Buffs Soak Up the Sun
ORLANDO - The University of Colorado football team began practicing in central Florida Thursday in preparation for the Champ Sports Bowl against Clemson on Dec. 27.
The team flew into Orlando Wednesday afternoon and will stay for a week, holding daily practices and attending various Champ Sports Bowl events. The lush green grass and warm breezes swirling around the McCracken practice fields are welcome idealisms compared to the frozen tundra the Buffs practiced on for the past several days.
"We got a lot of good work done in Colorado," Interim Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz said. "But we were kind of limited by the (cold) weather. We got acclimated today, we will go hard the next couple days and then taper off leading up to the game."
Hankwitz and several players stopped after practice to share their thoughts about Orlando and the Champs Sports Bowl.
Interim Head Coach Mike Hankwitz
On Being in Orlando
"After practicing in single digit weather, this is like heaven to us. If you could pick one bowl destination, I don't know how you could beat this. Out players are excited to be here. We got some basic stuff done in Colorado, but with the weather the way it is, we couldn't do a lot of things we wanted to.
On the Plan for the Rest of the Week
"We want to get in our normal game routine. We traveled all day yesterday so we just went an hour or so today. We'll go hard Friday and Saturday and then we'll taper off."
On the quarterback situation and Joe Klatt's concussion
"Joel worked out for the medical people today. They will test his response to that. Tomorrow we'll see where he's at. Her still had symptoms last week and as I understand it, he has to have some physical activity and see how he responds to that. His response has been getting better all the time, but now we'll have to see how he responds to more activity."
"Pending what we hear, there's a good chance we will make a decision on playing Joel tomorrow. It may go one more day, but there's a good chance we can make a decision on his status tomorrow."
"If we have to go with James Cox, I have confidence in his ability. When he had opportunities last year, he did some great things. He's more mobile then Joel and if we have to go with him, we will rally around him."
On the many distractions the team and staff has endured the past four weeks
"It was frustrating at first. We also understand that some of things were not in the athletic department's hands. The things that came down the day before we left were frustrating but we've had time to reflect on it and it we realize that it wasn't under control of the athletic department. We'll work through it. We understand there are things you can control and things you can't control. We can control what we do with the players, what we do with the coaches, and what we can do in this game. That is our focus, to get our team ready and try to win this game."
On the Defense
"We were playing like a top 20 defense. We were proud of the progress we were making. It was fun to watch. The potential is still there. We have the same guys. We need to get back with the same focus, the same attention to detail. I ready were some of the Clemson coaches were please at how well they were playing on defense the last six weeks. Well, we were playing that well for nine weeks. This is our challenge, we need to get back to playing the way we were playing earlier in the season."
Tight End Joe Klopfenstein
On what has been going on with program the last month
"It's been very emotional. It's made us close. This is the last time I'll ever be with this group, so it's going to be emotional but it's going to be exciting."
On team unity
"I think Coach Barnett did a great job of keeping us together and focused. The players have been thinking the same way...we've had one heartbeat. The assistants have taken over and have helped, but it has really been the players. We have been staying close to each other."
How with this senior class be remembered
Laughing.. "Probably by how we do in this game. But seriously, I hope we're not remembered by the last two games. Hopefully we'll be remembered a strong group of guys who played hard every game."
"I seen a lot of tape, they are a real good team. Probably a lot like Miami and the other ACC teams. A lot of team speed, athletic and impressive. We're going to have to play really well to beat them."
Cornerback Lorenzo Sims
On the defense.
"We haven't done the things we needed to do. I think we lost our focus and passion. We're playing at a level that we shouldn't be. We have the talent to play as well as anyone in the nation. We were embarrassed the last two weeks but we don't have anyone to blame but ourselves. This game is a great opportunity to reverse what has happened and we have to take advantage of that."
Quarterback Joel Klatt
On the concussion
"It seems to be headed in the right direction...some other positive things have to happen to get clearance. I am putting this in the doctors hands and I am not prepared to take un-necessary risks. I'm going to do what the doctors and trainers tell me to do. If they tell me to play I am going to play if they tell me to sit, then that's what I'll do.
Based on all the stories you've heard about concussions, why would you even want to play
"Because I love this game. Its as simple as that. I want to be out there with guys I have played with for four years. This is our send off game and I want to be out on the field. Regardless of whether I play or not, I will look back on the last four years with a lot of pride of what I have been able to accomplish."