Former Stanford star Owen Marecic proved that it's still possible for one player to excel on both sides of the football on Saturday afternoons when he started as a fullback and middle linebacker for the Cardinal last fall.
Colorado senior Tyler Ahles isn't nearly as big a part of the Buffs' game-day plan as Marecic was for Stanford, but Ahles suddenly found himself practicing and reviewing film on both offense and defense last week at fullback and linebacker. He will likely continue to do double duty the rest of the season for a Colorado team that lacks quality depth.
Coach Jon Embree decided he needed to whittle down the number of players who were getting playing time two weeks ago because there were too many mistakes being made. He said from that point on he would only play players he is sure he can trust, even if it means only 40 players get on the field in a game.
Embree and his assistants decided Ahles is one of those players they can trust in all three phases of the game.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Ahles said Monday as the Buffs began preparing for a trip to Stanford this weekend. "Only a few players get to do it. It's awesome just to have that kind of role."
Coaches view Ahles as the consummate team player. When the program added the fullback position back to the offense under new coaches in the spring, Ahles and fellow senior Evan Harrington both volunteered to move from linebacker to the offensive backfield. Harrington won the starting job and Ahles has been contributing mostly on special teams this fall.
Ahles spent his first four years in the program at linebacker but hadn't practiced there since the end of last season. He said it was relatively easy to pick things up when the opportunity came even though the Buffs are using a new defense and have new defensive coaches this season.
"A lot of the terms are the same, a lot of the concepts are the same," he said. "So coming from last year to this year obviously there were a few things I had to pick up, but I'm going to continue with that."
Breaking the rules at record pace
Colorado, a team with 28 seniors on the roster, officially reached the bottom of the barrel this week when it comes to penalties. After committing 10 penalties for 90 yards in a loss to Washington State, the Buffs are the most penalized team in the nation in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
CU has committed 48 penalties in five games. Only four other teams have committed more than 40 penalties so far. CU is averaging 89 yards lost due to penalties per week.
At this rate, CU will shatter the program record for penalties in a season. The 2005 team committed 116 penalties for 1,040 yards in losses.
The penalty problem has persisted in Boulder for three years now. The Buffs were the third most penalized team in the nation in 2009 and ranked 85th out of 120 teams in limiting penalties in 2010.
"It's frustrating and pretty much just unacceptable," wide receiver Kyle Cefalo said. "I mean, regardless of seniors, juniors, sophomores, whoever is playing out there you have to be committed to not committing penalties. We've done a good job with turnovers, but penalties are really killing us.
"It's hard enough to win a football game as it is in Division I and the Pac-12, but then when you're out there just kind of killing yourself, shooting yourself in the foot constantly, it's unacceptable and really needs to be something that we definitely fix."
Sophomore linebacker Liloa Nobriga hasn't played in a game yet this season after finishing seventh on the team in total tackles in 2010 with 46.
Nobriga played in 11 games last fall, including nine on defense, but he isn't even playing special teams so far this season. He is in his third year in the program and already has used his redshirt season.
CU coach Jon Embree said Nobriga has battled injuries this fall and is playing behind Jon Major at outside linebacker, making it tough for him to earn playing time.
Olatoye out again
Embree said defensive back Ayodeji Olatoye will not play again this week. Olatoye missed last week's game because of a violation of team rules. The same violation is keeping him out again this week.
Senior wide receiver Kyle Cefalo suffered a fractured elbow against Washington State and is questionable for this week's game. Embree said it remains to be seen how effective Cefalo can be with the injury throughout the week of practice and that will probably determine whether he plays.
CU ranks 106th nationally in rushing after five weeks of football. ... Former Colorado linebackers coach Charles Boerio died in Boulder on Friday of natural causes. Boerio coached linebackers at CU for three years 1959-61. The 1961 team won the Big Eight title and played in the Orange Bowl. Many members of that team returned to town on the day Boerio died to be honored during halftime of last week's game for the 50th anniversary of that season.