March 17 Practice Report

Brian White

The Colorado football team did its version of Friday Night Lights, practicing until 7:45 in the evening, ending its first week of spring ball. Inside, some notes from the session.

• It was the first day in full pads. The team was hitting, but was not fully tackling.

• As expected, all the new information the players are assimilating — new terminology, new plays, new drills, new expectations — means things aren't moving as fast as they will be some day in the future. Head coach Dan Hawkins said after eight years at Boise State, practices were very efficient.

"You could do drills and guys know where to go and what to do," he said. "Surprisingly, these guys have adapted pretty well. We're starting to get them to finish and go after the ball and those kinds of things we want them to do. (But) you could move from Point A to Point P in a hurry, vs. here where you're going from A, B, C, D."

Still, Hawkins was positive about the steps the Buffs are taking.

"We're making a little progress each time," he said. "We need to be a little more efficient in the passing game. But we're getting there. We just keep throwing stuff in every day, so it's hard for those guys. Every time you think you've got it figured out, you don't. We're trying to stay ahead of the curve a little bit."

• One thing the new staff likes to do that's different from the previous years is integrate special teams situations into the flow of practice. Friday, the field goal unit trotted onto the field a few times in the middle of other drills to try a single shot.

"Kickers, it's not about making 6 out of 8, it's about making 1 out of 1," Hawkins said. "The same thing with the punters – they don't get a chance to sit there and warm up, they've got to go out there and hit a good one right away. So we like to kind of throw those one-shots in there for those guys physically and mentally. And then get everybody going on special teams."

• Redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Taj Kaynor is taking reps with what was Friday's version of a second-team defense at defensive tackle beside Marcus Jones. (Brandon Nicolas and George Hypolite, as expected, are running with the ones).

James Cox tested his thumb, which he hurt in Thursday's practice, by throwing some before practice. He couldn't grip like he wanted to, but he's OK, Hawkins said. The senior quarterback took part in drills, but not in 7-on or 11-on-11 scrimmage situations.

• Maybe it was from watching the two graduating tight ends impress pro scouts earlier in the day, but it's very obvious that Colorado no longer has Joe Klopfenstein and Quinn Sypniewski — both players who often stood out during practice sessions last season and spring. The Buffs don't have a dominating type player at the position currently. However, redshirt-freshman TE Riar Geer made a nice catch from a perfectly timed pass by Brian White down the sideline after shaking free of a defender .

• Asked his impression of his new team's overall speed, Hawkins said it was difficult to judge yet. He said because the players are having to think so much learning new things they probably aren't at max speed yet.

• During some punt/punt return works, Jarrell Yates, Reggie Joseph, Stephone Robinson, Gardner McKay and Chase McBride were taking reps at PR.

• Speaking of punting, it's also obvious that John Torp is gone, as onlookers had gotten used to seeing booming spirals during practice the past two years, something that's no longer happening.

Maurice Lucas was running with the ones at DE opposite Abraham Wright the last half of the practice. Terrence Wheatley was opposite Terry Washington at corner. Both Bernard Jackson and Brian White were taking reps with ones. White had a couple of nice mid-range passes, one to Greer, and the other to Dusty Sprague near the sidelines. The team is throwing a lot more mid-range routes than they did last year.

• The players got a punishment midway through the practice Friday. An upset Hawkins stopped the session after a scuffle broke out. He said they win games by scoring points, not by talking trash, and the players lined up on the sideline and ran gassers for roughly 15 minutes. That work pushed the end of practice to 7:45.

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