Having only six healthy offensive linemen, the Buffs divided their two-and-a-half hours of work like so: The team rotated between live, full-squad action and 7 on 7 action all day. A live series would play out to its conclusion, then the linemen would leave the field and the two sides would play 7 on 7.
By the end of the day, the offense had managed three touchdowns during 11-on-11 action, and the defense had scored twice. Kevin Eberhart added two field goals. Last year, CU managed just one offensive touchdown in the spring game on a pass play on the final drive of the day.
“We were more productive in the first quarter of this spring game than we were in the entire spring game last year,” said tight end Joe Sanders, who had two catches in the live action and five more in the 7-on-7 action.
While it wasn’t as if Koy Detmer was out there, the quarterback play was better Saturday than what the team managed last spring.
Cody Hawkins led the Buffs with 12 completions on 20 attempts for 119 yards. He threw a touchdown and an interception, as well. Nick Nelson wasn’t as sharp, hitting just 3 of 10 passes for 30 yards and a pick.
“They both had some moments on both ends of the spectrum,” head coach Dan Hawkins said. “They’re learning. I think they both showed some signs of being able to run the club.”
One thing that was reminiscent of last spring, however, was that Bernard Jackson seemed to be the most potent offensive player on the field. Except this time, he did his damage against the defense running out of three positions – tailback, quarterback and wide out.
Jackson led all rushers with 82 yards on 9 attempts, including a 37-yard touchdown run up the middle as a tailback. Jackson, who was the team’s starting quarterback for 11 games in 2006, said he’s enjoying his new “slash” role.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.
The offensive coaches will continue to work Jackson in at the three positions in the fall.
“He’ll kind of continue to be all over the place,” Hawkins said. “That guy’s just so darn electric with the ball in his hands. Just trying to be creative in terms of allowing him to do what he does.”
The defense, particularly the first unit, was effective against CU rushers, however. The front seven stuffed most of the offensive unit’s runs up the middle. Hugh Charles had just 20 yards on 11 carries. Demetrius Sumler (4 for 11 yards) and Byron Ellis (3 carries, 1 yard) were the only other tailbacks to get carries, other than Jackson and Charles, and were ineffective.
Senior safety Lionel Harris led all tacklers with 6. Youngsters Eric Lawson and Jason Brace each had 5.
Spring Game Statistics
• Mason Crosby was honored at halftime of the game and now has his name and number enshrined outside the Fred Casotti press box at the stadium.
• LB Justin Nonu’s football career “is likely over” due to a chronic back injury, according to CU. However, Hawkins indicated it’s not a 100 percent certainty. They’ll know for sure down the road. It’s a condition Nonu came to CU with last fall. Hawkins declined to comment on the status of S Reggie Foster, who did not participate with the team this spring. WR Alvin Barnett will have arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. He is expected to be fine for August camp. He’s the only player scheduled for offseason surgery.
• Officials estimated close to 6,000 fans were at the game. The weather was excellent – sunny skies and 60 degree temperatures.
• Hawkins is considering conducting all of CU’s 15 spring practices prior to spring break next year. The indoor practice bubble would allow the team to do that.