Tump­kin di­rect­ing CU de­fense

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­ or @nick­kos­mider

BOULDER» When search­ing for a coach to re­place Jim Leav­itt and call the Colorado de­fen­sive plays dur­ing the Alamo Bowl, pick­ing one with five years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor was an easy choice to make.

Joe Tump­kin, CU’s safeties coach, will as­sume de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor re­spon­si­bil­i­ties dur­ing the Dec. 29 game in San An­to­nio against Ok­la­homa State. Leav­itt left CU this week af­ter sign­ing a four-year con­tract to be the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Ore­gon.

Tump­kin, wrap­ping up his sec­ond sea­son at CU, was the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Cen­tral Michi­gan from 2010-14. He also will work with CU’s lineback­ers at the bowl game, while cor­ner­backs coach Charles Clark over­sees the en­tire se­condary. CU head coach Mike MacIn­tyre said Fri­day that he will have his own “ex­tra eyes” on the de­fense in bowl prac­tices.

“It’s seam­less be­cause the staff worked so closely to­gether,” MacIn­tyre said. “They met to­gether, watched (film) to­gether. They talked and game-planned to­gether and that type of thing.

“Some peo­ple think a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor goes in a room and doo­dles it all up and then comes in and tells ev­ery­body. That’s not what hap­pens. You have to coach ev­ery­one the same way, so it has to be one voice. Our staff is re­ally close, so they’ve got one voice.”

MacIn­tyre said his search for a new de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor won’t be­gin in earnest un­til af­ter the Alamo Bowl.

Tump­kin, who will be coach­ing in his fifth bowl game, could be an in-house can­di­date should CU aim to keep con­ti­nu­ity with the staff it has in place, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of his ex­pe­ri­ence, but the 45-year-old as­sis­tant stressed that he isn’t view­ing this post­sea­son pe­riod as any kind of au­di­tion.

“The only thing I’m wor­ried about is this bowl game and get­ting our kids ready to play,” Tump­kin said. “We want to send our se­niors off on the right foot and get ready for next sea­son, get our young guys ready to go. That’s my fo­cus.”

CU play­ers in­sisted they have squared their fo­cus on Ok­la­homa State af­ter tak­ing a day to digest Leav­itt’s sud­den de­par­ture.

“It came as a shock to most, but we re­al­ized that it was a de­ci­sion he had to make for him­self and his fam­ily for per­sonal rea­sons and things like that,” CU sopho­more safety Isa­iah Oliver said. “We’re thank­ful for ev­ery­thing he’s been able to do for us for the last two years, and now we’re just re­ally ready to move on.”

It helps that CU has strong player lead­er­ship on the de­fen­sive side of the ball, which is flooded with all-Pac-12 play­ers and two se­niors who made an All-Amer­ica list: out­side line­backer Jim­mie Gil­bert and safety Tedric Thomp­son.

“I’m not wor­ried about our de­fense,” said CU se­nior quar­ter­back Sefo Li­u­fau. “They’ll be per­fectly fine against this team. Ob­vi­ously, (Ok­la­homa State) might score some points, but that’s the game of foot­ball. … I’m not wor­ried about them at all on de­fense.”

Joe Tump­kin, wrap­ping up his sec­ond sea­son on the CU coach­ing staff, will be the Buffs’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor against Ok­la­homa State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. Cliff Grass­mick, Daily Cam­era file

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