Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Truth on Buffs, Rams and more

CU is far removed from the bumbling of last spring. You can not only sense it, your eyes actually speak to your brain.

Optimism last April required a blindfold. In 2007, seeing is believing.

Saturday's spring game showed the pop the coaches have wanted to witness.

At quarterback, JUCO quarterback Nick Nelson tore it up in 7-on-7 drills but struggled mightily in the scrimmage (3-for-10 for 30 yards and a pick). The truth is football is not played 7-on-7 and Nelson is still chasing redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins (12-for-20 for 119 yards, a touchdown and an interception) for the starting job. Hawkins is not running away with the race because he's still young and inexperienced but his talent is out in front.

Last year's starter, Bernard Jackson ran for 82 yards and busted three kickoffs for a total of 96 yards. That is where B-Jack has his best chance at contributing -- special teams. Have him return kicks, see if he has a feel for doing the same with punts and then mix him in with the backfield once in a while, at both running back and quarterback in special packages. Hugh Charles, however, didn't show much, getting stoned often, accumulating but 20 yards on 11 totes although he was dangerous on three kick returns.

Patrick Williams has been a star-in-waiting for two seasons according to many close observers but has done little. Saturday he flashed again with four grabs for 48 yards. He needs to start making plays on Saturday or he's going be viewed as a pretender. Dusty Sprague caught a touchdown and I would be surprised if he doesn't bounce back this season and become a high-reception guy. Joe Sanders, who moved back to tight end this spring, has earned raves and looked good with two catches for 28 yards. If he proves to be the real deal he adds real depth to the position.

On defense, DB Lionel Harris, who started to come on last season, had six stops. Young DT Eric Lawson also caught the coaches' eye with five tackles. Sophomore linebacker Jake Duren, a former Mullen boy, had a pick which he returned for a score.

Stud interior lineman George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas showed again how much potential they have, even if most around the country have no idea who they are. Hypolite had four tackles, a sack and a third-down stop while Nicolas recorded five tackles, including one for loss. Another young lineman, Jason Brace, banged around and roughed up the offense for five stops. The Buffs might be developing the best depth on the line they've had in some time. That said, they need to define consistent pass rushers come fall.

Rams work it

CSU got some scrimmage time Saturday and got what it needed -- signs of potential standouts.

Quarterback Caleb Hannie is experienced and should be ready to become an effective leader (winner) and he showed what he's cable of, even if not yet consistently, hitting 10-of-12 passes.

Running back John Mosure, a freshman sleeper from Miami, flashed as a name to watch come fall with 45 yards on 10 carries on the day and junior wide receiver Luke Roberts, a Golden boy, wiggled free for four grabs for 56 yards. His size (6-foot-2, 218 pounds) will be valuable if he can earn consistent playing time.

No defensive numbers were available at the time of this post.

Nuggets Noise

So why did it take Denver so long to get it going this season? Or am I just notoriously impatient?

"I knew it was going to take a while for them to gel," Marc Spears of the Denver Post told me. "I just didn't think it was going to take this long."

Him and me both but now, even with the mirage of the team playing well, I don't see them matching up well, at all, with defensive chainsaw and playoff fat San Antonio or the thoroughbred Phoenix Suns. So what kind of show do the Nuggets put on come playoff party time?

"It will be extremely difficult to beat the likes of a San Antonio or a Phoenix," Spears said. "But when you have two All Stars (Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson) on your team, maybe the NBA defensive player of the year (Marcus Camby) and when you have solid supporting cast players, I don't think anybody can immediately count you out."

So, if Denver bombs out in April, what then? Hugs and awards for effort?

"I don't think they make any major changes because they realize the growing pains they had to go through this season," Spears cautions. "A lot of times the best thing to do to a team is nothing and I think they're optimistic that Kenyon Martin will come back healthy and with a great attitude."

Scoreboard grumblings

Is my eyesight poor? Did Denver really cough up 133 points to Memphis on Saturday or did the Nuggets just escort the Grizzlies to the basket?

Which Memphis player didn't earn a contract extension after that game? I think you and even ended up in the box score.

Tarence Kinsey and Chucky Atkins combining for 56?

Hold off on those playoff winning predictions for now.

Aaron Cook is in yet another season of no one having his back as the Rockies failed him again, as the shoddy bullpen allowed two runs in the eighth to beat Colorado, 5-4. LaTroy Hawkins was the culprit Saturday giving up a home run, which outside of walking someone is violation 1 in the relievers code book. Garrett Atkins homered for the Rockies, which left 19 runners on base.


Denver South to NFL

It's way too early to know for sure but the name is getting noticed.

Miami's Calais Campbell is being watched closely by NFL scouts. This upcoming season will be his stage to show he's got the first-round goods.

They say it's your birthday

Happy Birthday to one-time Broncos linebacker Tom Graham, the father of former CU All-American tight end and current new Broncos blocker and pass catcher, Daniel Graham. Pops turns 57.

Anthony Miller, a wide receiver who matriculated to Denver from San Diego and who put up two 1,000-yard seasons for the team and caught 14 touchdowns in 1995, celebrates birthday no. 42. Not a John Elway favorite because of his perceived selfishness, Miller was still a premium talent.

Former Nuggets' interim coach Michael Cooper, he of the Lakers' Showtime, turns 51 and former Nuggets' player Anthony Roberts, a first-round pick in 1977, is now 52.

Happens all the time

So admit it, you come home, open up your paycheck envelope and you tell your loved one, "yeah, baby, how do you like me now!"

Coach scores even in spring

Steve Spurrier has one of the kings of the sound byte, a tremendous quote but he really leaped out on a limb with this beauty. Promise you that is one polarizing statement down South but he had the courage to do the right thing and his players and much of that state will greatly respect him for it. I know I do.

It is impossible to separate loyalty to that part of the country from what it also was connected to for so many years.

Holding on to something outdated makes no sense. We are one country, not a bunch of regions.

Capitalism knows no boundaries

Check it out. Who would have thought of such a partnership?

Obviously, I wasn't smart enough/gutter enough to do so.

Coming your way

Tomorrow, look for the interview with CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk, who discussed the Rams' athletic department, men's basketball and Sonny Lubick's football team. Very open, frank discussion. You'll like.

New links

Have just added two new links -- one for Big 12 news and the other for Mountain West Conference dirt. Check the Hot Links on the left side of the page.

*now reports available on Air Force scrimmage

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