• The team worked a lot on punt return/punt coverage drills late in Monday’s practice. Dan Hawkins’ voice could be heard yelling praise from the other side of the field through much of the drill.
Anyone who watched Colorado play last season knows they were mediocre at best at return and coverage in both punt and kickoff. Hawkins said the work they’ve been able to do this spring is “night and day” different from last year, which is great news if it eventually carries over to the field during live action.
“That drill we did today, we had more quality reps in one outing than we had in all of last year,” Hawkins said. “It’s just little things and technique, getting everybody going, getting everybody involved.”
• Another positive, and a glaring difference from last spring and last fall camp – the passing game continues to appear competent. On Monday, Cody Hawkins looked the sharper of he and Nick Nelson — though not by much — and he was taking most of the reps with first teamers. Both quarterbacks, though, are getting the ball on target more often than not. If not for some dropped balls, the passing game would really be clicking right now.
Hawkins had a nice connection with wide out Chapelle Brown on a crossing pattern, laying the ball just over Jordon Dizon’s hands. Nelson found tight end Devin Shannahan wide open in the flat on another play.
When the offense turned to the run and a couple of backs found some running room, defensive coordinator Ron Collins had seen enough, and got after his first team unitl.
The point is, the offense never had as much success last spring or last August when it went up against the first team defense as it has had on several occasions the past week.
• Though he had one drop of an easy pass Monday, Sanders continues to be impressive. Hawkins said he likes to have a whole stable of tight ends because they like to do so many things with that position, but he wants at least three solid players there. Right now, those three are Riar Geer, Sanders and Tyson DeVree. I’d put Patrick Devenny at No. 4, with Nate Solder working hard, as well.
• Players back in pads and practicing Monday included DE Maurice Lucas and CB Terrence Wheatley. Lucas missed last week to get schoolwork in order. Wheatley has been participating, but no contact most of the spring as he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. But he was in pads and hitting on Monday. Brad Jones was also back in action after tweaking a knee last week.
Players missing — at least the last half of practice — included Erick Faatagi, Keenan Stevens, Drew Hudgins and DeVree.
• Junior running back Thomas Perez has told coaches he’s getting the work done in class this semester – he’s missed all of spring ball because of academics. But the proof will be in the pudding once grades come out next month.