What Headlines?

While stories about the Colorado football program moved from the sports pages to the front pages of local newspapers once again the past two days, the team went about its business preparing for its Nov. 26 showdown with <!--Default NodeId For Nebraska is 70879,2004--><A HREF=http://nebraska.Scout.com>Nebraska</A>.

Since football season began in August, newspaper coverage of the Colorado Buffaloes had been confined to the sports pages. But Wednesday, the Rocky Mountain News ran a front page story that was based on a report leaked from the grand jury that was convened late in the spring to investigate the controversy that surrounded the program earlier this year.

Thursday, Gary Barnett and members of the university administration responded to the report that questioned how money collected as part of the Gary Barnett Football Technique School — CU's summer football camps — were used. Barnett said the monies in question, were used for perfectly legal, aboveboard reasons, mostly expenses incurred for the camps.

But as public and media scrutiny hit the team once again, the Colorado team members didn't seem to notice.

Asked after Thursday's practice if the past two days' headlines would be a distraction for players preparing for Nebraska, team co-captain Sam Wilder said, "I don't even know what headlines you're talking about. Honestly, that stuff is old hat to us. We put it behind us. Anything they write about in the papers, we don't even see."

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson agreed, saying the players wouldn't be distracted by the latest round of stories.

"That's like old news for them," Watson said. "They're immune because they know what's media driven and what's real. They know the difference."

What's real right now is that to have any chance at playing for the Big 12 title, Colorado (6-4 overall, 3-4 Big 12) must beat Nebraska (5-5, 3-4). Much has been said about the fact the Cornhuskers have abandoned their legendary running game in favor of new head coach Bill Callahan's taste for the West Coast offense. But Nebraska's defense has undergone changes this season, as well.

"It's quite a bit different than what we saw last year," Watson said of NU's new defense.

The Cornhuskers have been solid defending the run. NU is giving up just 95 yards on the ground, and is currently ranked No. 5 in the country in that category.

"They've got good people and a really good scheme, too," Watson said. "The coaches have done a nice job of making sure there's one extra hat in the box. They're really stout up front."

Where Nebraska has struggled is against the pass. They head into their bye weekend last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up 272 yards per game through the air to opposing teams.

That's been a bit of a surprise, considering they returned a solid group of defensive backs, including last year's interception leader free safety Josh Bullocks. But Nebraska has played a lot of man coverage in the defensive backfield this fall, leaving its cornerbacks alone on an island sometimes, and have paid a cost.

Nov. 26, NU will be trying to gain a sixth win and bowl eligibility. CU, coming off two consecutive wins, will be looking for its seventh win of the year, and, depending how Iowa State and Missouri fare this Saturday, possibly a chance to move on to the Big 12 championship game.

"It's a red letter game and we're going to go out there and play like we have the last two weeks," Wilder said.

Three Day's Off
Colorado players will run and lift weights Friday, but will not conduct football practice. They will have Saturday and Sunday completely off before getting back to practice Monday. Barnett said it's the first time he's given players a three-day weekend during a bye week.