Practice Report — August 9

There was no getting around it. The shock of seeing a teammate carried off on a stretcher and placed into an ambulance near the end of Tuesday's first practice affected the mood and performance of CU players in Tuesday's second practice. Tests revealed that Alex Ligon, the injured teammate, is OK and will play football again. Inside, a practice report from Tuesday afternoon, plus a quick, but revealing interview with Abraham Wright.

CU conducted its first two-a-day practice Tuesday. Alex Ligon, who was taken away in an ambulance at the end of the first practice, is OK, according to head trainer Steve Willard. A CAT scan and MRI revealed no damage after Ligon was hit on the side of a head during a play.

"All the tests we did (on Ligon) were normal," Willard said. "I don't know when he'll return, but he'll play football again, and hopefully soon."

Ligon's injury shook up the CU players. That carried over into the afternoon practice, one conducted in pads and shorts.

"We didn't have a great practice this afternoon," head coach Gary Barnett said. "I think part of it was just a reaction to Alex. Or it could be six days in a row (of practices).

Colorado began the afternoon practices with customary position-specific drills, as a gentle rain was sprinkling down onto the fields. Three-quarters of the way through, the rain had stopped, and the team conducted a situational scrimmage.

The defense set the tone for the scrimmage. Starting quarterback Joel Klatt, who looked sharp in individual passing drills earlier in the practice, sat out the scrimmage, giving way to James Cox and Brian White, who along with Bernard Jackson, are vying for the backup position.

The first team offense went three and out two series in a row under Cox vs. the first team defense. White and the second stringers fared marginally better vs. the No. 2 defense, gaining roughly nine yards on six plays.

"We dropped the ball, put the ball on the ground, and made a lot of mistakes on offense," Barnett said. "We've got a lot a long way to go there. At least after today we do."

The team has a scheduled day off from practice Wednesday for its annual Media Day, then will get back at it for a two-a-day on Thursday.

"Those have got to be better practices than what we had today," Barnett said. "This morning's was OK, but this afternoon wasn't very good."

Quick Hitter with Abraham Wright
Starting defensive end junior Abe Wright is in his second August camp after transferring to CU last year from NE Oklahoma A&M.

BSN: How's your camp going?
Abe Wright:
Camp is going good. We've got a lot of explosive players this year, man. A lot of people are competing. I'm liking practice. Just taking it a day at a time. Just soaking it all in.

BSN: Does it feel different for you than last August, your first fall camp at CU?
AW:
Honestly, it feels a lot easier. I guess I know what to expect. I don't want to say you ever get to where it comes easy, but you've been through it. But I'm getting used to the game, and it's kind of growing.

BSN: How are the tackles looking, the guys you go up against in practice every day?
AW:
The tackles, to me are going to be solid. One thing (Clint O'Neal and Tyler Polumbus) do really good is pass protection. Clint, obviously, he's a senior this year. He's put on a lot of weight and got real bulked up. Polumbus, he's fighting through his injuries, and he's playing like you can't even tell nothing's wrong. I'm excited for them. The whole offensive line. Once we get Edwin Harrison back, it's going to be big time.

BSN: What are your personal expectations?
AW:
From the team standpoint, obviously, going all the way. From a personal standpoint, I want to lead the team in sacks, and become a playmaker. The way Coach Hankwitz is forming the defense is kind of opening me up to do that. I've got to fit the role.

BSN: How so? Is this a subtle change?
AW:
He's giving me more time to stand on my feet, giving me time to drop back in coverage. He's working a lot of stuff around me, so I've got to be ready to play. I've got to step it up.

Injury Update
Starting cornerback Gerett Burl was absent from Tuesday afternoon's practice because of a doctor's appointment, according to his position coach Craig Bray…Linebacker Jordon Dizon (shoulder) and center Bryce MacMartin (ankle) wore the orange and did not participate. Both are expected back Thursday. …Safety J.J. Billingsley also wore the orange Tuesday afternoon, and had ice on his knee. …Corner Corey Reid was in orange. …Running back Byron Ellis, o-lineman Edwin Harrison and tight end Tyson DeVree wore the blue, limited contact, jerseys.

The HYPE (believe it or not)
First, let's be grateful Ligon is going to be fine. You could tell watching him being taken away in an ambulance shook his teammates up. Such occurances always put things into perspective, for coaches, players and fans alike.

It's always interesting to watch what coaches do in situations like this. I wasn't at the first practice, and didn't witness the injury or what came after. But in the second practice, coaches were pushing the players, really trying to get them to focus.

Terry Washington, Byron Ellis, Hugh Charles, Patrick Williams and Kevin Moyd continue to work as kickoff return men. They were dropping a lot of balls, witness to the mood that had overtaken the team. Each time a player dropped a kick off, he had to drop and do push ups. There were a lot of push ups going on.

Stephone Robinson, Reggie Joseph, Chase McBride and Dusty Sprague were working on catching punts, and had better focus. I fully expect Robinson to keep his PR job, but if McBride gets his number called, it'll be fun to watch him. He's not a big-time burner, but is great at changing direction.

In the quarterback accuracy drills, where the players move through some footwork, then throw at a stationary target, Klatt is clearly the most accurate.

The running backs and linebackers squared off in a drill where the ball carrier ran under a frame (as if hitting a hole), then tried to make a linebacker miss and gain yards. No one got by Thaddaeus Washington.

Speaking of backs, true freshman fullback Jake Behrens is a real beefy dude. Shawn Simms has been working extra with him after some practices.

"He's a complete throwback fullback; he can run, catch, block, do all those things," Simms told me Monday. "We're glad we got him.'

Safety Lionel Harris, vying for a spot in the two-deep, but probably a long shot to get there, had his best practice to date. With Billingsley and Brooks (finger) out, he was getting a few more reps in the scrimmage, and he made some plays, drawing praise from Craig Bray. Today, Tyrone Henderson and Tom Hubbard were running as first team safeties. Also , Walter Boye-Doe had taken Ligon's spot on the line.

True freshman offensive lineman Devin Head has been working as a tackle, the past few practices.


BuffStampede Top Stories