BOULDER - Tony Jones ran the ball 13 times for 76 yards and Colorado ran 82 plays in a scrimmage that lasted just under an hour-and-a-half on the lower practice fields Thursday. It was the first scrimmage and final practice session prior to spring break for the Buffaloes.
It was also the first scrimmage under coach Jon Embree and he saw the Buffaloes ran the ball 38 times for 186 yards and a touchdown as he attempts to instill a more physical nature. The Buffaloes scored four touchdowns on offense and added two field goals to end the scrimmage.
“I was pleased with our running game,” Embree said. “We ran well and we’re starting to establish our physical nature. I’d like to get the run game up to about 250 to 275 yards a game, so there’s work to do. Tyler (Hansen) and Nick (Hirschman) both did a good job running the offense.”
Hansen completed 13-of-19 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, while Hirschman was 7-of-13 for 77 yards and a score. Brent Burnette was 5-of-12 for 52 yards and a score. Hansen’s scoring toss was a 12-yarder to Will Jefferson, while Hirschman hooked up with Keenan Canty and Burnette with Alex Wood.
“The offense moved the ball well,” Hansen said. “Tyler (Ahles) and Evan (Harrington) are doing a good job at fullback, blocking and opening the holes, and (Rodney Stewart) and Tony (Jones) did a good job of finding those holes. The offensive line has picked up this running game well, coach (Steve) Marshall has done a great job with them.”
On top of Jones' 76 yards, Stewart finished with 11 carries for 26 yards and a touchdown and was the leading receiver with five catches for 48 yards. Ryan Deehan caught four passes for 49 yards and DaVaughn Thornton caught a pair of passes for 49 yards, as well.
“Tony Jones is opening everybody’s eyes,” Hansen said. “There’s times where he’s looking a lot like Speedy, making people miss and picking up yards.”
Defensively, Embree was pleased with the play and due to a couple of guys getting dinged up, a few players were able to see the field more than they otherwise would have.
“The defense played well early and after a couple of guys got dinged, our lack of depth showed up,” Embree said. “But it was good to evaluate some of those other guys, it’s giving them an opportunity to show why they should be part of this thing next year.”
Doug Rippy led the Buffs with 15 tackles (10 solo) and he had two tackles for loss and a third down stop. Conrad Obi got in the backfield early and often and finished with nine tackles (eight solo) with three tackles for a loss, including one sack, and two more for no gain.
“Conrad is on a mission,” Hansen said. “He has a goal, he wants to be all-conference and he told the seniors that in a meeting. He’s worked really hard this off season and is playing well.”
After five straight days of practice to open the spring, a day off and then the scrimmage, the Buffs now have 10 days off before returning to practice on Monday, March 28. The Buffs will host a scrimmage on April 2 and then the spring game will be at 6 p.m. on April 9.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s practice one or nine, it’s the same as far as the coaches are concerned,” Embree said. “One reason why I wanted to go five straight days is to see who wants to be here, who wants to play and who is willing to put it all out there. I’m happy with how we responded, but we will have to pick it right back up after we get back.”
Embree spoke to the team after practice about making smart decisions on spring break, even if he can’t relate to it.
“I told the team about Curt Koch, who was at Padre Island walking down the street and he got hit by a car, and it cost him an NFL career,” Embree said. “Nobody’s exempt from something happening. It’s hard for me to relate, we never went on spring break because we knew Coach Mac was going to put it on us right from the start of spring practice, right after the first stretch, I stayed here and worked on conditioning. But they need to get away and relax, they’ve had a lot of things put on them, but they just need to be smart.”