Colorado football coach Jon Embree walked off the practice field Tuesday following the seventh session of spring football -- an unofficial halfway point -- feeling good about what he is seeing from a limited roster, but also looking forward to adding his recruiting class to the mix in August.
Embree said to this point it has been a "B-plus spring," but that grade is contingent upon the Buffs getting through the final practice before spring break on Thursday healthy. The Buffs will also have a 30-play scrimmage Thursday.
"The kids are a lot better at details," Embree said. "I'm sure they will tell you their comfort level and their knowledge of what we're trying to do is just so much further ahead than it was last year. And they're working.
"You didn't hear this last year, kids talking and laughing and having fun. I think last year they were so worried about showing us what they could do you missed that element of having some kind of fun out there. It also shows they like each other and they're comfortable around each other."
While Embree is happy with the results to this point, he is far from comfortable with the current makeup of his roster.
In February, he estimated that as much as 75 percent of his recruiting class of 28 prospects could play as true freshmen in 2012.
Embree has seen nothing this spring that has changed his mind or has him back tracking from that statement.
Time and time again in interviews over the past three weeks, Embree has emphasized that he is telling his current players they have to make an impression now because they will have less of an opportunity to do so in fall camp.
Embree says the first part of August will be about determining which freshmen are definitely ready to play and then moving them into first- and second-team repetitions.
"They will have an opportunity to compete for a job," Embree said. "Obviously we signed five DBs and nine D-linemen, and I didn't sign them to stand next to me on the sideline.
"Now having said that, they have to have the skill level and they have to be good enough to play and do the things we want to do to be out there."
Embree said he believes current players are taking his warnings seriously.
Perhaps they learned from last year when Embree issued a similar challenge in spring and when fall camp arrived it took relatively little time for a handful of true freshmen to earn spots on the two-deep depth chart.
Defensive back Josh Moten and defensive lineman Will Pericak and Chidera Uzo-Diribe have answered Embree's call.
"It's going to be like that every year," Embree said. "The whole goal is to try to bring in players that are better than what you have and I tell that to the players. I said, 'If they're not, then you're doing your job.' But it's never going to be this, 'OK, it's my job and no matter what happens, it's my job.'"
Embree said the only position this spring where he believes there is heated competition is quarterback.
He said with the exception of offensive line, every other position group will be impacted by the arrival of the freshmen reinforcements.
"A lot of guys aren't on campus yet," Embree said.
Following Thursday's practice, the Buffs will have 10 days off for spring break before resuming practices in April. ... Embree is taking a vacation during part of spring break and will leave immediately after Thursday's practice. He did not say where he will be going. "Destination unknown," he said. "I'm gone. I'm wheels up about 6:30." ... Embree said coaches have done a lot of good teaching this spring on defending the zone-read and zone-option attacks.