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Spring Practice Notes and Quotes

March 19th

No practiceWednesday: Practice # 2 – 7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice – CLOSED – shorts/helmets

Steven Montez – 12-15 as a starter – still has a great deal to prove

From the Daily Camera … Following the 2018 season, Colorado quarterback Steven Montez wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do for 2019.

Return to CU for his senior year, or make a run at the NFL?

Ultimately, Montez decided he had more to accomplish with the Buffaloes, and on Monday he kicked off his final spring in Boulder.

“I just thought about it and talked to my family and talked to the people that are closest to me and the people that care most about me and just asked their opinion on it,” Montez said. “Then I just thought about what we’ve accomplished here, and how these last couple of seasons we got left with a bad taste in our mouth and just not being OK with that.

“I knew I had to come back for my last year and see it through and finish it out with the guys that I came in here with.”

Montez has started all 24 games over the past two seasons — the third-longest starting streak of any QB in CU history — and he ranks among the program’s all-time leaders in passing yards (fourth with 6,841), touchdown passes (third with 46) and other categories.

He’s also just 12-15 in his career as a starter and has yet to lead the Buffs to a bowl game.

Continue reading story here

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March 18th

Practice # 1 – 7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice – CLOSED – shorts/helmets

Video – CU’s first spring practice:

Buffs learning to be “relentless” – “”Hurry, hurry, move, move. We don’t walk anywhere”

From CUBuffs.com … “Relentless” is more than just a fun Twitter hashtag.

New Colorado football coach Mel Tucker made that abundantly clear Monday morning, when the Buffs hit the practice fields for their spring ball opener.

“Hurry, hurry, move, move. We don’t walk anywhere!” was the recurring message from the entire CU staff throughout Monday’s workout, a two-hour practice in brisk Colorado spring weather.

“Sense of urgency, be efficient, be effective,” Tucker said of his practice philosophy after Monday’s workout concluded. “We don’t want to waste time and we want to get our work done and move on to the next deal.”

Monday morning’s temperatures were in the low 30s when the Buffs hit the field — and Tucker half-joked that he would have liked slightly more inclement conditions for his team’s first spring workout.

“I was hoping for a little snow today, we didn’t get that,” he said. “It was a little chilly when we first started out but the kids embraced it. We have to be a weatherproof football team.”

The Buffs have plenty of work to do in their 15 spring workouts, beginning with the basic installation of their new offenses and defenses. Both involve different schemes and approaches, as well as new terminology. The Buffs have been working on the installations in the classroom and in walkthroughs; Monday finally offered the players and coaches a chance to get a test drive on the field.

Continue reading story here

Video: Mel Tucker’s first spring practice recap – “There right where they would be at this point. We can build on that”

From YouTube, courtesy of BuffStampede.com:

With Laviska Shenault out, spring a chance for young receivers to make a statement

From the Daily Camera … Although the Colorado football team won’t have star Laviska Shenault at full strength during spring football, the next few weeks will be crucial for the development of the Buffaloes at receiver.

Shenault, who caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards last season, is recovering from offseason toe and shoulder surgery. The Buffs will also be without redshirt freshman Dylan Thomas (knee) when spring practices start on Monday, but receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini is eager to see his young, talented players emerge this spring.

“It really gives a guy like (sophomore) Daniel Arias a chance to show that he can be a guy and be consistent,” Chiaverini said. “Ability-wise, he’s as good as anyone I’ve had. His speed down the field, his body type and the way he’s built, I’m interested to see him take the next step.”

Continue reading story here

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March 17th

A list of players to keep an eye on this spring

From Brian Howell at the Daily Camera

A few players to keep an eye on during Colorado’s spring practices:

Offense

RB Beau Bisharat, Sr.: He’s got the most experience at running back, but can the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder find his way atop the depth chart?

TE Darrion Jones, Sr.: A JUCO transfer last year, he’s got exceptional size (6-6, 255) and ability. Can he put it together and be a weapon for the offense?

