It’s difficult to judge how good the Colorado football team will be in 2015, but, nonetheless, Sunday afternoon several thousand CU fans gathered at Folsom Field on a beautiful 80-degree day with high hopes.
The annual Black/Gold spring game pitted the Buffs against each other in a scrimmage and not that the score mattered, but Team Gold (featuring Sefo Liufau, Ken Crawley and Christian Powell) came out victorious over Team Black (featuring Nelson Spruce, Derek McCartney and Phillip Lindsay), 14-10.
The event started off with an hour of full-team practice before it broke into the game, consisting of two 12-minute periods.
The three touchdowns scored were all big plays. They came from junior defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon, freshman tailback Kyle Evans and sophomore wide receiver Devin Ross.
On the third play of the game, Witherspoon intercepted junior quarterback Jordan Gehrke and returned it for a 69-yard touchdown.
“Before the play I was just looking for any kind of in-cut or underneath-cut,” Witherspoon said. “And I was just saying to myself I was going to break on it and commit to it.”
In warm-ups, Witherspoon also had an acrobatic one-handed catch that got some ooh’s from the crowd. He looks to get more playing time in the coming year especially with the loss of Greg Henderson to graduation.
Looking to compete for the third wide receiver position, Ross caught a bomb over the middle from junior quarterback Sefo Liufau in the middle of the field for 70 yards and a touchdown on the first play of the second period.
With a banged up Colorado backfield, Evans showed off his quickness and shifty moves on a 65-yard score. Also on the Black Team, sophomore running back Phillip Lindsay had his own 38-yard run and consistently gained solid yardage throughout the game.
Many were looking forward to what the defense would do with new coordinator Jim Leavitt at the helm. But any insight to what type of defense, 3-4 or 4-3, wasn’t immediately available Sunday at the game.
“Today we only played one defense,” MacIntyre said. “We never blitzed, we never did anything (like that).”
While the defenses weren’t complicated, the coaches were still getting some new looks.
“We did get all the schemes in and then we’ll go back and look at it and really dissect the teams we’re playing against next year,” MacIntyre said.
The players seem to be adjusting well to Leavitt as a new coach too.
“It’s been a really cool experience,” sophomore defensive lineman Derek McCartney said about getting coached by new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. “Just learning a new type of defense has been really cool for all of us. He’s just full of energy. We love it.”
MacIntyre said the coaching staff challenged the defense this spring: “We threw the kitchen sink at them and I thought they handled it well.”
As for players that have stood out this spring on the defensive side, MacIntyre mentioned senior Justin Solis at nose guard, junior Jimmie Gilbert on the defensive line, junior Chidobe Awuzie in the secondary and Witherspoon as guys who have really impressed him.
On the offensive side MacIntyre said he has been pleased with sophomore wide receiver Shay Fields, senior lineman Stephane Nembot and junior lineman Alex Kelly.
The game concludes official CU spring practices that have been going on since Feb. 13.
“I see this as kind of like the reward really for all of our hard work in team practices prior to this,” Witherspoon said. “I really just take pride in coming out here and, I don’t want to say putting on a show, but just taking pride in our fans and how they appreciate us.”
The next step is working on strength and conditioning in the offseason.
“We’ve got a lot more powerful,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said of his team this spring. “Now we have from March 15 to Aug. 1, so that gives us a long time and that lifting cycle and that competition we’re going to have in the weight room and the power and strength that we get is going to be a big difference. We’re not teenagers anymore.”
Notes: Sophomore George Frazier, who played both sides of the ball last season, will focus on offense this year at the fullback position. Michael Adkins, Jered Bell, Bryce Bobo and Tyler Hennington were inactive Sunday. Addison Gillham practiced all spring, but didn’t play Sunday and has yet to participate in a full-speed scrimmage. Awuzie played safety after being at the cornerback position last year. Liufau did not throw an interception. After the game, fans were encouraged to come on the field for a ‘selfie session,’ where players talked and took pictures with supporters.
Contact CU Independent assistant sports editor Jared Funk-Breay at Jared.Funkbreay@colorado.edu and follow him on twitter: @jaredfunkbreay