Football team focuses on details in preparation for Homecoming game
The CU football team has been practicing for perfection this week in preparation for the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday.
The Homecoming football game will open up Big 12 conference play against the No. 3 Sooners on Sept. 29. Undefeated Oklahoma will present a challenge for a Buff team that is just starting to get its offense together.
Quarterback Cody Hawkins said CU’s defense was good, so the Buffs are not feeling any added pressure to score against a team that is racking up over 50 points a game.
“I know as long as we move the ball and kind of give our defense some time to rest, even if we aren’t scoring points, then we just got to do our job,” Hawkins said. “We got to make plays, we got to score some points, and keep our defense off the field, so when they are on the field, they have a chance to execute their assignments as well and stop the Sooners.”
Receiver Scotty McKnight had some more specific comments on where the offense stood as of Wednesday in practice.
“I think the offense looks good,” McKnight said. “We’ve got a couple of really good practices and the running backs are doing well, the offense line’s doing great, Cody’s throwing the ball and he’s accurate as ever, and the receivers are catching the ball. So I think we’re rolling in here this weekend with some momentum.”
Cody Hawkins said that while a number of receivers and tight ends have been playing well, McKnight will most likely be his go-to-receiver in the match-up.
The quarterback also noted the return of tight end Riar Geer from a knee injury and the possible return of tight end Tyson DeVree from a concussion as potential playmakers.
CU will also need to bring into Saturday’s game some of the rushing attack that emerged in the Miami (Ohio) game last weekend. Coach Dan Hawkins said both ability and emotion will be needed to execute a ground game against Oklahoma.
“We’re going to have to be very efficient, we’re going to have to do a nice job on our techniques, and you know there’s going to have to be some passion behind it too because obviously they (Oklahoma) haven’t given up much to this point,” Coach Hawkins said.
The first task for the CU’s defense will be to stop OU quarterback Sam Bradford, No. 2 in pass efficiency in the NCAA.
“They don’t turn the ball over very often and they create turnovers, so to help our offense out, you know, we need to create turnovers,” cornerback Terrence Wheatley said.
Creating turnovers is not the only thing the Colorado defense needs to do. Wheatley said slowing down the Sooner offense would keep them from scoring so many points.
“You look at some of their series, they score pretty quick,” Wheatley said. “They don’t really eat up the clock. You’re scoring 50-70 points a game, you’re probably putting on 20-23 points pretty quickly. You definitely want to slow them down a little bit if they’re out there to scoring at least have them take some time doing it instead of hitting us on one big play and we’re right back out there again.”
Coach Hawkins said the consistent strong play of Wheatley and linebacker Jordan Dizon throughout games and practice is an advantage going into Saturday’s game.
“I think it’s very impressive when you have a guy that shows up every single day, does what he’s suppose to do and more, and allows people to coach him,” Coach Hawkins said.
Defensive tackle George Hypolite also weighed-in on how the Buffs can defeat Oklahoma.
“They’re very simple on offense,” Hypolite said. “They just have a lot of good guys, a lot of good players, and they do what they do very well. If we’re sound, stay in our gaps, play our technique, we should be able to stop them.”
Going up against a stingy Oklahoma defense, place-kicker Kevin Eberhart will most likely get to take a shot at a few field goals after not getting to in CU’s shutout the week before.
“They have a good defense, you know, they’re highly ranked and they deserve to be, and I think with that comes a lot of opportunities for field goals potentially,” Eberhart said.
The Sooners have blocked 20 kicks, but Eberhart says that does not add pressure because of CU’s play this year.
“I think it boils down to operation time and then the guys up front blocking,” Eberhart said. “I think we’ve been really sound all year on that and I expect to continue in that game.”
OU is No. 10 in kickoff-return coverage the past three seasons. Wheatley, No. 2 in the Big 12 in Kickoff returns, said that it will not just be up to him to gain those extra yards on the return.
“It’s not really completely up to me — it’s up to the guys up front blocking for me,” Wheatley said. “A lot of people I think have got to realize that it’s not just the return guy that does it all, and I mean technically I’ve probably got the easiest job –they open the hole and I just run and make plays. ”
Youth play in CU’s fifth game of the season
With nearly 20 freshman or redshirt freshman listed on the CU depth chart, the team feels that youth inexperience is not a major factor so far this season.
“I think now we’ve played some teams with some speed and some talent and I’ve played four games and most all these guys have played four games, you know that are freshman, so I think we all have confidence,” redshirt freshman McKnight said. “Even Kai and Ryan Miller, they only played last weekend but both of those guys are such studs that it doesn’t even affect them there. ”
Redshirt freshman Hawkins said that the freshman are playing well, but are not perfect.
“We’ll make mistakes from time to time just because we are young but I think, as we go further into the season, that we kind of have to throw that youth aspect behind us and just be another player on the team and expect perfection every play,” Hawkins said.
Junior Hypolite was not as critical of the young players, and said they no longer show inexperience on the field.
“These young guys, they aren’t young guys anymore,” Hypolite said. “They’ve seen enough, they’ve played enough and they should be able to get it done.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Margot Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org