BOULDER - As spring games go, the Colorado Buffaloes just might be onto something.
Using squads stocked at mid-week by a well-received player draft, the Gold team defeated the Black squad 37-27 Saturday at Folsom Field to conclude the Buffs' 2010 spring drills.
Splitting the teams with a draft conducted by four captains on each squad was a mega-hit among the players, while proving functional for the coaches.
"I liked it a lot . . . it was more competitive," tight end DaVaughn Thornton said. "We go against each other every day in practice. When you can go out there and pick your teams, get the draft going, get a little trash-talking going on, it's great."
So he might have been embellishing it a bit, but Gold quarterback Tyler Hansen said the pre-game atmosphere "felt like Nebraska . . . but we were playing our brothers."
Coach Dan Hawkins called the format, as well as the game, "great . . . I really liked the way we ended up. I thought a lot of guys were able to play and showcase some things . . . It created a really good tempo."
Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau agreed: "I think it was, because it was measurable. It was a game; you had a set of downs. It wasn't broken up into 'we're doing this phase today, or this in this period.' It flowed like a game."
The Buffs' next official work isn't for another 3½ months. They are scheduled to report for preseason camp on Aug. 4, with practice beginning the next day. The 2010 season opener is Sept. 4 against Colorado State (Invesco Field at Mile High).
WHO'S THE NO. 1 QB? Stay tuned. Again. CU's game-day depth chart listed Hansen ahead of Cody Hawkins, but Dan Hawkins and Kiesau said that listing doesn't mean a 2010 starter has been chosen.
Kiesau said final spring personnel evaluations should be completed early next week, but that was no guarantee a No. 1 would be identified before August camp.
"We'll sit down, look at the pros and cons and decide what's best for the football team," he said. "If we can decide next Tuesday, great. If we think we need to wait until fall camp, we'll do that.
"And I'm not trying to be vague or get around the question, that's just what we're going to do. We're going to evaluate it and make sure it's the best thing because we've got to do what's best for the team."
Hansen completed 17 of 22 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns, while Cody Hawkins was 20-of-26 for 220 yards and two TDs. Neither was intercepted.
Kiesau said only film evaluation would show which quarterback was most efficient in areas such as passing technique, footwork and effectively extending plays.
Asked about a timeline for selecting a starting QB, Dan Hawkins said, "You'd love to make a decision after the spring's over. But it's great for our competition and great for our guys to keep battling - all of that . . . . I don't know why, unless you had a guy who won 10 games, would say, 'Yeah, you're the guy.'"
He said Tyler "had a really good scrimmage and a really, really good camp - and Cody played well."
THE HAKA - CU STYLE: The Gold team, with outside linebacker B.J. Beatty at the forefront, faced the Black squad before kickoff and performed the Haka war dance.
Did it pretty impressively, too.
"With the whole team thing, I kind of wanted to make it a little more competitive - just bring out the fire in the guys," said Beatty, who is of Hawaiian descent. "Me and Sione (Tau) had talked about it . . . we brought the guys in on Friday and said is this something you want to try?
"They all agreed, but I told them this is something we're going to do only if you guys are fully into it, because to me it's something you have to respect. It's a war dance. The guys were really respectful and I was really proud of the way they did it."
Beatty said the Gold team only spent an hour learning it.
Dan Hawkins said he "thought the (dance) was very cool."
SOLDER ON: It's been practiced for about as long as Nate Solder has been an offensive tackle (he was converted from tight end three seasons ago), but until Saturday it hasn't seen the light of day.
Now, it's out there.
Solder, the Black team's first overall pick, caught a tackle eligible pass from Cody Hawkins for a 1-yard touchdown with 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"Wasn't that great? It was so much fun," Solder said of the play. "We were supposed to run it all last season . . . we finally got the chance."
Reminded that the element of surprise has been voided, Solder laughed and said, "Yeah, but who's going to see it (at a spring game)?"
