Hard Work In Store For Buffaloes

Coming off Colorado's 2-10 season in 2006, Jeff Pitman, CU's strength and conditioning coach, put the hammer down in offseason workouts. Under Pitman's watch last winter, the team adopted a regimen designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some players floated away as the demanding workouts began. This winter, it's more of the same.

"The bottom line is, we've just got to get better in everything we do," Pitman said last week. "We're definitely moving in the right direction, but we've got a long ways to go."

That sentiment was echoed by Pitman's boss, head coach Dan Hawkins, following the Buffs' 6-7 season in 2007.

"We just have to continue to push and get better," Hawkins said. "You always have to go back to Point A and start out with what you're all about."

Under Hawkins, the Buffs have been about developing a tough, blue-collar work ethic. It starts in the offseason. This year's offseason winter workouts begin this week at CU.

Much of what Pitman has planned for the team during offseason workouts this go around is similar to what they did last year. The weightlifting program is based in Olympic-style lifts, where players lift fewer repetitions of heavy weights, focusing on the power clean because of the range of muscles it works.

What will be different, though — and it's a striking difference — is that players will be able to use the practice bubble, which was erected in October. Under Pitman's watch, that means more cardio work.

"A lot of it's going to be similar, but with the bubble, we're going to be able to do a lot more running than we did in the past," he said.

Pitman will conduct speed drills on Mondays, then agility and change-of-direction drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Players will lift weights Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The bubble will also allow the team to conduct player-led 7-on-7 drills all winter. It will really be the first time that's happened at CU. Coaches hope that will pay off during spring ball, which takes place beginning the third week of March, and culminates with the annual spring game on April 19.

As is policy under Hawkins, all positions are up for grabs.

"We'll find out who wants to get it done in the weightroom, go to school, watch film, go out and throw the ball around and take care of business," Hawkins said. "I hope (winter workouts are) harder. I want them to be harder. I want them to be more demanding, more specific, more detailed."

And there will be a learning curve. Nearly 40 players going through the winter conditioning workouts were not on the team last year. That includes an entire class of freshmen.

"They don't know what it's like," Hawkins said. "They don't know what it's like when (someone) is five minutes late for class and the whole team has to run 10 gassers (as discipline for the tardiness)."

Coaches hope the hard work pays off in the 2008 season. Colorado played one of the tougher schedules in the country last year, and Pitman thinks the upcoming season will provide an even bigger challenge. Included on the slate are Colorado State (in Denver), games at Florida State, Missouri and Nebraska, and home games vs. West Virginia, Texas and Kansas State.

"The schedule next year, in my opinion, is going to be tougher than the schedule we had last year," Pitman said. "We're going to have to do everything better than we did last year."

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