Buffs Have 'Rough' Practice In Fourth Spring Workout
BOULDER — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell came into spring ball with the aim of upping his standards and those of the Buffaloes.
Monday afternoon, the Buffs didn't quite hit those standards in their fourth practice of the spring — a rarity thus far in the Dorrell era, and something he wants to make sure doesn't become anything that resembles a trend.
"I thought half the practice, we did some very, very good things on both sides of the ball and special teams," Dorrell said. "I thought it got a little bit sloppy at the end. We lost a little bit of focus. Things that we can fix for sure, but my standards are different than last year's. I'm trying to raise these guys above, what practice should look like from a day-to-day standpoint, every day. There are no days off, there are no lower expectations given how much work you've put in."
The Buffs were in shorts and shoulder pads for the second time this spring Monday and the practice plan included some running and situational work down the stretch. Dorrell said that is when the Buffs lost a little of their focus.
"It's not the end of the world but it is something I'm going to be a real stickler with these guys day in and day out about how we do our football and what it should look like each and every day," Dorrell said. ""There's a particular standard I'm trying to shoot for each and every day so we can create that level of consistency. Today it was off the mark."
GONZALEZ IMPROVING: Freshman cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who last year chose Colorado over offers from a long list of top 20 programs, told the media Monday he picked the Buffs in part to help restore CU's position as a premier program.
"It's a great school," Gonzalez said. "It used to be a great football school and I want to help the team rebuild that. And it's beautiful here."
Gonzalez quickly made an impression in CU's abbreviated season last fall. He became one of just 14 true freshmen in CU history to start from scrimmage in a season opener, and he started all six games for the Buffs, playing 305 snaps.
Gonzalez earned honorable mention honors for the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Award and in five regular season games, had 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, one quarterback pressure and two third down stops. He also had five tackles and three pass break-ups in the Alamo Bowl.
Now, after a "break-in" season when he had to learn on the fly, he's much more comfortable in his first spring session.
"The game has slowed down a lot," he said. "Just digesting the offense and seeing more than just, 'OK, I have to cover my receiver.' Knowing what everyone else on the defense has to do and seeing all the plays develop. It's just way easier."
Dorrell said Gonzalez has the potential to be a top-flight player and they are asking more of him this year.
"His confidence is very good, very strong," Dorrell said. "He's had a very good offseason and he looks the part physically. He's put on a few pounds and his body is more defined. He's being more aggressive in coverage and you can feel his presence out there a little more. He's definitely on the right path. We're hoping somewhere down the line he's going to be one of those corners who can handle his own and not really have much safety help in the guys that he's asked to cover. He likes that. I think he's embraced that challenge we've presented for him."
LEWIS CONTINUES TO SHINE: Freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis, who didn't play last year until the Alamo Bowl, is having an excellent camp thus far.
"He's graduated from that developmental stage," Dorrell said. "You remember seeing him in the Texas game and how well he played there. We all were excited about the type of production he was able to do. He's even better than that."
In his Alamo Bowl debut, Lewis guided the Buffs to three touchdowns. He completed 6-of-10 pases for 95 yards and rushed nine times for 73 yards and a score.
This spring he's getting regular snaps with the No. 1 offense, as last year's starter, Sam Noyer, is out following shoulder surgery.
"He has a better understanding of the concepts of the offense," Dorrell said. "There's no panic in his game anymore with the movements and things we've asked him to do. He's reading through progressions really well. He looks very, very confident, very poised in the pocket. He's made a couple big jumps of improvement and growth since the fall. He's a lot more comfortable with our system. The familiarity is obviously very helpful."