Taking over the play-calling duties for the Colorado offense this year, Darrin Chiaverini is expecting to hear from some of his fellow Buffaloes' alums, one way or another.
"They're going to call me when things don't go right," he joked. "When things go good, they'll be clapping."
A receiver for the Buffs from 1995-98, Chiaverini is entering his third season as co-coordinator, but his first as play caller. He's taking those duties after former co-coordinator and play-caller Brian Lindgren left for Oregon State.
"It's something that I've looked forward to, coming back to my alma mater and being able to call the offense," he said. "I'm excited."
Chiaverini said he's enjoyed working this offseason with co-coordinator Klayton Adams, a well as new quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper, who comes to CU as a veteran coordinator. Roper has the most play-calling experience on the offensive staff.
"Working with coach Roper has been awesome," Chiaverini said. "He's called plays. He knows what's been good for him, what's been bad for him, especially with protection. That's what's important. That's where I really lean on him a little bit. 'Hey, how can we protect (quarterback Steven Montez) a little bit better? How can we protect our quarterbacks better, but still get the ball out? It's been good working with coach Rope and coach Adams."
Chiaverini's play-calling style is sure to be different than Lindgren's style, but some personnel changes will dictate that, as well.
"We will be a little different," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We don't have (Phillip Lindsay), so that makes you a little different right there.
"I'm excited about what we're doing on offense and how we're doing it."
So is Chiaverini, who has a veteran quarterback in Montez and a lot of exciting options at receiver to work with this season.
"We have a really good offensive room and we're excited about the guys that we have on our roster on the offensive side of the ball," he said. "Now it's our job as coaches to get the details of our system down so they can go out there and play fast."
While it's tough to get a great feel for a defense before the pads are on, coordinator D.J. Eliot said he's impressed with the start the Buffs have had on that side of the ball in camp.
"I'm pleased with the progress," he said. "We're three days in now. We added some new junior college players to our defense in the spring and one this summer. We have some new freshmen that have stepped up and done some good things.
"Today was the first day of shells (shoulder pads), so we got to see who is going to be physical and get after it a little bit."
In addition to newcomers stepping up, Eliot said, "Guys that got a lot of reps last year have improved."
Confidence in kickers
CU's kicking game is expected to be a strength this year, and MacIntyre said he's excited about that group. Place kicker James Stefanou, punter Alex Kinney and kickoff specialist Davis Price are all back after filling those roles last year. Long snapper J.T. Bale is also back.
"They're really good players and they've been in the fire a little bit, so they understand what to do," he said.
Kinney is entering his fourth season as the Buffs' punter, and has been voted a team captain — the first punter to get that honor since Barry Helton in 1987.
"I was glad he was picked as a captain," MacIntyre said. "He does all the runs, he does all the weight room, he's there all the time, he never misses anything, he works hard. They respect him, he's tough, he has a great sense of humor. I think they saw all the leadership qualities in him."
True sophomore linebacker Nate Landman might be tough to keep off the field this year. He flashed his potential late last year, and now, 25 pounds heavier, continues to impress.
"He has phenomenal instincts and has a burst for the ball and when he gets there, he arrives there in a bad mood," MacIntyre said. "He's a really good football player. I enjoy watching him play and you'll see him out there a lot this year."
While seniors Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis are returning starters on the inside, Landman is expected to play quite a bit.
Junior outside linebacker Shamar Hamilton has been indefinitely suspended for a violation of team rules.
MacIntyre said there's no set time for Hamilton's return, but that Hamilton will remain in school at CU. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder arrived as a junior college transfer in January of 2017 and has yet to play a game for the Buffs, missing last season with a knee injury.
MacIntyre said he was happy to have a hot day for practice on Saturday. "We pushed them extremely hard and they pushed through it really, really well," he said. ... CU will have an off day Sunday before returning to the field on Monday.