“It was good,” head coach Dan Hawkins said. “It is hard because the offense ran the ball pretty well and that means the defense didn’t stop them. We didn’t turn the ball over too much on the offense but that means the defense didn’t get too many turnovers. That being said the defense was playing it pretty generic and that helps the offense more than the defense. Now we have to grind on finals and get ready for a good summer.”
An estimated 11,700 attended the game, which included an extensive autograph session with alumni players and a pregame party in Balch Fieldhouse. Temperatures in the upper 30s and light drizzle, along with Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs series between the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans and Day 1 of the NFL Draft likely played some role in CU not matching last year's record crowd of 17,800. It was still the third largest crowd for a spring game in school (and state) history.
The offense started out the scrimmage strong as all 27 points came in the first half (although the Buffs used a running clock in the second half and ran 21 fewer plays). The widely publicized quarterback battle continued through the scrimmage as Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen rotated possessions with the first and second team offenses; of the 27 points, 17 were scored by Hawkins led offenses and 10 were by Hansen led offenses. Hawkins finished the game 12-of-21 for 195 yards, two touchdowns and one sack; Hansen finished the game 4-of-10 for 66 yards, no touchdowns and four sacks.
“I think I did a much better job today,” Cody Hawkins said. “I was able to move around in the pocket and just kind of move the defense. We had a couple shots today where I was able to drop back and do things with my eyes and make plays.”
Perhaps the best individual offensive performance was turned in by tailback Darrell Scott as he carried the ball 15 times for 90 yards, had three receptions for 38 yards and threw a touchdown pass that was negated by an offensive penalty.
“There’s going to be a time when [Scott] will be great,” Coach Hawkins said. “He’s always been a great kid and I’ve been so impressed with how he’s handled all the hype. Things didn’t go exactly how he wanted them to last year but never threw in the towel, he continued to show up and work hard. ”
The Buffs finished the game with 50 carries for 310 yards. Scott led the team in rushing, but had strong performances from Demetrius Sumler eight carries for 73 yards, Lockridge 10 carries for 55 yards, Rodney Stewart eight carries for 52 yards and Hansen five carries for 32 yards.
“The linemen did a great job and we all had a good day,” Scott said. “In the scrimmages, the running game wasn’t as effective, so it was good for us as a team to get out there today and make some plays. The last play summed up what we’re trying to do. I needed a break and (Demetrius) Sumler came in and picked up 47-yards. That’s how it’s going to be all season, we will be there for each other and there’s a role we all can play.”
CU relied on numerous receivers all game long, as 10 players accounted for the team’s 16 receptions. They were led by Espinoza (three receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown), Scott, Sumler (two for 39) and Simas (two for 20 and a touchdown).
“[Espinoza] did some good things for us last fall,” Cody Hawkins said. “The kid broke his collarbone twice, and he’s always working hard. He won the Iron Buffalo Award for the wide receivers. He’s always lifting extra, always willing to come out and throw with me whenever I ask. He’s a smart kid he knows what to do.”
While the offense had success in the first half, the Buffs defense came out and shut out the CU offense in the second half. The defense was led by linebacker Marcus Burton who finished the game with a team high eight tackles (seven solo, also a team high), two sacks for 22 yards and a fumble recovery—which was the only turnover on the day.
“I think it’s a blessing to have the opportunities I have,”
The defense successfully pressured the quarterback all game long, as they finished the game with five sacks (Burton-2, B.J. Beatty-2 and Bret Smith-1) as well as five quarterback hurries (Shaun Mohler-2, Brandon Gouin-1, Bryan Stengel-1 and Conrad Obi-1).
The CU special teams unit had some highlights as well, as place-kicker Aric Goodman connected on all five of his kicks; 2-for-2 on field goal attempts (43 and 50) and 3-for-3 on extra points. Goodman also made a touchdown saving tackle on a Josh Smith kickoff return.
Smith continued to show his explosiveness on kick returns as he had two kickoff returns for 90 yards (including a 64-yard return); Scott also had a kick return that went for 37-yards. Travis Sandersfeld also stood up to his reputation as a special teams tackling machine as he recorded a team high three special teams stops.
Matt DiLallo, who earlier in the day was named the team’s most improved special teams player, had five punts for 183 yards and a long of 44. Scott had one punt for 48 yards, which was also downed inside the 20-yard line.
“I don’t know how long it was or how high it went or the hang time, but it just felt good coming off my leg,” Scott explained. “It was up there for a while. I love punting—it’s a weapon for our team. Everybody always asks me ‘you’re a punter?’ but I guess everybody knows now.”
The Buffs have had a very successful spring, and the differences between this spring and previous spring practices aren’t only being noticed by the coaching staff, but by players and everyone around the team.
“I think it was the best spring we’ve had,” Coach Hawkins said. “We need to get those young guys in here and get them going and see how they can contribute but I really feel like we’re starting to get some people that have been around the block, some competition, some depth and all those things bode well for these guys.”