2017 CU Spring Game: What To Watch For …

 

The Colorado Spring game does not appear to have much to offer the Buff Nation. Just like last spring, there will not be much of a “Spring Game”. Instead, starting at 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Pac-12 Networks) there will be an hour of position drills and workouts, followed by an hour long scrimmage.

“The first thing you want is to come out of it healthy,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre has said. “The second thing you want is to be productive. I’d like to see execution, physicalness and be able to accomplish some situational stuff in our scrimmage.”

Not quite the lead-in to generate rabid enthusiasm.

That is not to say that there is not a great deal to watch for this weekend …

I would like to introduce … 

There will be a number of new faces who will be donning the black-and-gold for the first time before an audience. A number of freshmen, along with junior college transfers. Here are the jersey numbers to look for Saturday (red-shirt freshmen unless otherwise noted):

— No. 2 – Ronnie Blackmon – Defensive back

— No. 3 – Derrion Rakestraw – Wide receiver

— No. 4 – Dante Wigley (JC) – Defensive back

— No. 5 – Trey Udoffia – Defensive back

No. 7 – Tyler Lytle (true freshman) – Quarterback

— No. 9 – Javier Edwards (JC) – Defensive lineman

— No. 10 – Jaylon Jackson (true freshman) – Wide receiver

— No. 10 – Dante Sparaco (true freshman) – Defensive lineman

— No. 13 – Shamar Hamilton (JC) – Defensive lineman

— No. 15 – Sam Noyer – Quarterback

— No. 23 – Isaiah Lewis (true freshman) – Defensive back

— No. 34 – Pookie Maka – Linebacker

— No. 36 – Akil Jones – Linebacker

— No. 57 – Sam Bennion – Linebacker

— No. 65 – Colby Pursell – Offensive lineman

— No. 74 – Chance Lytle – Offensive lineman

— No. 77 – Hunter Vaughn – Offensive lineman

— No. 90 – Terriek Roberts – Defensive lineman

— No. 99 – Chris Mulumba (JC) – Defensive lineman

 

 

Meanwhile, on the sidelines … There are some injured Buffs, who will not be suiting up for the Spring Game, including:

– Juwann Winfree (knee) – WR – No. 9

– Derek McCartney (knee) – LB – No. 95

– Gerrad Kough (ankle) – OL – No. 68

– Jacob Moretti (true freshman) (ankle) – OL – No. 70

– Kyle Evans (hip) – RB – No. 21

 

Spring Game quarterback statistics … like the vice presidency

In the greater scheme of things, the statistics from a Spring Game are the equivalent of what John Nance Garner infamously said about the vice presidency of the United States: “The vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit”.

Still, it is worth keeping an eye on how the CU quarterback candidates play during the Spring Game. It is the second Spring Game for Steven Montez, who was actually one of the featured signal callers last spring when Sefo Liufau was still out, and the savior-in-waiting, Davis Webb, was still taking classes at Texas Tech.

More attention will be paid to the competition for principal backup, with red-shirt freshman Sam Noyer trying to hold off true freshman Tyler Lytle. With an extra year in Boulder under his belt, Noyer would presumably be the choice for No. 2. “We have to get him there,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren said of Noyer. “We’re really excited about him. It’s just trying to get him as many reps as we can so he can continue to get comfortable and not think so much.”

“I’m going to prepare like I’m the starter every week,” said Noyer. “That’s my mindset right now, to prepare like I’m going to get the snap whenever we play Colorado State (in the opener on Sept. 1). I’m just trying to get better and be ready for that in case I do.”

 

Who will shine/fail at wide receiver?

Last spring, the concern was over who was going to replace the record-setting Nelson Spruce at the wide receiver position.

This spring, it’s about figuring out how to get the most out of many talented players.

The top four receivers from last year – Devin Ross, Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Jay MacIntyre – all return, as does Kabion Ento, Lee Walker and Johnny Huntley.

