Early on last season, Diego Gonzalez was nearly automatic on field goals for the Colorado Buffaloes.
The second half of the year was an adventure, however, as the first-year starter finished the year making just 18 of 29 attempts. He missed half of his 16 attempts during the final seven games.
“I was pretty upset,” Gonzalez said. “The first miss just annoys me and every miss after that, I was hard on myself. It comes with the game and I have to move on.”
This spring, Gonzalez has moved on. Working with private instructor Matt Thompson, Gonzalez said he feels more comfortable now. In particular, Gonzalez believes he’s figured out why he struggled from the left hash. During the last seven games, he was 1-for-8 from the left hash while going 7-for-8 elsewhere (with that one miss being a block).
“It’s just working with my steps,” he said. “Apparently I was cheating off a little bit (on steps) from the left hash. I’ve been working on that, so I feel pretty good right now.”
This spring, the Buffs are opening up the kicking competition to include kickoff specialist Chris Graham and punter Alex Kinney.
“I love that,” Gonzalez said. “Competition is always good. If you have better players, competition will be better and you’ll get better eventually.”
Gonzalez is certainly hoping it makes him better.
“I’m ready to have a great year,” he said.
Through five practices, co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren has been impressed with junior receiver Devin Ross. He had several big drops last season but has been sure-handed to this point.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence and he’s been catching the ball well and playing really fast,” Lindgren said. “Coach (Darrin Chiaverini) and myself and rest of the offensive staff, we’ve been really impressed with the way that he’s been playing. He’s been kind of up and down in the past, so that’s been really good to see.”
Lindgren also singled out Patrick Carr, and said the sophomore running back “has been impressive.”
Filling the gaps
CU went into spring with only three healthy scholarship inside linebackers and the Buffs have already lost two of them.
Kenneth Olugbode is out with an ankle injury and Ryan Severson suffered his first-ever concussion on Wednesday. That left Rick Gamboa as the only one left, so the Buffs moved outside backer Christian Shaver to the inside on Friday.
“Christian has the ability to play both,” MacIntyre said. “We’d been playing him outside every day until today and he was able to go right in there and do well. I think he’s had a really good spring.”
Olugbode is expected back when the Buffs return from spring break on March 28, and the Buffs will take their time with Severson.
“His symptoms were really mild today, but we’re going to take ultimate precaution, like we always do with concussion, but in spring practice we’ll take even more,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll go completely by the protocol and probably add a little time to it.”
Jordan Kunaszyk, an inside linebacker from American River College (Calif.), is on an official visit to CU this weekend and attended Friday’s practice.
The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Kunaszyk, received a scholarship offer from the Buffs on Friday night. CU has a need for depth at inside linebacker and Kunaszyk has the ability to come in immediately and help.
“I’m sure they want to see what type of character I have and everything has been going great,” said Kunaszyk, who will return to California on Saturday. “I’m optimistic about the opportunity. They have a need for inside linebacker and I think I’ll be a good fit here. This trip has exceeded my expectations and I’m fired up about the opportunity.”
A 2014 graduate of Roseville (Calif.) High School, Kunaszyk missed the 2014 season at ARC with a broken hand. This past season, he recorded 118 tackles and three sacks.
He has three years to play three seasons. Kunaszyk has a handful of offers, including from California. He is hoping to visit the Bears next week and then plans to make a decision.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Brett Tonz had a big day Friday. He picked off a tipped Jaleel Awini and nearly returned it for a touchdown. Moments later, he got to Awini in the backfield and ripped the ball from the quarterback’s hands as the whistle blew. … Safety Afolabi Laguda is playing with a small cast on his left hand after recently cracking a bone. He participates in everything except full-speed tackling. … Left tackle Jeromy Irwin, who is out this spring as he recovers from a knee injury, is up to 309 pounds. In the past, he’d struggled to get above 285. … Defensive end Derek McCartney is being slowly worked in after missing a couple of practices last week, when he took time to donate peripheral blood stem cells. … Kicker Davis Price of Evergreen High School has committed to the Buffs as a preferred walk-on and is set to join the team this summer. Price was 37-for-38 on extra points and 12-for-17 on field goals this past season while getting touchbacks on 55 of 63 kickoffs. He also averaged 34.3 yards per punt.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.