2009, returns with any real game experience. “It’s okay,” said Stewart. “This year, every practice I’m going with the ‘ones’. I get the reps. And my teammates, they keep telling me, ‘It’s yours’ “.

But … what if Stewart can’t make it through the season?

With so little experience behind Stewart, Buff fans would be forgiven if they were concerned about Speedy making it through an entire season unscathed. After all, Stewart missed the final the final 3 1/2 games of the 2008 season after breaking his leg against Texas A&M. Stewart then, as noted above, did not make it through the entire 2009 season without injury.

So, if Stewart goes down, what are the Buffs’ options?

Junior Brian Lockridge would likely be the next option, along with red-shirt freshman Quentin Hildreth. Lockridge and Hildreth are similar to Stewart in stature (Speedy is 5’6″; Lockridge 5’7″; Hildreth 5’8″), and do at least have some experience in the Buffs’ system.

After that?

Enter the freshman class of 2010 – Tony Jones (5’7″, 180-pounds) comes to Boulder from New Jersey; Trea’ Jones (5’10”, 190-pounds) hails from North Carolina; Justin Torres (5’10”, 190-pounds) is from Alabama; while Cordary Allen (6’1″, 230-pounds) is a new Buff out of California.

Running backs’ coach Darian Hagan on his new charges:

Tony Jones: ” He gets up to top speed right now. He’s a little jitterbug out there.”

Trea’ Jones: “Trea’s real light on his feet, and he makes cuts on a dime.”

Justin Torres: All he did was rush for 900 yards and 15 touchdowns for a 13-1 team.

Cordary Allen: “You watch him run and his vision, he gets up on those O-linemen real quick”.

Decent resumes. Good variation of talent. But still green – very green.

Let’s hope that Rodney Stewart’s minor car accident will be as close to injury as Speedy will come in 2010.

Injury update

The first week, Rodney Stewart’s car accident notwithstanding, has been kind to the Buffs. Only a few players have missed practice time. Redshirt freshman Terdema Ussery, the former wide receiver recruit, sat out Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. Sophomore defensive end Forrest West has been out for most of the practices, but is expected back next week. Senior outside linebacker B.J. Beatty and junior defensive end Tony Poremba have also been held out of practices.

“Typical nicks and bruises, but nothing serious,” said Dan Hawkins.

Let’s hope it stays that way …

Also out of action is tight end Clark Evans. The former quarterback is still awaiting results from summer school, and may not be academically eligible to participate this fall. The only other potential academic casualty is wide receiver Andre Simmons. It had been reported earlier that Simmons had passed his summer school classes, and would be eligible for the fall, but it now appears that Simmons’ status remains unresolved. Simmons, who was not cleared to play last fall until August 24th, does have a red-shirt year remaining.

August 10th

Post-practice notes and quotes

“He can run and he’s also a veteran guy who has that kind of maturity,” said Hawkins of the newest Buff, Travon Patterson. “Nobody can just jump right in and get going, but just the way he carries himself – he has a veteran savvy.” Patterson is still in shorts and shells today as the NCAA mandates three practices without pads before a player can join in for scrimmages. The senior wide receiver did participate in non-contract drills, and fielded kicks. Asked if Travon Patterson was on the short list to return kicks and punts this fall, special teams coordinator Kent Riddle told BuffStampede.com, “Absolutely”.

Patterson, though, is not without competition for the kick returner jobs. “In kick return, I think we are pretty solid there,” said Riddle. “We’ve got Brian Lockridge (who had a kick return for a touchdown against Oklahoma State last season), Arthur Jaffee, Travon, Toney Clemons and Jalil Brown that all can do that. In punt return, we are still battling and trying to figure that out. But Travon for sure, and we’ve got guys like Rodney Stewart and Toney Clemons who are doing a nice job. So we have other options.”

Colorado did well in kickoff returns last season, ranked 21st in the nation. On punt returns, however, the Buffs averaged a mere three yards per return, coming in at 117th in the nation out of 120 teams.

