DENVER- The talk during the preseason was all about the step back that the Colorado Buffaloes' defense was going to take. That might’ve pissed them off a little bit. They came in and shut down the Colorado State Rams for the second year in a row. That was the first time the Colorado State Rams had failed to score a touchdown in a game since Nov. 23, 2013, against Utah State.
“Basically since last season we have just been hearing about the offense and what we’ve lost on defense,” Rick Gamboa said after the game. “So it pushed us in the off-season knowing that if we wanted to win, the defense would have to play good in games.”
Head coach Mike MacIntyre was tired of the talk as well so he had a joke prepared for his press conference after the game.
“I didn’t think anybody thought that we were going to be able to tackle anybody from everything that I heard,” MacIntyre said. “So I didn’t know if we’d be able to hit anybody out there, but those guys played really hard and I was very proud of them.”
The Buffaloes were able to tackle, that’s for sure. Gamboa led the team with 10 tackles, but it was the impact of the new guys that made the biggest difference.
Drew Lewis was flying all over the field, racking up six tackles including a tackle for loss and had two QB hurries where he slammed CSU quarterback Nick Stevens to the ground.
“I came out and I surprised myself,” Lewis said after the game. “And we were able to surprise a lot of people, being able to compete and step up to where the starters from last year were able to play.”
Trey Udoffia, playing in his first ever college football game as a redshirt freshman, had a shaky first half. Most of it was just trying to calm the jitters, but once he settled down in the second half he started to make plays.
“As a defense, we just wanted to make a statement that the defense is still here,” Udoffia said. “It’s not just our offense that’s going to carry us all season and I think we did that tonight.”
One of the big keys to victory going into this game for the Buffs was to get to CSU’s quarterback. True freshman Jacob Callier was able to consistently get to the quarterback in pass rushing situations tonight. He finished with one sack and one QB hurry but, most importantly, he showed off why he’s going to be a great playmaker for the Buffaloes for a long time.
"They're very talented," MacIntyre said about his young freshmen. "They're going to play hard and keep going. They made some mistakes tonight, but they all kept battling. Dante Sparaco had sack, he's a true freshman. [Jacob] Callier had a sack, he's a true freshman. Redshirt freshman Trey [Udoffia] had two pass breakups. They'll keep getting better, they'll improve from this week to next week. The biggest jump you have is from the first week to the second week with any team. They'll go watch film, they'll understand the intensity of the game, and practice is practice. Hopefully they will learn from that and we can reach the goals we want to reach."
CU not only had new faces on the field, they had a few with headsets on as well. D.J. Eliot, the new defensive coordinator, had a lot of pressure going in with how he was going to game plan for his first game. The game plan worked to perfection, allowing just three points on a drive that started for CSU after a touchdown.
"[Eliot] did a great job with the game plan,” Gamboa explained. “He helped us out, with a lot of new guys going in for the first time. And I think the fact that he simplified things helped us play faster and that helped us a lot.”
The goal for the Buffaloes will be consistency. If they can have the inexperienced continuing to make big plays, it’s going to be a long year for opposing offenses.