April 11 Practice Report

The Buffs got in another spring practice under sunny skies on Monday, despite leftovers from Sunday's blizzard containing the team to one of their three practice fields. Inside, some practice notes and an update on new wide receiver <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1531793]>Alvin Barnett</A>.

The Buffs practiced on the artificial turf portion of their north practice field facility Monday. While snow blanketed the other two thirds of the practice fields, field staff cleared the artificial turf early in the day and the ground was dry enough by practice time to where players had no problems with footing.

It was a non-tackle day for the team, and they spent their first significant time of the season working on special teams.

"We haven't done anything on the kickoff returns and we did some drills (today)," head coach Gary Barnett said Monday. "We probably haven't put as much time in the kicking game this spring as we have (in past springs). This was a little bit of a catch up day."

One of the reasons for light work on kicking games this April is due to a mild hamstring pull placekicker Mason Crosby suffered earlier in the spring. Barnett also said they haven't spent time on kickoff teams because when Crosby's leg is healthy, there's rarely a need for kickoff coverage, as Crosby typically booms the ball into or out of the the end zone.

"You and I could cover on our kickoff team," Barnett told a reporter. "You just run 10 yards, turn around and go back to the sidelines. We don't need to do much on it."

However, CU will practice more on punt return and punt block as there is carryover from that work into the fall. Still, Barnett said it's too early to tell who will compete for the return jobs, other than Stephone Robinson, Terrence Wheatley, Alvin Barnett and possibly Hugh Charles.

Alvin Barnett working on consistency
Early in the 11-on-11 portion of Monday's practice, Alvin Barnett climbed the ladder and came down with the ball while veteran cornerback Gerett Burl grasped and came up empty. It was a bigtime play in the midst of a practice where lots of balls were dropped by receivers.

Moments later, Barnett streaked across the middle of the defense and rather than haul in a bullet from a CU quarterback, the ball bounced off his shoulder pads and onto the ground.

That's the way it's been going for the sophomore transfer wide out from NE Oklahoma — a glimpse of brilliance followed by a stumble.

"Our third practice, he had a breakout practice," said offensive assistant Darian Hagan. "After that, he's been inconsistent. But he's going to be alright. He's going to help us."

The Buffs need Barnett to help the CU offense next fall. He's in the mix to be one of the top four receivers, along with Evan Judge, Dusty Sprague, Blake Mackey, Patrick Williams and Reggie Joseph.

At 5-10, 180-pounds, Barnett has some field savvy. Physically, he's the Buffs' strongest receiver and knows how to fight through a pesky cornerback trying to jam him at the line of scrimmage. That's something he learned in junior college.

"Most of the time it was man-to-man jamming (coverage)," Barnett said. "If you can't get off the ball then you're no help to the offense."

CU's West Coast offense is new to Barnett. By his own admission, not everything is clicking yet. It'll take more time before the terminology, the routes, the assignments become second nature to Barnett.

"Every route that you run, you've got to run right," he said about CU's offense. "If you don't, then you could throw somebody else off."

Barnett is one of several young receivers getting a lot of looks in practice, along with Williams, Joseph, Chase McBride and Marcus Gonzales.That's because Judge and Mackey have been out with injuries, and Sprague's name was added to that list three plays into Saturday's scrimmage.

Their absence has left Hagan with a young group to work with. And the inexperience has shown up in practice.

"Once those two guys, Dusty and Evan, went away, we regressed," Hagan said. "It can't happen. Those (young) guys gotta step it up. Our leaders are ailing right now, but those (younger) guys have got to step up. The cubs have got to be bears."

Hagan isn't lowering expectations for his group, including Barnett, just because it's missing three of its top players.

"I expect them to come in and be a baller from Day 1," Hagan said. "If you expect them to make mistakes, you're expecting less of them. And I'm not expecting anything less. (Barnett is) a good ballplayer and he needs to understand that. This is bigtime college ball and he's got to step it up."

And Hagan believes Barnett will catch on and find the consistency he needs.

"He'll turn it around," Hagan said. "If he doesn't turn it around, shame on me."

Dusty Sprague worked "a little bit" in the practice, according to Barnett. He got his bell run in Saturday's scrimmage. Fellow receiver Blake Mackey was able to run a little Monday, but was still wearing the orange jersey. Cornerback Vance Washington was back practicing at full speed. Bad news, Evan Judge is probably out for the spring with a high ankle sprain.

Harris back at safety
Lionel Harris is back at safety after spending the first couple of weeks of spring practice at outside linebacker.

On Bohn
As reported, Mike Bohn was in Boulder Monday to finalize a contract and become CU's athletic director. Asked if he knew Bohn, Barnett said the only time he had spoken with him was via phone when Idaho interviewed and hired former CU offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Tom Cable after the 1999 season.

Bohn has been AD at San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference since 2003. Barnett has spoken to a couple of MWC football coaches about Bohn.

"Fisher DeBerry and Sonny Lubick both told me he'd be great for us," Barnett said.

A press conference announcing Bohn's hiring is expected for Wednesday.

Spring Game Moved
The April 23 spring game will be held at the north practice fields instead of at Folsom Stadium, CU officials announced Monday.

A press release stated: School officials were hoping that an improved condition of the field would allow for the spring game, but a recent reseeding combined with the April snowstorm has now made it impractical to hold the game this early in the healing process of the turf.

All events for the spring game will now transfer to the practice fields, starting with Healthy Kids day at 10:30 a.m. Kickoff for the game remains at 1 p.m., and any other functions not inside the stadium will still take place at the established locations.

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