“I definitely feel like I have improved in some of the nuances of the game that you can only get with experience,” said Witherspoon, who played as a freshman at Sacramento City College before transferring to Colorado in 2014. “I feel like I have always had the athletic ability, but as you progress and get older, there are certain things you don't want to have happen ever again.”
Witherspoon said he sometimes played “too high” earlier in his career, which is understandable given that he stands 6-foot-3, 190-pounds.
“You think you can use your athleticism to cover people but if you don't have proper technique at this level, you're in trouble,” he said. “I learned that the hard way a few times so I am making sure I stay low. It puts you in a better position.”
After missing most of spring ball due to a mid-foot sprain, Witherspoon was cleared to workout again in late April. He entered camp listed as true sophomore Isaiah Oliver's back-up at one of the cornerback spots, but MacIntyre confirmed Witherspoon and Oliver will both be on the field at the same time a lot this season, with Chidobe Awuzie set to play a lot of nickel back again.
“I am pleased with both those guys,” MacIntyre said of Witherspoon and Oliver. “Watching them run this summer, when we were doing our conditioning tests, those two guys were always among the top guys.”
Additional Monday notes:
*** During his first camp with the Buffaloes last August, Jim Leavitt's main emphasis was on creating more takeaways. Colorado's defense responded by finishing in the top half of the conference in turnovers gained, just a year after Kent Baer's defense ranked 122nd in the country (out of 125 FBS programs) in turnovers gained.
What is Leavitt emphasizing this year during camp?
“The main theme this year is tackling,” Witherspoon said. “We did a lot of great things as a defense but we missed so many tackles. You just think about how much we can improve by simply holding somebody up at the line instead of letting them break that tackle and get the extra six yards. And I'm guilty, too. I really like that we are emphasizing that because we play with great effort, it is just about fine tuning the little things and being sure tacklers.”
*** The players finished up with summer school late last week, so from now until the beginning of the fall semester on August 22, they can focus strictly on football.
“It makes it easier in-between the practices and you don't have to go quite as early in the morning, so it works out well for us,” MacIntyre said.
*** The Buffaloes' improved team depth is most apparent on the defensive line, especially with Samson Kafovalu no longer suspended.
“I think it'll make a huge difference for us in the fourth quarter,” MacIntyre said.
*** When asked which freshmen have caught his eye early on, Witherspoon mentioned cornerback Ronnie Blackmon and wide receiver Johnny Huntley.
“Ronnie Blackmon looks like a natural football player,” he said. “Some of the stuff I had to learn, he has already come in with it. He has great feet, great hips. I see him being a competitive player in this program.
“[Johnny Huntley has a] big body, he's long. I matched up with him in player led practices but haven't matched up with him out here yet. But I like what I have seen from him just watching. He has great feet, clever releases. I think he is going to be a good player, too.”