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Random Thoughts – Volume XXI – April 21, 2019

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Neill Woelk’s Five Takeaways from Second Spring Scrimmage:

  • 1. Tempo, physical play and effort are non-negotiable
  • 2. Competition is truly wide open
  • 3. There are some positions with depth — and some that will be replenished over the summer.
  • 4. Emphasis on taking care of the ball is showing up
  • 5. Colorado’s defense will attack the ball and put pressure on the quarterback

Read full story here

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … The NFL Draft opens this Thursday. As we draw a curtain on the Mike MacIntyre era in Boulder, who was the highest pick to play for MacIntyre (2013-18)?

Random Thoughts – Second Spring Scrimmage Edition … 

Less than a week remains before the first Spring Game of the Mel Tucker era.

Less than a week until Buff fans will be able to see their team in action since last November … and in a “real” Spring Game, not a “Spring Showcase”, which was nothing more than some drills and a controlled scrimmage.

So, with less than a week until real action, is there any reason to pay attention to statistics from the second spring scrimmage?

Of course there is

“Really good competition today,” Tucker said after the Friday practice at Folsom Field, CU’s 12th of the spring. “More physical, more intensity, really good back and forth with the offense and the defense. Good execution on special teams. I thought we put some money in the bank today.”

See? We feel better already.

The statistics from the scrimmage can be found here.

Some thoughts …

Quarterbacks 

If Mel Tucker and Jay Johnson are looking for efficiency at quarterback this fall, they will be heartened by the numbers put up by Steven Montez in the second scrimmage.

Monteaz hit on 15-of-19 passes (a 78.9% completion rate) and a touchdown, with no sacks and no interceptions. He led the offense to 35 points and 242 yards in his 38 plays.

Montez also led the Buffs to five scores in five red zone possessions, something that has been a priority in spring ball, and he rushed four times for 17 yards and a pair of scores, including a 14-yard scamper.

Of course, the 15 completions only went for 169 yards, with a long of 33 (to Tony Brown), which means that the short passing game is being emphasized … which leads to be a better completion percentage.

The battle for backup remains in play, as neither Tyler Lytle nor Sam Noyer separated themselves.

Tyler Lytle completed five of his ten pass attempts for 70 yards (including a scrimmage best 43-yarder to walk-on Clayton Baca), but was sacked five times. Sam Noyer, meanwhile, hit on four-of-nine passes for 35 yards with one sack.

Running backs

Buff fans will be keeping a special eye on the running backs during the spring game, as none of the candidates have really set themselves apart.

First scrimmage … Jared Broussard – seven carries for 32 yards; one touchdown … Alex Fontenot – 12 carries for 30 yards; one touchdown; Deion Smith – five carries for 25 yards; two touchdowns … Jaren Mangham – four carries for 22 yards … Joe Davis – four carries for 18 yards.

Second scrimmage … Joe Davis – eight carries for 29 yards … Alex Fontenot – seven carries for 28 yards; one touchdown ... Jaren Mangham – nine carries for 26; one touchdown … Deion Smith – six carries for 18 yards; one touchdown.

Overall, the rushing game had 38 carries for 162 yards, for a 4.3 yards per carry average, and an impressive six touchdowns (two by quarterback Steven Montez; one by wide receiver Daniel Arias on a 23-yard reverse).

If you have a favorite player you are hoping to see start against CSU game in August, rest assured, they are still in the mix …

Wide receivers

There was little to choose from when it came to the CU receivers, as there was only one touchdown reception (by Tony Brown, on an 11-yards pass from Steven Montez), and the longest completion was to a walk-on.

Four receivers had at least three receptions, led by Tony Brown, who had four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. Also collecting four passes was tight end Jalen Harris, with four receptions for 35 yards. The two Buffs with three receptions apiece were Dimitri Stanley (65 yards) and Daniel Arias (22 yards).

Of at least some encouragement to Buff fans … a week after the tight ends had one collective reception, the tight end unit had seven receptions.

— Offensive line / Defensive line

With the Buff offensive line in flux, and the defensive line down to four or five healthy scholarship players (it will be interesting to see how the Spring Game works out with only a handful of defensive linemen available), it was heartening to see Mel Tucker encouraged by the play.

“Our offensive and defensive lines were pushed today,” Tucker said. “We’re down some guys because of injuries; some guys are banged up. I give a lot of credit to those guys for really pushing through so we can continue to scrimmage and play. They sucked it up and gave a really good effort. I feel good about that.”

