Getting away from football for a few days seemed to do good for the Colorado Buffaloes.
On Friday, the Buffs returned to the practice for the first time since a 41-10 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2.
"I think it was needed," senior cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon said of time off. "It was nice to get my legs back under me. It's also good mentally, focusing on some school work and getting back in a little routine. It's important at the end of the year."
Friday's practice kicked off CU's preparation for the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio. The Buffs (10-3, No. 11 Associated Press, No. 10 College Football Playoff) will take on Oklahoma State (9-3, No. 12 CFP, No. 13 AP).
"Getting back out here today was very exciting," Witherspoon said.
CU's coaching staff has been on the road recruiting most of the week. That allowed the players to take a break from the field. They did some weight lifting and conditioning to stay in shape.
"It is helpful to get off our feet," junior fullback/tight end George Frazier said. "It helped us relax, get back healthy and let the team get back to 100 percent."
It also helped the Buffs to get past the disappointment of the loss to Washington and missing out on going to the Rose Bowl. Matchups for the bowls were set on Sunday.
Witherspoon said he and several other players were disappointed to not get invited to the Rose Bowl, mainly because so many of them are from California and hoped to play close to home.
By the end of the day Sunday, however, Witherspoon said the Buffs were eager to head to San Antonio.
"I don't really see any difference in terms of the opportunity between the Alamo Bowl and the Rose Bowl," Witherspoon said. "It's a ball game, and it's an experience. There's no fall off to me. It's going to be a great experience."
Preparing for a bowl game will be a new experience for the Buffs. CU hasn't been to a bowl game since 2007.
With nearly three weeks left before the game, head coach Mike MacIntyre said the team will balance workouts with school. The Buffs were also set to practice Saturday and Sunday, but will take several days off next week so players can focus on finals.
"I told all these guys you have to compartmentalize," MacIntyre said. "We won't keep them out here too long and wear them out (during early practices). We'll keep them fresh."
MacIntyre may have been a little weary on Friday. On Thursday, he was in San Antonio for a press conference before flying to Atlanta for the ESPN's college football awards show, held on Thursday night.
MacIntyre said his flight landed at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield at 8:30 on Friday morning and "we had a team meeting at 8:45 and then had a good practice out here today."
While it's been a busy week, MacIntyre said he got a lot of great feedback about the Buffs while in Atlanta.
"It was a great honor to be up there representing this football team, the guys have that been on this team before that have been under our program and then the University of Colorado," he said. "To see everybody come up and talk to you say they're glad Colorado is back, it gave me a lot of fulfillment and joy.
"All the people involved that touch our program should be very proud that a lot of people in the country are excited that Colorado is kind of back in the college limelight where it should be."
MacIntyre, four Buffs honored
MacIntyre collected another honor on Friday, as he was named the Pac-12 coach of the year by the Associated Press. He was also named conference coach of the year in a vote by coaches last week.
Four CU players were named to the AP All-Pac-12 team.
Linebacker Jimmie Gilbert, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and safety Tedric Thompson were all voted to the first team. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was voted to the second team.
MacIntyre said quarterback Sefo Liufau, who injured his ankle against Washington, was on the field Friday. "He wasn't 100 percent, but we didn't have to take him out or anything," he said. "This time off of not having to do anything for the last five or six days but go get treatment and go to class really helped him get that better." ... While preparing to beat Oklahoma State, the Buffs are also using the 15 bowl practices to help younger players get better. MacIntyre told them, "We're getting you ready to play the fall of 2017." ... CU is hosting several recruits on official visits this weekend. Rivals.com reported that current CU commits Nate Landman, Chris Miller, Jake Moretti, Morrell Osling III, Grant Polley and Jonathan Van Diest will be in Boulder. In addition, Arizona commit Jalen Harris and uncommitted recruits Samuel Barnes, Damion Daniels and Brian Edwards are schedule to be on campus.