On the kicking game in general

Reports from sideline observers the first week of practice has been that redshirt freshman Zach Grossnickle has been adjusting well to the role of full time punter, but that the kicking game remains in flux. The coaches seem to agree. “When you really want guys to excel at what they’re doing, if you give them a chance to focus on one, it can help them out,” said Riddle of Grossnickle’s emphasis on being just the punter. “He is doing an awesome job. He has had a great camp so far.” As for the kickers, senior Aric Goodman is battling true freshman Justin Castor and walk-ons Marcus Kirkwood and Dillan Freiburg. “Right now we are charting every kick those guys do and they are all pretty close, so we are not going to put one guy ahead of another at this point,” said Riddle. “After the scrimmage, maybe we’ll factor one guy out, and nail it down to a three-man competition. But right now they’re all doing okay.”

Goodman underwent off-season surgery, but appears to be at full strength. “I feel good about his leg strength,” said Riddle, noting that Goodman hit a 50-yarder Tuesday morning. “We are still just working with him to be consistent”.

Praise for Brian Lockridge / Will Jefferson

Hawkins on Brian Lockridge: “He’s just got a great heart,” said Dan Hawkins of running back/wide receiver/kick returner Brian Lockridge. “He’s in that category with Toney (Clemons) of being one of the fastest guys on our team … We’ve talked about it before, having more than just (Rodney Stewart) in there, and we’re going to need him. He can roll.”

Hawkins on Will Jefferson: “The poor guy was thrown in not only late, but late as a freshman last year,” said Hawkins of Jefferson, who signed as a true freshman last fall the week before fall camp opened. “He was so hard on himself if he doesn’t play well or drops a ball, it used to take him awhile to recover. Now he’s doing a great job … He had a tough practice one time, and the next practice he practiced really well. He’s starting to show that maturity, which is great.”

August 9th

A few notes from the first practice in pads

The Buffs worked out in pads for the first time in fall practices on Monday, with good results.

Many eyes were focused on the newest Buff, senior USC transfer Travon Patterson, who was in street clothes at the beginning of practice, but in the middle of practice went in and changed and emerged in shorts and a helmet. Restricted to non-contact drills for his first three practices, Patterson did run a few patterns and fielded a few punts. Reports are that he did drop a few passes (to be expected), but that he looks like the real deal when it comes to returning kicks. Patterson was wearing No. 2, a number worn at Colorado by such speed merchants as Lance Carl, Deon Figures, J.J. Flannigan, Richard Johnson, James Kidd, and Damen Wheeler – good company!

Goalpost mind games

The Buffs have moved the goalposts on the practice fields closer together.

In the past two seasons, senior kicker Aric Goodman has hit no fewer than seven goalposts. Apparently, the rationale here is to get the Buffs’ kickers used to kicking through a smaller target, so that when gametime rolls around, the goalposts on the field will present a much larger target.

So far? So good. Reports are that all of the Buffs’ kickers have fared well the first week of practice.

Terrel Smith ready for his close up

One player Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins took note of was true freshman defensive back Terrel Smith. A late signee of the 2010 class (Smith did not sign his letter of intent until February 21st, almost three weeks after signing day), the two-star recruit came in with a chip on his shoulder, and Hawkins has noticed. “I think today (when pads were allowed, permitting players to be more aggressive about hitting in drills) was the first day where he could really shine,” said Hawkins. “I think as he gets better, he will be a really good player for us. He is just a physical football player.”

For his part, Smith is taking nothing for granted. “I had no other offers and I was so under-the-radar but I always felt like I could compete at the highest level in college, and Colorado finally came through for me,” Smith told BuffStampede.com. “I have the biggest chip on my shoulder out here.”

Smith is practicing at both safety and nickel back this fall, and is a likely red-shirt due to the depth the Buffs have in the defensive backfield – but don’t tell Smith that. “The colleges were looking at the five and four star recruits, and I think my height (5′ 9”) also hurt me with recruiting. “But I have been playing football since I was six years old, and it really doesn’t matter about how many stars you were. It matters what you have in your heart.”

