Colorado Football Notes

Inside, notes from the Colorado football program as the Buffs prepare to play a road game at Kansas State Saturday. Pictured, the new practice bubble at the CU football practice fields.

• Last week's game-day atmosphere in Waco was less than spectacular, according to witnesses who follow Colorado. But the team expects a more hostile environment in Manhattan, Kan., this Saturday when they face Kansas State.

"We definitely know it's going to be really loud, probably the loudest (opponent's) stadium we've played in so far," Cody Hawkins said. "I've heard Manhattan's going to be a crazy place to go. On game day, that place really livens up and there's a lot of energy in that stadium."

"I think you have to go in there and make plays and keep the crowd out of it."

• A cold/flu virus is making its way through the CU team. Cody Hawkins is on the "getting over it" side of the illness.

Head coach Dan Hawkins' take on sick days? "You just push through it. I think it's amazing how everybody has all these sick days. I've been coaching 25 years, I don't think I've ever missed one day from being sick. I mean, let's go. You go. You've got a task in front of you and you go," he said.

• Kansas State true sophomore quarterback Josh Freeman is averaging 261 passing yards a game. He's a big player, at 6-6, 250 pounds.

Hawkins had this to say about Freeman: ""He's done a nice job, I'm sure he threw some interceptions last week that I'm sure he was not happy about but he's played pretty good football. Particularly for being a young guy, he's a big part of what they do on offense. Both from the standpoint of throwing the football but also it is hard to get to him. He's mobile and even if you're lucky enough to get to him you better have somebody big tackle him or you are not going to get him down."

KSU receiver Jordy Nelson has also caught Hawkins' eye.

"He can do it all," Hawkins said. "They will hand him the ball, they'll throw it to him underneath and let him run, they'll throw it deep and he makes tough catches in traffic. He is a really, really good player. He is big and physical but he can get in and out of his breaks. He is a really good player, he really is. They will do a variety of all those things with him."

• Cody Hawkins will be facing a 3-4 defensive front for the first time in his college career, as that's the look K-State offers. The Wildcats like to blitz, and have 18 sacks this season.

"They play an odd-man front, three down linemen and four linebackers, but all their linebackers are the size of d-linemen," Cody Hawkins said. "They play a lot of guys in the box and they play really hard."

Chase McBride is listed as OUT on the official CU injury list, in terms of the K-State game. He's a little more optimistic that he'll be back fielding punts after suffering a shoulder sprain in practices before the OU game. Stephone Robinson, his backup, is listed day-to-day with a leg contusion. If neither are available, D.J. Dykes or Scotty McKnight would probably perform the task.

Others on the injured list are Jalil Brown (concussion), day-to-day; R.J. Brown (concussion), out; Tyson DeVree (concussion), probable; Edwin Harrison (knee), probable; Kevin Moyd (hamstring), questionable.

• Anyone who's seen Cody Hawkins in practice or on game day knows he's been a vocal leader in his redshirt-freshman season. But Hawkins said that's one area he wants to improve upon.

"I've always been a pretty vocal kid, but I've just kind of had my feelers out during the first part of the season, not trying to call people out and staying pretty quiet," he said. "But I think that's part of my deal — I like to talk and get people fired up and communicate. I think as I continue to get more comfortable with guys on the team…that will have to step up."

• Dan Hawkins paid some credit to the scout team players for the team's success this season.

"I really mean this, part of the reason that we are better is that our scout team has been getting better," Hawkins said. "It is interesting because a lot of the defensive guys, to some degree, would rather go against the scout team versus (first team) because they are giving them a better look and they know what is going on. That has helped us all the way around, we have been way better on scout team and I don't know if it is one guy over another but we have a number of people who have stepped up and that is part of learning how to be a good football team."

The scout team meets every day and views 10 to 15 clips of that week's opponent, then goes out and runs the plays vs. the first-teamers.