— Defense

The defense produced six sacks, led by Alec Pell, with two. Linebacker Akil Jones led the defense with seven tackles, including a sack and a third down stop. Defensive lineman Jalen Sami was next on the list, with six tackles.

Good news/bad news. While the defense was strong at times, the offense produced 388 yards in 84 plays, with seven touchdowns … and no turnovers.

“For the most part we’ve really done a great job taking care of the ball,” offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said. “If we do that we’re going to win games.”

— Special teams 

There were no kickoffs or punts during the first spring scrimmage, but there situational punts during the second scrimmage. Three year starter Alex Kinney had six punts for a 49.0 average (long of 55 yards).

Potential backups Davis Price and Sam Loy demonstrated why they are backups, with each getting three chances with little success. Price three kicks for a 32.0 yard average; Loy three kicks for a 30.0 yard average.

Kicker James Stefanou was perfect on the day, with four extra points and a 50-yard field goal. Backup Davis Price hit on both of his extra point attempts, also hitting a 26-yard field goal.

— Overall

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? When your team is playing against itself, there is plenty of fodder for both camps.

— Steven Montez completes 15-of-19 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, two rushing touchdowns:

Either ... A 171.0 passer rating is amazing. Montez is demonstrating that he has a firm command of Jay Johnson’s offense … or … Only 169 yards on 15 completions? Whatever happened to throwing the ball downfield? …

— The CU defense produced six sacks and three quarterback hurries:

Either … Rushing the passer has been an emphasis this spring, and it appears to be paying off … or … The offensive line can’t protect the quarterback. We’re in for a long season …

— In two scrimmages, CU’s four running back candidates have all produced between 18 and 32 yards each Friday:

Either … CU has multiple options at running back, which will keep opposing defenses guessing this fall … or … The CU rushing attack is in serious trouble. Opponents will focus on the passing game, and Steven Montez will spend the season running for his life …

— CU quarterbacks did not throw a single interception in either scrimmage:

Either … Taking care of the ball is a cornerstone of Johnson’s philosophy, and the Buff quarterbacks are taking that to heart … or … The Colorado secondary has yet to force a turnover, which means dark days ahead.

The last word goes to head coach Mel Tucker: “I see guys playing faster and that’s because they know more of what to do and how to do it,” Tucker said. “There’s more communication on both sides of the ball. That’s a good thing. Guys tend to communicate more because they have more awareness of what’s going on. I think we’ve gotten better.”

Buff fans will get a chance to see for themselves on Saturday (noon. Pac-12 Networks).

Can’t wait!

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … The NFL Draft opens this Thursday. As we draw a curtain on the Mike MacIntyre era in Boulder, who was the highest pick to play for MacIntyre (2013-18)?

Answer … Wide receiver Paul Richardson was the No. 45 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, taken in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks. The other second round picks of the Mike MacInytre era were defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, taken by the Dallas Cowboys with the 60th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Isaiah Oliver, taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 58 pick of the 2018 draft.

(The last first round pick of a Buff came in 2011, when two Buffs were taken in the first round – Nate Solder, going to New England with the No. 17 pick, and Jimmy Smith going to Baltimore with the No. 27 overall selection).

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4 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Second Spring Scrimmage”

  1. Of course it’s fun reading about spring camp, etc. And, for those who can get to the scrimmage this week, that’ll be at least a little enlightening. But, even before the spring showcase era, it seemed we’d always hear about some rising star (or, at least someone who really looked good in the spring camp, scrimmage/s) and then, more often than not, they’d rarely see the field that fall. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s the same this year.

    But, regardless of what comes out of this spring, the good news is, I think this team along w/ this staff can make some noise and surprise some people this fall. Of course, I guess it’s not hard to surprise “people” (being the national media) when expectations are generally pretty low.

    But, seems to me an 8-4 year is definitely attainable. Montez could have a terrific year, if the offensive line can give him a little help.

    Go Buffs

  2. “Whatever happened to throwing the ball downfield? …” making me a little nervous. When you got a QB with an arm and receivers like Viska and Nixon……..

    The longest pass 43 yards to a walk on named Clayton Baca. I am always rooting for the walk ons.

    “The battle for backup remains in play, as neither Tyler Lytle nor Sam Noyer separated themselves.” Be interesting to see if Senstrom can put himself in the mix when he returns. I’m a little nervous about this backup situation too.

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