LOCKED IN: At midweek, running backs coach Darian Hagan said tailback Brian Lockridge was questionable at best for Saturday, adding "B-Lock" would have to pull "double duty" in the training room to be available.
Well, Lockridge said he did triple time training room duty to help heal a minor MCL injury and participate: "I got a lot of treatment."
Still, he said his lateral movement was hampered and the injury "did take away from my performance."
He finished with 11 carries for 38 yards.
HERE'S KYLE . . . : In the days preceding the spring game, Cody Hawkins raved about the abilities of his former high school teammate, Kyle Cefalo, saying the receiver was "of the Scotty McKnight mold."
With McKnight sidelined Saturday with a foot/ankle injury, Cefalo offered a fairly good impression of McKnight, catching 12 of Hawkins' passes for 144 yards - both game highs.
Asked if he believed he introduced himself to some fans who might not be aware of him, Cefalo said, "I was just excited to be out there after sitting out (2009) . . . I was looking forward to playing. Yeah, I was happy (with his performance), but it was fun for all of us. I thought we all played pretty well."
After graduating from Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Cefalo attended Oregon State, then Wenatchee (Wash.) Community College before coming to CU last season and sitting out.
NEVER SATISFIED: Thornton, a redshirt freshman, caught three passes, but two were for touchdowns, capping an impressive spring.
But Thornton, a 6-4, 230-pounder who says his first love remains basketball, said his two scoring receptions "should have been four, then four touchdowns should be six . . . You have to keep working and grinding. You can't be satisfied. I need to come in in June and do it all over again."
Thornton, playing for the Gold team, said he had developed a workable chemistry with the mobile Hansen, but added he also has a good chemistry with Cody Hawkins.
WILCOTS RETURNS: Former CU/NFL defensive back Solomon Wilcots returned to Boulder Saturday to speak at an alumni breakfast at Folsom Field's Stadium Club and attend the spring game.
Wilcots, a 1987 draftee by the Cincinnati Bengals who played professionally for six seasons, said his most recent trip to Boulder came in 2002 to see the Buffs play Kansas State.
"Yeah, it's been a while, and I've missed it," said Wilcots, now an analyst for CBS and the NFL Network.
Wilcots, who played for former coach Bill McCartney, told the current group of Buffs that all success begins in practice. He related an anecdote on that subject featuring Indianapolis Colts quarterback Payton Manning, whom Wilcots later joked "should be credible enough to carry some weight."
Wilcots said he saw parallels between McCartney's early CU teams and this one, particularly in their early mediocrity.
"It takes hard work to turn it around . . . we understood that and these guys do, too," Wilcots said. "I think what 'Hawk' has to understand is that we (former players) are behind him and want to see him get it done."
BUFF BITS: Freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman attempted one pass and completed it for an 83-yard score to Andre Simmons. Dan Hawkins said Hirschman "has handled everything well. He came in and made a throw." Hirschman's QB rating - an eye-popping 1127.20. He also had a crowd-pleasing 21-yard quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter . . . Speaking of the crowd, CU officials estimated 9,100 made their way to Folsom to watch the game . . . Redshirt freshman Seth Lobato attempted three passes, completed none and suffered an interception. But the athletic Lobato ran twice for 65 yards - all of them coming on a keeper at the buzzer that accounted for the Black team's final TD. Lobato also worked this spring at receiver, but didn't catch a pass Saturday . . . The way his spring has gone, this was no surprise: Gold defensive back Parker Orms was the day's leading tackler (10, seven unassisted). And he added one sack . . . Walk-on kicker Marcus Kirkwood hit the day's only field goal (45 yards) and was perfect on four PATs for the Gold team. Black squad kicker Zach Grossnickle hit two extra points but missed a 39-yard field goal attempt . . . Kicker Aric Goodman said Friday's hip surgery was successful and he expects to return in August . . . The Black team was penalized six times for 70 yards, the Gold team three times for 12 yards.