Spring Game, 2014

Before an announced crowd of 6,350, the Black team bested the Gold team at the 2014 Colorado Spring game, 21-17.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau hit on 19-of-31 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but his gold team was not able to hold a 17-7 fourth quarter lead, as Jordan Gehrke and Trent Sessions led the black team to a pair of touchdowns to give their team a steak dinner (with hot dogs for the losing squad).

Here is a link to the video highlights of the game.

The Game

After the black team opened the game with a pair of first downs, including a 15-yard run by Christian Powell, the gold team took over for its first possession at their own 11-yard line. Sefo Liufau then led the gold team on an 12-play, 89-yard touchdown drive. Short passes of eight yards to D.D. Goodson, seven yards to Nelson Spruce, and another seven-yarder to Goodson kept the chains moving. A 25-yard run by Tony Jones then put the ball on the black 22-yard line. On third-and-five at the 17, Liufau hit Goodson for a 17-yard catch and run to give the black a 7-0 lead.

The gold defense then forced a three-and-out from the black offense. On the first play from scrimmage on gold’s second possession, Liufau hit Nelson Spruce for a 31-yard gain on a beautiful catch by Spruce. Poised to take control of the contest, Liufau made his first mistake of the afternoon. Two Michael Adkins runs set the gold team up with a third-and-one at the black 39-yard line. Instead of running the ball, the gold team went to the passing game to pick up a first down. Pressured up the middle, Liufau threw an ill-advised pass which was intercepted by Ahkello Witherspoon for the black team.

Their confidence restored, the black team needed all of one play to tie the game. Jordan Gehrke hit Bryce Bobo for a 67-yard touchdown. Bobo caught the ball in traffic around the 20, kept his balance, and raced untouched to tie the score at 7-7 midway through the second quarter.

The gold team then went three-and-out, giving the black team a chance to take the lead. The black team, though, quickly punted the ball back to the gold team, giving Sefo Liufau the ball at the black team’s 10-yard line with 1:44 to play before halftime. Liufau then crafted a good two-minute drill, hitting Nelson Spruce for gains of 14 and 11 yards before Tony Jones went around end for 16 more. Then, on fourth-and-two at the gold 41 yard line, Liufau again hit Spruce, this time for 12 yards, giving the gold team a first down at the black 29 with 51 seconds still to play.

Instead of taking the gold team in for a score, however, Liufau committed his second error of the half, taking a sack (credited to De’Jon Wilson and Garrett Gregory), taking the gold team out of field goal range. Diego Gonzalez was called upon a few seconds later to try a 47-yarder, but the kick was wide right, and the teams took a 7-7 tie into halftime.

On the first drive of the second half, Liufau again pieced together a good drive. Tony Jones had three carries for 19 yards to help push the ball out to midfield, with a 14-yard completion to Nelson Spruce setting the gold team up at the black 23 yard line. There, however, the gold team stalled, with Chris Graham connecting on a 39-yard field goal to give the gold a 10-7 advantage.

After a three-and-out from the black offense (which included a sack of Jordan Gehrke by Tyler Henington), the gold team put together a 10-play, 73-yard drive. A 24-yard pass up the middle from Liufau to tight end Chris Hill on third-and-11 kept the drive alive, with Tony Jones and Michael Adkins teaming up for 26 more yards on four carries. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the gold team completed the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Liufau to Lee Walker on a pass perfectly placed by Liufau.

Down 17-7 in the fourth quarter, the black team rallied … under former equipment manager Trent Sessions. Phillip Lindsay carried the ball on the first four plays of the drive, gaining 13 yards. Three plays later, on fourth-and-one at the black 45-yard line, fullback Jordan Murphy went up the middle for six yards and a first down. Sessions then hit Bryce Bobo for a 43 yard gain to put the ball inside the gold ten yard line. On third-and-goal from the one, Jordan Murphy did the honors, making it a 17-14 game.

Only 4:56 remained (with a running clock) so all Liufau and the gold team had to produce was a few first downs and the game would be over. Instead, linebacker K.T. Tu’umalo forced a fumble from Terrence Crowder, with the black team taking over at the gold 31-yard line. Jordan Gehrke, back in the game in place of Sessions, hit Keenan Canty for 13 yards to put the ball in the gold team’s redzone. Two Malcolm Creer carries, the first for 12 yards and the second for six yards and a score, gave black its first lead of the game, at 21-17.

The game was not yet over, however, as 1:43 still remained on the fourth quarter clock.

Just as was the case in the first half, Sefo Liufau had a chance at directing the two-minute drill. Just like the first half, however, Liufau’s gold team came up empty. A 16-yard completion to Lee Walker, followed by a ten yard pass to tight end Sean Irwin, set the gold up at midfield. A seven yard completion to Walker followed by a nine yard run by Tony Jones gave the gold the ball at the black 33-yard line, with still 1:01 to play.

Instead of completing the comeback, however, the gold team failed to gain another yard. Four straight incompletions (three going to Wesley Christensen, guarded exceptionally well by Ahkello Witherspoon) were all that Liufau could produce.

Final score: Black 21, Gold 17

“The Gold team has been talking all week, calling themselves ‘the money team,’ all that stuff,” said black team wide receiver Bryce Bobo, who had five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. “So coming out with the win, letting them eat hot dogs while we get steak, yeah, it’s a good day for us.”

“I thought the competition was good,” coach MacIntyre told CUBuffs.com. “I think I saw what I was hoping to see – a couple of good rushes by the defensive ends, some good plays by the receivers. There were good plays on both sides. It was fun to get everybody in and play.”