While Hawkins has been pleased with the scout team's play this fall, there's another level he'd like them to get to. At Boise State, it got to the point where scout team players were studying film on their own, learning how to imitate individual players on the upcoming opponent's team.

"That's when you really got it going," Hawkins said.

One consistent performer has been true freshman Matt Ballenger. Hawkins said "he's been awesome" at leading the scout team offense as it mimics opponents each week. Hawkins said he wondered aloud why Ballenger hadn't yet been awarded a scout team player of the week award this fall. But the coaches who give the awards said, "Oh, he could get that every week."

"He does a good job. He gets after our defense over there," Hawkins said of Ballenger. "He's a smart guy, he has a strong arm, he's accurate and he can run."

Could be the starting quarterback next year? Hawkins was asked. "It's possible," he said.

Scout Team Awards (Off., Def., ST)
CSU: TB Brian Lockridge, ILB Michael Sipili, S Jason Espinoza
ASU: None
FSU: None
M-O: OL Shawn Daniels and Joe Fruechtel, DE Conrad Obi, S Bret Smith
OU: WR Steve Melton, DE Conrad Obi, S Joel Adams
BU: TB Cory Nabors and OL Joe Fruechtel, DT Eugene Goree, SN Justin Drescher

• Senior LB Jordon Dizon is once again atop the national stat leader list in tackles. He's averaging 13 per game, and is credited by the NCAA with 78 stops.

Asked about the defensive leader, Hawkins had this to say:

"He's a great player, but he's a great man. I think he exemplifies what you want your kids to be like, and what you want your team to be like.

"He's very tough, he's very consistent, he's very considerate, he's smart, he's a leader, he prepares. He and T-Wheat both have just been awesome."

Dizon typically defers praise to teammates. How typical is that of a player?

"It's not typical of anyone in society," Hawkins said. "But we always talk about being abnormal, a little different."

Listed at 6-0-, 220 pounds, some think Dizon may be headed to the safety position if he makes it at the next level, thinking he's too small to play linebacker. Don't count Hawkins among them. He thinks Dizon will have a chance at linebacker.

"I think when he goes to the next level and he gets to eat right and train right all the time, he'll put on more weight," Hawkins said. "But you're seeing the same things happen in the NFL that you are in college. The guys that are 250 pounds are usually playing defensive end. They're not playing linebacker."

Stat Leaders
Colorado players among the top 10 in Big 12 statistics through CU's six games are:
Rushing: 10. Hugh Charles, 72.8 yards per game
Passing Ave.: 8. Cody Hawkins, 242.8 ypg
Passing Eff.: 8. Cody Hawkins, 120.3
Total Offense:9. Cody Hawkins, 238.2 ypg
Interceptions: t-7. Terrence Wheatley, t-7th, 2
PR Ave.: 4. Chase McBride, 12.6 ypr
KR Ave.: 2. Terrence Wheatley, 26.6
Punting: 5. Matt DiLallo, 43.1
Scoring (kick): Kevin Eberhart, 7.8
Field Goals: t-2. Kevin Eberhart, 1.67 per game
FG pct.: 3. Kevin Eberhart, 66.7
Tackles: 1. Jordon Dizon, 78, 13.0 per game
Sacks: t-2. George Hypolite, 3.5; t-7. Jordon Dizon, 3.0
TFL: t-7. Jordon Dizon, 1.17 per game
Passes Defended: t-1. Terrence Wheatley, 1.33 per game

• Hawkins said he expects CU will use most of its official recruiting visits during the season. He said it's looking like they'll have "18-ish" to give for the 2008 class.

• The Buffs will conduct their first practice with the new bubble in place Tuesday afternoon. Hawkins said most of the work will still be done on the two fields next to the bubble, as long as the weather is good. Kickers will probably spend time in the bubble on most days, though.

Here are two photos of the bubble. For perspective's sake, the first one includes two field prep workers in the lower right side of the photo.

The new practice bubble is up at the CU practice field.
Mark Collins/BSN

The Ralphie logo adorns the side of the bubble.
Mark Collins/BSN

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