Slow Boil: Buffs Ready to Turn Up the Heat

When a football player puts on a helmet and shoulder pads, lines up against a competitor and hears the whistle blow, it's time to bring it. But the NCAA mandates that college teams can engage in "full contact" for only a certain number of days each August. So the CU coaches have been trying to cook practices at a "slow boil" pace. At Thursday's practice, it became obvious the Buffs are ready to turn up the heat a bit.

Things were starting to boil over a little bit Thursday. No fisticuffs or full on tussles between teammates broke out. But coaches were constantly hollering the "no tackling" mantra during the team's 11-on-11 scrimmage at the end of practice.

Needless to say, the team is ready for full contact. They'll get the chance Friday when the team dons full pads for the first time (they've been in shells the past two days – helmets, pads and shorts).

"They're ready to go (full contact)," Barnett said Thursday. "They've just got to slow down a little bit. They're trying to play the game tomorrow, but I want this to be a slow boil."

After Friday's go, the Buffs will get their first two-a-day practice on Saturday. Junior DE James Garee said this year's camp has been at a slower pace. And players have had to adjust.

"This laid back schedule is a little harder to deal with," Garee said. "There's a lot of sitting around and less practicing. But we're starting to get used to it. And two-a-days start real soon."

Garee said coaches have been preaching the "slow boil" theme.

"They don't want us to expect to be perfect on the first day," he said. "They don't want us to make big jumps (in progress) and then go back down. We want to gradually climb every day and get a little bit better."

Still, Garee said the team is ready to step it up a notch.

"We're really excited about tomorrow to actually be able to play some football."

Frosh Update
Barnett is pleased with the overall progress of the incoming rookies. In years past, the freshmen have reported early and had a couple practices under their belt prior to full-squad practices. This year, everyone started at the same time because of the fewer number of practices CU is conducting.

But the group is still getting extra work. In the team's first three practices, the freshmen have gathered on one field at the end of practice and gone through drills while the veterans have gone through conditioning runs.

Asked how the true freshmen were doing, Barnett said, "Most of these guys are doing pretty well. Patrick Williams continues to be one who's a big, strong target. Both freshmen linemen are doing well. Our freshmen linebackers are doing well. As a group, they're really progressing well. This is the first time as a group we haven't brought the freshmen in and given them two days of practice. These guys just got thrown into it. Their heads are spinning, but they're keeping up pretty well."

He commented that the freshmen who had been in CU's conditioning program over the summer (the scholarship players), were in good shape. Some of the others, late walk-ons, were feeling it a bit more.

Hard Man
One of the stories of early camp continues to be the audible presence of new secondary coach Craig Bray. He's made himself at home quickly, and is one of the voices that can be heard continuously on the practice field, prodding, encouraging, and chewing out his players.

"He's a perfectionist and he has really taught our secondary some things that probably has let the improve a little faster than we thought they would," Barnett said.

Asked how the defensive backs have responded to Bray, Barnett relayed that some of the players have said, "We've learned a lot. That's a hard man."

Still no word on the Josh Hunt situation. …Barnett will handle punishment for Blake Mackey, Alonzo Barrett and Gerett Burl internally. Mackey was pulled over and ticketed for driving 91 MPH on US 36 last week. He was the designated driver and had not been drinking. Barrett and Burl were with Mackey and had breathalyzer tests that showed they had been drinking. Because the incident occurred off-campus during the summer, the school will not get involved in any discipline. Barnett reiterated Thursday that any discipline would not be made public, but it "will be a family matter." …

Linebacker Chad Cusworth will have knee surgery Thursday after tearing his ACL Monday. As reported earlier, the sophomore is done for the season.

Jeremy Bloom was held out of most of practice Thursday after suffering slight muscle strain in one of his legs. Bloom said he was involved in some punt drills, but that was all. The issue is not serious, according to Barnett, and Bloom's sitting out was mostly precautionary.

"You rest him today so you'll have him for the rest of the time. He'll probably be out a day, but I don't know. We're not going to push it," Barnett said.

Still no word on Bloom's situation with the NCAA.

Senior offensive guard Derek Stemrich also wore an orange jersey and did not participate Thursday as a precautionary measure. Stemrich had offseason knee surgery, and is slated to start at guard. "We've got to take it easy on him, so we just gave him a day off today. We'll have to do that with him all year, on and off," Barnett said.

The 1's went against the 1's, 2's vs. 2's in much of the 11-on-11 scrimmage at the end of practice. I call it a scrimmage, but they didn't move chains — the offense would run a play and then line up back at the same point each time.

An early depth chart appears to have Sims, Wheatley, Brooks and Billingsley starting on the back end. No surprises at LB with Iwuh, Dawn and Thadd Washington, while McChesney, Vaka, Garee and Ligon were running with the first group up front. …Barreau was playing first team guard with Stemrich sitting out. Burl made an interception of the scrimmage, getting a hold of a Brian White pass. Sims also had an impressive play at DB, as he went up for a jump ball type throw from Klatt and wrestled the pass away from Littlehales. Dan Goettsch caught what would have been a score from James Cox.

Overall, however, the defense once again got the best of the offense. But it's difficult to really tell what's going on, because they're not allowed to tackle.

Also watched a great drill that had the defensive ends (and Iwuh) going against the tackles. It was an outside pass rush/pass defense type drill. Iwuh was very difficult to block, coming quick off the ball and getting under his blocker. Garee can be a beast. He's the only end with serious size. Barrett showed a little quickness. The ends were beating the tackles during the first part of the drill, but that changed as the drill wore on. New GA Tim Ridder was running the drill, and he impressed me. He's a big dude, and has a commanding, confident presence. Wasn't afraid to get after guys, but isn't a blowhard.

The timing between the quarterbacks and receivers looks like it's improving as the camp moves along. At this point, Monteilh seems to catch everything.

They went through a punt teams drill at one point. Purify has really emerged as a team leader. Guys respect him. He was working as the outside blocker (the guy who blocks the punt team's gunner), during this drill. At one point there was some confusion about personnel and BP took over clearing things up. Then he manhandled rookie Corey Reid to the ground on one play. Reid got up and made up for it, beating Hugh Charles down the field on the next.

Mostly, it's obvious these guys are ready to really get after it and start tackling tomorrow.

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