Daily Camera (Boulder)

Fi­nally a first prac­tice for CU’S Dor­rell

- By Brian How­ell Sports · College Sports · Basketball · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Colorado · University of Colorado at Boulder · Pac-12 Conference · Boulder County · Boulder · Michigan · Michigan State University · Colorado Buffaloes

Karl Dor­rell fi­nally got a chance to watch the Colorado Buf­faloes prac­tice.

On Fri­day, CU’S firstyear head foot­ball coach con­ducted his first of­fi­cial prac­tice since be­ing hired Feb. 23.

The coro­n­avirus pan­demic can­celed spring drills, much of the sum­mer work­outs and has de­layed the start of the sea­son. But, with the opener slated for Nov. 7 against UCLA at Fol­som Field, the Buffs got to work on Fri­day.

“It was a good first day,” Dor­rell said. “It wasn’t a per­fect day, but I like the en­ergy. I liked how the guys were com­mu­ni­cat­ing, I like the com­pet­i­tive­ness of this group. I think it was a good start for our 25 days (of prac­tice). Ob­vi­ously we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Just get­ting to work was enough to get the Buffs go­ing.

CU and its Pac-12 Con­fer­ence peers have watched other teams around the coun­try play sev­eral games al­ready, while other late-start­ing con­fer­ences have been gear­ing up with prac­tices for a cou­ple of weeks. Fi­nally, it’s CU’S turn to get on the field as it pre­pares for a seven-game sched­ule.

“The last seven months (dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic) have been tough, not only for my­self but the whole team and the coaches,” se­nior line­backer Nate Land­man said. “We’re here to play

foot­ball and that’s what we wanted to do and at first hav­ing that taken away from us, was kind of a tough pill to swal­low, es­pe­cially since the other con­fer­ences were play­ing. But the coaches kept re­as­sur­ing us that stuff may hap­pen in the fu­ture and we just had to stay ready.

“The way it worked out is the best pos­si­ble out­come for us. My­self and the team would have loved to have a full sea­son but we’re thank­ful for what we have. With every­thing go­ing on, just be­ing able to play is huge for my­self and also my team­mates.”

Prior to Fri­day, CU spent the pre­vi­ous two weeks un­able to go through team or group work­outs be­cause of health or­ders put in place by Boul­der County Pub­lic Health. Be­cause of the long lay­off from prac­tices and work­outs, Land­man said he and oth­ers had to shake off some rust.

“It’s to be ex­pected,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was our best first day of camp, but guys are mov­ing and, I think as a de­fense we kept the play script small and guys were able to go through those calls pretty ef­fec­tively, even the young guys. Of­fense was great too.”

Fresh­men and new­com­ers had some ex­pected strug­gles, Dor­rell said, but he praised the veteran play­ers’ start to camp.

“All of our veteran play­ers I thought to­day looked well,” he said. “They look like they were in con­di­tion and ready to go. We have kind of a young un­der­belly on this team. This 2020 class that came in this sum­mer, those are guys, I think we have a good skill set of guys in that class that are go­ing to help us play. We’ve got to get them caught up to what we’re do­ing, of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, so we can max­i­mize their tal­ents and catch up to the veteran play­ers.”

Back in ac­tion

Dor­rell said Land­man had been quar­an­tine for the past month be­cause of com­ing in con­tact with some­one who had tested pos­i­tive, but there didn’t seem to be any im­pact the first day.

“He was able to fall right back in place and be the Nate Land­man you guys all ex­pect,” Dor­rell said.

Land­man said he has not ever tested pos­i­tive and said he’s not con­cerned about play­ing this sea­son.

“I do not have any con­cern,” he said.

“If I do (get the virus), then so be it, but I think I’ll be healthy enough to get through it. I don’t have any wor­ries about play­ing other teams or trav­el­ing or any of that.”

Around the Pac-12, sev­eral top play­ers have opted out of the sea­son – and some have opted back in. Land­man said he con­sid­ered opt­ing out.

“Talk­ing to the coaches and my fam­ily, we de­cided to wait on that de­ci­sion to see what played out with the con­fer­ence and I think that was the best thing for me,” he said. “I wanted to have that final sea­son and play with my guys. I’m 100 per­cent into the sea­son and this team.”

Smith out

Sophomore run­ning back

Deion Smith re­cently had surgery on an undis­closed knee in­jury and it’s un­likely he will play this sea­son. Dor­rell said it’s a longer term re­cov­ery for Smith.

Smith was third among run­ning backs last year in rush­ing, with 68 yards on 23 car­ries.

Re-re­tir­ing num­bers

In Fe­bru­ary, about a week be­fore pre­vi­ous head coach Mel Tucker bolted CU for Michigan State, the Buffs an­nounced that its four re­tired num­bers would be com­ing back into cir­cu­la­tion.

Shortly af­ter that, fourstar run­ning back Ashaad Clay­ton an­nounced he would be wear­ing No. 24 at CU — the re­tired num­ber of Buffs’ leg­end By­ron “Whizzer” White. Clay­ton has since se­lected No. 0.

CU and Dor­rell said Fri­day that the four num­bers would re­main in re­tire­ment and not be used by fu­ture play­ers.

Asked why he was mak­ing that switch, Dor­rell said, “Be­cause that’s the way it should be.”

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