CU Offense Wins Spring Scrimmage 59-49

The play in the Colorado Buffaloes annual ‘Black and Gold' Scrimmage Saturday had the Folsom Field scoreboard spinning like it hadn't since…well, the day after Thanksgiving. This time, while it was a slightly different style of scorekeeping, the Buffs' offense ended up topping the defense 59-49.

Faced with a large injury list, and a smaller than normal spring roster, head coach Gary Barnett couldn't divide his team into two even teams. Instead, CU's offense squared off against the defense in a special contest that allowed the defense to score points ranging from one to six, depending on how and where an offensive drive was stopped.

So in front of a chilled stadium crowd of 3,350, both Buff squads showed their stuff, and the score remained close most of the way. When it was all over, Barnett left the field pleased with his team's performance. The spring had been productive, but several questions remained unanswered.

"This is just what I wanted to have today," Barnett said after the scrimmage. "I really wanted our defense to be tested and I wanted our offense to get some confidence. I thought we played well and overall I am pleased with what we did."

The offensive stars of the game were numerous – led by running backs Chris Brown and Marcus Houston. The duo combined to rush for 262 yards and three touchdowns on just 30 carries. Brown, who was also named the winner of the Fred Casotti Award - given to the most outstanding offensive back throughout the spring - finished the day with 150 yards and two scores. Houston is showing observers the form that made him the nation's top recruit when he came out of Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School two years ago.

"The offensive line did a tremendous job for the backs this spring," Brown said afterwards. "They had some injuries, but I think they all did a great job. And of course, we would never be able to do anything unless we had our fullback (Brandon) Drumm. He's what makes all this go, and he did a lot, too."

The offense got off to a quick start when Craig Ochs connected with fellow junior Derek McCoy on the first series of the game for a 34-yard touchdown pass. On the day, Ochs completed 14-of-19 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with junior John Donahoe four times, including a 28-yard touchdown.

Ochs was happy with the entire offense. "I was really happy with the way things went today," he said afterwards. "Chris and Marcus really ran the ball well and our line did a great job of blocking.

"We have been hurting at the receiving spot because of all the injuries, but I'm very glad to see John and Derek catch the ball like they did. John has just been so reliable this spring and he has done a great job by stepping it up out there for the guys who are hurt."

As for the defense, which had had the better of the battles with the offense most of the spring, senior linebacker Joey Johnson and Drew Wahlroos led an effort Barnett termed "solid and inspiring to see."

Johnson had an outstanding afternoon, racking up eight tackles, returning a fumble for a 14-yard score, and picking off a pass which he also ran back 24 yards. Wahlroos had seven tackles and an interception.

"We set this up where our defense really had to command the game if they wanted to win," Barnett continued. "Though they did not win, I thought they gave a good performance and really made some big plays out there."

"We came out fired up," Wahlroos said. "We did not have a very crisp scrimmage the last time we played here (on Folsom Field), so today we really wanted to keep the intensity up and knock some heads around."

With the spring season completed, the Buffs will not return to the field until August. Though Barnett believes his team has shown improvement, even with the amount of injuries suffered and setbacks in the passing game, he understands the off-season will be critical.

"There are a lot of things we need to correct," Barnett added. "A lot happens between now and when you line up in the fall. Right now, I really don't know exactly where we stand. I need to wait and look over everything closely before I can make a final assessment. We definitely have got some work to do, though. "

"Overall, I think we did a great job with what we had to work with," Ochs said. "There are always going to be set backs to your plans, but what is important is that we stayed focused and got some good things done."

"It is going to be important that we all work hard in the off-season so we can get back to where we were last year," Wahlroos added. "We have a very high standard for ourselves and we will only accept the best. This spring was just the first step. We have a long way to go, but I think we are headed in the right direction."

(CU SID contributed to this story.)

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