This week we tackle the absurd, a question about injured defensive backs and whether the starters at place kicker and punter are a foregone conclusion for the Buffs in 2012.
Question: CSU just suspended their two best defensive players, Capi and Orokpo. Will Coach Embree go after them? They can both play. -- Jim
Kyle's answer: Jim, with all due respect, you must be kidding. You obviously know why the two Rams were suspended. Does that carry no weight at all with you? The last thing the CU football program needs is guys who are going to cause it problems off the field and behave like thugs on the street corner.
Beyond that, if Embree somehow did want to "go after" them, the players would have to want to come to CU and they would have to be in good academic standing. But that would never happen. Embree has no interest in them.
Question: How well are defensive backs Jered Bell and Sherrard Harrington performing this spring? -- Steve
Kyle's answer: Both players are practicing on a limited basis because of injuries. Bell is more limited as he continues to recover from his torn ACL suffered in fall camp last August. I think if he is healthy, you can count on Bell to contribute to the defense and probably on special teams this season. Harrington has practiced some this spring, but he is raw and inconsistent right now. He's basically a true freshmen when it comes to executing things on the field. Harrington has a long way to go before he is in position to make an impact during games. He was hampered at times during spring by the hip and pelvis issues that kept him off the field last season.
Question: How much do you think we will be able to glean from the spring scrimmage that we haven't been able to see? Anything substantial, or will we not really know much until the fall? -- Dave
Kyle's answer: Dave. Thanks for submitting your question prior to the spring. We decided it's still appropriate to address part of it even though the game has come and gone.
Obviously we didn't learn much from the spring game because it was so scaled back in terms of the players who participated and the abbreviated format. We did get a chance to see Connor Wood in action and there were some reasons to be optimistic about his future. There were also some examples of him being young and inexperienced. I think you will see more of that during the season if Wood or Hirschman earn the starting job.
The bottom line is we're probably not going to know what this team is capable of until well into September after the Buffs have played a few games and coaches definitely have settled on their starters, particularly under center.
Question: I know the specialists didn't get much time or attention at the spring game, but looked like Zach Grossnickle won the punting competition if you go by the stats alone:
Zach Grossnickle (0) .....2 .....92..... 46.0..... 54 ... Hangtimes (unofficial) 4.7, 4.5
Darragh O'Neill (0) ........2..... 87..... 43.5..... 48 ... Hangtimes (unofficial) 3.7, 4.1
However, I get the feeling that Embree is hooked on his younger players, and Grossnickle seems unlikely to unseat either Castor, Oliver or O'Neill regardless of camp performance or last season's stats. Is that the impression you get as well? Embree talks a lot about competition at other spots (e.g. Quarterback), but the specialist starters seem to be set in stone before the spring game. The new punter, Wilhelm, didn't even punt at all.
What are your thoughts on there being any competition for kicker, punter and snapper this summer? -- Ric
Kyle's answer: Ric, it was my impression that Grossnickle had performed better in fall camp last year, but O'Neill won the job. The one area where O'Neill seemed superior was he seemed calmer and more confident. I remember one practice where Grossnickle dropped a snap when punting out of the end zone. That bothered coaches.
You have to remember that these coaches aren't wiping the slate completely clean and starting from scratch in evaluating players. Each player has a history they bring into spring and summer and the season and that history factors into the decisions coaches make. Right now, CU coaches feel pretty good about the way Will Oliver and O'Neill performed as freshmen last season. I think it will take sustained consistency for Grossnickle or Castor or Wilhelm to unseat them. But I don't believe the starters are a foregone conclusion.
Question: On another topic, it was amazing to see the men's basketball have such a great run, and how involved the fans and especially students were, this season.
I think that some of the things Boyle and the program did to make it easy to support his team were brilliant. And having those enthusiastic fans in the stand was a great effect. ... as with many older fans, I still wish the football student section would arrive sooner and participate more ... has there been any talk of doing similar promotions to get the students behind the football team? -- Ric
Kyle's answer: CU has done all kinds of things over the years trying to get the students to arrive earlier. I don't know that the athletic department is going to pay to take students on the road because 50 students in another stadium aren't going to have the same kind of impact on a game that they are able to have in a basketball game on a neutral court. In my eight years covering CU football, student support at home games has never been a problem aside from the fact that many of the students don't get to get to their seats until the second quarter.