Sipili's Caught Coach's Eye

Though he says he's been confused and out of breath most of the first week of practice, one of the newcomers who's stood out has been linebacker Michael Sipili. Could he see the field in 2006 as a true freshman? Also inside, notes from Saturday morning's practice.

Veteran linebackers coach Brian Cabral isn't prone to overstatement. He's difficult to please. But Cabral has been pleased with the play of his linebackers on the whole through the first week of August camp.

"I really like the way that they came back from the summer," Cabral said after Saturday morning's practice. "It's evident that they've been working hard and that they've even been studying hard. So I think all their film sessions this summer have paid off. The work that they did this summer paid off. We came back right where we left off, so that's a good thing.

"We're not there yet, but we're making progress."

Among the new linebackers on board, Michael Sipili, from Honolulu, has caught Cabral's eye.

"I'm really liking what Sipili's doing," Cabral said.

Sipili is playing one of the inside linebacker positions. Listed at 6-1, 235 pounds, he moves well.

"He's just a big athlete," Cabral said. "He runs well, he's very physical, very smart. It's very evident that he's worked very hard for a freshman."

Sipili is also coachable, evident by his humble attitude. Speaking after Friday's practice Sipili told BSN the first week of practice has been an eye-opener.

"It's tough for me because I'm new here and confused. I've got to put extra time in and learn the plays and talk to the older guys. The game's a lot faster in college," he said.

While he practiced with other newcomers the first four days, Friday was his first day with the veterans. He said the tempo was even faster than the rookies had been practicing at. He's also still adjusting to the altitude, as he arrived in Boulder from Hawaii July 29.

Sipili said he's enjoyed getting to know some of the other Polynesian players on the CU team the past two weeks, including fellow linebackers B.J. Beatty, Jordon Dizon and Justin Nonu. He's leaning on them so he "doesn't get homesick," he said.

While Cabral likes what he's seen of the youngster so far, he stopped short of saying he expects him to play this fall. It's just too soon to tell. Cabral said he needs to see how Sipili, and his teammates, respond when they go live during Sunday's scrimmage, the first of the camp.

"We've just got to wait and see," Cabral said. "But I'm giving him more challenges and more responsibilities. He's accepting those responsibilities and those challenges. We'll see."

Saturday Morning Practice Notes
Saturday morning was the first half of the team's first two-a-day practice. The team was in full pads and went at it hard. Coach Dan Hawkins liked the tempo better than Friday afternoon's go. The offense got the better of the defense in 11-on-11 situations.

• Junior Brian White has been taking a majority of the reps with what looks to be the first team offense. Hawkins said after Saturday morning's session that "Brian still has a little bit of an edge," in the quarterback battle. At this point, it appears that Sunday night's scrimmage will be a big test in the QB pecking order. With White in the lead, don't assume Bernard Jackson is running No. 2. It looks like James Cox is right there with Jackson, maybe even a little ahead.

Overall, Hawkins said he's looking for playmakers Sunday. "Guys gotta make plays. That's the name of the game," he said.

• Redshirt-freshman center Zach Jones has been absent from at least the past couple practices. Hawkins said he's on leave for personal reasons. "We'll find out a little more about him next week," Hawkins said.

While the center position is in great hands this year with Mark Fenton, next year is a big question mark, as Fenton is a senior. Jones and true freshman Wes Palazzi are the only two centers on this year's roster that won't run out of eligibility after this season.

Erick Faatagi was in jersey and helmet but out of pads. Not sure his injury, but it doesn't appear serious. Ryan Walters (thigh) still not in pads.

Ben Burney was getting reps at safety with first team defense in Walters' absence, it appeared.

Thaddaeus Washington and Jordon Dizon were teaching some of the running backs lessons in a pass protection drill that pitted linebackers vs. running backs. As they should, they looked like veterans.

• Redshirt-freshman Jake Behrens is quietly having a good camp. Really for the first time since he's been here, he's starting to be noticeable. He's developing into a real physical player, but needs to continue to work on his pass catching.

George Hypolite hasn't lost any of his quickness as he's added weight since last spring.

• Freshman Jimmy Smith is working as a safety right now.

Mason Crosby connected on a 62-yard field goal, then came up short on another at that length. Hypolite got his hand on the next one, then Crosby was wide on a 67-yarder.