Dorrell Likes What Buffs Show In First Day In Pads
BOULDER — Colorado's first day in full pads produced some highlights on both sides of the ball Tuesday.
The Buffaloes practiced for the sixth straight day, and head coach Karl Dorrell said he continues to like his team's attitude and effort.
"These guys are really doing some good things," Dorrell said. "I've been happy with their attitude for the most part. Usually when you're into this, you're starting to get sore and beat up a little bit … These guys have been grinding. I couldn't ask for anything more as a coach, to be able to still coach these guys aggressively and they still want to learn because they want to do great things this year."
The Buffs got some fully "live" work in Tuesday, including some goal line and short-yardage situations that Dorrell said featured some "good give and take."
Defensive highlights of the practice included an interception by linebacker Jack Lamb and another by Ray Robinson, and a sack and third-down stop from defensive lineman Terrance Lang.
Lang is returning from an injury and is not yet 100 percent, but is showing all signs of being ready to take his game to the next level.
"He had some live reps today," Dorrell said. "We're bringing him back slowly and his presence was felt today."
Lamb, meanwhile, gives the Buffs a nice boost at linebacker. He and fellow grad transfer Robert Barnes have helped the depth inside in a big way. The return of Nate Landman gives CU a solid inside LB corps.
"Guys like Jack Lamb, Robert Barnes, their presence is felt, too," Dorrell said. "It's not that Nate has to make every play anymore. We have some good enough 'backers that they're all making plays. With such a good system in place, Nate's still going to be Nate, but it's good to add some good pieces to that system."
Offensively, running back Jarek Broussard appears to be ready to pick up from last year (when he was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year) and CU's wide receivers are making plays as well, as are the tight ends.
Meanwhile, the quarterback competition between Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout is no doubt tight, and both had big plays to their credit Tuesday.
After six straight practices, the Buffs will no doubt welcome a day off to rest their bodies. But Dorrell said he anticipates them returning to work Thursday with the same attitude they've displayed thus far.
"They had a good taste in their mouth from what they were able to accomplish last year (a 4-2 record and bowl appearance)," Dorrell said. "They obviously want to change the narrative of how we finished the year. There's a lot of motivation about getting our work in and our leaders are really leading that charge."
RETURN WORK: Dorrell said sophomore wide receiver Dimitri Stanley will continue to be the Buffs' lead punt returner. The Buffs will also be looking to replace kick returner Maurice Bell, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Dorrell said WR La'Vontae Shenault will be part of the equation in punt and kick returns, as well freshman WR Brenden Rice (who had CU's only return for a touchdown last year, against Utah). Others in the return equation could include cornerback Christian Gonzalez and running backs Jarek Broussard and Deion Smith.
OL DEPTH: One area the Buffs aimed to improve their depth this fall was the offensive line, and early indications are they've done exactly that. Even with tackle Frank Fillip out for an undetermined amount of time, the Buffs still have some solid depth up front, beginning with returning starters Colby Pursell (center) and Kary Kutsch (guard).
Jake Wiley continues to get time at tackle, as does transfer Max Wray. Chance Lytle has returned from his injury and is seeing time at guard and tackle, Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan continues to get time at tackle; Casey Roddick is returning to form at guard and Kanan Ray is getting quality snaps.
Meanwhile, transfer Noah Fenske is running at No. 2 center behind Pursell, and is also getting a few reps at guard and tackle.
Dorrell said Fillip is running ahead of schedule in terms of his return.
"We definitely have more depth than we had a year ago," he said.
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS AFTER SIX DAYS: Running back Jarek Broussard is having an outstanding camp, making people miss on a regular basis while also showing outstanding bursts … WR Brenden Rice is coming up with some big plays … TE Alec Pell, a converted linebacker, is making big strides and had a touchdown catch Tuesday … DE Terrance Lang is showing signs of becoming a dominant force rushing the passer and against the run … Nate Landman is once again putting himself in position to make plays consistently. CU's inside linebacking corps will be salty … Tight end Nico Magri (another converted defensive player) is a big body in the run game … TE Jared Poplawski, who has battled injuries for much of his career, is getting some quality snaps and making plays … QB J.T. Shrout, pegged as a "pocket passer," has also shown he can make plays with his legs.
SCHEDULE: The Buffs will have Wednesday off, then return to work Thursday. Their first scrimmage of camp is scheduled for Saturday.