RB Jaren Mangham, True-Fr.: One of the most intriguing freshman backs CU has had in a while, the 6-2, 215-pounder fits the mold of what coach Mel Tucker likes in a runner.

OL Va’atofu Sauvao, Jr.: A newcomer from the JUCO ranks, he’s aiming for a starting spot. If he has a great spring, it could impact the entire group up front.

WR Dimitri Stanley, Fr.: He showed his talent in a couple games last year and has had a great offseason. He’s a potential star at slot receiver.

Defense

OLB Nu’umotu Falo, Sr.: Returned last year after sitting out 2017 with a suspension and never could get into the regular rotation. Does he finally take the leap forward as a senior?

S Derrion Rakestraw, Jr.:Graduation and injuries have impacted the Buffs at safety. Rakestraw struggled in his new role last year, but has the raw ability to make a dramatic improvement and earn a starting job.

DL Jalen Sami, Fr.: At 6-6, 320, he’s a beast up front. One former CU coach believes Sami could be better than Javier Edwards – who graduated after last season – was in 2018.

CB Trey Udoffia, Jr.: In and out of the lineup for the past two years, Udoffia has yet to find consistency. If he can, the Buffs could be solid at corner.

ILB Jonathan Van Diest, So.: The former Cherry Creek High School star has been waiting for his opportunity for a while. A starting job is there for the taking.

Read full article here (a good read) …

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March 16th

Spring Practices “Phase 2” for Mel Tucker’s grand design

From the Daily Camera … The Buffs have some kinks to work out before hitting the field in the fall, and on Monday they’ll get rolling with the start of spring practices. During the course of 15 practices between now and the April 27 spring game, Tucker is hoping to lay the foundation not only with the players, but as a coaching staff – which is working together for the first time.

“This is a process; (spring) is really just Phase 2 of what we have to do,” Tucker said. “Phase 1 was the nine weeks of strength and conditioning; Phase 2 will be spring ball and Phase 3 will be our summer program, which will be very tough.

“We need to make sure that when we come out of the spring game, we know at every position what every guy is capable of doing and what every guy has to do to get better so we can have a really good summer.”

Continue reading story here

S&C Coach Drew Lewis on Mel Tucker: “I told the (players) I’ve prayed for a coach like Tucker”

From the Daily Camera …Like just about everyone else on the Colorado football staff last season, Drew Wilson had moments of uncertainty about his future after head coach Mike MacIntyre was fired in November.

A vote of confidence from athletic director Rick George, however, was backed up by an instant connection with new head coach Mel Tucker, who was hired in December, and it has led to a new level of intensity this offseason in the weight room.

“I told the (players) I’ve prayed for a coach like Tucker and they kind of laughed,” Wilson, going into his fourth season as CU’s director of football strength and conditioning, said in a recent conversation with BuffZone.com. “Some of the things he says, you appreciate that as a strength coach.

“Two minds have collided and it’s just refreshing that we speak the same language, even though we’ve never worked together before.”

That language — which includes the words tough, strong, physical and the team’s new mantra, relentless — has translated into an offseason that Wilson and Tucker hope has the Buffs in position for a great spring. CU opens spring practice on Monday after nine weeks of work in the weight room. It’s the longest stretch of uninterrupted strength and conditioning for CU in years.