Asked to specify two or three areas in which he wants to see improvement in August camp, MacIntyre’s immediate response was, “Whooo . . . just two or three?”

He then listed the Buffs returning to the practice field in “great shape – that’s first and foremost.” Then, he wants players who were either injured – that list included a dozen names – or were held out of spring drills for various reasons to be ready to perform. “I want hurt guys healthy,” he said.

And third, “And us not losing any steam over the summer . . . we can’t go back to ground zero, we have to pick up where we left off.”

MacIntyre believes the Buffs “came out of spring confident; they know what we’re trying to do. We’ll add a few more things when we come back in the fall, then we’ve got some freshmen to evaluate early and see how they can help us. That’ll add a dynamic to it, but I’m pleased with their effort and how they’ve worked.”

Two stars of the game were not on the field last fall, red-shirt freshman wide receiver Bryce Bobo and transfer defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon.

Defensive coordinator Kent Baer said Witherspoon has “really shown up well” in spring drills. “He’s a young corner, only a sophomore. He had a great one year in junior college. We saw him and knew we liked him. He’s very athletic. For him it was a matter of coming in and seeing how hard we practice, how hard you have to compete to win in this league. It’s not a junior college league. I think in the last couple of weeks he’s gotten better. I’m pleased with what he’s done; he did good today.”

Witherspoon believes he’s adjusted well to his new level of competition. “I knew coming in there was a lot of room to improve,” he said. “I feel a little bit of success from day one when I came to practice to right now. Day in day out it’s been hard work mentally and physically. It just feels good.”

Meanwhile Bobo is one of several new wide receivers hoping to help offset the loss of Paul Richardson to the NFL.

“Bryce has been doing that all spring,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve seen him make those plays but it’s exciting to see him make them today. He has the ability to help us next fall. And it’s good to see Lee Walker . . . he came in January and maybe he got acclimated in the last half of spring.”

The take of the Spring Game head coaches (now resuming their duties as coordinators)

From cubuffs.com … (Gold team head coach)/Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren’s first thought went to improvement in the running game, but he also mentioned the spring emergence of Bobo as a “player who can step in and make some plays for us.”

The Gold team’s Tony Jones rushed 13 times for 88 yards, while Malcolm Creer carried six times for 39 yards and one of two fourth-quarter scores for the Black squad. Fullback Jordan Murphy scored the other Black running TD on a 1-yard dive.

Lindgren said the Buffs’ red zone work on offense and on third down had progressed throughout the spring. Overall on Saturday, said Lindgren, “We did a decent job in the 2-minute drill . . . Sefo got a couple of opportunities, but he took a sack in the first one that I wasn’t fired up about. I was pleased with how the receivers and everybody were on the same page. We were able to move the ball, but weren’t to finish the drives. But I thought the operation was pretty clean.”

(Black team head coach)/Defensive coordinator Kent Baer said his unit was “miles ahead” of where it was last spring. “A year ago it took a long time for these kids to understand how we practice, how hard we practice, the number of reps we get, what it takes to be good. Now, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re miles ahead of where we were a year ago – we really are.”

Baer said his defense’s tackling now is “definitely better,” most noticeably in finishing tackles. “I like it when defenses start turning people around. I don’t think we did that much last year. I saw some of that today. I’m pleased with it.”

CU’s defenders, he said, have “bought in. We’ve still got a long, long way to go, but I was pleased with how hard we played today . . . that’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve improved in.”

Baer and MacIntyre wanted a closer look Saturday at the defensive end play, and Baer pointed to spring improvement by ends Tyler Henington and Derek McCartney. “Henington (two tackles, one QB sack) looked like he gave those guys fits,” Baer said, adding McCartney “had a great spring.”

He also said De’Jon Wilson performed well, boosting competition at the position. “Competition makes you better,” Baer said. “When you have nobody pushing you, you become a little lackadaisical . . . those guys are competing hard.”



6 Replies to “Spring Game, 2014”

  1. Great job as always, thank you for your hard work.

    As for the game, great that Pac12 network allows us to view the game. What struck me the most was what great kids they all seem to be, every single one of our guys that appeared on camera during the game were thoughtful, well spoken and humble. The older I get the more character has become equally as important to me as their 40 times, and it’s clear that Mac is picking good ones.

    Go Buffs!!

  2. Stuart, tremendous job on this article. Hope you found a little gold at the end of the rainbow after driving all the way down for the game.

    As I wasn’t able to go to the game, I had to rely on the PAC-12 coverage and announcers who seemed to talk in generalizations by not commenting on particular plays and the players involved.

    Visually, the players names on the back of the jerseys weren’t always identifiable. Understandably, the announcers are not as familiar with the team as most CU Fan-atics are, but it was a little like watching a football game and listening to a soap opera in the B/G.

    Still, I am so thankful we are now in the PAC-12 and not the Big 12 and very grateful to be able to watch the game. Solution: I’m going to print a roster out and re-watch the game so I can fill in the blanks.

    Are you up to grading the game and the various position groups?

    1. Yes,
      I will be doing my Spring Grades for each unit, but am going to take a day or two to put it together.
      Plenty of other news this weekend already!

  3. It seems like Murphy came through at key times. I know that the spread offense is the flavor of the month, but a fullback trap a couple of times might prove effective. Certainly worth trying it since it’s used so rarely it might catch the defense napping.

    1. WarBuff, do you know this kid? Seems that way. I thought he did well after watching my recording again. Looks like he has been working his butt off.

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