Previewing the Colorado Buffaloes: Part II - Defense and Special Teams

UCLA has to contain Josh Hartigan and the Colorado pass rush to win on Saturday. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Colorado is giving up 179.5 yards per game on the ground and 264.5 yards per game through the air.  That places them 80th in the nation vs. the run, 101st vs. the pass, and 103rd in total defense. They don't bleed yards without giving up points either, as they are allowing 37.8 ppg, which places them 116th in the nation.

Despite the struggles, there are some things that Colorado does very well. Specifically, they can flat out get pressure on the quarterback. They have 24 sacks on the season, which places them 27th in the country.

Defensive Line

Colorado's 3-4 scheme is light across the board, and the defensive line is no exception.  The starting NT, Curtis Cunningham (6‐1, 285, Sr.), and LE Will Pericak (6‐4, 285, Jr.) bring decent size, but RE David Goldberg (6‐1, 245, Sr.‐5) is very light.  

Golberg is backed up by pass rush specialist Chidera Uzo‐Diribe (6‐3, 240, Soph.).  Uzo-Diribe has 5.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss this season.  Kirk Poston (6‐1, 255, Fr.‐RS) is the backup at LE, and Conrad Obi (6‐3, 290, Sr.‐5) and Nate Bonsu (6‐1, 285, Soph.) will back up at nose.

Linebackers

OLB Josh Hartigan (6‐1, 230, Sr.‐5) is the star of the defense.  He's racked up 6 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 28 tackles this season. Uzo-Diribe will also play this spot and spellHartigan up when needed.

The other OLB spot is held by Patrick Mahnke (6‐1, 210, Sr.).  Although not has productive as Hartigan, Mahnke does have 2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 29 tackles.  He's backed up by Woodson Greer III (6‐3, 235, Fr.).

In the middle, Jon Major (6‐2, 230, Jr.) and Derrick Webb (6‐0, 220, Soph.) get the start.  Major is second on the team with 48 tackles, and also adds 2 sacks and 5 tackles for loss.  Webb is filling in for injured Douglas Rippy, and has 39 tackles on the season.  They will be backed up by Brady Daigh (6‐2, 235, Fr.) and Vince Ewing (6‐0, 205, Jr.).

Secondary

Ray Polk (6‐1, 205, Jr.) leads the team from his FS position, which is never a good sign.  He has 56 tackles on the season and adds 1 INT. He's backed up by Paul Vigo (6‐1, 185, Soph.) and K.T. Tu'umalo (6‐2, 195, Fr.).

At SS, Travis Sandersfeld (6‐0, 205, Sr.‐5) and will also play NB. Sandersfeld will be used on blitzes (2 sacks and 5 tackles for loss). He's backed up by Terrel Smith (5‐8, 180, Soph.) and Kyle Washington (6‐1, 200, Fr.).

At cornerback, Terrel Smith (5‐8, 180, Soph.) and Greg Henderson (5‐11, 185, Fr.) start.  They are backed up byJason Espinoza (5‐8, 180, Sr.), Josh Moten (6‐0, 195, Fr.‐RS), D.D. Goodson (5‐7, 165, Fr.), and Jonathan Hawkins(5‐11, 195, Sr.‐5).  Espinoza leads the team with 2 INT's, and the secondary has a high number of tackles across the board, but the unit allows opposing QB's to complete 64.3% of their passes and have given up 29 passing TD's this season.

Special Teams

K Will Oliver is 10/15 on FG attempts this season and 27/28 on XP's. P Darragh O'Neill has punted 64 times for a 42.8 yard average. Colorado has not allowed a punt return or kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Keenan Canty and Rodney Stewart will handle the punt returns, but they have only combined for 8 returns for 39 yards this season.  Keenan Canty will also hand kickoff return duties, but as a team Colorado is only averaging 18 yards per return.

That concludes the Colorado Buffaloes preview.  Fire away with any additional thoughts and comments.    

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