University of Northern Colorado coach Ed Lamb made few promises when he was hired. The ones he made focused primarily on one thing: community.
He made that evident on Saturday afternoon after the spring game, shaking hands and making introductions with supporters of the program. Some traveled from out of town to get a look at the new Bears squad.
Other families, friends, alumni and general fans stood on the turf. They took photos, laughed and hugged, and several players ran around alongside children in attendance.
When it came to the alumni, building those connections was imperative. Lamb invited UNC Hall of Famers John Zurbrigen and Tom Beck to coach each team, while also taking time before kickoff to meet with program graduates.
Many of those same former players took time to speak with guys on the current roster after the game.
That’s exactly what Lamb hoped for when he invited alumni to join the weekend festivities.
“It’s everything I wanted. I’m looking around right now, and I see alumni — this place was a critical part of their development in their life — and they’re talking to our current players,” Lamb said. “I wanted that relationship. At UNC right now, I’m not looking for NIL deals and things like that as much as I’m looking for real, genuine relationships, men that stand for things of substance, reaching back and helping our current young men that are trying to figure out who they are in life. I think we got some of that today.”
The first-year head coach expressed pleasure with what he saw on the turf, too.
Lamb wanted the team to show resilience and work through adversity. He wanted players to encourage each other and make adjustments, instead of placing blame. Plus, he hoped having fans would increase intensity and excitement.
He got that. The gold team (defense) defeated the blue team (offense), 30-21.
Lamb purposely split the offense and defense due to health on the offensive line. He’d planned on creating two traditional teams, but the Bears don’t have enough healthy linemen for that yet.
The offense received points for touchdowns and field goals, while the defense received points for its own touchdowns, defensive takeaways and forcing punts.
Gold forced five punts and two fourth-down turnovers. It earned one fumble recovery. Gold took a 21-0 lead before the blue team scored. The offense scored three touchdowns, and Hunter Green made all of the extra points.
“I thought our guys banded well together, continued to fight and encouraged each other,” Lamb said. “In the end, it was a competitive day because the offense bounced back.”
Lamb said he thought part of the offense’s slow start was getting Beck and his guest staff into their own play-calling rhythm, which it did.
Junior quarterback Jacob Sirmon went 13-of-17 passing for 135 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore transfer QB Peter Costelli replaced Sirmon and went 8-of-9 for 99 yards. Costelli recorded one passing TD and helped the team get in position for a rushing touchdown.
The defense played with energy and excitement. Junior Jordan Knapke and senior Tremell Harrell led the gold team in stops, getting credit for six and eight tackles, respectively.
“This was an important day. The fans gave us something today. They give us an increased intensity in the atmosphere, put a little more pressure on us,” Lamb said. “I look forward to meeting everybody I can that cares about UNC football. There’s hundreds of people here today that care about that, and I appreciate their support.”
UNC opens its 2023 season on the road against Abilene Christian on Aug. 31. The first home game is set for Sept. 9 against Incarnate Word. Season tickets are available now at uncbears.com/tickets.
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