Buff 'Can't Wait' to Get After It

August 8 and the beginning of fall camp is less than three weeks away. But for the members of the Colorado Buffaloes team, it might feel like three months. Junior nose tackle <b>Vaka Manapuna</b> summed up the general feeling among players and coaches Wednesday when asked about fall camp: "We can't wait."

Speaking at the Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City today, head coach Gary Barnett echoed Manupuna, saying, "I think we're one of only a few teams that's actually looking forward to practice."

The first day of practice will by Aug. 8, while the first day in pads is scheduled for Aug. 13.

Barnett was on the sidelines during spring ball, after being placed on paid administrative leave by CU president Elizabeth Hoffman in February. But Barnett saw enough to believe the Buffs are on their way back to the type of running game they had two and three seasons ago.

"I think we'll be able to run the ball like we did in 2001 and 2002, using a physical running style," Barnett said. "Last year, we weren't a physical running team for a number of reasons. I think those problems have been fixed. You look at our offensive line returning, our fullbacks, our tight ends — we have a great deal of depth there. We are confident in our running game."

One of the reasons for confidence is the return of senior Bobby Purify, who gained an extra year from a medical redshirt. While most preseason prognosticators have assumed that the off-field furor that surrounded the program this past spring will lead to on-field trouble for the Buffs this fall, Purify said he doesn't mind CU being an afterthought in the Big 12 race for now.

"I'm always up for a challenge, that's why I don't mind the underdog role that we've taken in this conference," Purify said. "People aren't expecting too many things out of us, so if we do the unthinkable, they will be more surprised. It might be an advantage."

Purify will enter fall camp No. 1 on the depth chart at tailback. He's battled injury problems through his career in Boulder, but has put on 15-20 pounds this offseason in hopes of becoming more durable. He's currently No. 15 on the all-time CU rushing chart (1,999 yards), and if he stays healthy, Purify could find his way into the top three. Charlie Davis is currently No. 3 with 2,958 career rushing yards.

As for the so-called scandal that broke out in February when a PR firm hired by plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the university leaked depositions to local media, leading to a national story that dragged on for months, Purify said the negative attention didn't get him down.

"This hasn't affected me at all, to be honest," he said. "It hasn't affected me personally. I just ignore it, take it in stride and focus on the task at hand."

Junior quarterback Joel Klatt reiterated what most players have said the past several months: All the scrutiny caused the players to rally around each other.

"The bond that we made with each other during the spring helped us keep our focus on school and football," Klatt said. "The camaraderie that we built during the spring is going to help us this fall. So we're excited to get out there, we know we are under the microscope, but you only get a few chances in your life to be under the microscope, so we're excited for the challenge."

Other Quotes from Big 12 Media Day

Barnett on the defense
"We have some questions on defense right now, and part of that is having two new coaches (Mike Hankwitz and Craig Bray). This is a transition time for our defense.

"Mike Hankwitz has been dealt some bad cards. We lost two defensive starters. We played a lot of young guys last year. Those guys now have a little more understanding. Our secondary is also young."

On the receivers

"On paper, chances don't look great for us to have Jeremy Bloom this year. Both sides seem to want to work things out. We are proceeding right now as if we won't have him. That means that someone else will get an opportunity.

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