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Brooks: Giveaways, Takeaways From CU Media Day 2013

Aug 10, 2013

Media Day Notes

BOULDER - Bits, pieces, morsels and scraps from Colorado's football Media Day, an annual Saturday that signals camp is well underway, the college season is creeping ever closer and the notes season is already here:

IS A QB DECISION NEAR? Coach Mike MacIntyre offered a definite maybe.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, - or 15 practices into the 29 before the opener against Colorado State (Sept. 1, Denver) - the Buffs will have their first major scrimmage of camp.

Would having a starting quarterback emerge following that scrum be a safe bet?

Answered MacIntyre: "I don't know . . . but they all are making progress."

He and offensive coordinator/QB coach Brian Lindgren are perusing four candidates: junior Connor Wood, sophomores Stevie Joe Dorman and Jordan Gehrke and freshman Sefo Liufau.

Both MacIntyre and Lindgren said before camp opened last week that Wood went in with the lead, and he apparently has not surrendered it. But MacIntyre wants to be positively sure, certain and unshakeable about his No. 1 before he makes the announcement.

He said all four would continue to be put in different situations during the upcoming week, which will help the further evaluation of each player. He also said he hasn't at all "been disappointed" in Gehrke, the junior college transfer who was brought in to push Wood.

But the surprise of the camp thus far at position might be Dorman, who has quietly stayed engaged through the staff change and a roster depletion that saw the QB numbers reduced from a possible eight to four.

"He's really come along since spring and is having a good camp," Lindgren said of Dorman. Lindgren also said Liufau has "picked things up very quickly" and has impressed with his athleticism.

Added MacIntyre on Liufau: "He looked good, he did a good job today in the two-minute (drill). He moves in the pocket well, he is very accurate throwing on the run and I thought he did a good job and has done a good job all week. He seems very calm and poised."

But the best overall plan - if Wood stays solid through camp and if Gehrke and Dorman keep absorbing the scheme and continue to improve - would be to redshirt Liufau.

MAC II ON HIS REDSHIRT PHILOSOPHY: CU's camp roster includes 21 true freshmen and 11 invited walk-ons. The best-case scenario: redshirting all the newcomers.

That might not be possible, and here's the first thing MacIntyre weighs when he makes that decision: "Is he physically mature enough to play at this level?" Then, MacIntyre asks the same question about a freshman's mental makeup.

If the answer is "no" to both questions, the redshirt goes on. In some cases - take middle linebacker Addison Gillam, who participated in spring drills - the "yes" answers are as obvious as shoulder pads and chinstraps. Gillam, a 6-3, 225-pounder who can run, will play, probably start and is expected to perform well.

Another freshman who is showing up well, according to upperclassmen, is defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, a 6-0, 190-pounder who already looks at home in the secondary. "He's really picked things up fast at nickel and corner," said senior safety Parker Orms.

And there are three freshman receivers - Elijah Dunston, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo - that bear watching. Conveniently and respectively, they wear Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Another freshman wideout to watch is Jeff Thomas; he wears No. 9 and was on hand for spring drills, although he was limited by a hamstring injury.  

IT'S ALL ABOUT TEMPO: Since camp opened last Tuesday, players have been impressed if not surprised by the speed and precision of MacIntyre's practices. In a 20-minute segment of Saturday morning's work, he said the offense got in 42 repetitions - speedy work by anyone's count.

"Our practice tempo is different and they have really bought into it," he said. "The more repetitions, the better you get, I'm a firm believer in that."

MacIntyre also has been utilizing two practice fields with two units (usually Nos. 1-2 on one field, Nos. 3-4 on the other) working simultaneously on each.

"We've been running a lot of plays in team (drills) and everybody is getting reps, which is a great idea," said junior corner Greg Henderson. "If somebody goes down, the person behind him knows what to do and aren't shock when they get in the game.

