BOULDER - Senior quarterback Joel Klatt may have played his last game for Colorado. It has been more than two weeks since the three-year starter was knocked out of the Big 12 Championship Game by a brutal hit from Texas linebacker Drew Kelson. But the Buffaloes’ captain still has the lingering effects of the concussion caused by Kelson’s shot, and he is listed as questionable for CU’s game against No. 23 Clemson in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., a week from today. Klatt met with the media Monday for the first time since Colorado’s 70-3 loss to Texas and said he still is troubled by “a little bit of dizziness and a pretty sustained headache.” He hasn’t practiced since the hit, and his workouts have been limited to riding a stationary bike. Klatt, Colorado’s all-time leading passer, is holding out hope that he will be able to play next week, but he said the final decision would be made by team doctors. “I doubt they’d leave it in my hands, because I think they know exactly what would happen if they do,” Klatt said, indicating he would play if at all possible. If Klatt is done as a college player, he is not going quietly. Monday, in an interview with the Associated Press, he called the NCAA “a terribly run organization” that should do more to protect players. He said “more times than I can count,” he received hits that, if they had occurred in the NFL, would have resulted in fines and suspensions. Kelson was flagged for unnecessary roughness, a 15-yard infraction, but Bob Burda, a spokesman for the Big 12, told the AP that the linebacker would not be suspended or further penalized. “It seems like they’re more concerned with what guys do after the play and after they score, which is completely irrelevant to safety, or anything like that,” Klatt told the AP, referring to excessive celebration penalties. “But is a player who goes into the end zone and gets a little too excited, is that as important as someone who gets a head injury? I just think their priorities are a little out of whack.” Klatt said he has had a few concussions but would not say exactly how many. He said the one resulting from Kelson’s hit was the worst. While the rest of Colorado’s players left Houston immediately following the loss to Texas, Klatt stayed overnight in a hospital for observation. He said Monday that he did not comment when coach Gary Barnett lost his job because he thought the effects of the concussion might cause him to say something that would not correctly portray his feelings. Monday, however, he defended the coach he said has “been like a father figure to me.” “Mr. (Mike) Bohn (Colorado’s athletic director) is trying to do the best by this program,” Klatt said. “Saying that, I love coach Barnett dearly. . . . I’ll be indebted to him for a long time.” Interim head coach Mike Hankwitz may have to make a decision on a starting quarterback before team doctors decide Klatt’s status. Hankwitz, who said the Buffaloes are preparing for next week’s game as if Klatt will be unable to play, said Klatt would need twoto-three days of practice. If Klatt does not play, junior James Cox will start at quarterback for the Buffaloes. Hankwitz said sophomores Brian White and Bernard Jackson both have been working as back-ups. Cox made one start in 2004, but he was replaced by Klatt. This season Cox has seen spot duty in seven games, completing 13 of 29 passes for 93 yards. “What we’re going to do is keep our plan simple,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. Practice improving Colorado held its fourth practice for the bowl game Monday, and Hankwitz said the Buffaloes’ “attitude and effort” has improved each day. Players had nearly two weeks off after the loss to Texas, but the time was far from stress-free. In addition to taking exams, Colorado’s players watched as Gary Barnett was let go, and a new coach, Dan Hawkins, was hired. “Our spirits have improved,” Hankwitz said. “As I mentioned the last couple days, I think focusing on the game and doing something positive about the situation has made them feel better.” Same roles Hankwitz said Colorado’s assistants would serve the same roles in the bowl game as they had all season. Hankwitz will be in charge of the defense and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson will call the plays. “We felt like the more we can keep the same, the less disruption (we’d have),” Hankwitz said. When it comes to difficult choices, like whether to kick a field goal or go for it on fourth down, Hankwitz said he will ask for input from the offensive coaches and then make the decision. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT Champs Sports Bowl, Colorado (7-5) vs. Clemson (7-4), 3 p.m. Dec. 27, Orlando, Fla., ESPN, 850 AM
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