Practice Report: August 23

Following their first day off of preseason camp, the Buffs got back to work Monday and made their way through a three-hour practice. CU focused on punting drills, and a new depth chart was released, as well, which points to some heated competition, especially at inside linebacker. Follow the link for some notes from Monday's session.

The practice was "a little sluggish after the day off, but we finished strong," said head coach Gary Barnett.

The Buffs spent a lot of time on punt protection and punt block execution. Barnett became as animated as he's been all fall camp during the punt drills, cajoling players on both sides of the ball about their positioning and execution.

During the live drills punt drills, P John Torp was booming the ball 50 to 55 yards on a consistent basis. Tyler Littlehales, who was a strong punter in high school, but who didn't work as a punter last year, took turns punting live as well. The left-footer, who's running No. 2 at the "Z" WR position, and is No. 2 punter on the new depth chart, doesn't have the consistency that Torp has, but got off a couple of good punts (45 and 50 yards) nonetheless.

On Monday, the team began to hone in on Colorado State as well, the team CU will host at Folsom Field Sept. 4.

There was good news in that most of the players who had been wearing orange jerseys the previous week were back in action. Only J.J. Billingsley (knee), Chris Hollis (foot) and Vance Washington (shoulder) sat out. Terrence Wheatley was back in pads and went through the one-on-one drills, but was kept out of the 11-on-11 scrimmage that ended the practice. LB Jason Ackermann looked like he may have gotten dinged up, as he didn't participate in the scrimmage either.

While the players had Sunday off, coaches evaluated film from Saturday's scrimmage. After watching the film, Barnett said, "I think 13 days showed a little bit in the speed of our play, but not in the execution."

The coaches also handed down their first depth chart since camp opened Aug. 9. Among the changes, Ackermann and freshman Jordon Dizon were listed No. 1 at mike and will linebacker, respectively.

While Ackermann watched from the sidelines, presumably with an injury, Dizon spent the first part of the late-practice scrimmage running on the first team with Thaddaeus Washington. Later, junior Akarika Dawn, who entered camp at No. 1 WLB, was running with the No. 1 unit.

The competition at inside linebacker looks to be fierce over the next week. Barnett said, "there's just a bunch of guys there, and we're just trying to find what the best combination is."

Barnett also said he isn't concerned about exposing Bobby Purify, the No. 1 tailback, to injury as he's running as one of the two kickoff return men. Purify requested the chance to return kicks.

The depth chart also introduced a new position, the V-back, which is manned by Lawrence Vickers and Daniel Jolly. The "V" stands for "versatile" back.

Barnett said the V-back tag was just a better way to describe the position. He also joked that Vickers thinks it stands for "Vickers-Back."

Student Tix Sell Out
Following a trend from the past two years, the CU students are getting behind the Buffs. Or at least they're buying student season tickets. On Monday, the first day of classes at CU, CU sold the remaining portion of its student season tickets.

The 12,000 student season tickets sold this year is the most since 12,005 were sold for the 1996 season, and the 10th highest total in the past 35 years. The high was 14,442 in 1972; the low 4,091 in 1981. Last year's total was 11,321.

Monday's HYPE (believe it or not!)
The battle at will linebacker is definitely heating up. Dizon has wheels, and gets places in a hurry. But Dawn was also flying around Monday, both with the ones and twos. He's certainly not hanging his head after the depth chart was announced Monday. He fell back into pass coverage on one play and nearly made an interception near the end of practice, earning a cheer from teammates. …Littlehales looked good in the passing game, making a couple of really strong catches down field with a defender on him. …Evan Judge found himself wide open after a blown coverage vs. the No. 1 defense for a TD catch from Joel Klatt. The unit needs Billingsley back…True frosh Greg Newman is getting more and more reps at DE behind Alex Ligon and Abe Wright.

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