Continue reading story here

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March 12th

Pre-Spring practices injury report

From CUBuffs.com

OLB Jacob Callier … shoulder … suffered the injury against CSU (Aug. 31), had surgery (Oct. 9); red-shirted … LIMITED (at start)
DB Lucas Cooper … shoulder … had offseason surgery to repair chronic injury … LIMITED
DB Hasaan Hypolite … shoulder … had offseason surgery to repair chronic injury … LIMITED (at start)
OL Chance Lytle … hand … suffered a shoulder labrum tear in practice (Nov. 6) … LIMITED
S Aaron Maddox … shoulder/foot … had a pair of offseason surgeries to repair a labrum tear and a chronic injury … OUT
CB Chris Miller … shoulder … suffered a labrum tear in workouts (Feb. 7) … OUT
OL Jake Moretti … leg … had surgery to repair a chronic injury (Jan. 4) … OUT
TB Chase Sanders … shoulder … had surgery to repair a torn labrum (Oct. 16) … LIMITED
WR Laviska Shenault … foot … injured against USC (Oct. 13); missed next three games but still had surgery (Nov. 29) … LIMITED
QB Blake Stenstrom … foot … had surgery to repair a chronic injury … OUT
WR Dylan Thomas … knee … suffered a torn meniscus in practice; had surgery Oct. 2 … OUT
DB Kyle Trujillo … shoulder … had offseason surgery to repair chronic injury … LIMITED (at start)
OL Brett Tonz … shoulder … had surgery to repair a torn labrum (Dec. 21) … LIMITED

Notable Jake Moretti … Last fall, his first time on the field since 2015, Moretti played in seven games, starting two. Even in those games, however, Moretti was unable to finish. For the season, Moretti was only on the field of play for 65 snaps, and now Moretti will miss another spring … Chris Miller … During a recent workout, Miller’s right shoulder dislocated, and will be out for spring ball. “I don’t really see it at as a setback,” Miller said. “I just see it as something to give me more adversity to make me better for the future. I’ll be out for spring ball, but I’ll be ready for Day 1 of fall camp” … Blake Stenstrom … Not that the red-shirt freshman was likely to supplant senior Steven Montez as the starting quarterback, but the battle for the starting position in 2020 begins this spring, and Stenstrom will not be in the mix … Aaron Maddox … With both of last year’s starting safeties graduating, Aaron Maddox is being counted upon to be a significant piece of the replacement puzzle this fall. His absence will be noticed …

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March 11th 

None of the Spring Practices will be open to the public … but there will be an actual Spring Game

From CUBuffs.com

Spring practice schedule … No practices open to the public (one practice open to the media on March 22nd) … but the Spring Game will actually be a Spring game …

Coach Tucker is planning to bring back the annual spring game, which would be the first to end spring drills since 2015; the last three years have been a short scrimmage that lasted roughly an hour after 45-50 minutes of drills. Events that day will begin with a Football Alumni Autograph Session and Healthy Kids Day on Folsom Field beginning at 11 a.m. The spring game will commence shortly after Noon (televised live by the Pac-12 Network), and at the conclusion around 2 p.m., there will be a “Selfie Session” with the football players and coaches. Admission is free.

MARCH 18— Practice # 1 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:30-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED shorts/helmets
MARCH 20— Practice # 2 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED shorts/helmets
MARCH 22— Practice # 3 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice; Annual Coaches Clinic) OPEN (Media Only) pads-NT
————————————SPRING BREAK (March 22-31)————————————
APRIL 1— Practice # 4 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED shorts/helmets
APRIL 3— Practice # 5 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED helmets/shoulder pads
APRIL 5— Practice # 6 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED (pads)
APRIL 8— Practice # 7 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED (pads)
APRIL 10— Practice # 8 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED helmets/shoulder pads
APRIL 12— Practice # 9 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 9:00 a.m. approx. scrimmage) CLOSED pads
APRIL 15— Practice #10 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED (pads)
APRIL 17— Practice #11 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED helmets/shoulder pads
APRIL 19— Practice #12 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:50 a.m. approx. scrimmage) CLOSED pads
APRIL 22— Practice #13 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED (pads)
APRIL 24— Practice #14 (7:00 a.m. meetings, 8:10-11:00 a.m. practice) CLOSED (pads)
APRIL 27— SPRING GAME (Practice #15; 12:00 p.m. / Pac 12 Network, KOA-Radio) OPEN pads

Mel Tucker pre-spring practice press conference: “I can’t wait for spring ball to start” 

Watch press conference video here

… Full press conference quotes below … 

From CUBuffs.com … When Colorado football head coach Mel Tucker opens his first spring practice with the Buffaloes, installing new offensive and defensive schemes will no doubt be high on his “to-do” list.