Now throw in freshmen Derrion Rakestraw and Jaylon Jackson … and you’ve got multiple weapons.

And that’s before we start talking about the return of Juwann Winfree (who will not participate in the Spring game) and the trio of quality freshmen – Maurice Bell, Laviska Shenault, and KD Nixon – who will hit campus this summer.

It’s not a question of whether the wide receivers will make plays … just who will be making them.

 

Defensive line under a microscope

There is no unit on the team which has (and will continue to receive) as much scrutiny as the defensive line.

Gone are all three of last year’s starters. In their place could be three junior college transfers … or not.

According to Neill Woelk’s Spring game preview:

The cornerstone will likely be senior DE Leo Jackson III, a starter in 2015 who has had an outstanding spring. But after that, the rotation could vary greatly, with juniors Javier Edwards and Jase Franke getting time at nose tackle and senior Timothy Coleman, junior Chris Mulumba and senior George Frazier all seeing snaps at defensive end.

The return of Derek McCartney this fall will help, and depth will be added to the roster this fall with four freshmen coming into town.

The emphasis Saturday, though, will be on how well this new mix of linemen are working out for defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat.

 

Secondary issues

The issues in the CU secondary will be of primary importance as three former Buffs have graduated and are trying to make themselves known to NFL scouts.

Who up next?

Well, safety Afolabi Laguda started all 14 games last season, while fellow safety Ryan Moeller started nine. Isaiah Oliver is set at one cornerback spot, and Nick Fisher managed to get himself named Pac-12 defensive player-of-the-week against Washington State after Laguda was ejected for targeting.

“When you lose some guys who were the leaders, you have to cultivate new leadership and I think we have that in Afolabi and Nick and Ryan and Isaiah,” new secondary coach ShaDon Brown said. “Those guys are starting to raise their level of leadership. They’ve always been good players, but they’ve had to come on with their leadership and they’ve done that.”

 

Also worth keeping an eye on … 

— The offensive line makeup. Offensive line coach Klayton Adams likes to have multiple options among his players, and likes to have them learn multiple positions. This being the case, watching Jeromy Irwin – who started every game last year at tackle – line up at guard, may not mean anything come September. Still, it is worth noting who are the “starting five”, and where they line up. (Of particular interest is how well Jonathan Huckins fares at center. If Huckins can claim that position, then then the multi-talented Tim Lynott may stay at guard).

— Phillip Lindsay is the Buffs’ leading rusher, and will be the primary back come September. The Spring game, though, could provide some insight as to his primary backup. Michael Adkins, when healthy, has proven to be a viable option, and he has reportedly had a good spring. Or it could be the breakout game for Beau Bisharat, the four-star recruit who had sporadic moments of quality play as a true freshman last fall. With CU down to three scholarship backs (Donovan Lee broke his ankle in practice this week; Kyle Evans dislocated his hip two weeks ago), there won’t be anyone else to watch besides Lindsay, Adkins and Bisharat.

— The kicking game … okay, just kidding. Even when there are battles over the place kicking and punting positions, they don’t play out in the Spring game. There could be punts, and there will be a few field goal attempts, but they are not going to be indicative of who will have those positions come fall. That determination, as well as kickoff return and punt return teams, will have to wait until fall to be sorted out.

 

The 2017 Colorado Spring game will be an hour of drills, followed by an hour long controlled scrimmage.

With March Madness in full swing, along with a beautiful spring day (forecast high of 79-degrees) to enjoy with a myriad of activities, there are many reasons for CU fans to shrug off the Spring game.

By the same token, this is the only chance most Buff fans will have to see their team between December and September …

… that’s reason enough to show up or tune in …

—–

 

 

2 Replies to “What to Watch For …”

  1. Victor King should be there so that he can comment on the lack of coaching expertise even if a number of people are absent. You know the old saying Stuart? “Never let a good coaching maneuver go to waste when one can add a few ifs and buts.”

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