Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Fall camp is open for business

Football is back.  Officially.  I'm serious, just look:

Today is the first full day of fall camp, and the CU Video team was kind enough to put together that nice short to pump everyone up.  The video states "Believe and love what we are doing.  Success will come."  The coaching staff has stated that that success is a bowl trip.  All that's left is for the team to live up to that guarantee, because that success train is long past-due.

Today in the bag, I'll be looking at the five storylines I'll be following as camp unfolds, talking the un-official start of basketball season, and running through some Olympics notes.

Click below for the bag...

5 storylines to watch as camp begins -

QB battle -

I've mentioned it before, but this will be the ultimate story to follow over the next few weeks.  Mounds of articles will be written about the 4-way battle to lead the offense onto the field, and the competition will, undoubtedly, define camp.  I may think Wood will run away with it, but Webb, Hirschman, and Dillon will all get their shot.  The winner will probably determine how successful this season can really be.
Wood is my pick, but all four have a chance to win the job.
Influx of new faces -

Check out the roster, it's loaded with 24 scholarship freshmen, many of whom will receive a lot of playing time as the program looks to fill the hole left by the departed 28-man 2011 senior class. Freshmen mean mistakes, and a lot of freshmen will undoubtedly mean a lot of mistakes.  I hope Coach Embree bought an jumbo-sized bag of throat lozenges this off-season, 'cause he's going to need them.

That freshmen corps could have been even larger, but four of the signees from last February will be grayshirting (deferring enrollment to start their careers a season later.)  Kisima Jagne, Peyton Williams, Gerrard Kough, and Derek McCartney will all look to start their careers in 2013.  Jagne, still struggling to get a qualifying academic score, would've made an immediate impact on the defensive line.

Paul Richardson's health, and who replaces him - 

The big blow of the offseason was the Spring practice injury to stand-out WR Paul Richardson.  Early prognosis was that 2012 was definitely out, but slowly word started to leak that P-Rich was healing quickly, and was hoping to play this fall.  If he does, that's awesome for all involved (presuming he doesn't immediatley re-injure himself).
Hopefully, P-Rich will see the field this fall.
However, even if he does see the field this season, it probably won't be week one, and someone has to step up to fill his explosive shoes.  Even when he's on the field, someone needs to emerge as a secondary target for the competing QB's, because the program can't continue to rely on only one realistic down-field option.

Who steps up in the defensive backfield - 

The defensive backfield last season was nearly devoid of scholarship DB's able to hold the fort.  Injuries, poor play, and disciplinary issues all took their tole, leaving walk-ons and offensive converts to cover all-world talent like USC's Robert Woods.  That situation cannot repeat itself this fall, and it's vital that the whole unit see massive improvement over last season.  Many of the freshmen were recruited specifically for this purpose (Kenneth Crawley, Yuri Wright); how quickly they develop will be a strong indicator of how the season will go.

Can Tony Jones step out of Speedy's shadow - 

Speedy Stewart was a program defining talent on the Front Range for the past four years.  Now comes the time to replace what may be irreplaceable.  Sophomore Tony Jones looked to be the most promising of Speedy's backups last season.  If he can run successfully, it would greatly lessen the burden on whoever wins the QB battle.
The diminutive Jones certainly looks the part, but can he play the part?

BasketBuffs practicing as well; ticket renewals sent out - 

The defending Pac-12 champions of the hardwood will begin the 2012 season a little earlier than usual.  They're running through a brief practice schedule this week, as they prepare for next week's European tour.  I haven't heard when they leave yet, but the first game is scheduled for the 15th in Paris, so I would imagine it happens over the weekend. 

Meanwhile, all you season ticket holders should check your mailbox, because renewals were mailed out last week.  I checked mine, and the bottom-line price is the same as last year.  While, with one fewer home game (only 15 this year), per-game price is slightly higher ($1.04 more expensive in my case), I think they missed the boat on raising total package prices.

Not that I'm asking for CU to take any more of my money, mind you, but the current product justifies a higher cost.  Not only is the team coming off of a championship season, but a top-25 recruiting class promises a bright future.  Add in a sexier home schedule (Air Force, CSU, UCLA, and Arizona all come to the CEC), and the AD's office could've easily bumped prices without a fan revolt. 

With no bump this year, and KU on the home schedule for next, be prepared for one in 2013-14.

Olympic Notes -

Women's Swim Team -

Dana Volmer, Allison Schmidt, Rebecca Soni, and Colorado's own Missy Franklin crushed all comers in the pool.  The quartet, all gold medalists in their individual disciplines, combined to run away with the 4 x 100 medley over the weekend, making eight gold medals, 14 overall, for the women's swim team.  It was an incredible showing, and, if you can look past what Phelps was doing on the men's side, probably more impressive.  Just utter domination.
The rest of the world isn't even close.
British soccer loses the only way possible - 

Saturday night, while the rest of "Team GB" was doing the host nation proud by collecting six gold medals, the soccer team headed into penalty kicks with upstart South Korea.  On what was probably the greatest night in British sport, and with the Korean backup in at goal, surely British soccer could finally get past their seemingly eternal struggle from the spot.

Nope.  Quarter-final fail, yet again.
You've got to be kidding me.  Even the fail horn, usually very happy to trumpet an oncoming wave of schadenfreude, is shaking it's head. 

Murray finaly wins at Wimbledon - 

Not even a month after losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Final, Andy Murray turned the trick on the Swiss champion, claiming the singles gold medal, and becoming the first Brit to win anything of consequence at the All England since before WWII.  That it comes outside of the realm of the great tournament comes as a slight disappointment, but I'm sure no one will mind all that much.
The British drought at Wimbledon is sort-of, kind-of over.  From: the Trib

Happy Monday!

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