Monday Bowl Practice Notes

After losing bowl games in 2001 and 2002, the <!--Default For Colorado is to ignore-->Colorado Buffaloes are taking a different approach as they prepare to meet <!--Default NodeId For UTEP is 649,2004--><A HREF=>UTEP</A> in the Dec. 29 <!--Default For Houston is to ignore-->Houston Bowl. Today, that approach included a full practice in Folsom Stadium.

After taking Sunday off, the Buffs spent Monday's practice on Folsom Field, working out as gusty Chinook winds tore through Boulder.

Head coach Gary Barnett quipped, "We couldn't get the doors to the indoor facility unlocked, so we had to go outside."

The Buffs plan to be outside Tuesday, as well. Weather forecasts call for partly cloudy skies and chilly mid-30s temperatures. Still, Barnett said progress is being made despite the fact CU has to practice in Colorado's temperamental December weather.

"We've had some really good work," he said. "We had a great day Saturday, and a good day today."

Colorado needs more good days of practice if they are to reverse their trend of losing bowl games. Following CU's win over Texas in the 2001 Big 12 title game, the Buffs lost to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. The next year, Colorado once again came out on top of the Big 12 North, but lost in overtime to Wisconsin in the Alamo Bowl.

Including CU's 62-28 drubbing of Boston College in the 1999 Bowl, the Buffs are 1-2 in bowls under Barnett. The coach wants to move his record to .500, and the team has changed its approach so far during this year's bowl practices.

Senior tight end Quinn Sypniewski is still rehabbing his leg injury, and has not been a full participant in practices the past week. But he's noticed a difference from the 2001 and 2002 practices, both of which he participated in.

"I think they've been pretty intense, pretty focused practices," Sypniewski said of this year's bowl scrums. "We've stressed a lot more this year that they need to be intense, we need to be in focus and pay attention more to the details. Our past two bowl experiences, we've lost. The biggest focus right now is to make sure we have everything right in line where they need to be."

Also, unlike the past two bowl games, players will have a midnight curfew each night, except for the night before the game, when they'll be required to be in their rooms with the lights out at 10:45 p.m. In year's past, Barnett hasn't implemented a curfew until the night before the game.

In both 2001 and 2002 several players chose to take advantage of being in a new atmosphere without a curfew. And why wouldn't they? Tempe, Ariz., and San Antonio, Texas, are fun towns.

It's impossible to know for sure if staying out late a night or two affected anyone's performance in the football game. But Barnett isn't taking any chances.

"I don't know that we handled everything well (the past two bowls)," Barnett said. "So we are going to handle this one well."

Sypniewski, who will travel but will not play in the game, said he's for the curfew.

"It's good," Sypniewski said. "It's good to just have some restrictions to make sure the guys are in their rooms doing what they need to do."

The team will travel to Houston on Christmas Day, and practice Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The more focused approach in practice has already paid off, according to Barnett.

"I really like all the reps that we're getting for the young players in scrimmage situations and in practice," he said Monday. "You really notice our second team guys getting a lot better with the way we practice.

"We'll end up with 15 extra days that we wouldn't have had. That includes the championship game. It literally will be another spring ball for us."

And, unlike in years past, when the bowl game was treated as a reward for the team, that tone has changed. Barnett said this year's bowl and bowl practices are a time to get some work done.

"The reward is winning," he said.

Final grades have been trickling in and so far everyone has retained eligibility for the bowl game. Barnett said academic grades will continue to be handed down through the rest of the week and that coaches "probably won't know until we leave for the bowl" if there are any issues.

Burl's Finger
Sophomore cornerback Gerett Burl earned more respect than he already had from coaches and teammates after what he went through with his broken finger. Burl broke the finger in the win over Nebraska, but doctors bandaged him up and he went back out and played more in the game. He also played with a bandage vs. Oklahoma, then had surgery on Dec. 7.

During the injury, Burl's finger was smashed so severely that he lost an inch of length, according to Barnett. "They had to pull it out and reconstruct that bone," Barnett said. "He's a tough guy."

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