Dorrell Pleased With Buffs' Opening Camp Practice
BOULDER — Friday was by no means a "normal" opening day of training camp for the Colorado Buffaloes.
But after two hours of Covid-19 testing, along with adhering to all other protocols necessary, Karl Dorrell finally got to conduct his first full practice as the Buffs' head coach.
"It was a good first day," Dorrell said after the workout on Franklin Field. "It wasn't a perfect day, but I liked the energy, I liked how the guys were communicating, I liked the competitiveness of this group. I think it was a good start for our 25 days."
Dorrell and the Buffs have almost exactly four weeks to prepare for their Nov. 7 season opener at home against UCLA. The current schedule calls for 24 practices in that time frame, a timetable that will demand a sense of urgency with everything they do over the next month.
Friday's first workout came roughly six and one-half months after Dorrell was hired last February. For the players, it was the first time they have been able to put on helmets and actually work out as a team since last November, the week prior to the season finale at Utah.
Since Dorrell's arrival, CU's preparation has been limited mainly to Zoom calls, study sessions and strength and conditioning workouts.
Friday, the Buffs finally got to add the physical element of attempting to execute the schemes they have been studying since March.
"It was a good, solid start," Dorrell said. "These guys did a good job of performing the information. It wasn't perfect, but they had an idea what it was. We were able to communicate well and get things started and executed. Now it's time, as we go through each day, try to time it up where it's very high-level execution. It was a good start for camp."
Friday's first workout held few surprises — good or bad — for Dorrell and his staff. CU's veterans showed a keen understanding of the schemes, which are very similar to those the Buffs ran last year, while the younger players were, in Dorrell's words, "swimming" just a bit.
But that is to be expected. One of Dorrell's top priorities of camp will be to develop depth, which means getting those younger players up to speed as quickly as possible. That will require some help from the veterans, as well as plenty of reps for the youngsters.
"This 2020 (recruiting) class that came in this summer, we have a good skill set of guys in that class that are going to help us," Dorrell said. "We have to get them caught up to what we're doing offensively and defensively so we can maximize their talents. There's no question our senior guys, they know our system, they can operate very well in it. They've been doing a really good job of coaching the younger players, knowing that we're going to need those younger players to get caught up."
BUFFS 'BUBBLE': The CU Athletic Department is going to great lengths to make sure its teams adhere to guidelines and mandates from the Boulder County Health Department. The department on Thursday granted the Buffs permission to begin practice Friday, and CU has instituted a number of protocols to ensure that Buffs student-athletes are engaging in best practices when it comes to combating Covid-19.
Those protocols and practices include:
— The football team staying in a hotel for the first two weeks of training camp. That will create a "bubble" atmosphere to a degree, much like the NBA and NHL used successfully in completing their seasons while keeping players and team personnel safe.
— Players will undergo daily testing, with antigen testing scheduled six days a week and PCR testing once a week. A number of football program staffers will also stay in the hotel to make sure players adhere to masking and social distancing requirements.
The process of testing the entire team takes about two hours, a schedule the Buffs hit almost on the nose Friday.
Players arrive at the Indoor Practice Facility in groups of 10 and undergo a nasal swab test. After about 15 minutes, the sample is run through one of the Quidel testing machines recently obtained by every Pac-12 school. A couple of minutes later, results are obtained and if negative, players are cleared to participate in meetings and practice activity.
"That's going to be the process every day," Dorrell said. "Everybody is going to have to go through a clearing mechanism to make sure they're able to go to meetings and practice. It was off to a really good start on the first day."
CU's players actually think the "bubble" could be beneficial as they proceed through camp. Linebacker Nate Landman, who just recently came back from a long quarantine, said he believes the process could be beneficial, as it will not only help keep players safe, but should also build chemistry.
SCHEDULE: The Buffs will practice again Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with Tuesday scheduled as the first day in full pads. They will take the day off Wednesday, then have the next two Sundays off.