Ted Miller BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado's practice went well over two and a half hours Tuesday. There was plenty of hitting and suffice it to say that new coach Jon Embree leads an animated, vocal staff. Some observations. There seems to be little question that Tyler Hansen will be the starting quarterback. He didn't have a great practice, but even then his command and presence stood out. Redshirt freshman Nick Hirschman seemed to lead in the battle with JC transfer Brent Burnette for the backup job. Two defensive players who stood out haven't done so previously in their careers: senior DT Conrad Obi and junior LB Douglas Rippy. Both pass the eyeball test and, more important, both have been consistently making plays. Obi, in particular, is intriguing: Athletic 310-pound defensive tackles are really, really nice to have. The offense ran better than it passed. RB Rodney Stewart and company will benefit from a pro-style scheme that uses a fullback. Of course, seeing that the Buffaloes didn't use a fullback last year, the fullback candidates converted from other positions, including Tyler Ahles, who was in the rotation at LB last fall. Embree said before spring he would emphasize special teams and he's clearly following through, though that doesn't mean the special teams were consistently good. UCLA fans probably won't want to watch Colorado's offense this year: Sophomore receiver Paul Richardson, who transferred from UCLA after an off-field incident, appears poised for a breakout season. He's clearly the Buffaloes best receiver. Junior Ray Polk may have the inside track at safety, where he'd start beside senior Anthony Perkins, who's out with a knee injury. Cornerback still seems unclear among a gaggle of candidates, including senior Jonathan Hawkins, sophomore Deji Olatoye, junior Makiri Pugh and sophomore Jered Bell. Originally posted by ESPN.com - Pac-10 Blog Click here to view the article.