Holliday Shines in Scrimmage

Check one off the "to do" list. Colorado offensive coaches went into Saturday's scrimmage wanting to identify a No.3 tailback. The only question remaining on that issue is if Mell Holliday continues to improve, will he push his way further up the depth chart.

"He clearly is the third back right now. He made a good move for himself," Gary Barnett said of Mell Holliday, the walk-on tailback from Omaha.

Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis took few reps, giving way to four other tailbacks — Holliday, Maurice Little, Kevin Moyd and Reggie Foster — so that they could battle it out for the No. 3 spot. As the scrimmage, held in Folsom Stadium amid a lightning storm that delayed the practice for 15 minutes at one point, wore on it became clear Holliday was the man.

The 5-8, 205-pounder showed good vision, waiting for holes to appear, then wasting no time busting through them. He also displayed an ability to make defenders miss and break a tackle or two.

"I thought I caught up with the tempo of the game," Holliday said. "Times like this you've got to buckle down and show what you've got."

What he got by the end of the day was a scrimmage-best 15 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. On the touchdown drive, he carried 10 times for 55 yards, including rushing the final nine plays.

So effective was Holliday, his performance begged the obvious question: Could he push his way into the two-deep at tailback anytime soon?

Barnett quickly played that possibility down.

"He's still got to learn the offense," Barnett said. "But he learns pretty well. You can see he's a north/south guy. And he's strong. It's good to find him."

Holliday's only missed assignment on the touchdown drive came, ironically, on the touchdown play. He ran the wrong way, but found two blockers and bulled his way into the end zone behind them.

"The line was moving people. I just followed them," he said.

He said after the scrimmage he still needs work in pass protection.

"I've still got some stuff to work on, but I'm moving in the right direction," he said. "The runs are never hard. Everybody can pay attention when you're going to get the ball. It's a little harder when you get to the pass routes. There's a lot of protections that you have to know. But I'm catching on."

He said the tailbacks didn't know the coaches would be looking for a No. 3 tailback to emerge until they read in Saturday's newspaper.

"We was asking the coaches in the locker room, wondering why it was in the papers before we found out about it," Holliday laughed.

Billingsley back
Safety J.J. Billingsley led all with six tackles, and an interception.

"It's good to be back," said Billingsley, who misses spring for academic reasons.

With Ryan Walters recovering from a knee scope, and Dominique Brooks suffering an ankle sprain, starters vs. CSU may come down to Billingsley, alongside either Tyrone Henderson or Tom Hubbard. Stay tuned to see how serious Brooks' ankle is.

But it's hard to imagine that Billingsley won't be in the starting lineup, barring injury. Asked if he still felt pressure to prove himself, the junior said, "I feel pressure because I'm playing for Coach Bray. He'll sit you out for anything."

Montbello in the house
Montbello High School coach Oliver Lucas was at the scrimmage with three players, presumably from Montbello. They had a chat with Gary Barnett, Bill Inge and Darian Hagan on the field as the team was sent inside because of lightning.

Ryan Walters had his knee scoped Saturday. Will be able to run Friday, and hopefully play vs. Colorado State. …Five ankle sprains cropped up during the scrimmage, including one to Dominique Brooks. Barnett said, "we've got to figure out what's going on with (the sprains)." …Akarika Dawn was out with a quad injury, not serious…Jordon Dizon left the scrimmage and iced his shoulder….Vance Washington played some early….Lorenzo Sims played and didn't look slowed by his knee.

The HYPE (believe it or not)
Alvin Barnett had the splashiest offensive play of the day. He caught a pass on the left side of the field against the first-team defense, and cut back four times, causing four defenders to miss, ran all the way to the other side of the field and ended up with a 20 yard gain.

For the most part, ones played vs. twos.

People may differ with this take, but I thought Bernard Jackson was the second best quarterback Saturday after Joel Klatt. Though he had one bad throw, missing a wide open receiver in the flat, he continues to make strides as a passer. He also continues to do things with his legs.

While the team has playmakers established on defense, the Buffs will go into the Colorado State without a clear playmaker on offense.

At this point, CU has six offensive lineman it can count on to consistently play well – the five starters and Edwin Harrison.

If Holliday gets in a game and runs as well as he did Saturday vs. opponents he will stay on the field. He was that good. And the best news is that he wasn't doing it by himself. There were some holes to run through. Once through them, Holliday showed the ability to make people miss and break tackles.

Patrick Williams is not the big-play threat the offense needs at this point. And why would he be – he was a high school quarterback and had two broken hands a year ago. He's coming along, but this will be a season of learning for him.

George Hypolite was playing both inside and outside Saturday. He gets off the ball so fast, I kept thinking he was offsides, but he wasn't. He was just moving before the other D-linemen.Taj Kaynor was getting reps inside.

Stat Leaders
Passing: Klatt 2-7-34-1-0
Cox 3-9-26-0-0
Jackson 3-5-25-0-0
White 2-4-11-0-0 Rushing: Holliday 15-82-1
Charles 2-11
Vickers 3-6
Moyd 1-6
Receiving: Barnett 2-29
Williams 1-26
Judge 1-16
Defense: Billingsley (six tackles, INT for 34 yards); Ligon (three tackles, two sacks for negative 15 yards); Brad Jones (five tackles, one QBH); Jeff Smart (four tackles); Brian Iwuh (two tackles for negative four yards); Hypolite (two tackles, one sack for negative 15 yards)

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