Buffs show they can still play well on de­fense

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Brian How­ell

BOUL­DER» Through­out the off­sea­son, there’s been plenty of at­ten­tion given to what the Colorado de­fense no longer has on board.

Eight starters and 10 reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors are now gone, with more than half of them play­ing in the NFL. Three de­fen­sive as­sis­tants — in­clud­ing co­or­di­na­tor Jim Leav­itt — are gone too.

The Buf­faloes, mean­while, con­tinue to fo­cus on what they do have — and Satur­day, they showed they can still play well on that side of the ball.

While the scrim­mage at Fol­som Field — the only prac­tice of pre­sea­son camp open to the me­dia and pub­lic — was pur­posely vanilla, the de­fense, led by firstyear co­or­di­na­tor D.J. Eliot, held its own against the vaunted of­fense.

“That was the word, that the of­fense was going to come out hot, and as a de­fense, we’re ob­vi­ously think­ing, ‘Nah, we’re going to stop the of­fense,’ ” ju­nior line­backer Drew Lewis said. “I think we did a good job.”

CU’S de­fense came up with two goal-line stands (one against the first-team of­fense), safety/buff back Ryan Moeller picked off start­ing quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez and fresh­man out­side line­backer Jacob Cal­lier had a nice tip and in­ter­cep­tion of a pass thrown by walk-on Casey Marks­berry.

Also, Tim Cole­man and Jase Franke had sacks, cor­ner­back Isa­iah Oliver was ex­cep­tional and the group, in gen­eral, made a state­ment that it’s not going to be a pushover this fall.

CU head coach Mike Mac­in­tyre came away from Satur­day en­cour­aged.

“When you have a scrim­mage, as a head coach you want to see both sides mak­ing plays and I thought we saw that today,” he said. “When one side com­pletely dom­i­nates the other, that’s when you get a lit­tle ner­vous.”

The de­fen­sive line was par­tic­u­larly impressive on the goal-line stands. CU has to re­place all three starters on that line, and the group rose to the chal­lenge Satur­day.

“De­fen­sively I was ex­cited,” Mac­in­tyre said of the goal-line stands. “Of­fen­sively, I wish we would have knocked them off the ball a lit­tle more. That was good to see the phys­i­cal­ness of it, es­pe­cially with a lot of our new D-line­men out there.”

The de­fense has a long way to go to top last year, but through the first week of fall camp, they’ve shown they are on the right track.

“It’s get­ting on the same page,” Moeller said. “We’ve found that and we’re mov­ing for­ward with min­i­miz­ing mis­takes.”

Af­ter some grow­ing pains with new starters and new coaches in the spring, Moeller said the first week of pre­sea­son camp has been sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter.

“It feels more smooth, it feels a lot eas­ier, it feels like ev­ery­thing is going in the di­rec­tion it should,” he said.

Satur­day’s scrim­mage was an­other pos­i­tive step.

“As a de­fense, we’re all build­ing up that con­fi­dence ev­ery sin­gle day,” Lewis said. “We’re get­ting bet­ter ev­ery sin­gle day.”

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