Barnett: I Feel Really Good About This Team

In the third and final part of Gary Barnett's comments from Wednesday's Media Day, the coach talks about the emergence of Patrick Williams, recruiting, Jordon Dizon and the Buffs' defensive tackles.

Q: How does Patrick Williams look and how much do you expect him to contribute?
I think Patrick Williams has got a huge upside. He's got a lot of pressure on him because with Blake gone, he's our speed guy. He's a guy that we're going to use in a number of different situations.

He's a great kid. He's learning, He's competitive. He's very strong. He's making us better at the corners, already.

Q: What kind of a luxury is it to have such a great tight end?
As you know over the last four years we've had the luxury of having two of those now. I don't know that Joe Klopfenstein is in Daniel's category yet. But I think a lot of it depends on what kind of tight end they are. Klop, like Daniel Graham, is a guy that we can do a lot of different things with in different formations. We've explored that. We've looked at different ways we can get him involved.

What a tight end does is it allows you to run the ball, as well as throw the ball to him. Tight end is critical in a traditional running game. Joe will give us that kind of flexibility. Quinn Sypniewski is definitely more the running game tight end. But he's been impressive in camp catching the ball. Having two guys like that, not everybody has two. I'm not saying Quinn is like Klop, but it's a nice combination. We can do a lot of things with Joe we couldn't do with other tight ends.

Q: Is Joe as good a blocker as Dan Graham was?
I think he will be by the time he's done. He's just a fourth year player too. Remember, Klop didn't redshirt.

Q: I've read about some verbal commits. How are you and the Colorado Buffaloes being received compared to last year in homes in places like Houston and Dallas?
There's a big difference in a year. May's a critical month for contact. You can make a phone call in May. You're 14-15 months out anymore in recruiting. Our coaches go out in April and May and recruit.

Last year here in May the situation was so ambiguous that it hurt us tremendously in recruiting, in Texas especially. In Texas if you don't offer a scholarship in May then you're probably out of it.

Too many things were up in the air last year in May if you can remember. I try not to remember. This year it's completely different.

We have a tremendous name in the sports world, and in the coaching world. Among high school coaches and the athletes. Most of any questioning occurs outside the athletic realm. We still have a really good reputation; our coaching staff, myself included, our players, our team, our university. It's a lot different this year than it was a year ago. We've been received very well.

Recruiting, you can't tell where it's going to go. But we have had some commitments.

Q: Jordon Dizon came in and played as a true freshman. Where does he need to improve?
Pass defense probably more than anything else. He also had to get bigger. We had no idea where we were going to play him last year. We played him at safety a couple days. One day Coach Bray said I don't know if he's a safety, but he sure likes being around contact. So we moved up to linebacker, and all of a sudden there he was. He just had instincts to play the game.

Jordon Dizon speaks with a reporter Wednesday. (BSN)

He learned a lot last year. He played at about 205 pounds. He's now about 220-225. He's a lot stronger than he was. The emphasis that we put in the spring on defending the pass really helped him.

I just think he's the kind of competitor that will pick his game up where he left off and improve. He's never going to be the prototype linebacker. He's 5-foot-11 and he's 225 pounds. But he loves to play the game and he's got great instincts.

Q: Before the start of last year's bowl practices, you talked about making that game the first of this season. How has that worked?
We tried to make in our minds the game in Houston the first game of this year. What I did was I took our seniors out of leadership positions and put it all on the juniors. What my thinking was: let's let ‘em learn. Let's expose it to them before we get to the season. Because when you first get thrown into a leadership role, you don't make all the right decisions. You learn by being in that role.

My vision was to have them go in and make their mistakes, realize how hard it was, realize what it is to be a leader – it's not just standing up and yelling. Hopefully what we got out of all those practices was more of an intangible. We went into the halftime of that game and we were behind. Our leadership had failed. Our seniors took over. And we came out and won the game I think that was a valuable lesson.

Whether that had anything to do with it, who knows? But I do like our leadership right now. It's ahead of where it was in the spring.

Q: How do you like your defensive tackles?
I really like all four of our defensive tackles. We're pretty athletic in there. George Hypolite brings a little suddenness in there. I think we're going to be solid at that position. I was concerned a little bit, but with George stepping up, we've got four guys. George is young and he's going to make a lot of mistakes. But not everybody even has three they can count on.

Q: Is that the least glamorous position to play on defense?
No question. Nobody wants to grow up to be a nose guard. Nobody. How many guys do you see running around saying I want to be a nose guard. Nobody has 93 on their jersey, or 67. It's like the last place. If you can't play here son…Go in and take 300 pounders and take them to the ground.

Q: Does it take a special temperament?
It does. They're so hard to find. The ones that want to be good and train for it, they're so hard to find. But we've got three guys, four, I think, with George.

Q: How has James Garee's switch to defensive tackle gone?
It was tough in the spring. James went through a lot of things, as you may know, in the spring. His dad died, and that was a surprise. He had a tough spring. But he's come back now and he's made the transition in his mind and physically.

He's taking the young guys and really working with them. He's understanding the position a lot better now. He's a real leader on our team.

Q: Big picture. How good do you feel about this team?
I like this team. I really like this team. I think we've got a chance to be a really good football team. We've got to get lucky with injuries. But anytime you've got a returning quarterback who's a three year starter, you've got an offensive line that's as athletic as we do, linebackers like we do…I think our secondary's going to be pretty decent. And two specialists like we have.

I feel really good about this team.

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