Buffs banged up

The physical rigor of spring practices has begun to take its toll on the Buffs, who nevertheless completed what interim head coach <b>Brian Cabral</b> called an important session Wednesday. Especially hit by the injury bug right now is the wide receiving corps, which is missing three young players expected to compete for significant playing time in the fall.

Sophomores Tyler Littlehales (stiff back), Blake Mackey (sore leg), and redshirt freshman Stephone Robinson (hamstring), did not participate in Wednesday's practice. The injuries have slowed what receivers coach Ted Gilmore said was good progress by the unit earlier in the spring.

"We're like the walking wounded right now," Gilmore said. "But prior to Blake, Littlehales and Stephone going down, for the first five practices I was very pleased. I thought we were ahead of the ball game in terms of catching the ball and assignments."

The group returns just one player with significant experience, senior Ron Monteilh. Asked if the receivers missed the presence of graduating seniors John Donahoe, D.J. Hackett and Derek McCoy, Gilmore quipped, "No. They were trying to push them out the door."

With the seniors gone, the young Buff receivers have been getting more repetitions in practice than they did last fall. Gilmore said he hoped that the trio of injured receivers could be back next week and get in a practice or two before the April 24 spring game.

Still, the injuries will likely push back any firm decisions about the depth chart until the fall.

After Monteilh, whose experience Gilmore said has been evident this spring, he said "there's not a lot that separates those guys. That's the one thing we were looking for: Who was going to step up and pull away from the other guys? Who was going to be consistent?

He said Monteilh's role "might increase in terms of moving him around and getting him the ball."

But Gilmore didn't seem too worried about the missed practices.

"They're going to have to over achieve to a certain extent until the experience comes," he said. "And then once they learn the tricks of the trade, they'll be fine. They're talented.

"Right now they all can play as far as I'm concerned, and they can all get in the ball game," he said, when asked about where people stood on the depth chart. " I'll find six guys to work in the rotation, and work them in freely."

Robinson looked good early

Robinson said Wednesday that he felt much more comfortable with the offense this spring than he did last fall when he first arrived at CU. Robinson has only been full-go three practices before injuring his hamstring, but was the team's No. 1 punt and kick returner prior to that. He is expected to have the inside track on those duties if Jeremy Bloom is not allowed to play football in the fall ... He said he enjoys both roles, but prefers punt returning because you're back there by yourself and have to make things happen more on your own. ... He said he grew up admiring returners like Donte Hall, Desmond Howard and Ben Kelly. Asked to compare his return style to Bloom, he said Bloom had better straight-away speed, but that he made people miss with his moves. Gilmore compared Robinson to Roman Hollowell, and said he is a shifty player with the ball in his hands with deceptive speed and excellent quickness. ...I asked Robinson who was the fastest player on the team, thinking he would say Bloom. But he said Terrence Wheatley is the fastest, with – surprise – Blake Mackey coming in second.

In Robinson's absence, Mike Duren, Monteilh and Dusty Sprague have been taking reps at punt returner. Coming into spring, Robinson, Wheatley and J.J. Billingsley had been slated for kick return, but all three have been banged up.

Cabral pleased with effort

Interim head coach Brian Cabral said Wednesday's scrum was an important practice to get through as well as they did. He was concerned coming into the practice that it would be difficult for the players to refocus after some tough practices. But he said they performed better than expected. They ended practice with a red zone scrimmage. Cabral said the players didn't want to stop towards the end, and he let them go a little longer than he had planned. He said they will have a lighter go on Friday as the Buffs are at the point, physically, where they need to rest. Saturday will be the final major scrimmage prior to the April 24 spring game. ...Cabral said the punting unit has been a focus of special teams this fall. He said Mike Hankwitz is running that unit now.

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