Tuesday, getting a little bit warmer meant more time in 11-on-11 situations, though none of it was full tackle. The Buffs also continued to work on punt protection and punt coverage as they hone in on their showdown with the Rams on Sept. 4.
Running Backs Update
Running backs coach Shawn Simms said he's been pleased with his unit, perhaps the deepest on the team, so far this camp. But he added that there's still a ways to go until he's satisfied with how the running backs are playing.
Senior Bobby Purify has continued to look primed for a strong season, especially since he's running at 215 pounds, the biggest he's ever been. Asked if the additional 10-15 pounds Purify put on during the offseason might hinder his speed or quickness, Simms said, "No, because it's muscle. And he could be bigger than what he is. What Coach Finnegan is doing with him in the weightroom, it's the right kind of muscle. He's still probably under 5-percent body fat."
Purify displayed his speed Tuesday on one run when he found a hole, then darted quickly to the outside and outran CB Chris Russell down the sidelines well into the secondary. Purify will open vs. CSU at tailback. Look for Daniel Jolly to get time there as well. Also in the mix are Isaiah Crawford and Brandon Caesar.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Vickers will start out at fullback, but will also see time at tailback. Vickers and Jolly are currently running one and two at the newly named V-back position — a term used to describe the duo's versatility.
"He and Lawrence are learning two different spots," Simms said. "That's tough; tougher than they think."
But Simms said Jolly's role should be expanded in 2004, after primarily being used in short yardage situations as a true freshman last fall.
"He's way far ahead of where he was last year this time," Simms said. "Last year, he was basically the short yardage/goal line back. Now his game has grown. He'll be a guy that'll be in there in more situations than goal line. He's a load."
Throw FB Paul Creighton and two freshmen, Byron Ellis and Hugh Charles, into the equation, and you begin to wonder if there will be enough carries to satisfy everyone. Asked if that was a concern, Simms joked, "Not right now it isn't, we haven't played."
Then he gave some insight into what various players will have to work on to earn playing time in 2004.
"All the guys, even the two freshmen, have shown they can run the football. So running with the ball isn't a question," Simms said. "But playing at the tailback or fullback spot is a lot more than just running the football. There are other things we've got to be good at too. Right now, we're not all there. But we're working hard to get there. It'll be a process."
With such a versatile backfield, it'll be imperative for the fullbacks to be able to block effectively, tailbacks to be able to pass protect, and all the backs to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Each player's success at those three things, may determine how much they see the field.
And speaking of the freshmen, Simms is excited about their talent. Ellis has been the bigger surprise, showing some shiftiness in the hole as well as some toughness. It was thought Charles might get a look at kick returner in camp because of his speed, but that hasn't been the case. Still, he's shown glimpses of that speed carrying the ball in practices.
Both, however, are probably headed for a redshirt year because the Buffs are so loaded at running back this season.
"We've got two good young guys," Simms said of Ellis and Charles. "I don't know what's going to happen to them. They're both talented. I've told them, ‘Just practice like your number may be called some day. You don't know when that is; it may be next year. But that's the way you've got to prepare yourself.' But I've been pleased with them both. We've got some talent there."
Bloom's CU Football Days are Done
CU and Jeremy Bloom's final appeal to the NCAA to grant him eligibility for 2004 was denied Tuesday, when an independent NCAA appeals committee voted to uphold last week's ruling.
The five-member panel met by conference call Tuesday, and heard 10-minute presentations from the NCAA, CU director of compliance Lindsey Babcock, and Bloom, who participated from Chile where he is in the second week of a three-week training camp with the U.S. Ski Team. The presentations were followed by a question and answer session and then closing arguments.
The conference call lasted an hour, and the committee then deliberated for two hours before informing the NCAA of its decision, which they relayed to CU through Babcock.
The committee did not release the tally of its votes, but Bloom would have needed three of five votes in his favor for his appeal to be granted.
According to Babcock, the main reason for the appeal denial was Bloom's "multiple, willful violations of NCAA legislation."
Earlier this year, Bloom took endorsement money from companies to fund his quest for an Olympic gold in freestyle skiing in 2006. Last week, Babcock and CU argued that there was a precedent in an athlete taking endorsement money for a sporting endeavor, then playing a different sport in college. Tim Dwight was paid $14,000 in endorsement money when he was a pro football player, but was allowed to compete later in track at the University of Iowa after agreeing to give the money back.
The NCAA said the distinction was that Dwight took the money without knowing he would then pursue track collegiately. Bloom signed on for endorsements willingly, knowing he still wanted to play football at CU.
"We're all really disappointed, even though we knew going into today there was only a small chance for reversal," Barnett said. "Personally, I'm extremely disappointed in the lack of flexibility by the NCAA. I just hope the next group of youngsters that are out there currently participating in these extreme sports will somehow profit from Jeremy's experience.
"We wish him the best," Barnett added. "He's got to go get the gold medal now, wearing the CU helmet."
Babcock said, "I'm just disappointed that we weren't able to get this approved for Jeremy. He was tremendous to work with, and did a fantastic job on the conference call explaining his situation to the committee. We're sad for him and all we can do is wish him the best in his skiing pursuits and in all his endeavors."
J.J. Billingsley went through some drills Tuesday for the first time since getting his knee scoped last Thursday. Coaches hope to have him back without the orange jersey, but in a limited capacity, this Thursday.
Terrence Wheatley (groin) continued to see more action Tuesday, participating in live 11-on-11 drills for the first time in over a week. He saw time with the twos, and later with the No. 1 defense.
LB Chris Hollis continues to watch practice with an orange jersey. He will have a foot X-ray later this week, or Monday that will determine whether or not he will be able to practice next week and play against CSU. NT Brandon Dabdoub is now participating in every aspect of practice. CB Vance Washington is still out with a shoulder problem.
Freshmen WR Watch
During the first week of camp, it appeared as though Patrick Williams might have the best chance of playing at WR as a true freshman. Two weeks in, it's now looking as though his freshman teammate Reggie Joseph has the best chance. That's in part because he is in the mix at punt returner, along with Stephone Robinson and Mike Duren.
Linebacker Shuffle Update
Tuesday, Thaddaeus Washington (mike) and Jordon Dizon (will) got the most snaps with the No. 1 defense. Akarika Dawn (will) and Kyle Griffith were getting the most snaps with the twos. Later on, Dizon and Dawn were the two ‘backers on the field in one particular defensive look. Though he's not wearing an orange jersey, it appears Jason Ackermann is ailing because he wasn't participating in the 11-on-11 scrimmage portion of practice.
Tuesday's HYPE (believe it or not!)
While Wheatley was back in action more than he had been in a week, Gerett Burl and Lorenzo Sims were running first team in the first part of 11-ons. Later, Burl and Wheatley drew the duty. Whoever starts, expect CU to rotate all three at the two cornerback spots.
Tyrone Henderson continues to get valuable practice time at free safety in Billingsley's absence. Tuesday, he picked off Joel Klatt on one play. Soon after that, Dizon got pressure on Klatt and forced a quick throw that Thadd Washington intercepted. Also getting in on the action, Sims stepped in front of a pass from Brian White and nearly picked it off, and S Tom Hubbard broke up a pass from Klatt intended for Dusty Sprague.