Notes: 17 down, 12 more to go

On Thursday morning, the Buffaloes ran through practice No. 17 of the preseason. Are they ready for Colorado State yet?

No. But I know we'll be ready when we get there,” Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We've got 15 more days. So we'll be ready on the 15th day.”

MacIntyre confirmed they will determine their starters before the start of classes on Monday. But because they rotate running backs, receivers and defensive linemen so much, seemingly the only critical decision that still needs to be made on offense or defense is who the starting right tackle will be.

Redshirt freshman Aaron Haigler has received quite a bit of praise for his development at right tackle, and MacIntyre said junior Sam Kronshage has also shown improvement at the position. Kronshage played a total of 543 offensive snaps as an underclassman.

Sam is just so much stronger,” MacIntyre said. “He has always had good feet. He just wasn't quite strong enough a lot of times last season. This year, that should not be an issue, and with his experience, it is making a big difference. He has had a really good camp.”

Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren also said they need to determine whether redshirt freshman Steven Montez or senior Jordan Gehrke will be their back-up quarterback before they get much deeper into the preseason.

MacIntyre was again reluctant to name the players that are in the running for kick and punt return duties on Thursday. It is known, however, that Jay MacIntyre, Ronnie Blackmon and Shay Fields have spent time fielding punts this preseason. Donovan Lee, Phillip Lindsay and Blackmon are among the candidates for kickoff return.

Here are our predictions for the other starting spots based off preseason interviews and observations during the three open practices: Quarterback Sefo Liufau, running back Phillip Lindsay, X-receiver Juwann Winfree, Z-receiver Shay Fields, H-receiver Devin Ross, tight end Sean Irwin, left tackle Jeromy Irwin, left guard Gerrad Kough, center Alex Kelley, right guard Tim Lynott, defensive ends Jordan Carrell and Leo Jackson, nose tackle Josh Tupou, outside linebackers Derek McCartney and Jimmie Gilbert, inside linebackers Addison Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode, nickel back Chidobe Awuzie, cornerbacks Isaiah Oliver and Ahkello Witherspoon, safeties Ryan Moeller and Tedric Thompson, place kicker Diego Gonzalez, punter Alex Kinney, holder Robert Orban and snapper J.T. Bale.

Additional notes:

*** Kinney showed steady progress as the Buffaloes' punter throughout his true freshman campaign and that continued during spring ball when he was the winner of the Bill McCartney Award as the most improved special teams player.

Alex has really improved his drop,” MacIntyre said when asked about his development during camp. “He has been able to directional punt really well for us, which you need to do in this league. You can't just line up and punt the ball and not know where it is going with the [explosive] returners [in the Pac-12].”

*** MacIntyre said his team's veteran presence continues to show this preseason.

The attitude has been excellent. They get after it every day and the guys on the sideline are staying into it, which is encouraging when you see that,” he said. “They are all in it. They are not just trying to get through practice. They are trying to learn and get better and I think a lot of that has to do with maturity.”

*** The Buffaloes still have two available scholarships for the fall semester. MacIntyre said they are still trying to determine which two walk-ons are worthy of receiving the benefit.

*** Colorado's players will be in academic meetings on Friday morning, and later they will run through a night practice from 6-8:40 pm. The Buffs have 12 more practices scheduled before the season opener.

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