I had the fortune of being able to attend last Saturday's spring game in Boulder, easily the best day for a spring game in the history of me going to spring games. It was beautiful.
Unfortunately, my three year old son took a nap for the second half and sunburned his ear. Badly. I shouldn't say that he sunburned his ear, but more that I failed to apply sunscreen, much to my wife's chagrin. For those of you married with young children, I'm sure you can relate to my status around the house this week.
Anyhoo...let's break it down in our new, old-fashioned, Homer way.
I thought the ends played very weak. Either that or our offensive tackles were fantastic. I'm really high on Marquez Herrod, who definitely looks the part, but we need production here. Another player I WAS high on is JUCO transfer Drew Hudgins (19 sacks last season), but he didn't play due to injury and definitely looks all of 235 lbs. in spring practice pictures. Some safeties weigh 235. This is not auspicious.
Brandon Nicholas is a beast. George Hypolite is dynamite player and wonderful human being. Jason Brace and Eric Lawson, a sophomore and a redshirt freshman, respectively, played great games. Homer Wade (our good friend and CU fanatic) made the comment that Brace looked unblockable. The interior D-Line may be the strongest position on the roster.
Dizon is great, but this is no surprise. I'm really hoping for one of those dominating, 150 tackle-type seasons from him. I think if the Buffs surprise, he could win the Lott or the Butkus. Brad Jones played hurt and looked hobbled. Michael Sipili - CU's Next Great LB, looks the part but played a relatively non-descript game.
On a side note, Jake Duren, former local high school star and transfer from UNC, made some plays and returned an interception for a TD. He's a solid player and great story, but he looks TINY. He may be a depth-type guy for the next three years. Maybe a great special teamer?
Another unit, along with TEs and the interior D-Line, that played a great game. I personally thought that Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith, both redshirt freshman, look like great players considering they're deep on the depth chart. That's exciting. It's been awhile since we've had some depth there. Terence Wheatley is a stud and blankets receivers in 7 on 7's...imagine if there was a pass rush. On the other side, Ben Burney might be just as good. Burney saw time at safety last year, but is lightning quick and he wasn't challenged much. That tells me the coverage was good.
At safety, I barely noticed #25 out there, but apparently he made the most tackles and had two big 3rd Down stops. That's Lionel Harris. He's one of those dudes that doesn't excite me, along with Byron Ellis on offense. I'm sure he's reliable, but I'd much rather see D.J. Dykes out there. He looks like a big time play maker, flying all over the field. Ryan Walters layed out poor Devan Head - OL - on Duren's interception return that made all of us cringe and yell "don't hurt the lineman!" Considering he likes to get hurt a lot, Anthony Wright, an incoming freshman from L.A., will be counted on early in the two-deep.
Coverage was terrible. Punts were blocked. Kevin Eberhart is probably only good from 40 yards and in. And Jim Parra looks like somebody let there little brother put on a uniform and stand on the sidelines. Parra is full of shit if he thinks he's 5'6'' and weighs 140 lbs. That's our next Kicker. On the bright side, Matt DiLallo can kick the ball a country mile, as they say in the country, and should have a great sophomore campaign following up his Freshman All-American effort.
Considering there's only six of them, they looked pretty good. The interior, consisting of a walk-on, a redshirt freshman, a sophomore, and a 4-year starter (rotating) got whipped quite a few times by the aforementioned D-Tackles. O-Tackles looked very strong, and Tyler Polumbus is huge.
I think the best case scenario is that Ryan Miller is better than everyone thinks he is, which is really pushing it because people think he's going to be great (and I'm a huge fan, just think it's hard for freshman to play OL let alone make an impact), and can actually start at Right Tackle from the get-go, than we can move Edwin Harrison to RG. With Daniel Sanders at Center, Wes Palazzi at LG, and Polumbus at LT, we should be decent. Lots of growing pains, but decent. Eight OL are coming on campus in August, so depth shouldn't be an issue next spring.
TEs looked great. I personally thought that Joe Sanders or Pat Williams-WR were the MVPs of the game. Sanders can really stretch the field. Beggars being choosers, I'm just disappointed we waited until his senior year to move him back to TE. What a waste. Him, Riar Geer and Tyson DeVree will make a lot of plays this season.
Williams may finally be heading in the right direction. Everyone knock on wood, really fast! Williams is one of those dudes who may never be great for us but blow people away at the combine (he's big and fast and looks like an NFL player), get drafted, and be a Pro Bowl player in the Not For Long. Or maybe he'll never learn to catch. It could go a number of ways with Patrick. Other than Dusty Sprague, who would be a nice number three, this group is weak. Probably the weakest on the team.
This has been pointed out on message boards before, but Hugh Charles may be TOO STRONG. If you can find them, check out his lifting numbers, he is not just the strongest dude on the team "pound for pound", he's one of THE strongest dudes on the team. And he's 5'7''! Crazy. He just doesn't have that "fluidity" anymore which is where the "too strong" comment comes from. I just don't see him make people miss enough. That being said, it's him or Byron Ellis (if JUCO standout P.T. Gates doesn't get into school) and I'll take Charles everyday of the weak and twice on Saturday, thank you very much.
Wide-outs may be the weakest position, but Running Backs had the worst game. By far.
I probably watched this position more than any other on the field. Probably at the expense of watching other spots, unfortunately. But that's what most everyone was watching and my analysis would echo what almost everyone else has said. Nick Nelson doesn't impress me much, but he is a great kid and was really nice to my son. Cody Hawkins will not be great, will look like a freshman, a lot, but is already an upgrade from Bernard Jackson.
I think Bernard will be our leading rusher and score a bunch of TD's this year, and I'm really excited about his new role. More than that, he is wonderful kid. Shook my hand before the game, looked me square in the eye and thanked me for the support. He got down on one knee and talked to my son, as well. Just a classy dude.
And that's what I'll end with. Please remember that these are kids. Most not even 21. And the whole roster are super human beings and will be great for any community they choose to live in in the future. I am proud of every last one of them.