Dorrell happy with competitiveness of Buffs’ first spring scrimmage



Neill Woelk, editor

BLOCK – Colorado’s new offense made a few plays on Saturday, but the defense was perhaps more consistent as the Buffaloes conducted their first spring ball scrimmage at Folsom Field.

Certainly, as a head coach Karl Dorrel noted, the offense kept their game up by calling the vanilla side of things.

“We didn’t want to show too much considering it was a public scrum,” Dorrell said. “But we did what we wanted to do today in terms of envisioning our basic patterns and how we can execute them on both sides of the ball. I think we did a good job of give-and-take with good competitiveness on both sides.”

CU’s offense has also been hampered this spring by a lack of depth, particularly in skill positions. To come back Alexandre Fontenot, a strong contender for the starting spot next fall, did not participate due to hamstring pain; and wide receiver room was limited to a handful of players, including walk-ons.

“When you’re thin in a lot of places, it’s really strategic in terms of the game, counting how long you want them to be there, how long you want to maintain a practice, things like that,” said Dorrell said. “I tried to do the best I could to get out of this scrum.”

The Buffs made up big plays, getting a long pass from Brendon Lewis for Daniel Arias early, and Arias also had a touchdown late in practice. His big catch early on was a particularly sweet moment for the attacking staff, as he moved up and pointed the ball to go down with the catch.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Arias has had some standout times over the past few seasons, but consistency hasn’t been a strong suit. This spring, he’s showing he might be ready to add that quality to his arsenal.

“When he gets the chance to get one-on-one coverage, we expect him to win those battles and he had a great battle here with mid ball,” Dorrell said. “He does the things we expect of him.”

wide receiver Montana Lemonious Craig – another player the Buffs need to improve his game this year – also had some great catches, as did walkon Jack Hestera.

Tight ends, supposed to play a much bigger role in the offensive coordinator Mike Sanfordthe new regime of, had several captures, led by Erik Olsen and austin smith.

“Erik had a nice little flat pass and made a big play on the sideline and got it close to the red zone,” Dorrell noted. “I thought it was a big play, breaking a tackle and going down the touchline. So that was a good progression.”

CU’s racing game produced no big winners, but achieved a short distance score of Deion Smith to complete the longest run of the day’s attack while Jayle Stacks had the longest run.

Colorado’s No. 1 offensive line continued to consist mostly of tackles Jake Wiley and Frank Fillipguards Tommy Brown and Casey Roddickand Noah Fenske and austin johnson rotating in the center.

Strategist Brendon Lewis had an efficient day, completing about 60% of his passes, including a touchdown, and no interceptions.

“B-Lew looked good,” Dorrell said. “He looked like he was in control of what was going on. I think he made some good decisions today.”

Lewis said he felt much more comfortable than last year, even though he’s running a new program.

“I felt good going out there with the guys, finishing a few balls, playing football without the coaches behind us,” Lewis said. “It felt good to move the ball around a bit, do it on our own and try to execute the attack like our standard should be.”

Defensively, the Buffs are looking to replace several key starters from last season. Saturday, linebackers Robert Barnes, Quinn Perry and Mr Williams showed they were ready to claim indoor spots during their sophomore year Nikko Reed and real freshman Joshua Wiggins made games on the corner. Both DBs offered great pass breakups, as did safety Jordan Woolvertona converted quarterback.

Also having a strong performance was safety Trevor Woodwho showed his big-play ability at the end of last season, with defensive lineman Na’im Rodman and edge rods Terrence Lang, Guy Thomas and Alvin Williams. CU has shown a penchant for getting to quarterback — a big focus this spring — while keeping the offense’s run game in check for most of the day.

“Defensively, they got the saves when they needed them,” Dorrell said. “We had a few scores offensively, but I think for the most part they kept practices relatively out of the way.”

PROGRAM: The Buffs will return to the training ground next Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with another scrimmage (closed to the public) scheduled for Saturday. The Spring Showcase is set for April 23 at 1 p.m. at Folsom Field.