Nick Nelson had his best scrimmage to date since joining the team last spring. The senior backup threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 12 of 17 passes. He also ran 3 yards for a score. Sophomore Cody Hawkins was 17 of 30 for 170 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Redshirt freshman Matt Ballenger went 8 of 16 for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Kevin Moyd, playing with the third and second team offense, led all rushers with 59 yards on 8 carries. Tight end Patrick Devenny had six catches for 121 yards. Burton led the defense with 10 tackles, while Jake Duren came up with an interception.
Burton knows he's fighting for a job in the two-deep.
"I'm just trying to get back into the flow," said Burton, who missed much of the first half of spring ball. "I missed some practice but I'm just trying to come out here and compete. We have some great players, a great coach who teaches us what we need to know and we have some great recruits coming in, so I need to make every play I can, and that is what I'm trying to do."
Also of note, Beatty, a sophomore who has played special teams in the past, is fighting for more playing time. He had some reps with the first team, while senior Brad Jones worked with the second team on defense.
"The competition right now is pretty stiff and those guys are battling it out," defensive coordinator Ron Collins said. "At some point we want them both on the field, but B.J. has come a long way in the last year. He's playing as well as anybody right now on defense. He's always been a smart football player, but it just seems like he's figuring it out in all phases."
Who Is This Guy?
Jason Espinoza, No. 37, was a first-team all-state wide out at Alamosa High in Colorado in 2006. He was invited to walk on as a safety last year at CU by secondary coach Greg Brown. Espinoza wanted back on offense, and got his wish this spring.
He's still learning how to run routes, much less the ones in CU's offense, he said. Espinoza is generously listed at 5-8. He's got a low center of gravity and some quickness. He had some of the days biggest plays Saturday as a wide out and punt returner. Espinoza broke free on one punt return and bowled over punter Matt DiLallo, the last defender. DiLallo was called for a face mask after slowing Espinoza just enough for another defender to catch him. In all, Espinoza returned four punts for 61 yards, including a long of 45 yards. He also caught four passes for 62 yards.
In addition to his play on the field, Espinoza had the quote of the day. After the scrimmage, when asked if he ever fair catches a punt, he said, "It hurt worse being on the sidelines than it does getting hit."
J "All-Purpose" Fly
Espinoza wasn't the only player with some big moves Saturday. Sophomore Josh Smith had the ball in his hands quite a bit — as he has all spring. He's getting used to returning punts, kickoffs, catching passes and running reverses. Saturday he totaled 136 yards in all four aspects. He nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown. It went for 56 yards.
Smith said he likes the multi-role reputation he's developing.
"I kind of get bored doing one assignment, doing just one thing," he said.
The speedster also added, "Sometimes (my speed) makes me a little less physical because I kind of depend on it. Hopefully, down the line I'm going to get a lot stronger and be able to muscle through guys and then run past them. For now, I've got to use all speed and quickness."
Tired Of Waiting
Patrick Devenny has been used sparingly since becoming a Buffalo in 2005. Recruited as a quarterback, Devenny moved to tight end in 2006. With Nate Solder's move to tackle, and Riar Geer's suspension, Devenny is the most experienced tight end this spring, even though he's barely played. But in terms of getting open and catching the ball, he's been a pleasant surprise in CU's first two spring scrimmages.
After hauling in a touchdown catch a week ago, Devenny beat a safety or linebacker for touchdown passes again Saturday. He also hauled in a long pass and took it to the 1-yard line on another play. Devenny wasn't ready to talk any smack after the solid performance.
"It's just spring ball," he said. "I've still got to do it in the offseason and in the fall.
"(I'm trying) to prove to myself that I can compete."
He said tight ends coach Kent Riddle has been riding him all spring about being more physical, the aspect of the game he's still working on after playing quarterback in high school. He's 6-3, about 240 pounds, but doesn't want to put any more weight on so he can keep his speed.
"That's my biggest problem," Devenny said. "When you play quarterback in high school, then come up here and try to go to crack on Brad Jones or Jake Duren or Michael Sipili….That's my main thing, is just being more physical and blocking."
While Geer's status with the team for 2008 has yet to be decided — the CU Office of Judicial Affairs has yet to rule on Geer's situation after he was arrested for his alleged role in an off-campus altercation — Devenny thinks Geer will be back.
"I just want to get out there and compete with Riar and compete with the other guys," he said. "It doesn't matter where it is – on special teams or whatnot. I've been waiting around too long and not getting on the field. That's my main goal, to be able to go out there and contribute on the field."
• DT Brandon Nicolas (shoulder) sat out the practice, and may be done for the spring as a precautionary measure. His absence the last week of spring ball gives youngsters Taj Kaynor, Lagrone Shields and Eugene Goree more reps.
• WR Markques Simas missed the scrimmage to attend to the funeral of a friend.