He's back this spring, hard lessons learned, and working to regain some of the form that had coaches singing his praises a year ago. But Sipili, along with fellow inside ‘backer Marcus Burton, were part of head coach Dan Hawkins' "mentoring program" last week — designed for student-athletes still working on the student part — and missed his first opportunity to play.
What he saw from the sidelines was an offense that put up 635 yards on his fellow defensive teammates.
"We're a lot better than that," Sipili said about the defense's performance in the first scrimmage. "It's our fault because we were short on ‘backers. We need everybody to be there and support each other."
Sipili said he looks forward to being out there to help his teammates try and slow CU's no-huddle offense this Saturday, when the Buffs scrimmage beginning at 10 a.m. When he does, it will likely be with the second team defense. Junior Jeff Smart started in Sipili's place in 2007, and the former walk on played so well, he earned a scholarship. He's been running with the first team this spring and will be a tough player to surpass.
"He knows his plays," Sipili said of Smart. "I watch film with him too. I learn a lot from him."
Sipili said he's still working back into playing shape, and honing up the mental side of things. He admits he's still shaking off the rust from a season away from football.
Saturday, though, he said the Buffs' defense priority is to prove last week's scrimmage was a fluke.
"We've got to stop this offense," he said. "It's a new offense, a no-huddle offense, and it's pretty hard to defend. We've got to be quick mentally."
Hawkins said on Thursday having the linebackers back should help the defense's cause.
"They're going to make a difference; they were pretty prominent in practice today," the coach said.