Welcome to the Buffs, Mr. Smith!

August 8th

Offense better on Saturday; Defense better on Sunday

Buff players got after one another as the Buffs had a weekend of spirited practices.

During one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive lines, freshman Kirk Poston went after Matt Bahr. Linebacker Michael Sipili took out running back Brian Lockridge on one play, a hit noticed by everyone on the practice fields. “Practice is getting more intense,” said running back Rodney Stewart. “We have a lot more competition, and players want to play. They have to do what they have to do in practice … We want to go to a big bowl game this year. Anything that messes that up is not (tolerated)”.

At one point, the altercations between the wide receivers and the defensive backs became so heated that secondary coach Ashley Ambrose and wide receivers coach Robert Prince had words, with each coach defending  their players. “It’s good. I like the energy. I do,” said head coach Dan Hawkins. “There is always a fine line and stuff like that is going to happen … but if you’re competitive at all, it’s going to get that way a little bit, and I’m okay with that.”

The consensus amongst observers of the weekend practices was that the offense got the better of the competition on Saturday, but that the defense had the upper hand during Sunday’s practice. “Our offense came out and had a great practice and we came out and kind of answered back,” said linebacker B.J. Beatty. “That’s what we need. Hopefully the offense comes back again and we elevate ourselves. That’s what it’s going to take to make the team better, having both sides of the ball competing. We have that this year, and it’s exciting to watch.”

Beatty did have to settle for watching on Sunday, as the senior was held out of practice due to an undisclosed injury. “Just a little banged up and have to rest for now,” said Beatty. “We’ll find out (Monday) if I can get back out there.” (To date, there have been no reports of any serious injuries during the first week of fall practice. The only other players held out of Sunday’s practice were offensive lineman Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner and defensive lineman Forrest West).

The Buffs will practice for the first time in pads for Monday’s practice. “There’s a lot of great seven-on-seven players in America, and a lot of great intramural guys,” said Hawkins. “When you put on the pads, that’s a little different. So I’m looking forward to that.”

Practice shift to mornings this week, leading up to the first scrimmage of the fall on Thursday (practices were in the afternoon last week as summer school was still in session, and several players had conflicts).

August 7th

Quotable quotes from CU Fall Sports Media Day

Dan Hawkins –

On the start of training camp: “We are always trying to clean a few things up, and we certainly have a long way to go, but I like our guys right now.”

On the addition of two new wide receivers: “Travon (Patterson) has not practiced yet. Paul (Richardson) has only gone through a couple of practices, so it is kind of hard. Obviously, what Paul has done here has shown he can run, that he is talented, and that he has got some hands … That being said, we have many more guys that have played. We have many more guys who have caught balls and know what they are doing, and that’s very beneficial.”

On the progression of the offensive line: “There’s a ton of competition and a ton of guys who have played and know the system. It’s nice when they can play center and guard, or guard and tackle, and be able to swing that way as well. We’ve got some good talent in there and some good competition, and we are still trying to sort some things out.” (Really? “still trying to sort some things out”? Isn’t that what spring practice is for? If this week’s poll is any indication, Buff fans are anxious for the Colorado coaches to quit experimenting and pick five starters. It’s time to get the five best players out there and get them playing together!).

As for the other side of the line of scrimmage: “I think our offensive line would tell you even before we got pads on here that the D-line is formidable. It will be interesting to see when we go full pads how they will be, but clearly they are much bigger, faster, and stronger.”

On whether the special teams will improve: “In terms of what guys are doing as far as kicking, that’s been pleasing … Even this morning, we kicked three at the end, and they were all right down the middle. That’s great. Zach (Grossnickle) has been punting the ball really well, too, so that seem’s like it’s heading in the right direction.”