"There's a lot of attention to detail and they explain everything to us. They just don't put us out there. Then it's up to you to show what you've learned. It helps a lot."

Henderson said that approach worked for MacIntyre and his staff at San Jose State and, "I think it will work here, too."

SPECIAL TEAMS TALK: CU has a coach - Toby Neinas - who works solely with special teams. He doesn't split his time among tight ends, etc., which can be the norm on some staffs and was on previous CU staffs.

Having Neinas devoted only to special teams has meant more instructional time for the kickers/punters, said junior placement specialist Will Oliver. In the past, he noted, the kickers were told what to work on and expected to do it with little or no supervision.

"That's not like having a coach there working with you," Oliver said. "This is the better way."

Oliver, who kicked six of eight field goals and 28 of 28 PATs last season, also has been punting in this camp. "First time in two years," he said. "I'm still bring my leg across my body (as he does placekicking) but it feels pretty good."

The Buffs' returning punter is junior Darragh O'Neill, a member of the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list.

CU has a new kicker in camp - Diego Gonzalez - but he's not eligible this season. He will have three years of eligibility beginning in 2014.

MacIntyre said he challenged Neinas "to find the best kicker in America and he came back and said, 'Coach, I found the best kicker - but he's not in America' . . . I said, 'OK.'"

Gonzalez, a 5-11, 200-pounder, is from Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and, according to MacIntyre, "has a very powerful leg."

And a final special teams note: With an eye on a possible NFL future, senior snapper Ryan Iverson has added 12 well-place pounds to his 6-0 frame and is up to 225. The camp roster lists four other players behind him - sophomore Keegan LaMar, freshman Blake Allen and redshirt freshman Trevor Carver.

IS PERCEPTION REALITY? Coming off a 1-11 season and last-place finish in the Pac-12 South, the Buffs have received no preseason love from most prognosticators. No surprise there.

MacIntyre was asked Saturday about his perception of the public perception of his first CU team. His answer: "I guess the public's perception, if you read the magazines, is not very good. I tell the kids all the time to block out the noise. All we have to worry about is ourselves - our guys that are putting their helmets on. We just have to worry about what we're doing. We can't listen to everything else all around.

"To really be a good team and a good leader sometimes you have to kind of put the blinders on and just keep going. People don't think you can do it and then all of a sudden it happens. You see it happen all the time. Look at the Pittsburgh Pirates. You see it happen all the time.. It's amazing how that happens in sports. I think that's one of the great things about sports. It's not a sure thing every Saturday that this is going to happen so I think that's exciting. We're really excited about this season. Our players are working extremely hard and thinking they can go toe to toe with anybody they play. That's what we want to do."

NOTABLE: Crawley is listed at 6-1, 165 on the most recent roster. He says - and a bit indignantly - that he weighs 170 and is noticeably stronger and faster this season. Orms on Crawley: "He's matured. He's impressed me so far." . . . . Junior receiver Paul Richardson sat out Saturday morning's practice to rest his surgically repaired knee. That might happen more than once in camp. Receivers coach Troy Walters has told "P-Rich," "It doesn't matter how explosive you are, if you don't stay healthy you can't help us. He's got to understand that." . . . . MacIntyre calls Richardson "exciting to watch. You throw it up and watch him get underneath it. If I was a quarterback that would be exciting to me, but we've got other wide receivers who have been making plays and doing things, too." . . . . CU's offensive line looks to have its starting tackles in place - senior Jack Harris on the left side, sophomore Stephane Nembot on the right. The line's mid-section, said MacIntyre, is unsettled because of the number of players who can play both guard and center. Combinations are still being scrutinized . . . . After one practice Sunday morning (8:45-11:30 a.m.), the Buffs on Monday are scheduled for the first of five two-a-day practices. Monday's practices will be 8:30-10:45 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Other two-a-day drills are scheduled on Wednesday and Friday of next week (Aug. 14, Aug. 16) and Aug. 19 and Aug. 21.  

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU