Defense Outshines Offense in CU Spring Game

The Colorado defense, tired of hearing how it was behind the Buffs offense all spring, rose up and stole the show in Saturday's annual spring game, beating the offense 26-19. Also inside, your first look at <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1683501]>Darian Hagan Jr.</A>, who was in Boulder on an unofficial visit to watch the spring game.

The good news coming out of Saturday's spring game was that the CU defense seemed to wake up and, for the most part, dominated the Colorado offense. That meant, of course, that there was bad news as well. Namely, a poor showing by the CU first string offensive unit.

The game featured the entire offense vs. the entire defense because there weren't enough healthy players to field two complete teams. As they have all season, the first team played the first team, and the second stringers went up against the second stringers. The defense earned points for defensive stops, while the offense earned points on touchdowns, field goals and certain first downs.

For the third time in as many extended spring scrimmages, the CU running game was unimpressive. CU running backs, and one receiver on a reverse, managed just 105 yards on 34 carries. Sophomore Hugh Charles led all rushers with 67 yards on 13 carries, his best output of the spring.

When asked if he was concerned the running game's performance, head coach Gary Barnett said, "A little bit. We went the wrong way a couple times. But we made more improvements (throughout the spring) than we showed today."

Backup quarterback James Cox had the longest run of the day when he scrambled for a 20 yard gain. Fellow backup Bernard Jackson also managed 41 yards on 6 carries. It was Jackson who led the only two touchdown scoring drives the offense could muster. Both came against the second team defense.

Jackson's 16-yard scramble for a first down on a third and 11 kept the first scoring drive alive. He found Patrick Williams for a 10-yard completion moments later. Then Jackson play action faked, rolled to his right and threw a strike to tight end Tyson DeVries in the end zone for the first touchdown of the day.

Several series later, Jackson once again marched the second team offense down the field against the second team defense. Fullback Paul Creighton bulled in from a yard out for the score.

While Jackson looked good with the ball in his hands, fans got a glimpse of perhaps why he isn't yet in position to challenge Joel Klatt for the starter's job. Late in the scrimmage, Jackson finally got the chance to run the first team offense. After a nice-looking 10-yard scramble, Jackson promptly fumbled the next snap, then let the next snap — in the shotgun — whiz right by him for a big loss. He was quickly replaced by Klatt.

"He sort of lost his composure," Barnett said. "He was just nervous out there."

And it's unclear who — if anyone — is a solid No. 2 quarterback at this point. James Cox was listed on the pre-game depth chart at No. 2. He went 4 of 9 for 21 yards and threw an interception.

All three quarterbacks fell victim to some dropped balls by receivers. On the other hand, several incompletions were uncatchable passes.

"I thought we were really sloppy on offense," Barnett said.

Barnett said coaches will discuss in the next few days who will enter the fall as second string signal caller.

One of the bright spots was the play of sixth-year senior Quinn Sypniewski, who caught two difficult passes in the middle of traffic. Both catches went for 27 yards. Sypniewski has battled injuries over his career.

"It was just fun to have a healthy spring ball for once," Sypniewski said after the scrimmage. "I've been kinda injury plagued for a few years now. It feels good to come back and have a good showing in front of the Buff fans."

One defensive player who had a good showing in front of the announced crowd of 2,800 was cornerback Lorenzo Sims. He had one interception, broke up two passes and had two solo tackles. Sims said the defense was playing with a little bit of a chip on its shoulder.

"Toward the end (of spring practices) we all realized we were getting beat," Sims said of the defense. "We realized the offense was a step ahead of us. We started to step it up and I think we proved that maybe we had a better spring than the offense did."

Perhaps most impressive Saturday was the play of the defensive line — a unit that has been a question mark because lack of experienced depth. But the d-line, especially the first team, bottled up the inside and pursued well on the outside.

"They were getting off the ball, which they should," Barnett said.

Overall, Barnett said the team made progress this spring, even though he was disappointed with the play of the offense Saturday.

NOTES
Darian Hagan Jr. visits Dad
Crenshaw (Los Angeles) defensive back Darian Hagan Jr. was at the spring game, visiting his father and CU offensive assistant coach Darian Hagan. Hagan Jr., a safety, played in the same backfield as incoming Buff freshman cornerback Gardner McKay Jr. Hagan Jr. said McKay will be a good player for the Buffs and that he brings a lot of speed.

Darian Hagan Jr. was in Boulder on an unofficial visit to watch the Spring Game. (BSN)

Hagan Jr. is expected to be among the top defensive back prospects in the West this coming year. Though he said his father wants him to come to CU, dad is letting him make his own decision.

No word on where he's leaning, in terms of playing college ball.

