Refreshed Bu≠s return to practice
boulder» Getting away from football for a few days seemed to be good for Colorado.
Friday, the Pac-12 runner-up Buffaloes returned to practice for the first time since their 41-10 loss to Washington in the conference championship game Dec. 2.
“I think it was needed,” senior cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon said of the time off. “It was nice to get my legs back under me. It’s also good mentally, focusing on some school work and getting back in a little routine. It’s important at the end of the year.”
Friday’s practice kicked off CU’s preparation for the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Buffs (10-3, No. 11 Associated Press poll, No. 10 College Football Playoff rankings) will play Oklahoma State (9-3, No. 13 AP, No. 12 CFP) on Dec. 29.
“Getting back out here today was very exciting,” Witherspoon said.
CU’s coaching staff had been on the road recruiting most of the week. That allowed the players to take a break from the field. They did some weightlifting and conditioning to stay in shape.
“It is helpful to get off our feet,” said junior fullback and tight end George Frazier. “It helped us relax, get back healthy and let the team get back to 100 percent.”
It also helped the Buffs to get past the disappointment of the 31point loss to Washington and missing out on a Rose Bowl berth. Matchups for bowl games were set Sunday.
Witherspoon said he and several teammates were disappointed when CU wasn’t invited to the Rose Bowl, primarily because so many of them are from California and hoped to play close to home.
But by the end of Sunday, Witherspoon said the Buffs were eager to head to San Antonio.
“I don’t really see any difference in terms of the opportunity between the Alamo Bowl and the Rose Bowl,” Witherspoon said. “It’s a ballgame, and it’s an experience. There’s no fall-off to me. It’s going to be a great experience.”
Preparing for a bowl game will be a new experience for the Buffs. CU hasn’t played in a bowl game since the 2007 season.
With nearly three weeks left before the Alamo Bowl, coach Mike MacIntyre said the Buffs will balance workouts with school work. The Buffs will practice Saturday and Sunday, but they will take several days off next week so players can focus on final exams.
“I told all these guys you have to compartmentalize,” MacIntyre said. “We won’t keep them out here too long and wear them out (during early practices). We’ll keep them fresh.”
MacIntyre said senior quarterback Sefo Liufau, who suffered an ankle injury during the Pac-12 title game, was on the field Friday.
“He wasn’t 100 percent, but we didn’t have to take him out or anything,” the coach said. “This time off — of not having to do anything for the last five or six days but go get treatment and go to class — really helped him get that better.”
MacIntyre may have been a little weary Friday. He was in San Antonio on Thursday for a news conference before flying to Atlanta for ESPN’s college football awards show that night.
While it’s been a busy week, MacIntyre said he received a lot of great feedback about the Buffs while in Atlanta.
“It was a great honor to be up there representing this football team, the guys that have been on this team before that have been under our program and then the University of Colorado,” the coach said. “To see everybody come up and talk to you say they’re glad Colorado is back, it gave me a lot of fulfillment and joy.”
Pac-12 salutes CU.
MacIntyre was named the Pac-12 coach of the year by The Associated Press on Friday. He was named conference coach of the year in voting by Pac-12 coaches last week.
CU placed four players, all on the defensive side of the ball, on AP’s all-Pac-12 team. Linebacker Jimmie Gilbert, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and safety Tedric Thompson were selected for the first team. Witherspoon was selected for the second team.