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Well folks, we are officially two weeks out of fall camp (which should be called summer camp *frog emoji* *tea emoji*) and I, for one, am ready to start talking about it.
This will be the Buffs third camp under head coach Mike MacIntyre, and it’s no secret that there is plenty of pressure on the head coach to start turning the observed progress into “W’s.” Fall camp will be our first chance to begin grasping whether or not this year’s team will be able to get that done.
With all of that said, lets look at the top five story lines that fans should be keeping an eye on for this year’s camp.
#5 – All aboard the Devin Ross hype train?
Every offseason it seems there’s a name that keeps coming up from inside the program as a guy who has really had a great offseason, this year it has been wide receiver Devin Ross. Multiple sources have told me that the redshirt sophomore took his dedication to the game to a whole other level during his off year and especially this summer. I’m told he has put in countless hours working on his hands, which were seemingly his weakness as a receiver, as well as the other parts of his game, and made huge strides in all facets. As you can see in the picture below (Ross is front and center) Ross has definitely not missed any days on the curl rack, or as I like to call it, the arm farm.
Great time hanging with my WideOuts 2day; excited about what these young men will accomplish this season!#Family#CUWR pic.twitter.com/iOrw8TtQfh
— Troy Walters® (@CoachWalters1) July 20, 2015
If Ross is a legitimate weapon, the Colorado receiving corps could go from good to great. All of the sudden you can’t afford to double team Nelson Spruce, because you have Shay Fields, Devin Ross, and Bryce Bobo who can all hurt you from the wideout position as well.
It’ll also be interesting to see where the Buffs want to use Ross if he has become a serious playmaker, reports during his redshirt season was that he was learning all of the wide receiver positions including the slot, where the Buffs also have talent in Jay MacIntyre and Donovan Lee.
#4 – How many Jay Mac questions does Mike Mac field?
Last year, the over/under was set at 24, I regrettably took the over. I say regrettably because after he was asked question number one on day number one, MacIntyre made it very clear that he would not be talking about any freshman until the end of camp.
This year, now that the redshirt is out of question, and Jay is no longer a freshman, the line may go up, and it may be a lot closer.
Okay, so the sub-headline above is a bit tongue in cheek. The real question is: is Jay MacIntyre going to silence the haters? Or maybe it’s: Is Jay MacIntyre going to prove his supporters right?
As expected, given the recent history at Colorado with a father-son combo, Jay MacIntyre as a scholarship player has become quite the polarizing topic amongst the fan base. Did he warrant a scholarship? Couldn’t his well-payed dad have paid his tuition and banked the scholarship? Will it effect recruiting? You’ve heard them all.
One thing that could shut up most of those questions is Jay making a positive impact on the field, and I believe he will this year.
Anyone who has seen Jay on the practice fields knows that he finds a way to get open, and he catches anything and everything that is catchable. You know, the two most important qualities of a slot receiver.
Mike MacIntyre may get sick of answering questions about his son this fall camp, but I think Jay MacIntyre will become a fan favorite before you know it.
#3 – Anti QB competition
It has been said over and over again, the QB job belongs to Sefo Liufau.
But, if you remember, that was said last offseason as well, and there were times when that wasn’t as sure as it sounded. On multiple occasions at last fall camp Jordan Gehrke would be slinging the ball all over the field, Sefo would be struggling, and anybody watching would look at each other like, “maybe this race is closer then we are being told.”
While it sounds like we may not be able to watch as freely as we did last year, those questions cannot even enter the mind of Brian Lindgren, if Liufau is the guy, his coaches need to be 100 percent confident in that throughout the camp. At some point Mike MacIntyre or Brian Lindgren are going to be asked the question, “Is Sefo keeping a safe distance between himself and the rest of the quarterbacks,” and the answer needs to be a resounding yes.
When fans do get to see the team scrimmage, as I expect will occur a couple Saturdays during camp, Liufau needs to showcase his improvement. He needs to protect the ball, and show off his throwing to the left side of the field, which we have been told he has improved on. The number one key to fans getting hyped up about this season is their confidence in the quarterback position.
It is vital for Liufau to leave no doubts that he is the starting quarterback.
#2 – Special? Teams
They aren’t glamorous, but gosh darn it, they sure do find a way to effect football games.
Surely I don’t need to remind you that Colorado missed three field goals last year in a double overtime loss to California. That was a very reliable four-year starter who missed those tries. This year all three of the leg-swinging positions are question marks for the Buffaloes, and all three will be throwing in a player who has little-to-no experience on a D-1 college football field.
Alex Kinney has seemingly already been pegged as the starting punter, and while he had success in high school, punting in college can be a big transition, he will need to speed up his snap-to-foot times, which can cause problems for any punter.
Diego Gonzales and walk-on Chris Graham will battle it out for kicking duties. Surely the Buffaloes coaching staff will hope the scholarship player, who they went all the way to Mexico for will win the job, but for that to happen Gonzalez will have to show that he has become much more consistent kicking the ball. His leg has never been a question, but accuracy has. The hope is that Gonzalez, who struggled with injuries last season, will be able to turn good health into good kicking. If Gonzalez can’t take the job, the Buffs will be forced to go with Graham, who has showed he can be consistent from inside 40.
It would be a real shame if the Buffs made big progression on offense and defense, but regression on special teams kept them from winning football games, and that is a real possibility.
#1 – Gillam, Gillam, Gillam
I wrote about this last week when I argued that Addison Gillam is the most important (non-QB) player on this team, but I’ll reiterate. This is without question the biggest storyline of fall camp, is Addison Gillam back to 100 percent? Has he really put on the rumored weight (said to be up at 225)? Is it good weight? All in all, is junior Addison Gillam going to be a more experienced version of freshman Addison Gillam?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then Jim Leavitt has a leader, and a heck of a linebacker to build his defense around, if not, all signs point to this defense really struggling to stop the run once again. Gillam, when healthy, is the prototypical linebacker you need in the Pac-12 conference, the Buffaloes simply don’t have another player like him.
Keep an eye on what you see and hear about Addison Gillam this fall camp, he could be the difference between the Buffaloes going to a bowl game this season or spending the holidays at home.
No matter the storyline, BSN Buffs will be bringing you coverage from everyday of Buffs camp.