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By: Gary Kirchner
Freshman tailback D.D. Goodson (21) picks up yards in Saturday's scrimmage.
Brooks: Embree Says CB Picture Beginning To Clear
Release: August 15, 2011
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER - Colorado's starting cornerback picture is beginning to come into focus for new coach Jon Embree, but he's hesitant to pencil in his new pair of corners just yet.

"I think I know who our corners are going to be, so we'll see if they finish (this week) like that," he noted following an intense, full-pads practice Monday morning.

Embree said last Saturday's scrimmage "cleared up" - at least in his mind - the probable front-runners to replace Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, fixtures in the CU secondary for the last several seasons.

At the end of last weekend's scrimmage, Embree singled out true freshmen Kyle Washington and Greg Henderson, redshirt sophomores Ayodeji Olatoye and Paul Vigo and senior Travis Sandersfeld, who has received several good reviews from Embree and defensive coordinator/secondary coach Greg Brown throughout camp. Sandersfeld has played mostly safety, nickel back and on special teams in his three previous seasons.

Embree and his staff are expected to settle on the first depth chart of camp after reviewing Friday's second scrimmage, which will be closed. That depth chart will set the Nos. 1-2 offensive and defensive units, allowing them to begin concentrated work in the final two weeks before the Buffs' Sept. 3 opener at Hawaii.

If the cornerback picture is clearing up for him, Embree said that wasn't the case in settling on a No. 1 punter. Neither incumbent sophomore Zach Grossnickle nor freshman walk-on Darragh O'Neill has separated himself, possibly pushing the competition past the mid-week timeline Embree has mentioned for naming a starter.

"After (Monday), golly . . . I don't know," Embree said about identifying his punter by mid-week. "In a perfect world, yeah, but we're going to put the pressure on them (Tuesday) and see if someone asserts themselves. No one wants it. No one wants to do it. I thought that was a fun thing to do; I guess not."

He called Monday's punting "average at best - and that's because I don't know anything else to say."

SEVERAL HAPPY RETURNS: A handful of players resumed full practice Monday, among them tailback Brian Lockridge (bruised tailbone), defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe (neck/shoulder soreness) and cornerback Parker Orms (strained calf).

Orms, injured in the 2010 season-opener, said he still was experiencing some swelling in his leg but was determined "to play through the pain if it's there. If it's hurting too much, you don't want to try and be Superman . . . like coach Brown said, if it starts swelling too much come out."

He said he felt like his legs were "all over the place, but I was just excited to get out there. I'm just going to keep working every day. It sucks being off a week and not getting those reps, but I'm going to work twice as hard now."

A safety and nickel back previously, he conceded that corner "is different, but I like it. I kind of missing getting inside and tackling somebody . . . but I'll still be playing nickel and I'll get that chance to (tackle). But we definitely need corners and I want to compete for the job."

The biggest transition he's had to make: "Getting your mind playing pass first and run second." He said he believes he can cover the required ground at corner and "compete with the rest of the guys. I think I can play the position really well."

Embree said he was watching other areas of practice and couldn't gauge Orms' progress. "But the good news is I don't see him riding off in a cart," he said. "So there's a positive sign. But I think having him back and having him in the mix and getting him going will help us back there."

SORE, BEAT UP AND WORN OUT: Embree called Monday "separation day," telling his players that practices such as this one would separate the Buffs from some Pac-12 teams that might not be enduring such physical drills during camp. He also said physical practices would precede Friday's scrimmage.

"We're battling some things right now," Embree said. "Some guys are going through, I guess, the flu bug. That's why we're a little lethargic, so that was one of the issues (Monday). Guys are beat up and sore, but they keep making the pads talk.

"So that's an encouraging sign, because we're going to feel like this in Week Eight (of the regular season). Let's see how we respond in Week Eight when we're beat up, sore and tired like this."

