Buffs Kick Off Spring Practices
BOULDER?-The University of Colorado football team hit helmets for the first time in 2008, as spring practices commenced on Monday. Colorado spring weather brought a snow storm Sunday night which forced the team into its practice bubble.
"They ran well, we had a great tempo, good execution and great hustle," head coach Dan Hawkins said. "We're miles ahead of where we've been the past couple springs."
Spring practices don't usually decide position battles, rather Hawkins and his staff use these practices to refocus on the basics of football.
"It doesn't matter how successful you have been, you always have to go back to the basics and keep them sharp because your whole game is built off your basics," senior defensive tackle George Hypolite said. "It's kind of like Tiger Woods, he works so hard and always tries better himself and that usually starts with going back to the basics. You can't relax on one thing because you think you're good at it and focus on another. You have to work on everything."
The Buffs made great strides on the field in 2007, including earning a birth to the PetroSun Independence Bowl, but there is a new sense of urgency this spring. Players have already spent the last couple months going through a rigorous conditioning program.
"Everybody is ready for football to get going again," senior wide receiver Patrick Williams said. "Last year everyone was excited and ready to get going but this is a different year and we have to be more committed than we were last year. We have some different leaders, some new players and we are a different team."
The Buffs lost 22 lettermen from 2007, including a solid senior class that included linebacker Jordon Dizon, cornerback Terrence Wheatley and tailback Hugh Charles. The losses will provide the opportunity for younger players to step up and fill the void.
"We have some young guys who should fight for playing time and that is how it should be," Hawkins said. "Healthy competition is good for everyone; it's not because of fear for your job it's just trying to out work the other guy and make it to the top."
Spring is an opportunity for players to get a fresh start on the 2008 season, often that includes position changes. The two more notable position changes included sophomore Kai Maiava switching from offensive guard to fullback and sophomore Nate Solder switching from tight end to offensive tackle.
"It felt pretty good," Maiava said. "I just can't wait to get the pads on and start hitting."
This is Hawkins' third spring with the program and the familiarity with his staff and philosophies has paid dividends for the players.
"The biggest difference is confidence," Hawkins said. "When you have confidence in terms of knowing what is going to happen you can do it faster and that is when you start to flourish."
Notes: The Buffs will practice from 4:00-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday before taking a week off for spring break. Spring practices will resume April 1 with 12 more practices including the annual Spring Game on April 19. All practices are open to the public. There have been a few notable number changes from last year: sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith has changed from No. 9 to No. 1; Maiava switched from No. 51 to No. 40; Solder changed from No. 92 to No. 78. Spring football information can be found at www.cubuffs.com