CU Buffs' defense buckles down after early score
Buffs hold Rams to 243 yards of total offense
09/17/2011 05:33:46 PM MDT
University of Colorado's Josh Hartigan hangs on for the tackle on quarterback Pete Thomas during Saturday's game against CSU.
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DENVER -- No need to panic.
That was the Colorado coaches' message to their defense one drive into Saturday's 28-14 win over rival Colorado State at Sports Authority Field.
The Rams opened the game by marching 80 yards in nine plays for a 7-0 lead, utilizing some looks and plays -- like a tight end screen that went for 34 yards -- that caught the Buffs off-guard.
"We knew they were going to come out and do some stuff we hadn't seen, and weren't going to be ready for," CU head coach Jon Embree said. "To their credit they went right down the field and scored. ... We just tried to remain calm and let (the CU defense) know it's about four quarters anyway."
Like a slugger who sizes up a pitcher's curveball for strike one and then lines the next one to the gap, the CU defense took the early hit from the Rams and then locked down their foes for most of the rest of the day.
After allowing 34 and 36 points the first two weeks of the season, the Buffs surrendered just 243 yards of total offense, including a paltry 67 on the ground by the Rams. After seeing their first two opponents go a combined 15 for 29 on third down conversions, the Buffs held CSU to a 5-for-13 mark.
"I thought the D did great," Embree said. "The thing that jumps out at me is that they only had 55 plays. That means we did a good job of getting off the field."
Rams quarterback Pete Thomas, who entered the day having completed 73 percent of his passes on the season, went a solid 18 for 28 Saturday. But he managed just 157 yards through the air, pretty stingy by the Buffs considering they were basically daring the Rams to pass by moving a safety up and leaving their young cornerbacks in man coverage.
With cornerback Travis Sandersfeld out with a lower leg injury, Deji Olatoye got into the rotation with youngsters Greg Henderson and Parker Orms.
"We just said, 'Hey, let's see if our corners can handle their receivers and go play some ball,'" CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown said.
Tight end Crockett Gilmore led CSU with five catches for 84 yards, but no other Ram had more than 28 yards receiving.
"We obviously didn't execute our passing game as well as we need to in order to win a game like that," CSU coach Steve Fairchild said. "Until we do that, that's probably how we're going to be played the rest of the year."
Safety Anthony Perkins led the Buffs with eight tackles, while Orms pitched in seven. Linebacker Josh Hartigan added five and a sack. Outside linebacker Jon Major and lineman Tony Poremba also added sacks.
CSU's only other score came early in the fourth quarter to make it 21-14 Buffs. But CU came back on the Rams' next possession after a Buffs punt and forced CSU to go three and out with 11:18 left. The Rams' final possession, with the score 28-14, ended on downs with a Poremba sack.
"That was tough, but nobody blinked," Perkins said of CSU's opening drive. "We just kept doing what we do as a defense, and got settled in a little bit and played our game."
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