A lack of depth won’t allow the Colorado Buffaloes to have a full spring game on Saturday, but it won’t stop them from trying to finish spring on a high note.
On Wednesday, the Buffs held their 13th of 15 practices, and it was their final full-contact session before Saturday’s spring showcase, to be held at 1 p.m. at Folsom Field (TV: Pac-12 Mountain).
CU will practice on Friday before getting on the field in front of fans Saturday.
“We’re gonna have some fun (Saturday),” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “It was really a good spring. We’ve got two more practices to go. I want to finish strong and show our fans really what to look for in the fall. It’s definitely some promising stuff that we’re doing and we need to showcase a little bit of that Saturday and then continue to work this summer.”
The Buffs will go through team drills during the first hour and then conducted an offense vs. defense scrimmage in the second hour. Dorrell said it will likely be similar to the open practice on April 9, when the Buffs had a situational scrimmage.
“My goal is to try to get 60-65 plays,” he said. “We only have ones and twos. Offense really has ones and … their twos are short a lineman or two.
“We’ve just got to be careful with the number of reps they get and we are trying to hopefully get out of this thing without having (injuries) on Saturday.”
As the Buffs wrap up spring, depth is an issue at several spots, including the offensive line. They currently have nine healthy linemen, which has led to starting guards Tommy Brown and Casey Roddick rotating in with the second-team offense.
Despite the lack of depth, Dorrell continues to be pleased with the progress the Buffs are making this spring.
“Good practice today,” he said Wednesday. “We kind of tapered down some of the time of the practice, really doing more concentration work, competitive stuff.”
Dorrell said the team worked on the two-minute offense and red zone situations, with offense and defense both having good moments.
“It’s a lot of good give-and-take about what’s going on out there, which are really good ingredients of a good team,” Dorrell said. “We’ve just got to finish strong now. … Hopefully have a good showing on Saturday. That’s the plan as we finish up.”
Junior quarterback JT Shrout has been unable to fully participate this spring as he continues recovery from an August knee injury. He has been able to get a lot of work in, however, particularly in seven-on-seven drills.
“It’s been good for him,” Dorrell said. “It’s unfortunate that he can’t get more work than that. That’s his challenge that he fights every day is that he only gets the seven-on-seven reps and he doesn’t get any team or anything like that. His development in his mind, I’m sure he would tell you, is not good enough, because he’s not getting that type of work, but he’s got this summer.”
Dorrell said Shrout should be full-go when the Buffs get back together for workouts in June.
Nikko Reed returned his first kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the season finale at Utah last year. Chase Penry flashed his skill in averaging 17.7 yards on three punt returns.
Both will be in the mix as returns this year, but Dorrell is excited about another returner who is back in action. Senior Maurice Bell ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in kickoff return average (23.0) in 2020, but missed last year with an injured Achilles’ tendon and has recently returned to practice.
“Maurice is a factor in the kickoff return game,” Dorrell said. “He’s healthier now. He’s actually getting some live reps and he’ll get some live reps this Saturday, too. He’s recovered from his injury. It was good to get him back. He’s that extra piece in the return game.”
True freshman cornerback Jason Oliver has also been working at punt and kickoff return.
Sophomores Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson continue battling for the starting job at center. “Those guys have been going back and forth,” Dorrell said. “Austin and Noah both together have really made huge steps of improvement.” … Dorrell has been impressed with the development of walk-on offensive linemen Jack Seavall, a sophomore, and Ben Reznik, a redshirt freshman. “They’ve got a chance at some point in time to earn a scholarship here because of their development and what they’re doing,” Dorrell said. … Following the spring game, at about 3 p.m., CU will host “Healthy Kids Field Day,” allowing younger fans to participate in several activities on Folsom Field. The activities will be hosted by CU student-athletes from several teams.