Hawkins’ comments on specific players … Rodney Stewart: “He is one of the most powerful guys on our football team, and he is one of those guys that has a chip on their shoulder and plays with a tremendous amount of desire to do things … Nate Solder: “Nate is one of those really unique guys. He is genetically gifted young man, and he combines that will all the intangibles and his athletic ability” … Jimmy Smith: “The special thing about Jimmy, for me, has been his maturation over the years; both as a player and as a person. He probably could have gone out early after last year … but I think he also knew that there were elements of the total package that he wanted to pull together”.

Quarterback Tyler Hansen –

On the battle with Cody Hawkins for the starting job: “You want to go out there and win your job. I think it is good for the team that we have to go out there and earn it.”

On the effect of low expectations for Colorado in 2010: “You always want to hear positive feedback about you, but sometimes that is not the case … You have to take it with a grain of salt and forget about it … I think we have the guys to do something special this year. I know every team says that at the beginning of the year, but I honestly think we have some guys who can do something good.”

On the tough non-conference schedule (CSU, at Cal, Hawaii, Georgia): “I think it is a real positive. I think if we can beat some of the top teams in the nation, it will burst us onto the national stage … We are using the CSU loss last year as fuel.”

Wide receiver Scotty McKnight –

On the ever changing wide receiver roster: “A ton more depth than since I’ve been here; guys that can really open up the game and make plays. Toney (Clemons, transfer from Michigan) is a freak athlete; big, strong fast. Travon (Patterson, still to be admitted transfer from USC) is probably going to be the fastest guy on the field every time we play a game … We just go so deep. Will Jefferson, Kyle Cefalo have been making plays … (tight ends) Ryan Deehan and DaVaughn Thornton have been big for us … We thought it was going to hurt us to Markques Simas, and it turned out that we’ve added so many people we can look past that.”

On the burden of the offense to produce (ranked 104th in total offense in 2009; 92nd in scoring offense): “With the amount of points that our conference puts up every year, every team, it’s something that we have to do to win football games. We’ve kind of taken that on our shoulders offensively and as a receiving corps. If our team’s going to win, we need to produce, big time.”

Richardson on the field; Thornton making plays

Paul Richardson, the newest Colorado Buffalo, may have received the most attention at Friday’s practice, but it’s not as if the former UCLA recruit took the practice fields by storm. “Not a lot – first day,” was Dan Hawkins’ response to a question about what he saw in Richardson.

There were others, though, who did impress. Red-shirt freshman tight end DaVaughn Thornton had two long receptions Friday. Thornton’s progress is important to Buff fans, as the tight end position was the one area hit by graduation this past season. Only sophomore Ryan Deehan returns with any playing experience, backed by senior walk-on Luke Walters, Thornton, and converted quarterback Clark Evans.

The offensive line, an area of focus for many in the Buff Nation (if you don’t believe me, check out this week’s poll results), received a bit of bad news Friday when sophomore Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner was banged up. Thankfully, MTM’s latest injury does not appear to be serious. “I think his knee was just bugging him a little bit, bothering him,” said Dan Hawkins. “He just has to work through it.” Tuioti-Mariner has had trouble staying healthy in his career. Already a knee surgery victim in high school, MTM has torn the ACL in both of his knees since arriving in Boulder. He has already had a red-shirt season and a medical red-shirt. Tuioti-Mariner will play as a sophomore in 2010.

A number of preferred walk-ons were also on the practice field Friday …

Trying to earn scholarships are: long-snapper Ryan Iverson; defensive back Jordan Marquez; athlete Justin Gorman; kicker Dillan Freiberg; defensive back Javen Correia; and linebacker Gage Greer. Of the group, the one most likely to earn playing time in 2010 is Ryan Iverson. Justin Drescher, the four-year starter at long-snapper, graduated this past year, leaving the job open. Senior Joe Silipo is listed as the starter at both short and long-snapper, but that could change if Iverson – who was recruited just for this position – can show his worth.

