A little more than 24 hours after Nebraska held its first practice of the spring last Friday, Colorado held its spring game. The Huskers' Week Two opponent is still practicing this week but opted for St. Patrick's Day for the spring game, which was free to attend.
Announced attendance was 4,500.
Not knowing the full context, I try not to pay much attention to spring attendance numbers, but that number actually made me stop. "Really?" I know last year's 5-7 record was a disappointment coming off a 10-2 regular season in 2016, but I would've thought that run to a division title still had some residual buzz in Boulder considering the Buffs won 10 games combined in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Anyway, if you're interested in doing some advance scouting for this fall, the Denver Post offered some observations from the scrimmage, which may go down in history as one of the few primary-source accounts of the day.
My favorite part of the day involved junior quarterback Steven Montez. He was a little good, a little bad on the day, tossing two touchdowns as well as two interceptions. He also did this . . .
Montez shows some wheels on this 44-yard scamper, and some hops on the dunk over the cross bar. Flag? Come on! #GoBuffs pic.twitter.com/4ACaW2tUYB
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) March 17, 2018
. . . which prompted his coach, Mike MacIntyre, to say this:
“We pulled him out after that,” MacIntyre said. “He came up and apologized to me. I told him, ‘Well, two years ago you were so fat you couldn’t have done that, so now you’re in better shape.’ But he’ll have a little bit of extra (work) in Monday’s practice. … I want him to have his passion, but I don’t want him to go up and dunk it. But he has that fire, that vinegar in him, which is really good.”
Montez is a player worth watching. In his first season as a starter he was pretty solid, completing 60.5 percent of his passes while throwing 18 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He's also the Buffs' leading returning rusher, though that's more problem than plaudit, and one of the few "knowns" for Colorado headed into 2018.
Per SB Nation, Colorado ranks 123rd in returning production (113th on offense, 111th on defense). A lack of experience is common among Nebraska's nonconference opponents this season. Akron returns almost everything on defense (10th nationally) and next-to-nothing on offense (126th). Sun Belt Conference co-champ Troy ranks 117th in returning production, 117th on offense and 85th on defense.
Nebraska will actually have the most returning production over those first three games. The Huskers rank 71st, 87th on offense and 48th on defense. Given Nebraska's experience on defense and the lack thereof on offense for the Huskers' first three opponents, you can probably start outlining your Erik Chinander is a defensive wizard takes now.
The defensive turnaround came first for these coaches at UCF, and it's certainly possible that new Blackshirts come out of their first three games looking pretty good.
The Grab Bag
- Mark Schlabach of ESPN offers a conference-by-conference breakdown of what to watch for this spring.
- Does a slow-paced offense make a team more prone to an upset in the NCAA Tournament? Ken Pomeroy looks at the data.
- UCF says that its unbeaten season was worth more than $200 million in equivalent advertising exposure.
- ICYMI: Mike Babcock on the time Turner Gill and the Husker freshmen went to Omaha to take on the Mavericks.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.