Practice Report -- April 9

Sypniewski Wins Player Competition (Getty)

A steady dose of rain, which briefly turned to snow at one point, didn't stop the Colorado Buffaloes from getting in an hour-and-a-half of good work on the practice fields. While there were virtually no onlookers in attendance Friday, at the end of practice it sounded as if the Buffs were playing in front of a sizeable crowd. But it was just the team hollering at the end of a highly competitive drill, during what players are saying has been a highly competitive spring.

To end practices this spring, players have been engaging in a little one-on-one. Today's action pitted the tight ends against the safeties, and included five individual competitions. According to running back Lawrence Vickers, the offense " beat them earlier, but the defensive coaches kept making excuses."

And so it came down to senior tight end Quinn Sypniewski vs. redshirt freshman safety Tyrone Henderson in Round 5. Vickers continued with the play-by-play: "It was a good battle. They were wrestling, and Quinn pushed off of him right when the ball was tossed and he caught it and we won."

Earlier in the day, it looked like the Buffs might have to move their practice indoors. The coaches developed three game plans, which included a long, shorter, and indoors practice. They ended up going with Plan B, but were able to accomplish some things despite the drizzle.

"I think it was important for us to push ourselves to go outside and get something accomplished," interim head coach Brian Cabral said.

"With the turf field, unless you get accumulation of snow, you've got your footing," defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz added. "And that's the main thing."

Players looked like they'd had fun in the spirited, and rain-soaked session.

"It's always exciting to play in the rain," said sophomore linebacker Thaddaeus Washington. "That's football weather."

Vickers said today's practice was a lot like the previous ones this spring, a spring that's turning out to be marked by it's competitiveness.

"It's so competitive right now. It's back and forth, like a battle," Vickers said. "There's a lot of fighting going on. But it just makes us stronger as a team. We're coming together more than ever. It's a total change. The speed, how we move around. There's so much competition."

NOTES

Vance Joseph update

While sources say it's a done deal, Bowling Green has not made public the hiring of Vance Joseph, who has been in Ohio at the school much of the week, as assistant coach. Word out of BGSU is that a public announcement may not come until Sunday or Monday now. They had hoped to make an announcement today.

Cabral said Friday that should VJ, who was placed on administrative leave with pay last week for undisclosed reasons, not come back to Colorado there is no timetable in place for hiring another full-time assistant to replace him. He said that CU will "stay with things the way they are" through the spring. Hankwitz has been overseeing the defensive backs, and Darian Hagan has been working with the cornerbacks.

The connection between the two programs runs deep, as BGSU head coach Gregg Brandon played for Gary Barnett in high school and was an assistant with him at Northwestern and at Colorado. Former CU coach Bill McCartney was at Bowling Green over the weekend for a speaking engagement, sponsored by the football program and the BGSU chapter of the Fellowship of Christian athletes.

Scouting the D

Asked who was standing out on defense so far, one offensive player responded, "The whole defense, really. It's a new defense, and they're learning it faster than they're supposed to be. So that's a blessing. ...Asked what looks different about the new 4-3 defense from the offensive side of the ball, he said, "It puts them in places where they can make plays better."

Vickers "out to get it"

The always colorful Lawrence Vickers says he is having a good spring.

"It's going pretty good. I'm starting off better than I did last year," he said. "I'm more physical, moving better, got a little faster and stronger. I'm out to get it right now. I'm on a mission not to be stopped."

After wearing No. 34 his first two seasons at CU, the fullback/tailback changed to No. 17 to honor his boyhood friend, Shabaca Fields, who died last month.

"My boy, he passed away on March 17th," Vickers said.." Life is real short. I remember back in the day when I was having fun with him. So I just decided to throw it back to 17."

Coaches Clinic on tap

Tomorrow as many as 70 high school coaches are expected to attend a coaches clinic and take in practice at CU. The team is hoping the weather holds and they aren't forced to move practice indoors to Balch Fieldhouse. Unless a snowstorm rages in the late afternoon, they plan to practice outside. If it snows overnight, they will clear the field for the late afternoon practice. "We really can't afford to go indoors, just because the tight schedule we're on," Cabral said.

Injuries

Tailback Brian Calhoun sat out practice with a sore knee, while his running mate Bobby Purify returned to action after missing some time earlier in the week with a hamstring.

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