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Practice Report -- April 2

The Colorado football team went through their first of 15 spring practices Friday afternoon. It was a spirited workout in shorts and helmets on the CU practice fields. For interim head coach Brian Cabral and his players, it was great just to get on the grass and go through an afternoon of drills. The biggest surprise? Defensive end <a href="">Marques Harris</a>.

"Our players, they've been waiting for this for a long time," Cabral said. "The tempo was upbeat. It was a typical first day, a lot of enthusiasm, but we've got a lot of work to do."

The biggest surprise of the day was the participation of senior defensive lineman Marques Harris, who missed the majority of last season with a broken leg. At one point, team doctors didn't think Harris would be available until just before August camp, but he was at practice Friday and looked strong as he went through all the drills with his teammates.

Trainer Steve Willard said Harris' leg bone had healed completely. However, Harris will be held out of full contact, once that begins Sunday. Still, it was good to see Harris out there, according to his teammates.

"That's one of my best friends," fellow defensive lineman Matt McChesney said. "Having him next to me is like old times. He worked his butt off rehabbing, running and lifting and trying to get ready. Him playing next to me is big time. It was a void (having him gone) from our defense last year. A big one."

One of the goals of the spring practices is implementing the new 4-3 defensive scheme. McChesney explained some of what the new look will mean to the defensive linemen.

"Last year we were more of a squeeze reduction front," he said. "We'd squeeze the line of scrimmage and run lateral and try and stretch the plays out. Now we're going straight up the field more and trying to disrupt the running lanes rather than stretch them out."

Being the first day in the new scheme, it was too early to tell how things went. McChesney said he'll have a better idea soon, though.

"Sunday and Monday we put on the pads, and the fat guys, the offensive linemen – make sure you write "fat guys" (laughs) – we're coming after them Sunday and Monday. They know.

"Me and (offensive lineman) Brian Daniels are going to have a good time."

New defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz said changing defenses will be a slow process.

"Our goal is to go slow and really develop fundamentals, develop an understanding of our defense and what we're doing," he said. "We won't get everything in this spring that we want to do eventually, because that's not the most important thing. The most important thing is developing fundamentals and learning ‘A' before we get to ‘B.' We're going to take it a little slower this spring than we will in most springs. But that's what we've got to do.

"If you want to build a skyscraper, you better build a good foundation."


Position Change Sophomore linebacker Jason Ackermann will get a look at the new buff linebacker spot, where he's listed No. 2 behind Brian Iwuh.

Number Changes Fullback Lawrence Vickers will wear No. 17, and redshirt freshman quarterback Brian White has switched to No. 3.

Bloom Hearing April 7 WR Jeremy Bloom will have a hearing April 7 with the NCAA concerning his effort to play football at CU next season now that he's taken skiing endorsements.

Goldstein on Staff Lee Goldstein, who served as a GA the past two seasons, has been retained as an assistant coach for the spring sessions. The Buffs had a staff opening after Gary Barnett was put on paid leave until April 30. Goldstein was working with the defensive linemen Friday.

Observations Media was allowed to watch the entire practice Friday, one of three (including a scrimmage and the spring game) we'll be able to observe. Here are some observations, for what they're worth: Marques Harris looked really good; had some serious pop during two-man sled drills ... Brandon Dabdoub participated in stretches, but has his right arm in a sling ... It was obvious during some drills where the linebackers hit stationary dummies that Brian Iwuh and Ben Carpenter are new to the position. Thaddaeus Washington and Chris Hollis stood out in those hitting drills, with Akarika Dawn not far behind. ... Matt McChesney and Vaka Manupuna look really big up top, and both were moving pretty well. ... Juco transfer DE Abe Wright was getting acclimated to the new drills, but it's obvious he's popular with his fellow linemen, as they were giving him instructions and encouragement throughout. Though he was just learning what's expected, it's obvious he's got some quicks. ...Tight end Jesse Wallace looks like a wide receiver without pads when he runs routes, good quickness in and out of cuts. ... WR Dusty Sprague is thin, but he looks like he could be a player even this year; he put a good move on DB Gerret Burl and beat him deep on one play. ...WR Stephone Robinson fought off a DB for a good catch over the middle, and WR Tyler Littlehales caught several balls. But on the first day of practice, it was obvious that D.J. Hackett and Derek McCoy were no longer around. ... Brian Calhoun looked really good catching a few balls out of the backfield during one set of drills.

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