Delaying the start of the season to November has put the Pac-12 Conference behind its peers in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but a possible silver lining is the conference has had time to learn from those who are playing.
The Pac-12 is still four weeks away from starting, while the NFL and many college teams are already three or four games into their seasons. Those teams, particularly in the NFL, have dealt with a rash of soft tissue injuries, such as knees, ligaments and muscles, and the lack of a typical offseason program could be the main reason.
As CU got preseason practices underway on Friday, head coach Karl Dorrell said trying to prevent those injuries is a high priority.
“That’s the biggest concern that I have on my mind is the time that we have to train and get ready for play, and knowing that there were incomplete segments of our summer and leading into this camp where the team wasn’t able to train,” Dorrell said. “We are being very cautious with how we’re starting this camp. It is going to be twofold in a way: trying to maximize our systems both offensively and defensively to do things as well as we can do it, and the second part of it is actually getting your team in shape to be ready to play on (Nov. 7).
“It’s very important that I keep that in the front of my mind because of the health and safety issues of where we are from a conditioning standpoint.”
Every morning before practice, the Buffs have a two-hour period of time where everyone on the team goes through COVID-19 testing. The test itself doesn’t take long, so the Buffs are making use of the waiting period to get their bodies ready.
“(The soft tissue injuries are) a big concern,” senior defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson said. “We have this period during our COVID testing where we are stretching, foam rolling and everyone is taking care of their bodies until they get cleared to leave and go into locker room. There’s a whole big, open field where people are stretching, foam rolling, doing anything they need to take care of their body to make sure they’re safe. After that (the trainers) are making sure that we’re hydrated all the time, making sure we have food.”
Freshman defensive lineman Antonio Alfano, who transferred to CU from Alabama in January, has not been medically cleared to practice. Even if he was physically ready, Alfano is waiting on an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play this season, because of his transfer.
“That’s still pending,” Dorrell told BuffZone. “We’re just now presenting it and we’re working with the NCAA in terms of the ruling. It’s an active case right now.”
Medical issues prevented Alfano from completing the spring semester, but he had a good summer school session, Dorrell said, and that will help in efforts to get the NCAA waiver.
Defensive back Chris Miller, who missed the final eight games of the 2019 season, is enjoying his return to the field during the Buffs’ first two days of practice. “It’s been great,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back there on game day. I can’t wait to play.” … For at least the first two weeks of camp, the players will be staying at the Millennium Harvest House hotel to help prevent COVID-19 cases. There will be several staff members there, as well. Dorrell said his attendance at the hotel will be “sporadic.” Defensive line coach Chris Wilson joked that the amount of time he spends there “depends on how much my wife wants to see me.”