Sanders, CU kick off spring practice
Buffs head coach looking to have 'every box' checked
It was unclear exactly what grade the Colorado football players got for Sunday’s practice.
Head coach Deion Sanders said the players gave themselves a C. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders said, “I thought it was like C-minus, but coach said D; it’s D.”
Either way, the Buffaloes came away from the first practice of the spring pleased with the start, but making it clear there is room for improvement.
“Wonderful start today,” said Deion Sanders, who finally got a chance to coach his first official practice with the Buffs after being hired on Dec. 3. “I let them grade themselves and I think they gave themselves a C, because they felt like they could do better understanding the tempo, the thought process, the commitment to excellence, consistency of just staying involved.”
With Sanders and his entire coaching staff being new to the program and 29 of the 80 scholarship players in their first few months as Buffs, it’s going to take some time to get in a rhythm. Sanders and the staff are establishing the pace and expectation right away, however.
“That was a fast-paced practice,” Sanders said. “We got a lot of work done. Got a lot of reps. I’m excited. I really am excited about what I saw today and they competed tremendously.”
Asked what boxes he would like to check during the 15 practices this spring, Sanders said, “Every box.”
“It’s a lot of empty boxes,” said Sanders, who is taking over a team that went 1-11 last year. “I want to see every box checked. Coaching boxes, everything. I gotta see how the coaches communicate with the players; I gotta see how the players communicate with the coaches; strength and conditioning; the training staff; the equipment staff.
“We’re checking everything because this is a total commitment and effort of unification to win. It’s not just us on the field. Everybody in this building has got to understand that we are winners. Change has to be provoked and that’s why we’re here. But we’re trying to check every darn box. If it was great, I wouldn’t be here.”
Part of the process is making players earn their numbers. Practice jerseys on Sunday had the players’ last names on the back, but no numbers.
“I’m old school,” Sanders said. “I come from the place you’ve got
to earn it.”
Sanders went through the full, detailed script of the practice, placing the emphasis on the tempo of how CU will operate.
“We don’t take breaks,” he said. “It’s no idle feet and you can’t walk between the lines. Everything is running, everything is station to station, drill to drill and you work quick.
“It’s a lot to absorb but it’s at such a fast pace that by the time we hit the field in game time running, we’ve got tempo that’s out of this world because that’s the expectation of practice.”
The Buffs aren’t just working fast, however. They’re very precise in their work.
“I’m a very detailed coach,” Sanders said. “So the small details are everything. The practice that we had today was phenomenal. But, shoot, we went over it Friday and we went over it Saturday, so we wouldn’t have a glitch — not only with just the team, with the trainers as well as the equipment persons and
everybody involved in the practice.”
Kicking off spring practice is the latest step in CU’S first offseason with Sanders. A big part of that process is getting the returning and new players on the same page.
“They are getting to know one another and they’re building and establishing relationships,” Sanders said, “but more so than that, they’re holding one another accountable and they’re building trust with each other.
“Right now we’re a team and we’re building team. I want more than that. I want to be more than a team. I want to be something to behold, something you got to prepare for. Really sit down and prepare for. I don’t want just a football team. I look at this thing totally different than just being a team. But I think they’re building relationships
and establishing friendships and building trust.”