Reading Between the Lines

Is it too much for Buff fans to be optimistic about Sefo Liufau’s statistics from the first three scrimmages: eight touchdowns and no interceptions?

Is it too much for the Buff faithful to be pessimistic that none of the CU running backs have posted a run of over 23 yards in length in three scrimmage opportunities?

Is it good news or bad news that the defensive line is posting so many sacks? Does this mean that the defensive is much improved? Or is it a sign that the offensive line is a weakness?

… Oh, sorry … Do you not have access to statistics from Colorado’s spring scrimmage numbers?

Neither do I.

The above numbers are from the 2014 spring scrimmages, which were largely open to the public, and for which we did have posted statistics.

This year, however, we have nothing.

No public access. No published statistics.

True enough, the Spring Game will be open to the public, and there will be post-game statistics for Buff fans to pour over and discuss. Otherwise, however, this spring has been a closed book. There is nothing for the Buff Nation to rely upon other than the comments from the coaches and players.

What we have heard so far has to be considered very positive and optimistic. A sampling:

– Quarterbacks –

Mike MacIntyre said Sefo Liufau’s accuracy has shown gradual improvement in years one (59.4 percent) and two (65.3%), and that his accuracy already had climbed during spring practices. Liufau throwing to his left, conceded MacIntyre, “was a trouble spot at times (last season). But right now, he’s throwing a higher completion percentage to his left than his right – and we’re counting drops there, too.”

… Redshirt freshman QB Cade Apsay is “still trying to learn and get more comfortable with the system,” Lindgren said. Junior Jordan Gehrke remains a solid No. 2 behind Liufau, but further evaluation will come at the conclusion of spring drills. “I’ve been pleased with Cade’s and Jordan’s development so far,” Lindgren said.

– Running backs –

Sophomore George Frazier (6’2″, 250) is still listed as a fullback/defensive end, but by the beginning of fall camp one of those roles could be scratched. Lindgren says Frazier is “athletic enough and smart enough to do both,” but adds, “Selfishly, we’d love to keep him on offense (exclusively). But we’ve got to make a decision as a staff as to what’s best for the team, what’s going to help us win football games. Coming out of the spring going into fall, we’ll look at our depth, whether we’re healthy or not and where he can best help us.”

… Junior Michael Adkins II and sophomore Phillip Lindsay, two of the team’s three leading returning rushers, both began the spring on the disabled list. “Phil is a little bit farther ahead than Michael and it’s just a turf toe so you have to see how that goes,” said MacIntyre. “It’ll be day-to-day with Phil. Some days he’ll be able to go a little bit but if it’s too sore, we’ll have to back off.

“With Michael, his knee is fine, he just had a bone bruise which is really tender so we have to make sure that heals up. That takes a little bit longer but he’ll be back here hopefully by the middle of the spring.”

As a result of both injuries, a number of players from other positions have been working out at running back in order to compensate for the loss.

One of the players looking forward to getting more playing time is redshirt sophomore Devin Ross.

“I think this is really big for Devin,” MacIntyre said. “This spring, I’m looking for Devin to step up and be a good football player for us. I think he has the athletic ability to do it.”

– Wide receivers –

Before spring drills began, sophomore Donovan Lee was mentioned by MacIntyre as a strong candidate to replace graduated D.D. Goodson as a slot receiver. That plan remains in place, but Lee – a shifty 5-8, 170-pounder – also has showed well among a thin spring running back corps. Said Lindgren: “He’s someone you can do a lot of different things with. I think we can be pretty creative with how we use him. Last year we used him on some reverses and some different things . . . I think between now and the season we have to see what he can handle and what he can’t and the role he’ll play.”

– Offensive Line –

Coach Mike MacIntyre on grey-shirt freshman Isaac Miller: “He’s sticking his face in there, he’s not backing down from anything, and he’s working hard every day,” MacIntyre said. “But he’s not as strong yet, and he’s not as mature. He needs a year to soak and gain some weight and strength . . . . A lot of his stuff has to do with the weight room, size and work ethic.”

– Defensive Line –

Jimmie Gilbert is getting off the ball quicker,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Our tackles, I think, are very good. Seeing Jimmie do that, I’m mad at our offensive tackles but I’m also excited about Jimmie doing that. We need that. We need a four-man rush, we need a guy that can rush off the edge and that’s something that I’ve always thought Jimmie can do.”

