When sophomore Nick Hirschman suffered a broken right foot a week before spring practices started for the Colorado football team, it effectively ended any real competition at the position until this summer.
Fellow sophomore Connor Wood, the frontrunner to earn the starting job in the fall, is receiving every first-team snap in practices. Redshirt freshmen John Schrock and Stevie Joe Dorman are splitting snaps with the second team.
The Buffs completed the eighth of 15 practices Thursday afternoon with a 30-play scrimmage in which Wood took half the snaps and Schrock and Dorman divided the other half. Wood threw a touchdown pass to running back Tony Jones, who also scored on a long run estimated to have covered 60-70 yards.
All practices and scrimmages this spring are closed to the media and public except for the April 14 spring game.
The Buffs are now off for 10 days before returning to work for the final seven sessions of spring ball early next month. Head coach Jon Embree did not speak with media members after the second scrimmage as planned because he had a short time to catch a plane for a short vacation.
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and defensive coordinator Greg Brown both addressed the progress on their respective sides of the ball, and each said he is pleased with what the Buffs have done so far.
"Do we have room for improvement? Yes we are," Bieniemy said. "Are we satisfied with what we've seen? Yes we are. There is still a long ways to go. There is still a lot of work to put in. But are we pleased? Yes we are."
Bieniemy said the positives were Wood managing the offense "once he got his feet underneath him." Jones is playing well and the offense is moving the ball. He said he feels good about the development of the offensive line, which has seven or eight players who can be counted on.
"Our O-line is probably our most cohesive unit," Bieniemy said. "These kids are doing a great job of leading. They're enjoying it. They're probably getting more work than anybody because of the lack of numbers."
Bieniemy said the offense is struggling with pre-snap procedure penalties.
Wood said the offensive started slowly Thursday but picked it up at the end. He said there are a lot of little things for the offense to improve in the second half of spring, but he feels good about where the group is so far.
Wood said it has been a big help to him to get so many first-team snaps.
"It's been very, very valuable," he said. "I haven't got this many reps since high school in terms of going with the ones. It is great experience. I haven't felt like really in charge of a team out on the field since that time when I was a senior really."
There is no doubt the CU offense has an advantage this spring over the defense, which has severely depleted numbers on the defensive line and key players such as linebacker Doug Rippy and defensive back Parker Orms out with injuries.
"You sure wish that you had more days of spring ball, but it is what it is and guys are on target, on schedule and making strides," Brown said. "Hey, we're a work in progress."
Brown is working with a defense that is really a shell of what it will be in August when the 2012 recruiting class arrives. CU will add eight defensive linemen in August and five defensive backs and those players are expected to make heavy contributions this fall.
So while Brown is pleased with what he has seen from the current players, he is waiting to for the reinforcements to arrive before really analyzing things publicly.
"There is no question it will be different," Brown said when asked if his starting group will look differently against Colorado State in the season opener than it does now. "There is huge opportunity for all those guys coming in the fall and we can't wait to get them here both up front and in the back half in the secondary. There is great opportunity and we think the great majority of those guys are going to play. They're not going to redshirt. Hey, the Calvary is coming. They'll be here soon."