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CU Buffs hope to have fans at spring game

Head coach Karl Dorrell gearing up for first spring practices with the Buffaloes

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CU Athletics
Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell during practice on Oct. 30, 2020.

It’s been 16 months since the general public had a chance to watch the Colorado football team in person at Folsom Field.

The wait could be over next month, however.

Earlier this week, in an address to donors and season ticket holders, CU athletic director Rick George said the April 30 spring football game could be played in front of fans.

“I’m planning to have fans in Folsom and the CU Events Center, starting with the spring football game,” he said.

Head football coach Karl Dorrell told BuffZone that there has been discussion of having fans in attendance for the spring game.

“I think there’s a likelihood, yes, that could happen,” he said. “At least that’s what administration is telling me right now, which is a good thing. We’re hopeful that will be the case.”

The last time the general public saw the Buffs play at Folsom Field was on Nov. 23, 2019, a 20-14 win against Washington. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of spring practices, and prevented fans from attending home games. CU did have 554 family members at the Nov. 7 season opener against UCLA, but no fans at the other two home games.

George also told donors and season ticket holders that he’s hopeful they will be in the stadium next season.

“I’m also planning on a full stadium this fall, but, again that’s my optimistic side,” he said. “We’ll also plan for a 50, 70 and 90 percent capacity in our budgeting as we move forward, and a lot of it has to do with our state and county guidelines that we have.”

The hope is that guidelines will allow for fans to be at the spring game, although it won’t be a traditional “black vs. gold” scrimmage, Dorrell said.

“We had a lot of postseason surgeries; a lot of guys that won’t be able to participate in spring,” he said. “We’re lacking a lot of players. I think we’re going to, at the spring game, create some competitive scrimmage situations, but it’ll be situationally based instead of just rolling the ball out there and splitting the team up on both sidelines and being able to just kind of run a full game. I don’t think we’ll be able to do that and I think most of the coaches in the conference felt the same way.”

Most notably, quarterback Sam Noyer, who started all six games in 2020, is still recovering from shoulder surgery and All-Pac-12 linebacker Nate Landman is recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

Dorrell said Noyer is doing great and, while not throwing, is participating in offseason strength and conditioning.

Landman is ahead of schedule and continues to try to persuade Dorrell to let him participate in spring in some capacity. Dorrell doesn’t let that conversation get too far.

“I said, ‘No, don’t even tell me that,’” Dorrell said. “‘You’re not doing anything. You’ve got to stay on your protocol and do what you’re going to do and get yourself ready for the summer.’”

Offensive lineman Chance Lytle, who injured his leg against Arizona on Dec. 5, is still in a walking boot and won’t participate in spring. Dorrell also said that defensive lineman Terrance Lang, Star/safety Chris Miller and outside linebacker Guy Thomas have had shoulder surgeries and won’t participate. Offensive lineman Austin Johnson, who missed the 2020 season with an Achilles’ tear, will also be out after recently having a bone spur removed from his other heel.

Despite having several players recovering from injuries, Dorrell said he is pleased with the progress of the Buffs in their first month with new director of strength and conditioning Shannon Turley.

“It’s going really well,” Dorrell said. “I think Shannon’s very comfortable. He’s a month in and he’s very comfortable where everything is right now and our players are getting better every week. They’re understanding the new process of how we train, what we’re teaching; those certain aspects of things.

“They’re getting a better feel of who he is and his personality, the things that are important that we’re trying to stress. That’s a little bit of a learning curve and I think their learning curve is getting even bigger and wider now because they have a better understanding a month into it.”