Thursday, August 12, 2010

CU Scrimmage

Every August I like to go to one Denver Bronco practice and one University of Colorado scrimmage to get an early indication of the prospects for our local teams. Today I headed up to Boulder for the last scrimmage and practice open to the public for the CU Buffs.

The CU scrimmages are sparsely attended - there must have been less than 200 spectators today in the 50,000+ seat Folsom Field. The CU scrimmage is more like a real game than what you see at Bronco practices - the quarterbacks for one are fair game for tackles by the defense.

My impressions of the CU Buffs based on today:

Tyler Hansen (#9) is CLEARLY the best quarterback on the team. Hansen to me was the star of the scrimmage. He looked really good. He has much better pocket presence than when I saw him at the preseason scrimmage last year. He had several deep balls that were right on the money. One was dropped by Tony Clemons, another was dropped by Will Jefferson. He hooked up with Scotty McKnight on a nice 40 yarder despite tight coverage. Hansen ran for a td, too, showing his mobility.

Cody Hawkins was Cody - he just doesn't have the arm strength of Hansen and skipped some balls off the turf. He's an adequate backup with a great attitude but you don't want him as your starter.

When I attended the same scrimmage last year I thought Cody SHOULD be the starter based on that scrimmage. Hansen last year was too raw. This year Hansen was much much improved.

Freshman quarterback Nick Hirschmann reminded me of Hansen last year. He has a good arm (much stronger than Cody's) but he was indecisive in the pocket and needs more work.


Heralded transfer wide receiver Toney Clemons from Michigan is predicted to be Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year but he didn't do much today. He had a drop on the long pass I mentioned and on another shorter pass he bobbled it before getting it under control. Clemons just didn't seem to be getting as many looks as the other receivers.

UCLA transfer wide receiver Paul Richardson looks very good - the most impressive receiver to me. Other than his drop on the long pass Will Jefferson had his moments too.

There were mixed results on the kicking:

Marcus Kirkwood made his first field goal (about 35 yds) then on another try he kicked it straight into the line. Also Kirkwood was short on kickoffs. If it were just kirkwood I'd be concerned about the fg kicking but ..

Last year's field goal kicker, Eric Goodman looked OK - he made 2 fgs in the 35 yard range. He looked ok in the scrimmage last year and later struggled during the season so let's see if he can be more consistent this year.

Freshman kicker Justin Castor has a good leg. He boomed a kickoff from the 30 that went 5 yards deep into the end zone. I saw Castor make one medium range fg, too. After I left I read that he made a 52 yard field goal.

I was more concerned about the punting. Grossnickle had a series of punts from the 20 yard line: the distances I recorded: 24 yds, 31 yds, 35 yds, 35 yds. His best kick was a high one that was fair caught after 35 yards. This is a division 1 punter? He also had a terrible shank when kicked from the 40 (went out of bounds after 10 yards and into the stands). After I left I read that Grossnickle was booming kicks later in the practice, so there is still hope he can get his act together before the CSU opener.

There were lots of receivers open during the scrimmage which caused someone near me to say "we either have a very good offense or our defense is terrible" I do think they were just playing basic sets on defense so I'm not too worried about the secondary.

My early gut feel on the CU Buffs:

6 wins 6 losses because of much improved quarterback play (Hansen) and more receiving weapons.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A day at bronco practice

Yesterday I ventured out to Dove Valley to see the Broncos practice. Here are some pictures I took (with comments):

My son and I were even with the goal line. We arrived about 45 minutes early and had no problems getting a shady spot. Weather was great - not too hot with a cool breeze.

tebow mania was in full force - these kids were yelling "tebow! tebow!" throughout the practice

Tebow looked good to me - like a fullback playing quarterback. He's bigger than Elway was as a rookie (though John bulked up after a few years). Tebow wasn't accurate on all his passes but he has a confident presence in the huddle. I think he's going to be good!

Demaryius Thompson is huge. In fact that's one thing I noticed compared to the Shanahan Broncos - McD is gradually increasing the size and strength of this team.

Eric Decker has been compared to Ed McCaffery - he reminded me more of Steve Watson. Very smooth.

I wasn't all that impressed with Brady Quinn. I think Tebow will eventually be #2 qb this year.

I like making an annual visit to Bronco training camp. Rarely do you get a chance to be so close to NFL players in action. It's not for everyone (not near the excitement of a game) but I like getting a first look at the rookies and seeing the player/coach interactions.

My initial overall impression is that the Broncos will be like last year - with a good veteran defense and alot of youth on offense. The offensive line struggled yesterday and they really need a healthy Ryan Clady back (and the rookie linemen to make an impact). Regardless of the record this year I think it'll be fun to watch the development of the young players (Thomas, Decker, and especially Tebow)