BOULDER—The status of wide receiver Paul Richardson and running back Michael Adkins II remains uncertain as the Buffs’ prepare for a trip to Pasadena this Saturday to take on No. 17 UCLA.
Richardson, who has been the Buffs’ biggest offensive playmaker this season, sprained an ankle in the third quarter of the team’s loss to Arizona last week and remains day-to-day. There was at least one promising sign during Wednesday’s practice though, as Richardson was out of his protective boot, able to move around and even participate in some non-contact drills for the first time since the injury.
“Paul was doing good today,” said coach Mike MacIntyre. “He was moving around and did good in the drills so hopefully he’ll be able to practice some more tomorrow. I think he’s a go for Saturday but I’m not positive at this point. We’ll see how he does. Hopefully it doesn’t swell up tonight but I wouldn’t think so.”
Richardson also seemed optimistic that he will be able to play this Saturday. And the fact that the game will be played in his hometown gives him an added incentive to try to play.
“Yeah, I mean it’s always good to go home and see your family and play in front of your family, play against kids I was recruited (by UCLA) with,” said Richardson. “It’ll be fun to play. I would like to be (ready), but I can’t make any decisions. I want to.”
Meanwhile, Adkins’ status remains in serious doubt after suffering a concussion late in Saturday’s loss. For precautionary reasons, players with concussion-like symptoms require the completion of a series of medical tests before a player can be cleared to return to football activities. Adkins hasn’t practiced since the setback and will need that final clearance from team doctors before he can return.
“I’m not sure yet on Adkins,” said MacIntyre. “He has some more tests this afternoon. We do allow players to play even if they don’t practice during the week so there’s some hope there. I changed that a few years ago with all the concussion stuff because he could get cleared and ready to go. It’s just the way it is because it’s out of our hands completely, which it should be. I don’t want to punish a kid or punish a team because the guy didn’t practice. It wasn’t like he wasn’t trying to be out there.”
BROTHERLY COMPETITION: CU senior center Gus Handler has a special connection with UCLA. His younger brother, Sam, is a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Bruins. They grew up in Barrington, Ill.
If there’s a difference in age, there’s a bigger difference in size. Gus is 6-3, 290. Sam is 5-10, 187.
Said Gus: “It’s all in the genes. I’m more like my dad, he’s more like my mom. You can clearly tell who got what side of the family.”
Gus said he and Sam are “really close . . . we text and call each other all the time. (Monday) night I was on the phone telling him we’re coming for him.”
Gus said there has been improvement in the Buffs’ offensive line: “I feel like we’ve come together in communication, making sure everyone is in the right spot . . . I think we’re getting really good at ID (identifying defensive schemes), knowing who we have to go to. We don’t have a lot of mental errors and we’re playing more physical, especially in the running game and protecting our quarterbacks.”
Also, Gus has noticed an upturn in the CU running game, although with Adkins’ status uncertain that improvement might be negated this week. Still, he said, “We’ve had a lot less negative plays, which shows we’re getting a good push on the down guys, getting up to the second level. And our rushing totals have gone up, so that’s always good to see.
“It took a while getting those game reps to really understand each play and where everyone is going to be, but once we’ve gotten seven games into the season I think we’re jelling well.”
NOTABLE: The Buffs practiced indoors for the second consecutive day. “We can get in all the work (inside) it’s just a little tight,” said MacIntyre. “We work it out to where if we’re throwing deep balls we can move to one end or the other. Just a little bit more logistics (involved), that’s all.” . . . . UCLA is tied for the conference lead in blocked kicks with three and MacIntyre has made that a point of emphasis during practice this week. “They’re rushing (the kicker) good,” he said. “They’ve had some good schemes that they do and up front they’ve had some good push on some field goals. So, that was good for them. I think they blocked a couple in one game so it’s something to think about.” MacIntyre believes his team may be able to avoid some of those potential blocked kicks thanks to the talents of a punter like the multi-faceted Darragh O’Neill. O’Neill makes it harder for opposing teams to block his kicks because he is so skilled in executing rugby-style punts and can move around so well. O’Neill hasn’t had a punt blocked since early in his freshman season . . . . The Buffs will practice again on Thursday morning before heading to Los Angeles on Friday morning. Saturday’s kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. MDT (Fox Sports One).