Franke was on the field for a total of 225 defensive snaps as an underclassman, with a bulk of his playing time in 2016 coming as a change-of-pace pass-rush specialist at nose tackle on third-down-and-long.
“Now I am being looked at as being a hybrid playing both nose and defensive end, kind of just being a utility guy wherever I am needed,” said Franke. “I have been practicing a lot at end because I am pretty solid at nose right now.
“I needed to get some more experience in practice with end and I started off a little slow but I feel like I am getting a lot better, so I'm progressing. We lost three great senior starters from last year's defensive line so we all have to try to step up and try to fill their role. I am getting better but I am not where I want to be yet.”
Franke has gotten his fair share of reps with the first-team defense this spring, with Leo Jackson, Tim Coleman and Javier Edwards demanding a bulk of the reps with the first-stringers.
“I have been seeing Leo and Tim trying to lead. They are the first in line for everything, trying to set an example for everybody else,” Franke said. “I have always tried to lead, at least by setting a good example for the younger guys.
“Getting Javier in at nose is great because he is very similar to Josh [Tupou]. He can be very good. He still needs to fully learn and understand our system because it is a lot different from what he came from, but I am confident that he'll get everything down and get in shape before we start playing.”
Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre estimated Edwards has lost 16 pounds since arriving in Boulder in January.
“Javier is doing well and getting in better and better shape,” MacIntyre said.
Additional Notes -
*** The Buffaloes announced the signing of James Stefanou on Tuesday afternoon. The Australian place kicker will be 30 years old when he arrives in Boulder this summer, and he will have all of his college eligibility – five to play four – remaining.
MacIntyre was asked about the process of finding Stefanou: “We have been looking for kickers, trying to find the best one we could find in the whole world. They have a whole group [at ProKick in Australia], where there are like 70 guys from the same kicking coach and they have gone all over. So we worked through him and was able to find who we felt was the best guy that was out there. We are excited about it.
“We would have signed him on signing day but we had to jump through a few hoops, international hoops. He has been committed to us for a while, we just wanted to keep it on the down-low. … He has a powerful, powerful, powerful, powerful leg. We're looking at him to be able to do kickoffs and kick field-goals for us.”
*** When asked about the quarterbacks, MacIntyre said he has been pleased with true freshman Tyler Lytle's “jump from the first couple days to now.” He said Steven Montez “still looks more polished [than the other quarterbacks] right now, but he should.” A point of emphasis with Montez this spring has been getting him to improve his ability to read coverages in a timely manner.
“We go pretty fast on offense so he has to learn how to get them all lined up and be able to take that peak before snapping it,” MacIntyre said. “He has gotten better and better at that and he needs to because people are going to disguise and move around. We need him to be able to see that.”
*** After practicing at the Jack inside linebacker spot at the beginning of spring ball, junior N.J. Falo has been moved back to outside linebacker.
“We wanted to look at him inside, it just didn't work out like we thought,” MacIntyre said. “He is a lot more comfortable on the outside. There are a lot of things happening there, sometimes it frees you being on the outside. He is able to play faster there.”
*** The Buffaloes are scheduled to conduct spring practice No. 14 on Friday and then their spring game festivities will begin at 1 pm in Folsom Field on Saturday.