With his first season at Colorado quickly approaching and an exciting schedule for Buffaloes’ fans to anticipate, there’s plenty for head football coach Mel Tucker to look forward to this fall.
For now, however, Tucker’s letting the fans and pundits get caught up in the excitement of the upcoming season. His focus is squarely on what is directly in front of him and the Buffs.
“The season, it’s too far away right now,” Tucker told BuffZone.com this week. “There’s a lot of steps that need to be taken along the way to get to that point. That’s what I look forward to.”
Colorado opens the season Aug. 30 against Colorado State at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, which gives Tucker and the Buffs plenty of time to get better – and not just as football players.
“I’m looking forward to this summer, to see how much improvement we can make and what our guys can do in summer school, what our guys can do with their internships and our career development curriculum that we have for these guys,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to, seeing the progress we can make this summer and then we’ll take it into fall camp.”
Hired in December, Tucker has completed the first two phases of the offseason – winter conditioning and spring practices – and this week is beginning the third phase, which includes school, but also running and lifting.
“Your team is built in the weight room,” he said. “I tell them that all the time. No. 1, the foundation, we have to be the best conditioned and that starts with our running and our lifting and our rest and our nutrition and how seriously we take that and how hard we work this summer on a consistent basis.”
When fall camp does begin, on Aug. 1, Tucker said he wants the Buffs to be ready to practice hard and fast.
“(So) we can be consistent, we can be at a high level and we can continue to get better each and every day and we can compete,” he said.
To this point, Tucker’s been pleased with the Buffs’ willingness to work. He was pleased with their work during the nine-week winter conditioning program and how they performed throughout the 15 practices of spring.
Having had more than a month to re-evaluate the spring, Tucker said, “I like our football team.”
“We’re not where we need to be right now,” he said, “because we have to have a great summer and we have to go into camp and we have 20-some practices in camp before we play our first game. However, I feel like we can get there through hard work and dedication and drive and grit and then coaching and motivation and player development. I feel like we can get there with the guys that we have.”
What the Buffs have has changed a bit since the end of spring, as a few players – including cornerback Dante Wigley and defensive lineman Tava Finau – have decided to transfer. SMU grad transfer safety Mikial Onu has also recently announced his decision to come to CU this year, bolstering the back end of the defense.
For Tucker, shaping the roster is part of the enjoyment of the job, but there’s also enjoyment in taking the pieces in hand and working with them.
“We’re just going to coach the guys that we have and make sure that they can play at their full potential,” he said. “We don’t want to leave anything on the table. Whatever these guys can do, I expect them to do that on the field.”
Of course, for now, Tucker’s concern is making sure his players take care of business off the field and in the weight room this summer.
“My focus is today,” he said. “Then, let’s look forward to tomorrow.”