Tumpkin directing CU defense
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