But equally important for CU’s new coach and his staff will be establishing a culture within the team, something Tucker stressed in a Monday press conference.

“How we practice, how we prepare, how we work,” Tucker said. “Although we have to get our schemes installed on both sides of the ball, I want to make sure that we’re putting our guys in position every day where they can be evaluated and we can find out who can play.”

Tucker called the process “huge,” especially for a team in its first year under a new coach.

“The two main factors in success are environment and expectations, and a lot of that is culture,” Tucker said. “How we go about our business on a day-to-day basis, what are these standards, and what are our goals? How do we work with each other, how do we compete? How do we handle a loss and a win in a drill? Those are things that we have to establish in the spring and then going into the summer we’ll build on that and take it into the fall camp and then eventually into the season. Culture is huge.”

The Buffs are wrapping up a nine-week strength and conditioning program this week and will open spring practice next Monday. They will be on the field three days, then take a week off for spring break before returning for the final 12 practices in April. The spring game — something Tucker said he wants to be as game-like as possible — is set for April 27 at Folsom Field.

The first practice is something Tucker has been looking forward to for months.

“I love to coach and I finally get  a chance to get my hands on these guys, roll up my sleeves, and see what they can do,” he said. “I get to coach, teach, motivate, and develop. That’s what it’s all about. I can’t wait for spring ball to start.”

CU’s lengthy strength and conditioning session has been valuable for a variety of reasons. Tucker said he pushed spring ball back as far as possible in order to get the Buffs as much time as possible in the weight room and in conditioning, as well as give the CU staff time to meet with players and begin the install of the new offense, defense and special teams schemes.

“(Strength coach) Drew (Wilson) has done a great job with the strength and conditioning,” Tucker said. “When the coaches came off the road from recruiting, the coaches got involved also. The team has really shaped up. They look like they are in really good condition. I think we will be able to have a very efficient and effective spring ball so I’m very excited about that.”

Continue reading story here

Full March 11th press conference quotes 

Opening Comments
“We are right at the end of our fourth quarter strength and conditioning program which is a nine-week program. I think in the past, the team has worked out for maybe four or five weeks and then started spring ball. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got here was to push spring ball back as far as possible to give us enough time to get these guys in shape. We have done that. Drew Wilson) has done a great job with the strength and conditioning. When the coaches came off the road from recruiting, the coaches got involved also. The team has really shaped up. They look like they are in really good condition. I think we will be able to have a very efficient and effective spring ball, so I am very excited about that. We are still going to practice in the morning in spring ball and also in the fall. I am really excited to get started. I love to coach, and I finally get a chance to get my hands on these guys, roll up my sleeves and see what they can do. I get to coach, teach, motivate, and develop. That’s what it’s all about.I can’t wait for spring ball to start.”

On QB Steven Montez
“I feel like you have to recruit all of your players on a daily basis. That is my philosophy. I did meet with Steven. We had a great  conversation. I told him that I thought he had a chance to be a really great player and that I want to be a part of his career. I told him I wanted him to be here and he said that’s what he wanted to do as well. It has worked out well so far.”

On What He’s Seen From The Team During Strength & Conditioning Sessions
“I really like the way they finish. That’s as the biggest thing that I wanted, was to make sure was that every drill had was a defined start and every drill had a finish. I wanted to make sure the guys were straining to finish the drills and they have done that each and every day. They have pushed each other to do that. They have gotten better every week. I actually see a transformation in their bodies because of what we have done in the weight room and what we have done in our running program. I think they have responded well. The guys are always enthusiastic – ready to go. We work out in the morning. We start at 7 a.m. Everyone is there early and ready
to work. That is really all you can ask. These guys will do pretty much anything you ask them to. They are really eager. They are pleasers and they are hungry.”