Looking long term, athlete Justin Gorman may be the player most Buff fans will come to know amongst the preferred walk-on class. Gorman turned down scholarship offers from Northern Illinois and William and Mary to try and earn his way onto the Buffs. Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau is very high on Gorman, who played quarterback in high school. “He is going to do everything for us,” said Kiesau. “He is a great kid. He can do a lot of great things.”

August 5th

First practice notes and quotes – “Got to earn your Buff”

Colorado conducted its first fall practice on Thursday. Quotes from head coach Dan Hawkins:

When asked about the players taking the practice field with helmets without logos, Hawkins replied: “Got to earn your Buff”. Citing respect for tradition, Hawkins indicated that the Raphie decal will be awarded to players who are deserving. “I just want them to earn it,” said Hawkins.

First impressions? “Long way to go”, said Hawkins.

Player updates …

Sophomore defensive end Forrest West was not on the playing field, still recovering from off-season injuries. West will be out for the first few weeks of fall practice while he nurses a knee injury …  At least two players, red-shirt freshman tight end Clark Evans and senior wide receiver Andre Simmons will be out at least the remainder of this week. Noting that summer school does not end until Friday (August 6th), Hawkins indicated these two players were being kept out of practice so that they could focus on finishing up their summer class work … USC wide receiver transfer Travon Patterson was also not on the practice field Thursday. “Just a matter of other folks to get that stuff signed off,” said Hawkins, referring to Patterson’s transfer paperwork. Asked if the finalization of the transfer was a mere formality at this point, Hawkins said, “Yeah, yeah.”

It is also being reported that Tyler Hansen took all of the reps with the “ones” during the first practice, with Cody taking the snaps with the “twos”. That could be taken as a sign that a decision has been made … or that Tyler and Cody will alternate running with the “ones” every other practice. As Dan Hawkins said, we’ve got a long way to go …

Buffs have a chip on their shoulder as practices get underway

“We have a good attitude going into camp”, said junior quarterback Tyler Hansen. “We want to get something done this year. We’re tired of losing, so we want to get back into football.”

Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Nate Solder agrees. Solder, touted as perhaps the best of the Buffs’ players, says “there’s a lot more determined feel about the team.” How will that translate onto the field? “It’s experience,” said Solder. “It’s a certain drive from getting knocked down so many times. It’s a feeling of enough’s enough.”

With the general consensus amongst all of the preseason magazines that Colorado will struggle to compete in a relatively weak Big 12 North, there are no pressures similar to the “ten wins, no excuses” pressure from last fall camp. The players are not naive. They understand that this is the make or break year for head coach Dan Hawkins. But, as Hansen points out, the coaches don’t get to take the field. “I feel like we need to perform,” Hansen said. “It’s in our shoes. He can only coach. We have to go out and be the result on the field. It is on us.”

The lack of respect shown by the national magazines may serve as a motivational tool for the Buffs. “I guarantee in our team meeting, that will be brought up,” said Hansen. “I kind of like (the low expectations, because we’re not predicted to do much, you take it more one game at a time.”

Running back Rodney Stewart, the presumptive starter (other than Stewart, only Brian Lockridge, with 53 yards on 12 carries in 2009, has any career carries amongst the scholarship running back corps), agrees with his quarterback. “I’m real excited,” said Stewart, who rushed for 804 yards last season before being injured. “We have a team that’s better than ever since I’ve been here, and I think a lot of people think the same way … I think we should have a good season.”

If attitude counts for anything, it seems that the Buffs are well on their way to a good season …

Buffs in good shape heading into fall practices

“I think the biggest leap we’ve taken was in our speed,” said Colorado strength coach Jeff Pitman about this past off-season. “Our speed this spring was outstanding … We did a lot more balancing activities and just things to become an overall better athlete, not just strength and power but the whole deal.” Eight different players clocked sub 4.4-second 40-yard dashes this summer.

