Colorado on defense has made strides in the early going of this season as well. Although Sefo Liufau has been playing well on the other side of the ball, really it’s the defense that has carried them through some games. The best player on the Buffaloes defense is defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, who is a star and might just be the best secondary player in the whole conference. Let’s take a look at what the rest of the Buffaloes defense has to offer.
Jim Leavitt begins his second year as the defensive coordinator for the Buffaloes. Before Colorado he worked with the San Francisco 49ers, coaching all-pro linebackers Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. He has an extensive resume in the coaching world; he even spent a stretch from 1996-2009 as the head coach of the South Florida Bulls who at one point he had ranked as high as number two in the country.
The Buffaloes defense has also seemingly made some strides in the offseason. After the first three games, the Buffaloes are averaging giving up 239 yards per game. The outlier for them on the negative side came last week against Michigan when they gave up 397 yards while the positive came the week before where they gave up just 96 yards to Idaho State. The passing defense has been stellar; in the opening week against Colorado State they gave up 63 yards through the air and had two interceptions. They followed that up with a 67-yard allowance to Idaho State along with one interception.
The Buffaloes play a base 3-4 defense and so far this year seem to be a little more aggressive in sending people after the quarterback. Before the Michigan game, the Colorado defense had yet to give up a score in the first half of a game. No, the opening opponents haven’t been stellar (outside Michigan obviously) but for comparison sake, Oregon State gave up 363 yards to Idaho State just one week after Colorado.
Over the last two seasons, the Buffaloes have given up an average of 42.5 points per game to the Ducks. Last year was just a brutal game all around to watch as the Ducks rotated between Taylor Alie, Jeff Lockie and essentially Bralon Addison at quarterback. The Ducks running game was great on the road last season, as they put up 361 yards and three touchdowns. The year before that the running game still put up 265 yards on the ground.
Three players to watch:
Chidobe Awuzie, #4, senior defensive back, 6’ 0”, 205 lbs.
No player stands out more on this Buffaloes defense than Awuzie. His team high tackles for loss and coming in second for team tackles, he was named to the all conference second team last year for cornerback. The preseason honors have been rolling in as some publications have him as one of the best corners in all the conference. Third on the team in the early going in terms of tackles and he does have one interception. He does also have one forced fumble and three pass breakups.
Rick Gamboa #32, sophomore middle linebacker, 6' 0", 230 lbs.
One of the other bright spots on the otherwise poor defense last year was the freshman Gamboa. While replacing a player with an injury to start the season, Gamboa posted a team high in tackles to set the tone for the defense. Named on many of the pre season conference watch lists for linebacker, Gamboa will be a player to watch. Currently second on the team with his 20 tackles.
Kenneth Olugbode #31, senior middle linebacker, 6’ 1”, 220 lbs.
The leader in tackles for the Buffaloes in the early going is Olugbode with his 24 along with one quarterback sack. The senior set his personal career high with 11 solo tackles last week.
Depth chart takeaways:
· Three seniors starting along the defensive line
· Also an experienced secondary with three of the four players being seniors
· Linebackers are the biggest young spot with two sophomore starters.