If Hagan Jr. chose Colorado, he'd be coached by Craig Bray. Hagan said Saturday that he liked Coach Bray and was impressed with him last summer when he attended a camp at CU.

Other visitors
Several future Buffs, including Patrick Devenny, Jeremy Hauck, Sam Zimmerer and Taj Kaynor came to Boulder and watched the game. Among the handful of high school prospects at the game were Regis lineman Butch Lewis, who hung with Hauck, Zimmerer and Kaynor behind the Buffalo team.

Several former Buffs were also there.

Bohn says hello
New athletic director Mike Bohn, whose appointment will become official when the CU Board of Regents meet this coming week and approve his contract, was at the festivities. If you were there, chances are you got to say hello to the new man in charge, as Bohn made his way through the crowd greeting people and thanking them for coming.

Team Awards announced
Gary Barnett announced the spring awards about midway through the scrimmage. They were as follows:

Eddie Crowder Outstanding Leadership: Joel Klatt
Fred Casotti Outstanding Offensive Back/Receiver: Joe Klopfenstein
Joe Romig Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Brian Daniels
Hale Irwin Outstanding Defensive Back: Lorenzo Sims
Dan Stavely Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Thaddaeus Washington
Bill McCartney Outstanding Special Teams: Greg Pace
John Wooten Most Improved Offensive Player: Mark Fenton
Dick Anderson Most Improved Defensive Player: Ryan Walters

Injuries
Offensive lineman Brian Daniels suffered a slightly sprained ankle and quarterback James Cox suffered bruised ribs (on a hit from Greg Newman). Both will be fine, Barnett said.

STATISTICS

Score
Defense 12 - 14 — 26
Offense 11 - 8 — 19
Scoring Summary
Drive 1—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
Drive 2—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
Drive 3—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
Drive 5—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
Drive 6—Crosby 53 FG
Drive 7—*Tyson DeVree 7 pass from Bernard Jackson (Garden kick)
Drive 8—Defensive Stop (5 Points; Lorenzo Sims interception)
Drive 9—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
Drive 10—Defensive Stop (1 Point)
Drive 11—*Creighton 1 run (Garden kick)
Drive 12—Defensive Stop (1 Point)
Drive 14—Defensive Stop (1 Point)
Drive 16—Defensive Stop (3 Points)
*—offense also received 1 point for three first downs on drive (defensive stops had value of 5, 3 or 1 points depending on circumstances)
Weather—63 degrees, 48% humidity, winds from the east at 7 mph, clear skies
Attendance—2,800; Time—1:42

Rushing (42-169) —Charles 13-67; Jackson 6-41, Ellis 9-27, Cox 1-20, Creighton 2-11, Vickers 6-10, Barnett 1-6, Schaub 1-5, Klatt 1-3, Enright 1-minus 3, Team 1-minus 20. Stats do not include 3 sacks for minus 17.

Passing (36-16-1, 155) —Jackson 11-7-0, 70; Klatt 16-5-0, 64; Cox 9-4-1, 21.

Receiving (16-155) —Gonzales 3-19, Sypniewski 2-54, Goettsch 2-19. Joseph 2-17, Ellis 2-2, Crawford 1-17, Williams 1-12, DeVree 1-7, Sprague 1-5, Klopfenstein 1-3.

Punting (4-49.3) —Torp 4-197, 49.3 avg., 70 long.

Interceptions (1-0) —Sims 1-0.

Field Goals (1-of-3) —Crosby 1 of 3 (58 wr, 53, 53 wl).

PAT Kicks (2-of-2) —Garden 2 of 2.

Tackles —Harris 5,2—7; Dawn 6,0—6; Iwuh 3,2—5; Manupuna 0,5—5; Reid 4,0—4; Wright 3,1—4; Barrett 2,2—4; Henderson 0,4—4; Hollis 2,1—3; Dizon 2,1—3; V.Washington 2,1—3; Veikune 1,2—3; T.Washington 1,2—3; B.Jones 2,0—2; Sims 2,0—2; Sanders 1,1—2; Walters 1,1—2; Z.Jones 1,1—2; 10 with 1,0—1.

Tackles For Loss (10-51) —Wright 2-9, Iwuh 1-20, Dizon 1-8, Barrett 1-5, Guydon 1-5, Dawn 1-1, Hollis 1-1, Z.Jones 1-1, Sanders 1-1.

Quarterback Sacks (3-17) —Dizon 1-8, Barrett 1-5, Wright 1-4.

Third Down Stops (7) —Barrett, Carpenter, Dawn, Dizon, B.Jones, Manupuna, Wright.

Passes Broken Up (7) —Sims 2, Dawn, B. Jones, Robinson, Walters, Wright.

Hurries (3) —Barrett, Ligon, Wright.

QB Chasedowns (1) —Ligon.


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