Buffs Need a Fourth Defensive End

With Alonzo Barrett out likely six weeks with a knee injury, defensive end Alex Ligon (pictured) is back in the starting lineup. But CU coaches are looking for a fourth defensive end to back up Ligon. Also inside, notes from CU's weather-shortened practice and an update with Jarrell Yates.

On Monday, sophomore defensive end Alonzo Barrett didn't have much to say, but you could see the disappointment in the youngster's eyes. Barrett had earned the first start of his college career Oct. 1 on the road at Oklahoma State. A week later, he was starting his first game at Folsom Field against Texas A&M. He left the game in the first half with a knee injury.

Barrett said he couldn't tell he'd injured his knee on the particular play until he tried to get up and get back to the huddle. Barrett, so intent on not showing weakness, tried to limp off he field. It took veteran teammate Akarika Dawn coming over and instructing Barrett to lay down on the field so the official would call time out and allow CU trainers to come help the defensive end to the sideline.

"I didn't want to go down," Barrett said Monday.

But down he went, and now — following an MRI test, which revealed a torn PCL in his knee — Barrett is out for six weeks, most likely. Instead of having season-ending surgery to repair the tear now, Barrett will try and rehab it and hopes to be ready for the Nebraska game Nov. 25.

Now, however, the question becomes: Who will be the Buffs' fourth defensive end? Monday, it wasn't yet clear.

For certain, junior Alex Ligon will get his starting job back, the one he lost to Barrett a little over two weeks ago. Ligon, who came into the season as the starting rush end, after manning the position in 2004, played in Saturday's game after Barrett left the field. According to defensive line coach Bill Inge, Ligon played well.

"We have the utmost confidence in him," Inge said.

Ligon, humbled by his demotion last month, said he looks forward to the challenge.

"I've been struggling, but it felt good to get out there and help this team out," he said of his performance in the 41-20 win over Texas A&M. "I'm going to have to pick up my game."

With junior Abraham Wright, the starter, and junior Walter Boye-Doe, his backup, at the other end position, Inge said he's not yet sure who will back up Ligon.

"It's just one of those things we have to deal with," he said. "Luckily, we have enough maturity on the team where there are young men chomping at the bit, waiting to perform."

Depth at the position took a hit earlier this year when ends Greg Newman and David Veikune transferred from the program. Inge said he would throw the competition open to four true freshman: George Hypolite, Maurice Lucas, Taj Kaynor and Sam Zimmerer.

Hypolite has been playing on second string on the interior. Inge said Hypolite has the smarts to learn the defensive rush end position, while backing up on the inside. But moving Hypolite could stretch the defensive front thin.

Coaches had hoped to redshirt the other three players. Lucas confirmed Monday he had planned to redshirt, but said he would certainly play if the need arose.

Another option would be to use Boye-Doe in a dual backup role. Still another is to use senior defensive tackle James Garee some at end, but that may be a last resort, as Inge is happy with the consistency Garee's shown at tackle after moving from defensive end prior to this season.

Whoever ends up the fourth end, Inge holds high expectations for him, beginning this Saturday at Texas.

"We're going to see who'll step to the forefront," he said. "That's my policy. I want to find the best guy and not just stereotype someone. I want to find the individual who wants it, who wants to do the things necessary to be a performer for our defense. Because they're going to be held accountable to be a champion – not to just be average or play scared or play like a freshman. We're going down there (to Texas) to take care of business in this football game."

Buffs ‘A Day Behind'
It seems to happen at least once every year. When the Buffs face a big game after September, bad weather hits Boulder and forces Colorado off its practice field and into the cramped confines of Balch Fieldhouse.

Monday, rain kept CU inside for a brief practice, in which they did some walk-through work and running. Typically, Mondays are big game plan and conditioning days.

And each year when bad weather forces the Buffs inside, head coach Gary Barnett is asked if the situation demonstrates the program's need for an indoor practice facility?

Monday, Barnett said: "I would think so."

(Constructing a facility at the practice fields, commonly called a practice bubble, is under examination by the university.)

Further complicating things was the fact that the CU video system stopped working around noon Monday — just before the team usually begins watching film breakdowns of their upcoming opponent. As of Monday at 6 p.m., Colorado players had seen precious little of the No. 2-ranked 2005 Texas Longhorns on film.

Head coach Gary Barnett said after practice the video system was supposed to back up and running Monday night, but he didn't yet know its status.

As it was, the weather and video snafu put a cramp in what is a crucial week of practice.

"We're a day behind Texas … maybe the best team in the country. It doesn't help," he said. "But that's the way it is."

One film CU has been able to watch is the Buffs' 31-7 loss at home to the Longhorns last year. He said this year's Colorado team that's preparing to play UT is much better than the one who played them in 2004.

"Night and day difference," Barnett said. "We look at the way we played against these guys last year and it was just awful. And they didn't play great against us. They didn't come out possessed.

"We're a much better team in every phase than we were a year ago. But they're a better team, too."

Barnett said the Buffs would practice outside Tuesday, no matter what weather hits.

Incidentally, the forecast calls for 87 degrees and sunshine in Austin Saturday.

Yates May Get Another Scope
Freshman wide receiver Jarrell Yates began running hard last week for the first time this fall. He had been bothered with a knee issue since July, and had arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 9. Yates said Monday his knee feels "OK," but that he may undergo another arthroscopic procedure to clean up some remaining loose cartilage in the knee. He said he'll decide by Wednesday.

Either way, the speedy receiver said he plans to redshirt this season.

Speaking of Yates, there was a bit of confusion Saturday, when it appeared Yates, who wears No. 80, had entered the game with Texas A&M. However, the receiver wearing No. 80 was Reggie Joseph, who had made the switch to No. 80, from 18, before the game.

Sanders Out with Hamstring
Barnett said Monday redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Daniel Sanders is out up to four weeks with a partially torn hamstring he suffered vs. Texas A&M. Sanders played significant minutes at guard in the team's first five games.

Ralphie Gets Some Love
Collegefootballnews.com recently ranked CU's pre-game and halftime ritual of running Ralphie the Buffalo mascot onto the field No. 8 among its 10 "coolest college traditions." The tradition began in 1966.

The following is CFN's top 10.

1. Texas A&M 12th Man
2. Army - Navy game procession
3. Florida State's Chief Osceola and Renegade
4. Ohio State dotting of the "I"
5. The grove at Ole Miss
6. Tennessee's Floatilla
7. Wisconsin's "Jump Around"
8. Colorado's Ralphie
9. Oklahoma's Sooner Schooner
10. Clemson's Howard's Rock

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