If You Go
What: CU spring football practices.
When: Spring practices are scheduled for March 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 31 and April 2, 4, 7, 9, 11 and 14. Typically sessions are 8:30-11 a.m., but the last 20 minutes of some practices may be closed.
Where: CU practice fields, north of Boulder Creek.
More info: Practices are free to attend. Use of cell phones to make calls, text message, live blog and share via social media is prohibited.
Spring game: The CU spring game is April 12 at noon at Folsom Field. It will be carried by KOA (850 AM) and the Pac-12 Network.
Mike MacIntyre's primary goals for Colorado spring football practices are basic and focused on fixing core problems haunting the program for years now.
In eight consecutive losing seasons, more often than not the Buffs have struggled to get the ball into the end zone and they haven't been as successful as they need to be at keeping opponents out of it.
The Buffs finished the 2013 season ranked 11th in the Pac-12 Conference and 86th nationally in scoring offense and 11th in the Pac-12 and 112th nationally in scoring defense. Both were actually improvements from the 2012 season.
"We need to score more touchdowns and kick less field goals," MacIntyre said. "We're working on some schemes for that and as we keep looking at our team, where are guys that can make plays in those areas?
"Getting the ball in the end zone more is going to be a big goal and key and I think we'll concentrate and work on it and have philosophies there to consistently do that. If you emphasize it, you get results."
CU will practice primarily in the mornings this spring beginning Friday. The first seven practices will take place before spring break and the final eight, including the April 12 spring game, come after the week off. CU wraps up spring ball with a final practice session April 14 geared toward preparing players for the summer months. Practices are open to the public.
It has been 13 years since the CU offense averaged at least 30 points a game. In today's football, that seems to be a minimum standard for success unless you have a defense like Michigan State or Stanford in 2013. It's no coincidence, the Buffs won the 2001 Big 12 Conference championship the last time it fielded such a prolific offense.
The CU offense started 167 drives last season, but only 31 of them ended in touchdowns. Another 17 ended in field goals and seven ended in missed field goal attempts. By contrast, CU opponents started 168 drives last season and scored touchdowns on 51 of those drives with another 16 ending in field goals and two ending in missed field goals.
It has been eight years since the CU defense held opponents below 25 points a game. Doing so in 2014 would be a significant step forward for the Buffs and defensive coordinator Kent Baer, but the long-term goal is being even more stingy.
"Defensively, we have got to make people kick more field goals and score less touchdowns," MacIntyre said. "In today's football, people are going to move the ball. There is no more, 'We're going to stop them to 250 yards and 10 points.' It doesn't happen much, especially in the Pac-12.
"So we've got to understand we've got to get stops and start getting that mentality."
While improvement in scoring offense and defense are the big-picture goals this spring, there are numerous other goals for the offense, defense and special teams as well as position specific goals.
Plenty of attention will be focused on sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau, who took over as the starter in the middle of last season and threw for 1,779 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
It's a completely different looking situation at quarterback this spring as opposed to a year ago. There are only three quarterbacks on the roster this spring. There were six who started spring ball in 2013.
Third-year sophomore Jordan Gehrke, who redshirted last season after transferring from a junior college, is Liufau's primary competition for the starting job. MacIntyre said he believes Gehrke is capable of pushing and even overtaking Liufau, but he will have to take major steps forward to do so.
"I expect those two guys to really compete, and I expect them to really go to another level," MacIntyre said. "Maybe not the first day of spring, but I expect that during the spring I see another level. I see understanding checks, understanding things, doing things better."
Other projects for spring include finding a wide receiver or two to pick up the slack left by the departure of Paul Richardson, who left for the NFL one year early. Also, coaches are trying to fill holes on the offensive line left by departed seniors Jack Harris and Gus Handler.
MacIntyre said they will at least experiment with moving Stephane Nembot from right tackle to left tackle. Jeromy Irwin is seen as the long-term answer at left tackle, but he is out this spring recovering from a broken foot.
The offensive staff also will be trying to get a feel for what the running back rotation will look like in the fall. Former Denver East running back Phillip Lindsay will get his first opportunity to work with the first and second team offenses after a season on scout team and Christian Powell, the team's leading rusher the past two seasons will miss the first part of spring recovering from minor knee surgery.
MacIntyre said he feels confident that the CU secondary will be much improved in 2014 with so many experienced and talented players competing there. This spring, defensive coaches will be trying to identify the defensive ends who are most ready to play along with trying to find a replacement for Derrick Webb at Will linebacker.