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Spring Practice Report

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    By Stuart

    [h=3]Spring Practice Report[/h]March 3rd
    Paul Richardson: “Everyone is starting with a clean slate; there’s no depth chart”
    From B.G. Brooks at cubuffs.com … Much has happened in CU football since “P-Rich” ran his last Saturday route and caught his last pass. When spring ball opens Thursday, he will be playing for his third head coach (Mike MacIntyre) and third position coach (Troy Walters). Richardson is listed as probable for spring participation, although he believes his status could be upgraded. He says he’s functioning at “99 percent.”
    But this coaching staff, like its predecessors, doesn’t want to gamble with “P-Rich.” If he regains his early 2011 form – which he expects to surpass – he will be a proven playmaker at a position that should be much improved in MacIntyre’s revamped offense.
    Richardson missed four games in 2011, but finished with 39 catches for 555 yards and five touchdowns. He set a single-game school record for receiving yards (284) and tied the single-game reception mark (11) in Game 2 against California. He has six career plays that have gone for over 50 yards, all receptions and five of them for TDs.
    But as Richardson concedes, those are old numbers. He’s ready to begin working toward a new set, but most of all he’s simply eager “for the competition,” he said. “The coaches have emphasized that everyone is starting off with a clean slate; there’s no depth chart. Guys can earn a first spot, a second spot, a third spot.
    “I feel like the level of competition is going to be high and the people who have put in the extra work this off-season and have challenged themselves are going to stand out this spring. We’ve had a handful of guys who have been putting in the extra work, and I know for sure they’ve been out there with me. I can’t wait to see them excel this spring when they finally get the opportunities they didn’t get in the past.”
    Coming out of a different winter conditioning program, Richardson believes the Buffs were more mentally challenged this off-season than last. “The demand is still high and requires hard work and a high-level work ethic,” he said. “We were put through different things to prepare us for how we’re going to practice. By each position, your workout is a little different. You got to be able to think on what you’ve got to do then execute . . . once you get tired, that’s when the physical and mental aspects pick up. It’s mind over matter; you have to work through being tired.”
    Richardson said MacIntyre and his staff “for the most part” have been embraced by the returning players. “I’ve been here through three coaches and I feel there’s some type of resilience that has to go on in rebuilding when you’re going to play for someone who didn’t recruit you. There’s always a little of that, there’s always a little of guys being scared, not being sure. But I think as a team we’ve grown to accept these coaches and they’ve grown to accept us. We’ve been working together. In my group, we’ve embraced our new coach and our head coach. We’re anxious to get after it with each other this spring.”
    In addition to Richardson, receivers returning who saw extensive playing time last season are juniors Tyler McCulloch and Keenan Canty, sophomores Nelson Spruce and Gerald Thomas. Among that foursome, Spruce’s 44 receptions for 446 yards and three TDs were team highs. And from what he’s seen in winter work, Richardson expects January enrollee Jeff Thomas, a 2012 signee, to quickly become a presence at the position. Thomas, 6-3 and 195 pounds, was doing that last August before he went home (Dallas) for personal reasons and delayed his enrollment.
    I asked Richardson if he would be surprised if CU is picked to finish last in the Pac-12 this fall. He answered, “No . . . and if there was a spot worse than last I figure we’d get that. You never know about the Pac-12. There were a couple of teams in the Pac-12 that people thought would compete for the national championship last year.
    “Teams lost games they thought they should have won . . . teams won games they maybe shouldn’t have. With us, we have everything to gain. We have less pressure on us to go out and compete than some teams that think they have to live up to expectations. There’s not much expectation (outside) if you’re picked to finish last in your conference.”
    But Richardson says his expectations and those of his teammates aren’t aligned with outsiders’ or anyone’s who will cast a preseason vote on the order of the Pac-12 finish.
    “I think we’re going to be more than ready to compete this fall,” he said. “I think we’re going to do more than compete; we’re going to win games. I expect nothing less than a bowl game this year. I’m sure we’ll be above .500 – and that’s just how confident I am in my group and my offense. I think we’re going to be strong.
