If Mel Tucker has his way, the Colorado football team won’t be doing any trash talking on the field this year.
The Buffaloes’ first-year head coach said Wednesday that his team is learning how to play hard and compete, but that chirping to the opponents isn’t part of their game.
“We want to play, the whistle blows, go back to the huddle, reload and get ready to go again,” he said. “There’s no reason to talk trash to the other team. Good teams don’t do that. Good teams, they focus on doing their job and executing and they learn from the previous play and move on to the next one. There’s no time to talk. We have to talk with our pads and be physical. That’s what says the most.”
The Buffs’ play has said a lot to their coach throughout preseason camp, as they continue to put together good practices. Wednesday was a day in shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts), which means the Buffs don’t tackle to the ground, and Tucker came away pleased.
“This was our best practice in terms of being physical but staying off the ground,” Tucker said. “We need to play fast, we need to play physical, but we don’t want to have guys on the ground when we’re not scrimmaging. Today was our best day for that. That tells me our guys are responding, they’re coachable and they understand it’s all in the details.”
With almost no experience at running back, that group has had good days and not-so-good days in camp. Wednesday was the high point.
“I think today, as a group, was by far the best camp practice we’ve had,” running backs coach Darian Hagan said.
In particular, it was a good day for freshman Jaren Mangham, who was issued a challenge by Hagan on Tuesday night to step up.
“He was awesome today,” Hagan said. “He was a different kid today. He was more focused in what we’re doing; he wanted to be the best today.”
With 16 days to go before the season opener against Colorado State, Hagan said he and Tucker aren’t in a hurry to label anyone as the lead back.
“It’ll all reveal itself,” Hagan said. “In 16 days, somebody is going to get really hot, somebody is going to really, really focus in and that person – if it’s only one – will be the guy that’s getting the carries. I hope it’s all five or six that can play.”
Sauvao transitions to defense
Offensive lineman Va’atofu Sauvao, who came to CU in January to compete on the offensive line, has moved to the defensive line.
“We needed help on the defensive line, he wanted to play defensive line, so it was a good fit,” Tucker said.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Sauvao came to CU from Modesto (Calif.) Junior College and has two seasons to play. He and former MJC teammate Mustafa Johnson are the only upper classmen in the defensive line group.
“He’s strong, he’s stout, he’s built low to the ground and he loves football,” Tucker said of Sauvao. “I don’t know if we have anyone who loves football more than him. He loves to compete, he loves to be physical. He’s a blood and guts guy and that’s what you need on the D-line.”
Luckett impressing at corner
Last week, the Buffs moved true freshman receiver Tarik Luckett to cornerback. The move not only helped the Buffs’ depth at the position, but has given them an emerging playmaker at that spot.
“I’m really happy that we moved Tarik Luckett over because he shows up every day and makes some plays,” Tucker said. “He was making plays before he even knew what he was doing. Hopefully we don’t coach him down and he continues to make some plays, but I like his skill set.”
Another true freshman, KJ Trujillo, is making plays at corner lately, as well.
Receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said sophomore Jaylon Jackson is having a good camp. “He’s back to the old Jaylon Jackson,” Chiaverini said. “He’s making plays. He’s just been consistent doing his thing.” … Tucker said senior cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr., has been a leader to the younger corners and that junior Mekhi Blackmon “is starting to follow his lead a little bit.”