On What His Goals Are For Spring Practice
“On both sides of the ball and on special teams, we want to get our core schemes installed. That’s going to allow us to do what we want to do scheme-wise in the fall. We have to get those things installed. Then every player going into spring ball is going to be at a certain point, and I want each and every player to come out of spring ball better than when they came in. That’s development, that’s improvement, that’s learning the schemes, things like that. We have to learn how to practice. Our tempo is going to be fast. Our goal is to always have the practices be harder than the games and in order to do that, you have to learn how to practice. It’s not natural to practice at game speed every single rep, but that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll probably have to build up to that, but at the end of spring ball, I want to make sure everyone knows how to work, how to practice. I want to know who can play. If you try to do too much scheme wise, especially the first year with a new staff, you’ll come out of spring talking about what guys can’t do and what they don’t know, instead of saying, ‘this is what they know and this what they can do.’ That’s what I want to make sure is that we know what type of team we have coming out of spring ball.”

On Being Visible At Various Events Around Campus
“I enjoy athletics. I enjoy young people. I just really think it’s important for me to get to know as many people as I can, to be approachable and be accessible. That is what I’m here for. Obviously, I’m here to win football games, but I really believe I am here to serve the state of Colorado, this university and community in any way I can. I am going to be anywhere I can be. I am enthusiastic about it. I think it is a blessing and a privilege to be able to participate at this university.”

On First Spring As A Head Coach
“I’ve been so through many springs in college and pro ball. I know that this first spring I want to establish the culture on the field. How we practice, how we prepare, how we work. Although we have to get our schemes installed on both sides of the ball and I want to make sure that we’re putting our guys in position every day where they can be evaluated, and we can find out who can play. This is really important because this is really phase two of what we have to do. Phase one was nine weeks of strengthening and conditioning, and then phase three will be our summer program. We need to make sure that when we come out of the spring game that we know, at every position, what every guy is capable of doing and what we every guy has to do to get better so we can have a really good summer.”

On How Hands-On He Will Be As A Head Coach
“I’ll be hands on. I’m very enthusiastic in practice, I like to make sure that I set the tempo for the coaches and the players, so I’ll do that. But I also have to make sure that the practices run smoothly, so practice organization is a big part of what I have to do. I have to make sure that the coaches can coach and that we’re efficient and effective. Obviously, I’m going to get in the middle of it a little bit and that’s what I enjoy doing. I want to make sure that the players feel me on the field.”

On Process Of Building Camaraderie Among New Staff
“Communication, communication, communication – that’s what it’s all about. When you’re getting to know someone, you have to talk. We meet and take every opportunity to find out more about coaches. I have an opendoor policy, so any of my players or coaches can come into my office at any time and talk about whatever. I think that’s a big part of it, you just have to take every day and take the opportunity to build a relationship and build trust. We’re going to spend a lot of time together and we have to work together and work as a team. The closer your assistant coaches are and the more cohesive your staff is, that’s going to carry over to your team, and
that starts with me. I’m really excited about the staff that we have right now, great group of guys, hard workers, great teachers, and I just can’t wait to get everybody out on the field for spring ball.”

On Establishing A Culture
“It’s huge. I think the two main factors in success are environment and expectations. A lot of that is culture. How we go about our business on a day to day basis? What are these standards? What are our goals? How do we work with each other? How do we compete? How do we handle a loss and a win in a drill? Those are things that we have to establish in the spring and then going into the summer we’ll build on that and take it into the fall camp and then eventually into the season. Culture is huge.”

On Evaluating Last Season’s Tape Versus Giving Everyone Fresh Start
“I did a little bit of both. I went back and I’ve watched some games but I get more out of watching the workouts, how those guys compete in the drills and how those guys lift. I get a lot more out of that. Then I’m going to get a chance to see them play for 15 practices in spring ball. So I did do some research on some of the games they played, but I want these guys to have a clean slate. I want them to have a fresh start. The past, we’re going to let it go. We’re starting out clean.”

