Coach says team is getting there
Spring football will end Saturday with the annual Spring Game, and coaches said that while there have been improvements, the team still has a long way to go on the offense.
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said rising sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith, who was second on the team in receiving yards last season, has been showing promise at spring practices.
“He’s a guy we expect a lot out of,” Helfrich said. “He’s shown signs and flashes and he’s a guy we expect a ton from.”
Three of the team’s top five receivers from last season graduated.
Another player making a strong showing this spring is wide receiver Jason Espinoza, who redshirted last season. He averaged over 15 yards per catch at the second football scrimmage last Saturday, second only to junior Patrick Devenny.
Rising sophomore wide receiver Scotty McKnight led the team in both receiving yards and carries last season. He said he is confident in his abilities, and he has taken to teaching the younger players this spring.
2007 Receiving Statistics
Scotty McKnight 43-488
Tyson DeVree 28-308
Dusty Sprague 27-336
Patrick Williams 27-265
Hugh Charles 24-233
Josh Smith 23-451
“The biggest thing is we have a lot of talent here,” McKnight said. “I’m just trying, (because) I played last year, to coach people up so we’ve got the best guys on the field.”
McKnight said the offense is not running 100 percent because of the team’s minor mental mistakes are.
Despite all the little mistakes, though, McKnight said he is confident in the team.
The wide receivers are not the only ones committing mistakes this spring. Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said inexperience is what leads to mistakes from his players. He added that as far as the offensive line goes, the athletes have a long way to go in both physical strength and mentality.
Spring football: class breakdown
Redshirt freshmen 23
“We emphasize every single day that we’re working hard and being physical,” Grimes said. “Your offense will only be as tough as your offensive line is.”
Physically pressuring defenses will be easier said than done comparing the size of the Buff linemen to their competition this fall. Center Daniel Sanders and offensive tackle Ryan Miller are the two biggest lineman weighing in at 325 and 315 respectively. Grimes said that on average, the line is just missing the size that older players offer.
“Most of those young guys need to spend more time in the weight room and get a little bit bigger and stronger,” Grimes said. “We’ll be a little bit undersized as a group particularly at our guard position.”
The team also added a hurry-up no-huddle strategy to its to do list. The Buffs will face Missouri, Kansas, West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma State this season, which all use this strategy.
Helfrich said the strategy has made speed a more prominent issue, which has put pressure on the offense.
“We’re still not quite hitting on all cylinders, but we’re getting there,” Helfrich said. “I really think that’s going to show itself more in a game time situation rather than a practice situation.”
The Buffs will play in the Spring Game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Folsom Field. Admittance is free.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kyle L. Haas at email@example.com.