Shuteye has been hard to come by for Colorado defensive coordinator Greg Brown this week.
Brown is faced with the reality that he will likely have three true freshmen on the field at the same time in his secondary on Saturday when the Buffs play host to Sacramento State at Folsom Field in the home opener.
With senior safety Ray Polk and sophomore cornerback Greg Henderson mending ankle injuries suffered in a loss to Colorado State last week, Brown will turn to freshmen Yuri Wright and Margues Mosley against the Hornets. They will join fellow freshmen Kenneth Crawley, who earned a starting job at cornerback in training camp.
If Wright starts at the other cornerback position opposite Crawley, it will be the first time in Colorado history the program has started two true freshman cornerbacks in the same game. Mosley will play nickle back when he is the field defensively. He also returns kickoffs.
"All three guys have ability," Brown said. "It's time to line them up and see where they go and where they're at."
Sacramento State isn't exactly the equivalent of the Southern Cal passing game led by quarterback Matt Barkley, a Heisman Trophy candidate, and all-conference wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquis Lee. But the Hornets have talent and did accumulate more than 300 passing yards in their season opener last week at New Mexico State.
The young Buffs will be tested.
It helps that all three players got a taste of major college football last week against the Rams. In fact, late in the game after Polk and Henderson were injured, they were on the field together. Brown said they made "a minimal amount of mistakes."
"Just do my assignment and everything else will fall into place," Mosley said when asked what he learned from the first game. "I have to trust everyone else to do their job.
"I did what I could. Too bad we didn't get the win, but I think as a defense we did pretty good as a whole."
Brown said he saw a lot of positives from his defense as a whole against the Rams and from the freshmen who played in the game. The reality is while Brown is tossing and turning hoping his freshman are studying film and preparing appropriately when they're not on the practice field, he's in a much improved position compared to a year ago.
Last season Brown had everyone's sympathies dealing with a patchwork secondary that had been robbed of most of its best players by injuries or suspensions for off-the-field issues. During one stretch in the middle of the 2011 campaign, Brown went to freshman running back D.D. Goodson and made him an offer to start at cornerback against Oregon if he would agree to forfeit his redshirt season.
Brown had already persuaded fromer Buff wide receiver Jason Espinoza to move over and play for him and both players played together in multiple games. At least the players he has this season were recruited to play the roles they will be in Saturday.
"They're all physically gifted," Brown said. "They all have size. They all have speed. They're all tough. They will stick their face in there and tackle and they're all diving in to becoming students of the game. It's fun to see. It's fun to be around."
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