Pitman reported that he has spent the past few seasons getting Buff players up to a base line of strength which he had found to be lacking. This off-season, Pitman said he was finally able to tailor individual lifting programs for individual positions, allowing the Buff players to spend more time working on speed.

Even though the senior claass is small, Pitman likes how they led the team this past summer. “Obviously, the senior class is the first class we got,” said Pitman. “They’ve been through all the things, the heartaches and all those kinds of things and it has kind of steeled them. They’ve been through all this stuff, and they’re trying to show the young guys how to do it, and they’re just being more vocal and more helpful.”

Some Buffs even tried out yoga …

Quarterback Tyler Hansen, tight end Ryan Deehan, and safety Ray Polk were amongst 20-30 Buffs who also spent time this past season practicing yoga.

Colorado student-athletes “totally bought in” to the classes, said Gerry Wienholt, operator of PEP, Inc., a motivational business who assisted with the program.

“To me, it’s like a longer stretch,” said Tyler Hansen. “It helps me combat soreness … I keep telling the guys when they’re sore, they need to go do yoga; it helps a ton.” Junior tight end Ryan Deehan agreed. “It’s been great for muscle recovery,” said Deehan. “It’s helped me stay loose and not be super tight all the time.”

At the end of each class, participants to a “visualization segment”. When asked to visualize success, Hansen said he pictures Buff players surrounding a Big 12 championship trophy. “After one of the classes, I asked Ray Polk what he was seeing,” said Hansen. “He had the same picture in his head, the Big 12 trophy … We’re all on the same page.”

Here’s hoping the visualizations pay off this fall …

August 3rd

Preseason Camp schedule

Well, it’s finally here.

Buff fans have been waiting a long time – 249 days, to be exact.

Remember the moment? Folsom Field, last November 27th. Colorado and Nebraska players slowly walking toward midfield to shake hands, everyone wondering whether or not the Buffs would be allowed to kick a meaningless extra point after Scotty McKnight scored on a meaningless 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired? (They were not); Buff fans – those who remained – quietly exiting the stadium as the Nebraska fans and players celebrated in the northwest corner of the stadium?

28-20, Nebraska.

3-9.

249 days ago.

Redemption, or at least the chance for it, beings anew tomorrow, Wednesday, August 4th. The official start of the 2010 college football season.

Not that there will be much going on Wednesday – Players report at 4:00 p.m., followed by physicals, photos, equipment distribution, dinner, and meetings – but it’s a start!

Practices through August 12th will be open to the public, so look for some eyewitness accounts of how well Cody and Tyler are doing, who’s not dressed for practice, how many field goal attempts are made, etc. The first full practice will be Thursday, August 5th, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Starting next Monday, the practices will move to the mornings).

There will be practices and/or meetings every day from August 4th up to the first game of the season, September 4th at Invesco Field. The first practice in pads will be Monday, August 9th, with the first scrimmage to be conducted – in Folsom Field – at noon on Thursday, August 12th.

There will be two other scrimmages before the Buffs break camp, on August 19th and August 28th, with the latter scrimmage being closed to the media as well as to the public.

Are you ready for some football?

It’s about time …

5 Replies to “Fall Practice, 2010”

  1. Thanks, Michael!
    The video is great, and I highly recommend it for wavering Buff fans looking for a quick fix of Buff pride!

  2. The situation with T Patterson is reminding me of the Simmons saga last year. Hope it turns out better this time around.

  3. “…whether or not the Buffs would be allowed to kick a meaningless extra point after Scotty McKnight scored on a meaningless 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired…”

    It wasn’t meaningless for a couple of guys. Walkon kicker Ryan Aweida was lined up to make his first (and would have been only) XP attempt in a game; and Austin Bisnow (of American Idol infamy) was going to snap the ball (his first and only snap in a CU game, after sitting behind the dependable Drescher for four years.)

    It’s too bad they didn’t get the chance — would have been nice for them to enjoy a moment in a real game after putting in all the scout team, practices and bench-warming time. Boo on the officials for not letting the play occur.

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