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Buffs Hit Critical Week Of Training Camp

Aug 9, 2022

BOULDER — It's getting to be nitty-gritty time for Karl Dorrell's Colorado Buffaloes as they hit their second week of training camp.

The Buffs wrapped up their second day in full pads Tuesday — their seventh practice overall of camp — with some heavy work in red zone and third down situational drills.

This week, they will finish the basic installs of their offensive and defensive schemes, which will then open the door for more situational work on a daily basis, the development and identification of depth charts, and finally, installation of a game plan and preparation for the Sept. 2 opener against TCU at Folsom Field (8 p.m., ESPN).

"As soon as we get through all the installations, we start really refining the depth chart and kind of seeing who's competing and who's close, who's doing this and doing that," Dorrell said after Tuesday's workout. "We're kind of at that phase where we're getting back and the coaches are off the field. Now we get to see if they can function without the coaches being in their ear every play."

Dorrell liked what he saw in Tuesday's workout, as both sides of the ball came up with some "wins" in situational work.

"I thought the defense won the red zone drill today," he said. "They did a great job of just keeping the guys out of the end zone and taking advantage of understanding that the offense had a lot of pressure on them. They actually performed very well —  but then the offensive team won the third down drill. They converted more third downs than the defense stopped, so it was good."

COMFORTABLE QUICKLY: Transfer linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo (West Virginia) is quickly fitting in on CU's defense, where he has already developed a sense of continuity with fellow 'backer Robert Barnes.

Chandler-Semedo had a couple nice plays in short-yardage situations on the goal line Tuesday, showing excellent lateral pursuit and a nose for the ball.

His play so far in camp is fitting exactly what the Buffs hoped they would get when they recruited him from the transfer portal.

"He just popped on tape really quickly how smart he was," Dorrell said. "He played both an inside linebacker position and an outside linebacker position and he did both of them very proficiently, and he's able to do that here. It's been a seamless transition for him because his football IQ is really, really strong … He's been a great addition for us."

O-LINE DEPTH: There are a couple of brewing battles on the offensive line, where the Buffs might have more depth than they've had in recent years. Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson are both getting snaps with the top units at center, while Johnson is also seeing some time at guard. Frank Fillip has been getting work at both tackle spots, Casey Roddick appears to be firmly entrenched at left guard and Jake Wiley is getting his share of time at tackle as well.

But the Buffs are also getting some younger players plenty of work with the top two units, including sophomore Alex Harkey, incoming freshman Van Wells, transfer Luke Eckardt (Arizona), freshman Travis Gray and sophomore Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan.

 "That second unit is not really not much different than that first," Dorrell said. "They're a little younger, but I think they're doing a really nice job so far."

Meanwhile, the Buffs hope to have transfer Tommy Brown (Alabama) back in action fairly soon, which will no doubt add to the overall depth up front.

BUFFS BITS: CU's secondary had some nice moments in scrimmage action Tuesday, with safety Isaiah Lewis coming up with an interception and safety Jaylen Striker recording a nice pass breakup. Lewis' pick came in red zone drills, where he read the quarterback perfectly on a rollout, then broke on the ball just as it was thrown to get the interception and tack on a nice return … 

D-lineman Justin Jackson, who made solid strides in the spring, continues to make plays in the trenches. Tuesday, he came up with a big tackle for loss in third-down drills … Freshman quarterback Owen McCown continues to show a great instinct for the position, both in the pocket and when protection breaks down … Linebacker Eoghan Kerry is making an impression inside … QB Brendon Lewis had a nice throw for a score to Ty Robinson in red zone work … WR Daniel Arias is showing a consistent ability to pick up yards after the catch … Alex Fontenot continues to show the form that made him CU's leading rusher in 2019, as he found the end zone a couple of times in short-yardage red zone work … LB Quinn Perry sniffed out a gap in short yardage work to record a tackle for loss.

FONTENOT ON CAMPBELL WATCHLIST: Buffs RB Alex Fontenot has been named to the preseason watchlist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. Named after the NFL Hall of Famer, who hailed from Tyler, Texas, the award is given annually to "the top the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically, tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals." In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or currently playing at Texas DI four-year college. Fontenot was born in Sugarland, Texas, and played high school ball at George Ranch HS in Richmond, Texas.

SCHEDULE: The Buffs won't practice Wednesday, then return to work Thursday and Friday before conducting their first scrimmage of camp Saturday.