Under the direction of previous head football coach Mike MacIntyre, Colorado went away from the traditional spring game.
Instead, they held an annual "spring showcase," which was generally a glorified practice and not too popular among the fans.
First-year head coach Mel Tucker is aiming to change that, as he plans to conclude spring with an actual scrimmage on April 27 at Folsom Field.
"I would like to get a game going," he said. "I'd like to get a very competitive, balanced game out there and try to make it as real as possible. We have to become comfortable being uncomfortable. That's one way you do it is to create game-like situations as much as possible. If you get the opportunity to do that in a spring game, I think you should do it."
Of course, if injuries deplete a certain position or two, Tucker and the Buffs will have to adjust, but he said, "It's going to be competitive and it's going to be a legitimate opportunity to evaluate our players."
Tucker actually hopes to establish that mentality throughout the spring, as he plans to make practices up-tempo.
"Our goal is to always have our practices be harder than the games," he said. "In order to do that, you have to learn how to practice. It's not natural to practice at game speed every single rep, but that's what we're going to do. We'll probably have to build up to that. At the end of spring ball, I want to make sure that everyone knows how to work, how to practice and I want to know who can play."
In an effort to get the Buffs to practice fast, Tucker said the coaches won't pile too much of the scheme onto the players this spring.
"If you try to do too much scheme-wise, especially the first year with a new staff, you'll come out of spring and you'll be talking about what guys can't do and what they don't know instead of saying, 'This is what they do know and this is what they can do,'" Tucker said. "I want to make sure we understand what type of team we have coming out of spring ball."
Immediately following the 2018 season, quarterback Steven Montez said he was going to look at his options before decided to return for his senior year with the Buffs. Ultimately, Montez decided to stay, and Tucker is pleased.
"I feel like you have to recruit all of your players on a daily basis," Tucker said. "I did meet with Steven. We had a great conversation. I told him I thought he had a chance to be a really good player, a great player, and I wanted to be a part of his career. I wanted him to be here and he said that's what he wanted to do, as well."
Montez has started 24 consecutive games and has a chance to leave CU as the program's all-time passing leader.
Mixing it up
While more and more college offenses are going fast and cranking up the tempo, Tucker is just fine with his team slowing down a bit on game day.
"I think it's important to mix it up," he said. "I think if you always go fast, defenses can prepare for that. As a (defensive) coordinator, I could do that. If you knew they were always going fast, it was something you could prepare for and get used to. It's a little bit tougher when you're not sure if they're going to go fast or not."
Man of the people
Tucker has made a lot of appearances since he was hired and is a regular at CU men's basketball games — even sitting with students last weekend.
"I enjoy athletics and I enjoy young people," he said. "I just really think it's important for me to get to know as many people as I can and to be approachable and be accessible. Obviously I'm here to win football games, but I really believe I'm here to serve the state of Colorado and this university community in any way I can. I'm going to be anywhere I can be and I'm enthusiastic about it. It's a blessing and a privilege for me to be able to participate at this university."
Inside linebackers coach Ross Els will also have the title of special teams coordinator. ... Tucker said there have been no position changes going into spring. "If we need to make any position changes, we'll do that," he said. "I have to see what these guys can do first." ... Defensive lineman Lyle Tuiloma, who has been a key reserve the past two seasons, is no longer on the roster, as he intends to focus on graduating. ... Former CU tight ends coach Gary Bernardi has joined the staff at San Diego State as a quality control coach.