A familiar face has spent some time evaluating the punters at Colorado football practices recently.
Head coach Jon Embree invited former Buff and Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen to camp to watch the three players competing there.
Rouen, who was an All-American in his junior and senior seasons in 1989 and 1990 before his lengthy NFL career, recently moved back to Colorado with his wife, former Olympic gold medal swimmer Amy Van Dyken. Both attended Sunday's practice.
Embree heard that Rouen was in town and wanted to pick his brain. He said Rouen is not doing any coaching. He is serving more as a consultant to the head coach.
"I said, 'Hey, come out. I need you to help me. I need to get better as a coach,' " Embree said. "I believe as the head coach, your kicker, your punter and your quarterback, those are guys that I need to be able to handle and know how I've got to coach them. You can't coach everybody the same. So from his perspective, I just wanted to make sure that I'm looking at the right things and making sure that I understand the temperament of that position, so that I don't make it worse."
The defense is almost always ahead of the offense during the first week of fall and spring practices. That is the case in Boulder, but Embree noted the unit had a particularly good practice on Sunday.
"The defense is starting to find their swagger," Embree said.
The Buffs practice in full pads for the first time today and defenders should get some opportunities to tackle their offensive teammates. Up to this point, they have been forced to rein themselves in.
Embree was not pleased with his wide receiver group after Sunday's session. He singled out sophomore Paul Richardson as the only member of the group on which he can rely at this point. It was a surprising statement considering there are four seniors at the position.
"Toney Clemons is dropping too many passes," Embree said. "We've got guys running wrong routes. Guys can't compete for balls in traffic. Guess what? You're not going to be open when you catch the ball. You've got to catch the ball in traffic. Can't catch the ball in traffic? You can't play.
"We'll find somebody or we'll just play with one."
Embree said he isn't necessarily surprised that a sophomore is outshining so many more experienced players. He said Richardson played well last year and he expected big things from him after he set several freshman receiving records in 2010.
"Herm Edwards always used to say, 'Habits form who you are.' And his habits, for the most part, are pretty good," Embree said. "Some of these other guys don't have those same habits and it comes out on the field. No one can just turn on a switch and all of sudden I'm going to do it. The same guys that have been inconsistent last year, they're inconsistent this year."
At one point in Sunday's practice, Embree kicked senior defensive tackle Conrad Obi off the field. What did Obi do to receive such harsh treatment? Embree said no one on the offensive line could block Obi so he was forced to remove Obi from the equation.
"He was messing up the practice," Embree said. "We couldn't do nothing. We had to get him off the field so we could practice."
Embree went on to praise the entire defensive line for a solid start to camp.
After missing Saturday's practice because of a family matter, sophomore place-kicker Justin Castor was back at practice and Embree said he won the day in the kicking competition with true freshman Will Oliver.