Colorado offense struggles in scrimmage

On a day when several key players either sat out or competed in a limited number of plays, CU's defense out-shined the offense.

BOULDER - As far as scrimmages go, this one wasn't the prettiest to watch.

Colorado held its final scrimmage of fall camp on Friday afternoon at Folsom Field.

Several players were out with injuries or sickness, several others were held out for precautionary reasons. And, it all added up to an ugly couple of hours.

"It's like watching Ishtar," coach Jon Embree joked. "That's what that was like.

"That scrimmage was a lot of twos and threes."

Although the starters didn't play much, there was a clear advantage for the defense. There were 105 plays run and the offense managed to get into the end zone just twice. The performance on offense left coordinator Eric Bieniemy fuming at the team when the scrimmage was over.

"I thought the defense played well," Embree said. "Offense was not good enough. I was not pleased with the overall intensity on the offense."

The Buffs did have a limited amount of players available. Starting running back Rodney Stewart (hamstring) and starting receiver Paul Richardson (groin) both sat out with injuries. Quarterback Tyler Hansen didn't play much. Neither did right guard Ryan Miller.

Embree admitted after the scrimmage that concerns about potential injuries impacted who played and who didn't.

"We're at that point now, I know what they can do," he said of his top players. "I wanted everyone healthy for when we go to Hawaii. Maybe its paranoia or whatever, but I was really conscious going into this thing, and I talked to the team about it, I didn't want to get anybody hurt. We need to be able to prepare Monday full speed ahead."

Some players, such as receivers Kyle Cefalo, Logan Gray and Tyler McCulloch and running back Tony Jones did look good. A few others stepped up at times, too.

"I know it was ugly and its frustrating I know for the offensive coaches, because they want to do some things and do more, but in my mind, I probably handicapped them some because I just want to evaluate guys," Embree said. "I just want to see how guys play, I want to see how, when things aren't going good, who can pull themselves out of it. Today ... confirmed a lot of what I thought about some of the guys."

That will be good news for some and not so good for others. Embree said the first official depth chart of the season will be released Monday. That's the depth chart - barring injury - that the Buffs will take into the opener against Hawaii on Sept. 3. And, it won't be the same depth chart that the Buffs have had the past couple of weeks in camp.

"We're going to have changes on the depth chart," he said. "It's the same three or four guys. All it takes is one guy and you can hurt a play. It's the same three or four guys that are consistently making the mistakes at the critical times."

Asked specifics about those three or four players, Embree simply said, "You'll see on Monday."

PUNTING BATTLE: At this point, Zach Grossnickle and Darragh O'Neill have done all they can to impress coaches. Now they wait.

The two punters have been neck-and-neck throughout camp and Friday's scrimmage didn't do much to separate them. They each punted seven times and their net total was separated by a single yard. O'Neill was more consistent punt to punt, and seemed to have better hang time. But, Grossnickle had the three longest punts of the day, including a great one to end the day.

"I have to see all the numbers added up," Embree said. "I told them, this is your last kick, so make it count. Grossnickle had the better last kick, so we'll see if that's enough."

Embree said the winner of that battle will be revealed Monday.

NEMBOT IN THE MIX: True freshman Stephane Nembot has been working as a blocker for field goals and punts and Embree said the big defensive end will probably play a key role there this year.

"Yeah, because he's such a big guy," Embree said. "You're using shields and if he can just not even move, that's a long way to go around. He can just stay in his stance and block two people. We're going to play him in regular down and distance situations on defense. If we're going to play these guys, I want to make sure if they can help us on (special) teams, we're going to use them."

EXTRA POINTS: Centers Gus Handler and Daniel Munyer continue competing for the starting job. Both took turns with the first unit. Embree said he would have to wait to see the tape to make a determination. ... Hansen misfired on a couple passes that Embree said he should have hit. Embree also said the offense was working on some new things that were just introduced in walkthroughs Thursday. "So, it was good just getting that on tape," he said. ... Defensive end Josh Hartigan and linebacker Patrick Mahnke both sat out with the flu. Embree said the flu has taken over the team this week. "It seems like every day is a new six or seven guys that are coming down with something or being ruled out or fighting their way through it." ... Defensive backs Anthony Perkins and Ray Polk and linebackers Jon Major and Douglas Rippy were part of the group that was pulled early for precautionary reasons. ... Defensive back Will Harlos (concussion) suffered the only reported injury of the day.

BuffStampede Top Stories