CROSBY AND WASHINGTON EARN BIG 12 HONORS
BOULDER - University of Colorado placekicker Mason Crosby and inside linebacker Thaddaeus Washington were named Big 12 Players of the Week Monday morning for their outstanding performances in the Buffaloes' 26-20 win over Nebraska last Friday.
The conference's special teams award winner for the week, Crosby was acknowledged for the second time this season, while Washington garnered the defensive honor for the first time in his career. The sophomore duo was an integral part in CU's win over the Huskers, and has been a potent catalyst this season in helping CU reach Saturday's Big 12 Championship game versus Oklahoma (6:00 p.m. MST, ABC).
For the second time in 2004, Crosby connected on 4-of-4 field goals, as the Texas native (Georgetown) hit kicks from 37, 39, 46 and 20 yards. In doing so he tied the Buffs' single-season field goal mark of 18 and is now 18-of-22 on the year. During his career, Crosby has nailed 25-of-31 kicks, while he is a perfect 15-of-15 from inside the 40-yardline.
"It's always nice to receive an award like that," Crosby added. "Being one of the top performers in the Big 12 is a goal of mine week in and week out. It's great to know that my play helped our team win, and that I'm being recognized for it."
As for Washington ? the 5-11, 240-pounder from Louisiana (Marrero) ? he finished with a team-high 10 tackles (one for loss), two interceptions, one quarterback hurry and two third down stops Friday. His initial theft was the first of his career, while for the third consecutive week he complied at least 10 stuffs. He has now moved into second place on CU's tackle list with 82 this season behind Brian Iwuh (86).
"It's really big," Washington said of the award Monday afternoon. "I'm just going to try to build on it now. I knew I could get better (as the season went on). I've been getting better every day. But, I still need to get even better and keep working hard."
This year, CU has had four different players earn weekly Big 12 laurels. Return specialist Stephone Robinson nabbed the special teams honor just three games ago versus Kansas, whereas end Alex Ligon was the Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in CU's game versus Washington State. Crosby earned his first mention after the Iowa State contest in which he made four field goals, including a school record and 2004 NCAA-best 60-yarder.
Practice Notes: Due to cold conditions and snow-packed practice fields, the Buffs moved their afternoon drill session indoors to the Balch Fieldhouse. Practicing formation settings and assignment situations, head coach Gary Barnett said he was very pleased with his team's work and overall attitude to kick off the week's preparations.
"(The players) didn't even know we were going inside today," he said. "They were all ready in their cold gear to go outside and get going.
"Right now there's definitely a bounce in everyone's step, a confidence that has not been there before."
Injury Update: Redshirt freshman Dusty Sprague, who sustained a broken collarbone on Oct. 30 against Texas, was back in action Monday for the Buffs. With just five weeks of recovery under his belt ? as opposed to the projected eight ? Sprague was cleared by doctors to practice this week without contact. Barnett called his young wide out "possible" for the Oklahoma game.
"We're going to go day-by-day here," Sprague said, hoping that he'll be able to play against OU. "It feels good. I have full motion. It's just that I can't take the hits yet, but it feels good."
When asked about the idea of the first hit directed at him by a Sooner Saturday night, he added: "Hopefully it won't be until Saturday when my adrenaline is so high I won't feel it."