Tyler Hansen, Rodney Stewart, defensive line and kickers all show well for Buffaloes.
BOULDER - The offense had good moments. And, the defense had good moments.
Colorado conducted its first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday. With three weeks to go before they open the season at Hawaii, the Buffs walked off the field satisfied.
"As a team I think we looked real good," starting quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "Guys were making plays on defense, guys were making plays on offense and that's what you want."
Of course, it wasn't perfect. The offense had some turnovers. The defense gave up some big plays. Both sides committed penalties. Then again, the Buffs are barely more than a week into camp.
"I'm happy where we are after the first week," head coach Jon Embree said.
Some of the highlights:
Hansen had a good day. It didn't start off well, but he was accurate most of the afternoon. He connected with Paul Richardson on several big pass plays and connected with Logan Gray, Toney Clemons and Ryan Deehan at other times. After going all spring without an interception, he avoided being picked off yet again. "I got more comfortable and I got into a rhythm a little later," he said.
The run game looked solid. Rodney Stewart had several good runs, including a nifty 15-yard touchdown and a great cutback to get into the end zone on a 10-yard run late in the scrimmage. Tony Jones, Josh Ford, D.D. Goodson and Malcolm Creer also had solid afternoons. Ford, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound sophomore, showed some power by breaking tackles on a couple of runs. "We ran the ball pretty well," Hansen said. "We established our running game and we have to do that."
Freshman walk-on quarterback John Schrock continued to impress. With backup Nick Hirschman injured, Schrock ran the second-team offense. Although he threw two interceptions (to Josh Moten and Makiri Pugh), he also hit fellow freshman Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch on several big plays. Embree said Hirschman is still the unquestioned backup, said Schrock "has probably entrenched himself as the No. 3 guy. I think it would be safe to say that. He's got to keep coming though. It's only week one."
Regarding Spruce and McCulloch, Embree said, "those two freshmen receivers right now have put themselves in position to contribute."
One of the main position battles is at center. Senior Shawn Daniels missed the scrimmage with a leg injury. That left freshman Daniel Munyer and sophomore Gus Handler to take the reps. The Buffs had a handful of illegal procedure penalties, which would be attributed to the rotation at center, but Embree said "that's not an excuse."
Embree has been pleased with the play of the defensive line, which produced at least a handful of sacks during the scrimmage. A couple of those came from junior Nick Kasa. "I think our D-line has had a very good camp," Embree said.
Linebackers continue to get comfortable with each other. The starting group of Jon Major, Doug Rippy and Derrick Webb looked solid all day.
Zach Grossnickle and Darragh O'Neill continue to battle for the punting job. "Those guys are just going to have to keep competing and I'm going to have to keep putting pressure on them, put them in more situations," Embree said. "I just want a guy that can kick it 40 yards and let us make the guy fair catch it. I don't need Superman. Let's just start there and build off of that."
Starting kicker Will Oliver made five of his six field goal attempts, missing only from 50 yards. Justin Castor was 7-for-10, but one of those misses came from well beyond 50 yards. Embree thought both "had a good scrimmage." He added, "Between the two of them I think we'll have some good kickers."
Starting positions at cornerback are still up for grabs, and true freshman Greg Henderson had another good day in his quest to nab one of those spots. "I like his demeanor, I like the fact that he's physical," Embree said. "I like him a lot." Deji Olatoye and Paul Vigo also stood out.
Kyle Washington delivered one of the biggest hits of the day, leveling Stewart early in the scrimmage. The second-biggest hit came later in the day when DBs Will Harlos and Terrel Smith collided while trying to defend Spruce. Harlos and Smith smacked into each other while Spruce caught the ball and darted to the end zone.
Defensive tackle Curtis Cunningham recovered a pair of fumbles.