BOULDER - There are voids left by departing seniors all over the defense that the Colorado Buffaloes are trying to fill. Fall camp this year's main goal might just be replacement. The biggest replacement needed might be the one that not a lot of people are talking about.
Jimmie Gilbert had one of the best pass rushing seasons in the history of Colorado Football in 2016. He flat out got to the quarterback and was by far the biggest threat to opponent’s offensive lines. After N.J. Falo was dismissed from the program about a week ago, head coach Mike MacIntyre has been frenetically searching for a pass rusher.
One guy that’s going to try his best to try and fill that void is Terran Hasselbach. Hasselbach got plenty of playing time last season after Derek McCartney went down with an injury and it acted as a great lesson for the redshirt junior.
“For me, I came in and it really put me into a position where I needed to show out and really know what I was doing,” Hasselbach explained. "Obviously, with NJ, we were able to compete a lot and I was able to get that game experience. It makes me a better player now because I had some experience beforehand.”
Now that the 6-foot-1, 235-pound outside linebacker has some experience under his belt and honestly played pretty well in it, he’s ready to take over as the starting Will linebacker for the Buffaloes. He's looking forward to that challenge.
“So as far as my role goes this year I’m looking to be a playmaker, I’m looking to be dynamic,” Hasselbach said. “I’m looking to fit in this team play my role and bring this team to a new level.”
For the Colorado native and Regis Jesuit grad, there’s something different about putting on the CU uniform. And that feeling is shared amongst some of his teammates from Colorado, such as Phil Lindsay, Tim Lynott and Ryan Moeller, three guys that are expected to have productive seasons for the Colorado Buffaloes.
“I actually just realized that recently and it’s incredible,” Hasselbach said on the realization that there’s a good amount of Colorado kids that are also expected starters. “I’ve dreamed of playing for this team my whole life, and when I got the opportunity, it hasn’t gone the way that I’d have wanted it to, but at this point seeing that we do have a lot of Colorado kids and I have my opportunity. There’s chemistry between the Colorado kids and having the extra bit of pride will help take us to the next level.”
One of the things that the outside linebackers have going for them is they finally have their own position coach in defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. Eliot has taken over the outside linebackers while Ross Els coaches the inside linebackers. During the Jim Leavitt era, Leavitt was the coach of all of the linebackers.
“Don’t get me wrong Leavitt was an amazing coach,” Hasselbach said. “But having someone that spends all their time during individual periods, in the film room, it really helps to fine tune the details of what it means to be an outside linebacker.”
The hope for the Buffaloes is that Hasselbach and maybe a few others will be able to step up and lessen the blow from lost seniors. If not, it could be a long year for Colorado on the defensive side of the ball.