Practice Report — August 11

Colorado went through its second two-a-day of fall camp on Thursday. The buzz among those who watched the morning practice was the play of walk-on tailback Mell Holliday. Holliday, listed at 5-8, 205 pounds, made several plays with the ball in his hands near the end of practice. Coaches kept calling his number, and he kept delivering. Inside, Holliday talks about how he's in Boulder to play, not sit the bench. Also, a Q&A with Brian Daniels.

Mell Holliday played tailback and linebacker at Benson High School in Omaha, before playing two seasons at Wayne State College in Nebraska. In 2004, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska, hoping to make Bill Callahan's first Cornhusker team as a walk on. But Holliday didn't make the NU roster.

That's when he decided to pursue walking on at Colorado. He said he liked Colorado because of the Buffs' running game.

Holliday contacted the CU football office and heard back from John Wristen. Holliday, who needed a release from the Nebraska athletic department even though he didn't make the team, spent last year working out on his own as he attended classes in Lincoln.

Thursday, people began to take notice of his arrival in Boulder. He stood out during the morning's scrimmage.

"Mell was as impressive as anyone out there today," Barnett said after the day's first practice. "When you put the ball down in scrimmage you find out a lot of things. We didn't know how he would be able to break tackles when we were practicing in shorts."

Holliday, a junior who has two years to play two, is still listed outside the top four spots in the team's most recent depth chart. But he's hoping that will change after today. He's got his sights set on playing time this fall.

"I want to push (Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis)," Holliday said. "Pushing them will make me better and make them better. That's how you build a championship team – every little bit helps.

"I moved up in the rotation in the last day or so," he continued. "It's looking better than it did the first couple days of practice. But nothing's set in stone. I'll keep working and hopefully I'll get in there."

Shorts and pants
Most of the upperclassmen were in shorts in the afternoon practice, while the youngsters were in football pants. A scrimmage involving the younger players was sacked when freshman walk-on Tom Grubin dislocated his elbow, leaving the team too thin at center.

Ligon Update
Defensive end Alex Ligon, who received a blow to the head during practice and was taken to the hospital Tuesday as a precautionary measure, is "feeling fine," Barnett said. He will resume practices when he passes a concussion test.

Team trainers give the players the test — a series of questions or tasks — in the offseason to establish each player's individual baseline. If a player receives a concussion, he's then tested again. Once he's accomplishing the test in a similar time as his baseline, he's deemed to have passed.

Barnett Ligon showed improvement in the test today. He speculated that Ligon would return to action either Saturday or Monday.

Injury Report
Jordon Dizon sat out practice. Bryce MacMartin worked some in the afternoon. Edwin Harrison wore blue, but was involved in more contact than previous days. Dominique Brooks was back in pads for the first time since his finger surgery, and took part in most drills. Gerett Burl was back in action after missing Tuesday afternoon.

Quick Hitter with Brian Daniels
Junior guard Brian Daniels spoke with BSN about camp so far.

Q: A lot of players are talking about the benefits of the good summer workouts the team had. Do you feel the same way?
Brian Daniels:
Absolutely. Just looking at the guys, everybody looks bigger and looks stronger. And the numbers prove it. We had people gaining in all their benches and squats, and in running. What Coach Finnegan has done has really helped us a lot.

Q: What about you; what gains did you make?
BD:
I gained in every lifting category.

Q: What do you weigh?
BD:
I weight about 305 right now.

Q: Is that the biggest you've been?
BD:
Yeah. I played at about 290-295 last year.

Q: Are you guys doing any new drills with the offensive line this fall? I've talked to some of the quarterbacks and receivers, and they're working some new ones in.
BD:
No, we're pretty old school. We've stuck to the same stuff. But with how much playing time the returners have had, we've been able to really step into some of our more advanced drills. We're moving at a pretty good pace, and the young guys are catching on even though I know it's hard for them.

Q: Is there a particular emphasis this August? More pass protection than run blocking? Or the other way around?
BD:
Yeah, we're really emphasizing pass blocking. So far in camp, the line's done an awesome job of picking up all the pressures. We're steps ahead of where we were last year at this time.

Q: Do you have a pregame routine you go through each game?
BD:
Not really. I like to be able to be alone for a while. I get a good stretch and get a good sweat going before I go on the field. Coach Finnegan usually helps with that. Some guys like to listen to music to get them fired up for the game. But I like to be able to think about what I'm going to do, and get fired up when I get out there.

Q: Who's the toughest individual opponent you've faced the past two years?
BD:
The toughest opponent I ever played against was Tommie Harris (Oklahoma) my freshman year. Darnell Dawkins at Florida State in my first start was good. There's a lot of guys in the Big 12. Last year, C.J. Mosely and Attiyah Ellison, from Missouri, they were both really good.

The HYPE (believe it or not)
Barnett was disappointed with the afternoon's practice. He said he was glad the team didn't have a game tomorrow and indicated the offense is behind the defense right now.

In some drills where the quarterbacks threw to receivers defended one-on-one by the defensive backs midway through practice, it was the offensive players who were looking sharp. Quarterbacks Brian White and Bernard Jackson were the most impressive signal callers in that one.

Joel Klatt struggled a bit in 11-on-11 situations later in the day. Terry Washington broke well on a Klatt pass on an Alvin Barnett out pattern and got the pick. A few moments later, Burl came up with an interception of Klatt.

But on other plays, the offense was finding success. Daniels led a sweep and Byron Ellis found the end zone vs. the first team defense. Holliday busted through for another score. James Cox scrambled and hit Tim Lemon (who continues to improve daily) in the end zone.

The team is scheduled to practice from 4-6:30 p.m. Friday.


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