BOULDER -- The University of Colorado football team held its second scrimmage of the spring Friday afternoon at the practice fields. The weather conditions forced the team into the practice bubble, but that didn’t affect the high tempo of the scrimmage.
One aspect of scrimmaging in the bubble that had to be taken into account was the limited space, the coaching staff decided that it would be better to do a lot of situational scenarios to fully utilize the scrimmage.
“It’s hard to get in and have a bunch of drives like we did last week (in the bubble),” CU head coach Dan Hawkins said. “We probably wouldn’t have had as many situation plays if we scrimmaged outside. We’re restricted in here, but that said it’s important for our guys to understand that.”
While having a full length field is beneficial for a number of reasons, there are plenty of reasons that having a lot of situational plays in a scrimmage can be beneficial to a team that is on the verge of taking it their game to the next level.
“I think that’s our next level of maturity as a football team,” Hawkins explained. “Where it’s not just hey tackle the ball. It’s where are we at; are we ahead or are we behind; what is the nature of the situation and what can we do and what can’t we do. I think that helps with all of that a little bit.”
"I think we’re getting to where we need to be,” defensive coordinator Ron Collins added. “We’re getting to the place we want to be and certainly with today’s scrimmage, what I liked were all these situations where the guys are going to need to know during the season how to handle them.”
The defense had a very strong scrimmage as they held the offense to 312 total yards (102 rushing and 210 passing) on 63 plays. Jimmy Smith led the way with four tackles, two of which went for a loss—including a quarterback sack and three third down stops. Patrick Mahnke led the team with six tackles (three solo), one of which was a tackle for a loss, he was also credited with two quarterback hurries.
"I liked the enthusiasm,” Collins said. “Guys were running around and playing hard. I saw some guys being physical out there and I felt good about that.
“The linebackers were running around pretty well today,” Collins added. “The edge guys, B.J. (Beatty) and Doug (Rippy) came off the edge pretty well. I think Mike (Sipili) and Marcus (Burton) are both playing pretty well right now.”
Sipili recorded four tackles (all solo), two tackles for a loss, one of which went for a safety, and a third down stop. Beatty recorded a three solo tackles, one quarterback sack and was consistently pressuring the quarterbacks.
While the offense didn’t put up some of the same numbers as they did in the first scrimmage, they did have their fair share of success. Some of their stronger performances included Kyle Cefalo leading the team in receiving with four receptions for 66 yards; Markques Simas who recorded four receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown; Jason Espinoza who had four receptions for 21 yards and a 17-yard carry; Darrell Scott who had 11 carries for 43 yards, an eight-yard reception and a couple big plays called back due to penalties.
The quarterbacks didn’t match last week’s gaudy statistical performances, but again had a strong scrimmage. The battle between the Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen remains tight as the two head into the final week of spring practices.
“I think they’re doing good,” Hawkins said. “They had a good scrimmage last week, and they had a few more rough spots in here today, but I think it’s harder because Scotty’s (McKnight) has been nicked up (and didn’t play), Josh (Smith) didn’t play so getting familiarity with your posse is a big part of quarterbacking. Overall, they’ve been pretty good with taking care of the football and making plays.”
As far as taking care of the football is concerned, the Buffs did not commit a single turnover in either scrimmage until the 146th play, not including special teams plays.
One of the standout plays of the scrimmage happened when linebacker Josh Hartigan broke through on scout punt return duty and blocked a Matt DiLallo punt and proceeded to return it for a touchdown. With Josh Smith dinged up, his nephew Darrell Scott stepped up to lead the team in return yards with two kick returns for 68 yards. Aric Goodman continues to have a consistent spring, as he connected on 4-of-6 field goals, with a long of 42-yards.
Notes: The Buffs have the weekend off before returning to practice on Monday at 4 p.m. and the practice will be closed to the public. Monday’s practice will be the first of three practices next week as they finish their preparations for their annual Spring Game which will be held Saturday April 25 at 1 p.m. at Folsom Field.