May 25, 2024

Coach Prime puts Buffaloes back on the map after superb spring game

Colorado Buffaloes Football

Colorado's Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders glances at the sold out crowd after his first Black and Gold Game Saturday April 22, 2023 at Folsom Field. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

BOULDER, Co. — Nearly 50,000 fans were on hand at Folsom Field for Colorado’s highly-anticipated Black and Gold Game Saturday.

With ESPN, several alumni, former players and 70 recruits in the building, Coach Prime took advantage of the spotlight. The Hall of Famer showed the College football world a glimpse of the new version of the Buffaloes as the offense beat the defense 39-27.

There was a level of excitement in the venue that hasn’t been there since the early 1990’s, and Coach Prime embraced all of it. Although the weather wasn’t desirable, and Ralphie didn’t do her traditional run, most of the fans stayed throughout the event. Coach Prime couldn’t have imagined his debut meant so much to the people in Boulder.

“I was amazed, I didn’t know that it would be like that, but the energy, just walking out the locker room with the team, it was unbelievable,” Coach Prime said. “It was one of those moments that you would never forget.”

The spring game started off with a bang. Coach Prime escorted 98-year old superfan Peggy Coppom to midfield for the opening kickoff, and she gently booted the pigskin. It ignited the sold out crowd, as the players surrounded her in celebration. Coach Prime actually came up with the idea, and believes she’s a symbol of strength for his team.

“She’s just a breath of fresh air, she just brings life into everyone that comes close to her,” he said. “I’m very appreciative that we were able to do that for her, give her the moment that she deserves.”

Coach Prime also enjoyed every moment he had with rock star former Buffaloes such as Kordell Stewart, Michael Westbrook and Chauncey Billups throughout the week.

As for the game itself, Coach Prime had mixed feelings. He was relieved that the Buffaloes were able to finish the game with only one injury to a player. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders put together a stellar outing. He completed 16 of his 19 passes for 234 yards, and scored three total touchdowns.

Not to mention Sanders’ 98-yard touchdown pass to Montana Lemonious-Craig was the highlight of the afternoon. The junior also connected with wideout Travis Hunter for a touchdown in the first quarter. Freshman gunslinger Ryan Staub was able to get his feet wet and threw for a score too.

The defense showed some bright spots, especially against the run. However, Coach Prime was disgusted with the performance by the special teams. There were a couple of blocked field goals and some easy returns. Coach Prime knows that’s something that must improve before the season starts.

“That was horrible, that was hot garbage, I didn’t want to see that anymore, so I didn’t let them kick in the second half,” the 55-year old said. “I understand that there was a lot of product that we didn’t put out there, but still, whatever you do, do it with a commitment to excellence, and we didn’t do that.”

Regardless of the matter, everyone did the best that they could with a vanilla game plan. After all, Coach Prime didn’t want to reveal too much. The Florida native didn’t put much emphasis on how every player measured up either. Instead Coach Prime was proud that all of his players competed, and got an opportunity to get in the game.

He emphasized how the spring game was the genesis of everything that’s going to transpire from this point moving forward with the team. Over the past 14 days a few players hit the transfer portal ahead of the spring game, but Coach Prime didn’t see that as a red flag. As a matter of fact, he expects more to follow over the coming weeks as he revamps the roster. No doubt there’s still a lot of work to do for the first-year coach over the next few months.

“You all know that we’re going to move on from some of the team members, and we’re going to reload and get some kids that we really identify with.”