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Buffs Inch Closer to Spring Game

Apr 11, 2006

BOULDER - One more down, just two to go. The University of Colorado football team continues to close in on to the annual spring game on Saturday as the Buffs practiced for two and a half hours Tuesday evening in perfect football conditions.


                "We are making progress and making some plays," Head Coach Dan Hawkins said. "I like where we are going."


                The coaches continue to install new plays and formations for the Buffs, giving them everything they can handle to grasp the new offensive and defensive schemes.


                Hawkins said the spring game will pit offense versus defense for about 80 plays; roughly 10-play series, broken up by special teams work in between. The team will break for an informal halftime midway through the play count.


                Special teams work has been an area of emphasis for Hawkins and his staff this spring. Obviously the unit is bolstered by returning consensus All-American place-kicker Mason Crosby, but the are other areas that need to be worked on, including finding a starting punter and working toward stability in the long and short snapping. The kickoff return and coverage units are also receiving special attention. Several starters are in the mix for several specialty jobs because Hawkins believes in putting his most talented guys on the field.


                "We are going to play our best guys on special teams," he said. "I never shy away from that. I think it's amazing that you have a great chance to get the ball in space and score a touchdown on kickoff returns and a lot of people don't put their best guys out there."


                The Buffs will again be limited in the spring game by a lack of bodies on the offensive line, but other than the rash of injuries, Hawkins said the unit is making major strides.


                "You're talking about five guys that all have to be on exactly the same page every play in order for you to get something done," he said. "That's a group that has really come along."


                Hawkins has also been impressed with his quarterbacks, specifically juniors Brian White and Bernard Jackson, who sit tied atop the spring depth chart.


                "You have totally different styles (between the quarterbacks) and that's fine," Hawkins said. "I want ?B-Jack' to run. If you have Michael Vick you wouldn't tell him not to scramble; that's part of his game, that's what makes him good. By the same token, White has to make plays with his arm in a sense. We can go with whatever guy's style is the best."


Practice Notes: The Buffs conducted another unique drill at the end of practice, pitting the "little guys" against each other. "People call them the ?skill guys,' but then the linemen get mad, so I call them the ?big guys' and ?little guys.' The big guys got to do 7-on-7 last night, so the little guys wanted to go goal line today." Senior safety J.J. Billingsley lined up at center, and even boasted afterward how well he snapped the ball and "even picked up the blitz." At quarterback for the ?little guys' was safety Ryan Walters, perhaps a bit unfair since the sophomore defender was originally recruited as a quarterback. Walters was taken down in the backfield on the first play on an option keeper and stuffed up the middle by junior wide receiver Stephone Robinson on a draw the next play. On the third and final play, Walters connected with junior cornerback Terrence Wheatley for a touchdown pass. "That's schoolyard ball," Hawkins said. The Buffs will practice again on Thursday from 5:00-7:30 in their last practice before the spring game.