DiLallo Having Good Spring

Matt DiLallo/BSN

Count sophomore-to-be punter Matt DiLallo among the players who've benefited from strength coach Jeff Pitman's offseason workouts. DiLallo has been hitting the ball with noticeably more power this spring. With the physical side of his game shaping up, he's still working on the mental aspect.

It's easy to look at Matthew DiLallo these days and think of the player he's replaced as Colorado's punter – John Torp. Both are left footed. Like Torp before him, DiLallo has gotten to the point where the ball explodes in a towering spiral off his foot more often than not when he punts.

It was a few games into the 2006 season before DiLallo was able to lock down the punting job. He struggled in August and early into the fall schedule before settling down, then finding a groove late in the year. He ended 2006 with a solid 43.74-yard average in 47 punts. Those are Torp-like numbers.

But it's obvious that DiLallo is putting his foot to the ball with more authority this spring than he did even four months ago. He credits the offseason regimen of power cleans, hang cleans and squats.

"It helps explosions in the hips, so you can come up through the ball and get better contact on it," DiLallo said after Tuesday's practice.

He's also benefited, he said, from Wednesday yoga classes during the offseason, and he makes sure he stretches after every workout or run in order to stay limber.

Tuesday's practice happened to be DiLallo's worst of the spring. Swirling winds didn't help. But he said he lost focus during the practice.

Other than Tuesday's glitch, special teams coach Kent Riddle said, "He's really improved. He's obviously got tremendous potential, but our big deal with him has been consistency. And he's been consistent, he's been doing a good job."

Riddle said eventually, he wants a bad punt on a bad day to mean a 40-yarder with a 4-second hang time. He said DiLallo is getting close to that level of play.

The improved consistency has come both from the physical improvements, and some growing confidence. DiLallo says most of his job as a punter is mental. The rest is just mechanics, which he continues to refine. At times early last season, DiLallo's confidence was shaky.

Dan Hawkins is trying to change his team's mindset these days. Part of the formula for that has been weekly Wednesday meetings with a speaker who takes them through visualization and affirmation exercises. Or, as DiLallo says, "He tells us how to get our mind right."

"When things were going good last year, he was awesome because he was riding high," Riddle said. "When things weren't going good, he struggled to picture himself as a great punter. When he (pictures himself that way), he's darn good."

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