    “I’m not with the defense, but the attitude and energy our defensive coaches have brought in, I can’t wait to go against those guys this spring. I know ultimately we’re working to get each other better. I’m more than confident we’re going to turn a lot of heads, close a lot of mouths and some jaws are going to drop at the same time. And I’m going to be happy to be a part of it.”
    That’s easy enough to say in early March, especially coming from a guy who didn’t go through the beat-downs in 2012. But maybe that’s why Richardson believes it. “I feel like it’s true,” he said. “I’m not saying it because I’m an older guy. I’m not saying it because I’m going to be here or what I think I can bring to the table.
    “I’m saying it because I’m in the locker room with these guys, the weight room with these guys . . . I have that much confidence, that much faith in our team and coaches and our community.”
    Not being a part of the horrific 2012 season, not being able to do contribute something when everything was falling apart impacted Richardson. In one way, he said, “It just built some expectations for next season . . . I was able to watch and experience the bad. I had to grow up and mature. I know I’m going to have a better season this year than I would have had last year.”
    Richardson, who turns 21 on the day of CU’s spring game (Saturday, April 13), stands 6-1 and said last spring he weighed 177 pounds. He says he has “put on a little weight,” but grinned and graciously declined to offer his poundage. He also says he is “a lot stronger and faster” and that he further motivated himself by watching high school friends such as Robert Woods (Southern California receiver) compete in the NFL Combine.
    “That added a little fuel to my fire,” Richardson said. “I congratulated all those guys, especially Robert. He said the combine wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be and that I would ‘kill it’ and he couldn’t wait to see me perform. That let me know I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. Guys like him are where they are now because they’re blessed to have that opportunity.”
    March 1st
    Kent Baer to take it slow with CU defense
    Full story can be found in the Daily Camera
    “I have a great deal of respect for this place, No. 1,” Kent Baer said. “I grew up in northern Utah. My dad’s first cousin’s wife used to work here in the football office. So I used to hear about Colorado a lot. I know it can be a special place. It’s amazing to me how many people I run into who are involved with Colorado football or want to be involved.”
    Baer said he hadn’t even made his first trip to Boulder after being hired when he went on the road to recruit in the San Diego area. A fellow passenger on a plane recognized him and asked him if he was the new defensive coordinator at CU. He said he has had a lot of those moments already and he hasn’t even been on the field for a single practice.
    That will change next week when the Buffs begin learning new schemes and playbooks in their first practice under the new coaching staff Thursday. Practices will be open to the public and figure to attract sizable crowds with so much interest in the new coaches and a handful of new players.
    Baer runs a 4-3 base defense that he describes as being different from what CU had been doing the past two years under former coach Jon Embree and defensive coordinator Greg Brown. But Baer said it won’t be a massive change for players.
    CU coaches have worked with players in winter conditioning a handful of times and have been able to get an idea of the capabilities of the athletes on the roster. Baer said he has looked at video of last season but like head coach Mike MacIntyre, he doesn’t like forming a lot of opinions about the players he is inheriting based on film. He’s eager to size up the Buffs for himself once practices begin.
    Baer said he plans to take it slow with the Buffs in the spring. He will start from scratch and teach them to do everything the way he wants it done.
    He is happy to be joined in Boulder by defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat, cornerbacks coach Andy LaRussa and safeties coach Charles Clark, all of whom coached alongside him the past two years in San Jose.
    “It makes it a lot easier for us,” Baer said. “… That is critical because we don’t have to sit and go through every little detail in a meeting with another coach that you’re trying to teach what you want defensively.
    “We’re going back and teaching it from Day One as a staff together. You just do. We’re going to start teaching it from the ground up with the kids. I’m not going to assume they know it. We’re going to teach it and be very detailed and coach the little things that end up being big things all the time.”



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