– Linebackers –

“I just hope to get on the field,” Jaleel Awini said. “I just want to help this team out in any way I can”. Awini seems perfectly suited to outside linebacker, where he is practicing this spring. He is 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and can run. If coaches opt to spend a significant portion of the defense in hybrid looks or the 3-4, Awini or another player could see a lot of action and plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself.

“He looked good moving around running and showing his athleticism,” coach Mike MacIntyre said of Awini’s first practices on defense. “He didn’t look like he was a fish out of water.”

… Former defensive end Christian Shaver, now a linebacker … Shaver said he played half a season at linebacker during his junior season of high school. “It’s difficult but I feel like it will be a good position for me,” Shaver said. “I feel like I fit in really well there. I’ve got a lot of work ahead, but if I can just get the fundamentals down, I feel like I’m going to be a good asset to the team.”

Shaver is playing the same position as two-year starter and team captain Addison Gillam.

– Defensive backs –

What MacIntyre is really looking forward to seeing is the effect that the new strength program will have on the win-loss column for the 2015 Buffs. Particularly, MacIntyre pointed to the defense and the secondary, where he sees some of the biggest improvement occurring.

“[DB] Kenneth Crawley is having a really good spring and he is getting bigger,” MacIntyre said. “Him and Ahkello Witherspoon, I was teasing they can actually wear their sleeves up now. They’re getting bigger and stronger and getting into the 180’s. John Walker has gained 10 pounds, so all of those guys are getting bigger and stronger. Evan White, too, so it’s exciting seeing all of that happen, it really is.”

… “He’s good,” MacIntyre said of junior college transfer Afolabi Laguda. “He’s been as good as advertised so far. He really looks like he can be a strong player and we’re very excited.”

… Safety Tedric Thompson back in action … Thompson led the team in both interceptions and in tackles at the time of the injury on October 25th. His loss over the final month of the season forced a fast-improving defense to take a step back without one of its most talented athletes.

“He was playing really, really well when he went out in the UCLA game there,” said MacIntyre. “That hurt us in some other games because he was starting to make plays and (interceptions). He was very active. I think he was kind of coming into his own at the time. Hopefully he’ll keep improving from there and I believe he will.”

There … now don’t you feel better?

How much of the above is coach-speak, and how much of it will translate into better play and more victories this fall, remains to be seen.

It can certainly be argued that spring scrimmage numbers have as much relevance to future performance as post-practice quotes from coaches. Fair enough. But scrimmage stats at least gave us some idea of how players were performing … or at least which players were consistently seeing action on the field.

We always need something to help us be optimistic about the future.

And it’s not as if we as Buff fans don’t get caught up in being overly optimistic, even after the season has begun …

I have been working in the CU at the Game Archives in getting the 2006 season posted. I have the stories in my computer, but have been slow to get the game stories from that awful season up on the website. In posting the story from the CSU game, a 14-10 loss in which the Buffs were held to 146 yards of total offense (a week after opening the Dan Hawkins’ era with a 19-10 loss to Montana State), there was this:

Neill Woelk from the Boulder Daily Camera entitled his column the Monday morning after the CSU loss, “Nothing has changed at CU, Hawk still the right guy”. The Camera sports writer opened his column with the statement: “Feel free to clip this column this morning. Tuck it away in a safe place, then check back with me in a couple of years.”

Woelk’s opinion was that Dan Hawkins was still the “right guy” for Colorado, going on to list how Hawkins was the right coach, with the right attitude to correct the mediocrity which had become the CU football program.


This is not posted to criticize Neill Woelk – the preeminent writer when it comes to CU athletics – but to point out that, even after witnessing how bad the Buffs can be on the field (and, in 2006, that was very bad), we still remained optimistic about our team.

And so it will be in 2015. We will take the information which is given us … and hope for the best.

Without stats and objective third-party reports, however, that has become just that more difficult.

We’ve been left to read between the lines …



2 Replies to “Reading Between the Lines”

  1. I am actually glad they are not allowing anyone in. There has not be a lot of positive press about the program from anyone in the media. I would outright ban the Kizla’s of the world “if possible forever”. The only thing the football program can do to fix this is win games. They really don’t need a bunch of monday morning QB’s looking over their shoulder right. Bigger, stronger, faster, better defensive schemes and play will take them to the 7+ games they need to win this year not better reporting.

    1. Agreed. I love the data, but it is only spring practice. I hope he keeps it closed during fall camp as well. Especially keeping the media out. Some try to charge you for free info. What a joke.

      Okay Okay, let em watch warmups and stretching.

      Go Buffs.

      Note: See how poorly and with great ignorance the media played the DC search. Ha. Funny dudes

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