Coach Dor­rell look­ing for se­condary to be more ag­gres­sive

Daily Camera (Boulder) - - Front Page - By Brian Howell

Dur­ing the first seven months he was on the job as Colorado’s head foot­ball coach, Karl Dor­rell had plenty of time to watch games from the 2019 sea­son.

As he watched the Buf­faloes’ cor­ner­backs, he no­ticed they weren’t as ag­gres­sive as he’d like them to be. This off­sea­son, and through the first week of pre­sea­son prac­tices, that has been a point of em­pha­sis.

On Thurs­day, fol­low­ing the Buffs’ sixth prac­tice of the fall, Dor­rell said he’s pleased with the progress.

“I am re­ally ex­cited about our corners,” he said. “They have ac­cepted the chal­lenge of what things were last year ver­sus what things will be this year. They’re be­ing very ac­tive. They’re do­ing a great job of do­ing their roles, par­tic­u­larly in the run game. They un­der­stand how to fit with the tack­ling sys­tem in terms of pur­suit and things like that.

“I think the na­ture of what they’re do­ing, from a de­fen­sive stand­point, it’s a much more col­lec­tive pos­i­tive look at the whole de­fense in pur­su­ing, tak­ing right an­gles to the ball car­ri­ers, but yes they’re all do­ing great.”

Colorado’s young group of cor­ner­backs is mostly in­ex­pe­ri­enced, but ju­nior Mekhi Black­mon and true sopho­mores Tarik Luck­ett and KJ Tru­jillo all played last year.

Black­mon, who came to CU as a ju­nior col­lege trans­fer in 2018, has played in 12

games over the past two sea­sons, but missed eight games — in­clud­ing the last seven — in 2019 be­cause of a shoul­der in­jury. Now healthy, he’s off to a great start.

“He’s play­ing like a vet­eran player,” Dor­rell said. “He’s play­ing like a guy that’s con­fi­dent and knows what he’s do­ing.”

Black­mon has played both cor­ner­back and nickel at CU, with five ca­reer starts. Last year, he had nine tack­les in 199 snaps played.

Tru­jillo and Luck­ett were both slated to red­shirt last year but in­juries forced them onto the field. Tru­jillo, who didn’t play the first three games of 2019, started seven of the last eight, record­ing 21 tack­les and six pass breakups. Luck­ett, who didn’t play in the first six games, played in the fi­nal six, in­clud­ing two as a starter and had eight tack­les and two pass breakups.

Con­verted from re­ceiver dur­ing fall camp in 2019,

Luck­ett is show­ing more com­fort at cor­ner this year.

“He was one of those guys that I would say was a lit­tle bit more hes­i­tant in how he played last year,” Dor­rell said. “I don’t sense that now in watch­ing him play. Now he’s a lot more ag­gres­sive.”

Dor­rell said Tru­jillo and safety Mark Perry, who played as a true fresh­man last year, “have sea­soned up; they’ve learned from that ex­pe­ri­ence last year and they look like to­tally dif­fer­ent play­ers now.”

Sopho­mores Nigel Bethel Jr. (trans­fer from Mi­ami) and Jaylen Striker (ju­nior col­lege trans­fer) and true fresh­man Chris­tian Gon­za­lez are also “do­ing some nice things,” Dor­rell said. Red­shirt fresh­man D.J. Oats is also vy­ing for play­ing time.

“I’ve been very en­cour­aged with our corners,” Dor­rell said. “We’re cre­at­ing some depth, and, yes, they are un­der­stand­ing their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties much bet­ter.”

Courtesy of Uni­ver­sity of Colorado Ath­let­ics

Ju­nior cor­ner­back Mekhi Black­mon has played well dur­ing the first week of Colorado’s pre­sea­son camp.

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