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CU head coach, Karl Dorrell, during ...
CU head coach, Karl Dorrell, during the University of Colorado Football Spring Showcase on April 30, 2021.

Now that spring practices are in the books, the Colorado football team turns its attention to the equally important final phase of the offseason.

CU wrapped up spring on Friday and will give players about a month off before they return to campus and workouts in June. The summer session will lead them into preseason camp in August and the season opener on Sept. 3 against Northern Colorado at Folsom Field.

“They have a whole month off and I want them to get away, to spend time with family, friends, be home but I also want them to reflect on the work that we need to accomplish this summer,” head coach Karl Dorrell said after the Spring Showcase on Friday. “We talked about that at length before the scrimmage. … There’s some work that we need to get done both as a team, physically and also the mental aspect of sharpening ourselves and sharpening each other, about the challenge that we’ve got set in front of us, in terms of our schedule.”

After going 4-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season, the Buffs face a difficult schedule that includes nonconference dates with Texas A&M (a projected top-five team) and Minnesota (a possible top-25 team). The nine-game Pac-12 schedule will include everyone in the South division, along with two of the favorites in the North, Oregon and Washington.

Dorrell has been pleased with the progress so far this offseason, but knows a successful summer will be critical.

“We kind of set the pace of what this May should be until they get back here in June,” he said. “There’s a lot that I want them to digest and think about because when June hits we’re going to be hitting it hard and heavy all the way, really, up until training camp.

“They’re in a good headspace right now. I feel like they’ll be ready to go when they get back.”

Center Colby Pursell, a junior heading into his fifth season with the program, said the veterans understand the importance of this summer, especially as they work with new strength and conditioning coordinator Shannon Turley for the first time.

“Summer is always critical,” Pursell said. “This is our first summer with coach Turley, so that will be obviously new for us. … We have more things we need to do, obviously. More workouts, get in better shape — bigger, faster, stronger, the same thing it is every year. Obviously, that’s the goal every year but this year is going to be critical.”

Junior inside linebacker Jonathan Van Diest agreed it will be an important summer, but said it was also important to have a strong spring before the break this month.

“The team had a good showcase,” Van Diest said. “I had a good spring, defense had a good spring. It’s nice that we can put all the hard work in, take a breather. … We’ve got a couple of weeks to rest up and get our minds right, enjoy time with family, go travel if we can and then come back and just get back to it. It’s a good way to end it.”

Ralphie update

While Dorrell is hoping the players are ready to go by the Sept. 3 opener, the bigger question could be whether Ralphie is ready.

Ralphie V retired at the end of the 2019 season and the Ralphie Live Mascot Program is still working on finding a replacement.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, live mascots were not allowed in 2020, but CU would not have had a buffalo ready anyway. Even now, Ralphie VI has not officially been identified.

“We continue to work with our buffalo candidate with the hopes that she will want to become the next Ralphie,” program manager Taylor Stratton told BuffZone. “We’re looking forward to this summer when we can hopefully get groups of people together to start assessing and working on her confidence and comfort with crowds.”