Embree noted that most of the players who had been absent from practice or limited during practice were easy to spot: "They're a little bit fresher and have a little more juice in them."

'DANGEROUS DUDE' GOODSON? When he was three years old, Joseph Goodson's older brothers began calling him D.D. "I don't know why, they just came up with it one day playing football . . . it doesn't stand for anything," Goodson says.

The random nickname stuck, and now the kid from Rosenberg, Texas, is going about making sure it sticks out among the incoming CU freshmen.

Almost immediately after his arrival on campus this summer, Goodson made a positive first impression on director of strength and conditioning Malcolm Blacken.

Said Blacken: "That kid's got a tremendous work ethic. He's mature beyond his years; he works like he's 25 years old. He's all business."

Initially pegged as an "athlete," Goodson is 5-7, 165 pounds and maybe is as hard to miss as he is to hit. With "dreads" flowing, he's proving to be one of the Buffs' most elusive tailbacks, practicing entirely at that position through camp.

"You can be a receiver at the running back position because you do a lot of flat routes and I feel comfortable coming out of the backfield doing that," he said. "But I believe I can run inside and outside . . . I'm shifty and can make people miss, but I'm not scared to lower my shoulder and go at you."

Goodson said it took him until Monday to begin to feel comfortable with the CU playbook: "But now everything has settled down and is moving much slower now that I know the playbook and know what I'm doing."

He called football at this level "exactly what I thought it would be; it's college football and they're hard on us. We come to work every day. I'm used to the heat, but the elevation got to me a little early. This camp is hard, but that's what I was looking forward to. So I came here to work."

According to Embree, Goodson's early work will pay off: "He's going to play a role; we're just looking to see where he fits."

BOHN TO SPEAK AT DENVER PRESS CLUB: CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn will be the featured speaker at a special CU sports luncheon at the Denver Press Club (1330 Glenarm Place, downtown Denver) on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Buffs fans and college football followers in general will learn about CU's move to the Pac-12 Conference, the selection of new head football coach Jon Embree and the Buffs' prospects for the 2011 season. There also will be a Q&A session with Bohn.

Doors open at 11 a.m., with a buffet beginning at 11:30. The program featuring Bohn follows at about 12:15 p.m.  The price for lunch and the program is $14 for Denver Press Club members, $16 for non-members, and includes drawings for several door prizes, including tickets to the Rocky Mountain Showdown between CU and Colorado State on Sept. 17.

Register at www.blacktie-colorado.com, or call the Denver Press Club at 303-571-5260.

BUFF BITS: Embree is still looking for more productivity and consistency out of senior receiver Toney Clemons. "We've got to figure out how to get him more consistent," Embree said. "He's hard on himself; I don't know what it is, but it's something we've got to keep working with him on. I'm sure he expects more out of himself than what he's done." . . . . Uzo-Diribe and fellow defensive end Josh Hartigan showed up well on the edge in Monday's practice. Hartigan also caught Embree's eye with his on-field leadership. "As coaches we're trying to see who starts asserting themselves," Embree said. "There were plenty of times out there (Monday) when I normally would have been reacting a little differently, but I just wanted to see how some players (reacted) and were taking it. We're on the sidelines on game days, so they've got to be able to learn to lead on the field and get after each other in the right way when things are going how they should be." Hartigan apparently stepped up in that regard . . . . Redshirt freshman Kaiwi Crabb, who played some at center in Saturday's scrimmage, worked with the first-team offense at right guard Monday - a result of what Embree said was continued experimentation in the interior O-line . . . . The Buffs have their final two-a-day practice Tuesday (8:30-11 a.m.; 3:30-5:30 p.m.). It will be open to the public, as will morning workouts on Wednesday (8:30-11 a.m.) and Thursday (9:30-11 a.m.). Friday's scrimmage (noon-3 p.m.) is closed. Fall semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 22, with the practice schedule shifting to 4-6 p.m. daily (closed).

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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