On Offensive Line And Addition Of William Peagler As Offensive Quality Control Assistant
“I know Peags (William Peagler), he’s a great coach, attention to detail, he’s a loyal guy. He can really help us out on offense in a lot of ways. To have a strong offensive line is critical. To be able to run the ball and establish dominance in the trenches and also be able to protect our quarterback is huge. Same thing on defense, we want to be stout on the defensive line. We have to be able to stop the run and dominate the trenches on defense and then be able to get after the passer. I like to be able to get pressure with four guys. We’ll work on that this spring.”

On Leadership Emerging Through Offseason Workouts
“Overall, I’ve really been impressed with the way that they have been receptive to coaching, and aggressive coaching. Any time that we ask them to do something, they do it. It’s a ‘yes sir, no sir’ group of guys which is a credit to their character. Our coaches have really worked hard to push the players every day to get better. It seems like the more you push them, the more they embrace it. I think that they welcome the challenge that we’re presenting to them as a team. When we call them up at the end of practice, at the end of the session and I ask them to take a knee, I see a lot of heads nodding as I’m talking to them, not a lot of blank stares. I think that shows
an element of buy-in. Obviously, we haven’t had any real adversity yet, but I think this is a special group. I really like this team. There’s something about this group of guys that I think is special, and we’re going to work really hard and maximize our full potential.”

On Maximizing Time He’s Allowed To Spend With Team Prior To Spring Ball
“We have to use every minute we can because we’re allowed to meet with our players, so we have a series of meetings, we have walk-throughs with them because we have to install our schemes on both sides of the ball. We have to be very organized because you don’t have a lot of time, by rule. I think our coaches and coordinators have done a really good job organizing the offseason program, in terms of scheme, evaluations, development and teaching. Then [Director of Strength & Conditioning] Drew Wilson and his staff in the weight room, have done a fantastic job. They’ve taken it up a few notches. I’ve met with each and every player, including the walk-ons,
for at least five or 10 minutes in my office, and they’re all really excited about how we’re working in the offseason program and what they’re learning scheme-wise from our coaches in the meetings. I think it’s been a productive winter. Now we need to take the next step, we got to get out on the grass and play football.”

On Adversity In Spring Building Leaders
“Leaders are going to naturally emerge and we’ll see who those guys are. I think you also have to grow leaders, you have to put people in position to lead and teach them how to lead. Initially it’s going to be the coaches. The coaches are going to lead and then eventually the goal would be to have the players be the primary leaders. When you have a team where the leadership is strong on the player side of it that means you’ve got a really good football team. That’s one of the things we want to do is, grow leaders, see which leaders emerge and take that into the summer.”

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3 Replies to “Spring Practice Notes”

  1. “I prayed for a coach like Tucker”….

    WOW! Think that summs up the last coaching regime.

    Can’t wait to see the new and improved Buffs

  2. doing the VK note format
    Note 1: Cant wait to see what the “clean slate” brings for the coming depth chart
    Note 2: Cant wait to see how the offense develops.
    Note 3: Cant wait to see how the “hard nose” attitude affects the opponents’ morale.
    Note 4: All the above will be measured against the past regime. Can’t say the program was burned down by Mac…as it was already burned down when he got here but not much rose out of the ashes except with an improvement in the available talent….too bad he couldnt get a whole lot out of it.

  3. Whoa the cyclone bomb dropped on us. Not nice. I am hoping the MightyBuffs drop the cyclone bomb on the first home opponent.

    Spring game……………….ya okay…………..I’ll probably show up………………..Maybe not.

    Out of the unlucky 13 whom will not practice, six were to repair “Chronic Injuries” Which I find interesting for no reason at all.

    And 4 were for Labrum injuries. And out of the 13, 8 were shoulder injuries.

    Oh well that still leaves about 80 guys or so.

    Go Buffs. Cyclone Bombing

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