Practice Report, April 8

Offensive lineman <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1223668]>Jack Tipton</A> will be a fourth-year junior this fall. This spring, Tipton is trying to earn a starting spot, something that's eluded the 295-pounder to this point. Also inside, notes from Friday's scrimmage and what's on the agenda for Saturday's scrum.

Offensive line coach Dave Borbely wanted to start spring with his four most experienced linemen in the starting lineup. That's Clint O'Neal, Brian Daniels, Mark Fenton and Edwin Harrison, along with newbie Tyler Polumbus. In order to get Harrison — who backed up O'Neal at tackle in 2004 — into the lineup, Harrison was to get a look at guard. But a shoulder injury in March put him on the sidelines.

That has opened the door for Tipton, who happens to own the team's best bench press (426 pounds). He's been running with the first teamers at split guard, beside Polumbus. While Borbely said things are far from settled, and Harrison will fit into the picture somewhere when he returns in the fall, Tipton has been having a good month.

He's taken a lot of reps," Borbely said. "He's working with the first unit and he's progressing very nicely."

And Tipton feels good with his play so far.

"I'm having a real good spring, getting everything tied down," Tipton said. "Everything's coming together right now. We're really meshing as a unit; me and Polumbus on the split side, we're really meshing there."

Tipton starred at tackle for Arvada's Pomona High School before coming to CU. At Colorado, he's moved back and forth between tackle and guard.

"Personally, I like guard better," he said. "But it's all good, wherever they stick me."

Wherever they stick him, as long as he sticks somewhere. Ask the 21-year-old, who's played sparingly in a CU uniform, if he's hungry for playing time next year and a big smile grows across his boyish face.

"I'm chompin' at the bit. I'm ready to get out there," he said.

Scrimmage on tap Saturday
The Buffs will hold their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at the north practice fields. Players will take the field at 10 a.m., and the planned 90-minute scrum is scheduled to get under way at 10:30. It is open to the public.

Head coach Gary Barnett said more than anything he's looking for some playmakers to emerge. One key position he mentioned is wide receiver, where the third and fourth spots behind Evan Judge and Dusty Sprague are currently up for grabs. Blake Mackey would have been making noise there, but he's still sidelined with a knee injury.

Redshirt-freshman Patrick Williams has looked good some in practice, and classmate Reggie Joseph looks like a more confident player than last fall at the receiver. Newcomer Alvin Barnett practiced well in spurts, but is still adjusting to his new surroundings.

Another position where a heated battle is taking place is safety. With starter Tom Hubbard out for the rest of spring with a knee injury, Dominique Brooks, Tyrone Henderson and Ryan Walters are jostling to catch the coaches' eyes.

"A lot of guys are practicing because some spots are open," Barnett said. "I'm looking for competitiveness and playmaking ability. (The scrimmage is) more of a test for individuals."

The scrimmage will consist of a series of12-play drives for each unit. Ones will play vs. ones, twos vs. twos with the threes working in with the twos.

Rookie update
Two true freshmen, defensive end Zach Jones and safety Reggie Foster, are in school and in drills this spring. Foster hadn't played ball in over a year, and is still working his way back into shape. Nevertheless, he had a big play Wednesday, knocking the ball loose from a reciever in an 11-on-11 situation.

Friday it was Jones who turned some heads and earned some shouts of praise from teammates when on consecutive drills he beat his offensive lineman counterpart and got into the backfield.

Still, Barnett isn't holding the two to exceedingly high expectations as they are still getting their feet wet.

"They're drinking from a fire hose," Barnett said when asked how they were doing. "I'm not trying to get too much out of them. They're just trying to learn how to get along and learn how tough this is. We've just got to get them through it. It's a tough go coming in after not being here in the fall, hearing stuff you haven't heard before and getting coached."

Beginning about 5:15 p.m., strong, gusty wind picked up, and for about a 10-minute period, passing the ball was very difficult. It was right in the middle of an 11-on-11 scrimmage situation and several passes thrown by the CU quarterbacks turned into uncatchable ducks flying through the air.

Orange Jersey watch
Running back Brandon Caesar was out of pads and in an orange "injured" jersey Friday. He had a bag of ice taped to his knee. He is coming off knee surgery from last fall. No word on how long he's out of pads. …Mackey continues to miss practice with a knee issue. …Vance Washington also watched practice in an orange jersey. …Good news, tight end Joe Klopfenstein was at full go after being limited in practice the first week. …Thaddaeus Washington was back at practice Friday.

Plasket in town
Bruce Plasket was visiting Boulder from his new home in New Mexico and watched practice Friday. He has finished the initial faze of writing his book that takes a look behind the scenes of CU's 2004 campaign and the so-called scandal that surrounded the season. Plasket said a book deal is imminent, and that plans are to get it published and on the street in July or early August.

The HYPE (believe it or not)
Vaka Manupuna was tearing it up in O-line/D-line drills Friday. He was getting the best of Mark Fenton, bull rushing him or getting underneath and by the center. He was earning praise from his new position coach Bill Inge. …Running back Hugh Charles continues to impress, and looks like he's distancing himself as a clear No. 1 at tailback – at least that what the situation appears to be from behind the practice ropes. He was quick through the hole in the 11-on-11 situational drills, and broke one to the outside, then cut back inside and to the end zone as well. …Patrick Williams had a nice one-arm grab with a defender hanging on him. …Klopfenstein looked to be moving well and beat Brooks for a reception from Joel Klatt in the end zone.


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