Daily Camera (Boulder)
Finally a first practice for CU’S Dorrell
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.”
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.
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.”