(Ticker-tapes clicking and clattering in the background)
That's right! Despite the march of March and its various madnesses, the noble and gentle sport of football has begun again in Boulder. But First:
With a little music, a collection of energetic students and colorful cards, the Pac-10 has become, 12. The Pac-12 students showcase the new Pac-12 logo with a card performance that might otherwise be seen in the student section during a college football game. A group of more than 20 animated students wearing sports uniforms from all of the member institutions, show off their personalities and dance their way to the logo unveiling.
The first day of Colorado spring football practices and coach Jon Embree's first official practice looked and sounded more like the first day of boot camp. Picture a drill sergeant yelling at a recruit nose-to-nose, barking instructions and demanding more effort.
Just about every coach on the new Colorado staff filled the role at one point or another Friday as the Buffs tried to overcome the nerves and uncertainty of new schemes, terminology, drills, voices and expectations.
Embree snapped his visor off his head a handful of times while yelling in frustration as players repeated mistakes or failed to hustle on and off the field. When he huddled with reporters afterward, Embree joked that he was going to need some throat lozenges.
He said he plans to be a hands-on coach and it showed in his first session leading the program. "That's the only way I know," Embree said. "I got to be me. I was like that as a position coach. I'm very demanding. I'm going to be on them. There is a standard and either you do or you don't. We can't bend or compromise it. "There was times today where they wanted to hit a little lull and rest. That's where, as coaches, we have to keep the pressure onthem to keep going."
Head coach Jon Embree was asked after Tuesday’s practice to name players which were assuming leadership of the team. On offense, Embree named quarterback Tyler Hansen – "He’s taking the reins of the offense"; right guard Ryan Miller – "trying to do some stuff"; as well as wide receivers Toney Clemons and Paul Richardson. On defense, Embree had a tougher time coming up with names, noting that he wanted to see more out of defensive tackles Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak. Jon Major was named as the linebacker doing the most in terms of leadership, while Embree named safety Anthony Perkins, who is injured and not participating in hitting drills, as the likely leader of the secondary.
Tyler Hansen is going to make it tough on his Colorado teammates to take his job as the starting quarterback. That much has been made obvious through the first five practices of spring ball.
Quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer said he has been pleasantly surprised by his senior signal caller. "I think Tyler, he has game experience, game maturity. I've been really pleased with him," Scherer said. "Some of the things I saw on tape that were bad habits that I thought he needed to correct right away, he has taken to heart and improved on right off the bat. I like his leadership. I like his huddle demeanor. And he's done a good job playing within the pocket."
It's going to be awhile - try mid-August or beyond - before Steve Marshall feels comfortable putting together anything that resembles a depth chart. Spring practice finds Marshall, Colorado's second-term offensive line coach, scrutinizing 9 or 10 players to determine ability, versatility, temperament, who's better inside, who's better in space, etc. He likes what he's seen so far, but there's s-o-o-o-o much more to see.
"The process is on-going . . . I look at spring as the first 15 practices of fall camp," Marshall said. "It'll go on through the fall, and then we bring in the young freshmen guys we signed, and it changes when Mike Iltis and Shawn Daniels get back. (Both centers are injured; Iltis is out for the spring after off-season knee surgery, Daniels, who is recovering from foot surgery, could return for limited work after spring break.)
"I've been very pleased to this point with their want-to, their work ethic . . . there's some guys up there who are really trying to be the best they can be. We've got a fighting chance if we get that."
ENOUGH OF THE PILLOW FIGHTS: The Buffs didn't utilize 9-on-7 work much under the previous staff. For this staff, it's a staple. Tuesday's version was "significantly better" than Monday's, said Embree. "You could tell (Monday) it was their first time doing it for some of them - ever. There was more intensity (Tuesday), you could hear the pads. (Monday) was like a pillow fight. (Tuesday) they hit. That was encouraging, especially it being the second day (in pads). There was a lot of energy, they were physical. They're figuring it out. I'm glad that they're getting better and pushing through this."
SPRING BREAK (FOR SOME): At least not fully for Embree. After Thursday's practice, the Buffs are off until Monday, March 28. Embree's family will come to Boulder from Virginia, but he will begin studying opening-opponent Hawaii (Sept. 3) and No. 2 opponent California (Sept. 10).
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Buffs Basketball...
GO BUFFS! Beat those Southern Texans and those Riversiders! Win the NIT!