Dorrell Pleased With Progress After Buffs' First Spring Scrimmage
BOULDER — Colorado's first scrimmage of the spring was an abbreviated affair Friday, with Karl Dorrell's Buffaloes getting in about 25 full-contact plays.
Dorrell and his staff are having to create a delicate balance this spring because of a lack of depth on both sides of the line, particularly on the offensive side. While it means plenty of reps for the linemen who are available, CU coaches must also be prudent when it comes to full-contact work.
"We're really thin up front right now," Dorrell said. "That's been our biggest challenge. That hurts a lot of the productivity from an offensive standpoint … We'll get a few more pieces back and we'll be a little more efficient offensively. We just have to be smart with the number of snaps we're doing and teaching them and letting our young people grow in our systems."
Still, despite the limited scrimmage work, Dorrell has a good grasp of where his team stands after its sixth practice of the spring.
Right now, it means the defense might be a step or two ahead of the offense.
"I feel our defense is really making some positive strides and coming together and getting better," Dorrell said. "They're challenging the offense on every single snap."
The Buffs are in the process of installing a new defensive scheme. While some of the concepts are the same as in recent years, the terminology, calls and assignments are different.
To see the defense adapt so quickly to the changes is a good sign.
"In the spring the defense is usually ahead," Dorrell said. "Then when training camp occurs, toward the end of training camp you start to see the progress the offense has made. I'm actually more encouraged that our defense is ahead of our offense."
Much of Friday's scrimmage work came in the red zone, and the defense did appear to have the edge, coming up with several big stops.
Offensively, running back Jarek Broussard did have a couple of nice runs up the middle, but there were also some dropped passes that Dorrell said should have been caught.
Meanwhile, quarterbacks Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout had their moments, but also had trouble establishing rhythm for a full series.
"All in all I'm pleased where we are after six days," Dorrell said. "I like where the defense is with what they're doing there. We just have to continue to get better and get our quarterbacks more familiar, more comfortable with what we're doing … We still have a tremendous amount of work to go. We have nine practices left and a lot to fix and we'll do that."
YOUNGSTERS STEPPING UP: While a number of veterans are having solid camps, one of the highlights of the spring thus far has been the improvement of a number of young players.
That is, of course, one of the main goals of spring ball — give young players a chance to compete and develop. Dorrell has mentioned a number of youngsters and newcomers who have stood out thus far.
Some of those he mentioned after Friday's scrimmage:
OT Jake Wiley — The redshirt freshman has stepped in at right tackle with the No. 1 offense and getting plenty of snaps to hone his skills. "He's a guy that's going to be factoring in an integral part to what we're doing on offense this year," Dorrell said.
ILBs Marvin Ham II and Alvin Williams — These two freshmen have consistently made plays. Williams had a sack in Friday's workout while Ham made a nice break on a ball for a pass breakup over the middle in the team drills.
"I think both of those guys are getting fed confidence," Dorrell said. "They're getting a lot of snaps and getting better. They're both explosive players. Once they get even more confident they'll be playing even faster and continue to make plays they're making. Both are making a lot of progress."
RB Jayle Stacks — The 5-foot-11, 230-pound freshman got a couple of carries in scrimmage work and pounded out some tough yards. He's one of the Buffs' more versatile backs and can line up at several spots and is proving to be an adept receiver.
"He's a load to bring down," Dorrell said. "He's one of those backs who's a bigger back. He's kind of a utility player for us. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, we get him in some run game, he does a number of things for us. We've been pleasantly surprised with Jayle. He seems like he's got a comfort level with what we're doing offensively. He's a lot more comfortable doing a lot of different roles we're asking him to play. It was good to see him have a few carries where he was actually carrying some people running down the field. I'm very happy with his progress."
Safety Ray Robinson — After playing linebacker the last couple of years, the former safety seems to have found his comfort zone back in his old stomping grounds.
"Ray made a couple plays on the back end today that were impressive plays," Dorrell said. "He was in the right position where it forced the quarterback to make an errant throw. I think Ray has found a home playing safety. There's no question in my mind he's a lot more energetic, he's into it. We feel like he's going to give us some really valuable depth playing safety for us, and he does all those things on special teams for us."
CB Tyrin Taylor — The 6-foot-2, 180-pound true freshman is already showing a knack for being around the ball and will add depth on the outside for the Buffs. While he just enrolled this spring, he seems to have adapted quickly to the defense and had a nice break on a ball against the No. 1 defense in Friday's team work.
"He has done some nice positive things," Dorrell said. "That depth is really going to help us on the defensive side."
RB Ashaad Clayton — After showing some flashes last fall, the freshman seems to be more consistent in this spring.
"He's working really hard," Dorrell said. "He's made some really positive steps from what he did in the fall. He's more comfortable understanding our system and being more proficient at it. I'm very encouraged where he's at. He's one of those kids who's had some really bright moments and we're hoping he continues that progress in making some of those plays and more efficient plays as we continue to move through spring."
SCHEDULE: The Buffs have nine practices remaining, with two more scrimmages scheduled before the April 30 Spring Showcase.
Dorrell said next Friday's scrimmage will be more of a traditional scrimmage, with possessions starting at the 25 and midfield and quarterbacks having the opportunity to engineer drives.