Buffs show they can still play well on defense
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.”