Through the first nine practices of preseason camp, Colorado head coach Mel Tucker liked the energy and effort that his team brought each day.
In practice No. 10, Tucker and his staff had to do a little prodding to get the Buffaloes going.
“This is what you call the dog days of camp,” Tucker said after Monday’s practice. “We really had to push them hard today but they responded and that’s what we like about this group is that they respond to the coaching, they respond to harsh criticism.”
Tucker said he expected a sluggish day to happen at some point in camp.
“That’s why, as a coach, you have to anticipate and have the heartbeat of your team, have a pulse on your team and know what to expect,” he said. “When I walk into that meeting room at 7:30 in the morning every day, I have a feel – and our coaches have a feel – for our guys. When we come out and we stretch and the guys are warming up, you can feel the vibe, you can feel the energy, what the atmosphere is of the team.”
Tucker said he actually “appreciates days like this,” and the positive is that the players’ response told him that the team is engaged to the overall message.
“As long as the players are bought in and they respond, then you’ve got something,” he said. “You’ve got a chance to get better. This is a human performance business and what we’re doing out here is not natural. It’s not the easiest thing; it’s not for everyone.”
Throughout camp, Tucker has mentioned several players stepping up as leaders, but after Monday’s practice, he said he wants to see more leadership emerging.
“We’re getting it here and there, but we need more and we’re going to ask for more, we’re going to demand more and keep pressing these guys,” Tucker said. “We just have to stay on them, stay on them, stay on them every day. We cannot let up one moment.”
Pursell stepping up
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Tucker praised sophomore center/guard Colby Pursell for speaking up and being a leader.
The only lineman to start all 12 games last season, Pursell said he recognizes the importance of being more of a leader. Senior center/guard Tim Lynott is doing so, as well.
“We just need to be more vocal,” Pursell said. “Tim’s a senior, obviously, and Tim is being more vocal. We have to get guys going. If something is going wrong, someone is making a mistake, we should be able to fix it, we should be able to help each other because we should know each other’s responsibilities.”
Pursell missed a good chunk of spring with an injury, but an offseason of training has helped him improve, he said. He’s weighing in around 300 pounds – about 10 pounds heavier than last year – and said, “I feel stronger and more powerful.”
In addition, Pursell said he feels he’s getting better with his technique and enjoying being back on the field after the injury.
“It’s something you definitely take for granted,” he said of being healthy. “All of a sudden something happens and you lose it; it kind of sucks going without it and you want to get back to it as soon as possible.”
Where Pursell lines up this year is still undecided. He and Lynott have both worked at center and guard in camp.
“I’ll play wherever I fit best,” Pursell said. “We want the best five out there and we want to win. That’s the goal.”
After reviewing Saturday’s scrimmage, Tucker said the only thing that really jumped out at him was the plethora of playmakers on offense. CU had 22 different players catch passes during the 96-play scrimmage. “We’re going to be able to play a lot of players and we’ll have balance that we need,” he said. “Everybody knows that Laviska (Shenault) is a great player, but we have other guys that can produce, as well.” … Tucker said the running backs are “embracing the challenge” of stepping up as blockers and route runners. … Competition continues at safety, but not just for starting spots. Tucker said the Buffs need “four or five guys to be able to play those positions so we have depth and so we can play our nickel and dime package like we want to.”