BOULDER – The University of Colorado football team held its 52nd Annual Media Day Tuesday afternoon at the Dal Ward Athletic Center, as head coach Gary Barnett and over 20 players spoke with the media for about two hours. The following are excerpts from Barnett’s press conference.
ON STARTING FALL CAMP – “First of all, all of us are glad to be here and we’re glad to be back. These are always anxious and exciting moments for football coaches to meet their new teams. There is hope in the air for everybody; there are 116 Division I teams who are sitting down deciding how they are going to win the National Championship, and we are no different. We return a pretty veteran team, even though we are still pretty young. But, we have had a great summer. Greg Finnegan, our strength coach, and his staff have done an unbelievable job getting our guys ready. We look like a football team. I think we are the kind of team where if coaches go around and look at that team then they are impressed with the way we look physically. We are obviously a team that has been toughened; we have toughened up over the last six months. We are a team that has gone through a lot of adversity, probably more adversity than any college football team gets to go through. This is a team that is tough-minded. We have 12 seniors on our team and they have done an outstanding job of leading our team in the off-season, and they have done an outstanding job of bringing our young guys along. So, as we opened camp yesterday with our first practice we had great energy and great enthusiasm. We had good execution for the first day. We need to make sure that during this camp we utilize all the days possible and all the days we can to get back where we need to be.
“This team comes in on a mission. Most of the other teams have to discover their mission or decide what their mission is during camp or as the season unfolds. This (team) already knows what it wants to do or how it wants to be perceived.”
ON THE NEW DEFENSE – “Going through our defense, we have made a scheme change. How drastic it is probably depends on how knowledgeable you are about football. It is a change, not a drastic change I don’t believe from our standpoint, but it is a change. I think we are similar, I think we are older. A year ago we played a lot of freshmen and we suffered those growing pains with them. Now we are an experienced team. I think our players have looked at (those who transferred) as an opportunity for them, and they look at it as a chance for somebody else to step up and play. And, our coaches have taken it that way, as well.”
ON THE CU OFFENSE – “We return Joel Klatt, who last year I think had just a great start and great opening to his career. He is older, more mature and is like a coach out there for us. He’s tremendous, and I don’t think there is any question that he will be a captain on our team. So having your starting quarterback return with the kind of experience Joel has makes your offense a lot better and makes you sleep better at night.
“We have a number of running backs. Bobby Purify returns after getting a (medical) hardship year. I think the running game should be the strength of our offense at this point in time. That is what we look at and see. We have backs who I think all have experience from last year, and who are ready to step up if we have an issue, and play a lot in each game. I think our offensive line is greatly improved. We went through growing pains there last year. Now I think we are ready for this thing to come to fruition a little bit.
“We don’t know who is going to play (at receiver). Ron Monteilh is an experienced guy who returns, but I think he is the only one who has caught a pass for us other than Jeremy (Bloom). So, if we get Ron and Jeremy back—two guys who have played a lot and started games for us—then we have a number of really good young players who are just sort of waiting in the wings.
“At the tight end position, I think we are as good as anybody. We have got depth and we have got experience. So, we are tremendously encouraged at this point in time; no, we’re not encouraged, we’re excited and I think our football team is excited. I know this is an excited coaching staff, an excited group of players and an excited program. We are looking ready to the four weeks ahead getting ready for our first game, and playing our first game here in Boulder against CSU.
“We are excited about our offensive line, we are about 295 all the way across and very athletic and experienced there. We have a number of guys who have played a lot, they are much improved, they are much stronger, we have a great attitude there and I think we are going to be great on the offensive line.
“I don’t think there is any question about (our tight ends). I think Joe Klopfenstein is a big time player. With (Quinn) Sypniewski back and Jesse Wallace, we really have three experienced guys now. They all catch the ball well. I don’t think there is any question – we may be in a position to do what we want to do when we want to do it.”
ON THE SPECIAL TEAMS – “On special teams I think we are going to have one of the better placekickers in the country. I think Mason Crosby is going to be on schedule to break all of our records here in Colorado. We have got a great young punter in John Torp. And, with the chance that Jeremy Bloom may return for us, obviously our return game gets a bolster there. He is one of the more exciting players in college football today.”
ON TB BOBBY PURIFY – “Bobby Purify is a heck of a football player. He is a young man who has had a great career so far and he’s still got a year left, and he was respected enough to be voted a captain as a junior.”
ON OPENING THE SEASON WITH CSU – “The CSU game gets everybody in Colorado excited about college football and it is a natural rivalry. (In Denver) it is 40-40, forty thousand for us, forty thousand for them. Here it hopefully won’t be that way, hopefully it is 49 and five. Now that part I really like and that part I hope plays into our advantage.”
ON JEREMY BLOOM BEING BACK – “First of all, it puts a smile on all the coaches’ faces. It bolsters your excitement level and experience level. You’ve got one of the better players at (returner) in college football. On offense now, you don’t have to worry about who is going to take the top off the defense. We know who it’s going to be. The other thing for Jeremy is that he has been a third and fourth receiver (in the past). Now, Jeremy is going to be in there every play, so that is tremendous excitement for our coaches to have him back, and his confidence alone.
“We hope he is a full-time, every down player. I think he is ready to be and I think he wants to be that. He is going to have to get himself in football shape, but he wants to be there now. For us, to have him on the field every snap, I wouldn’t want to be defending the guy. I know that when we played Oklahoma a year ago, they said they would let (Derek) McCoy and (D.J.) Hackett get their catches, but the guy they were going to defend was Bloom. That’s the respect he got a year ago as a spot player, so you can imagine what respect he’ll get this year being on the field every snap.
“I think that he and (Terrence) Wheatley would have a heck of a race (for fastest guy on the team). And Hugh Charles, the freshman, if you line those three up you could sell tickets and make money from it. It’d be a heck of a race. All I know is that when Jeremy has had the ball nobody has caught him. I think Jeremy just has that competitive speed to him.”
ON THE RECEIVERS – “I don’t think we have a lack of depth in the receiving corps. You come to practice and you’ll see a lot of guys who are ready to go. Blake Mackey, Tyler Littlehales, Stephone Robinson, Dusty Sprague – I mean we have a lot of guys there. We don’t have a lack of depth, we just don’t know which ones are going to start.”
ON FB/TB DANIEL JOLLY – “Daniel Jolly is a young man, who if you saw in practice the other day, he is a man. He had a lot of experience playing last year and he is going to help us like Lawrence (Vickers) in that he can play both fullback and tailback. He has that kind of ability, so he gives us great flexibility and depth. Daniel is also just a wonderful young person.”
Practice Notes: Redshirt freshman Joe Sanders, who was recruited at tight end to CU but moved to inside linebacker during the spring, was switched to the outside “Buff” linebacker spot Tuesday afternoon. Freshman Greg Newman, who was recruited as an inside linebacker, was moved to defensive end to provide more depth on the line. Newman stands at 6-4, 235 pounds and hails from Thousand Oaks, Calif.