Rocky Mountain Showdown
What: CU vs. CSU
When: 6 p.m., Sept. 2
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
TV/radio: ESPN, 850 AM
With less than two weeks remaining before the season opener, the Colorado State Rams have officially found a place on the Buffaloes' radar.
As classes began Monday at the University of Colorado campus, the Buffs have gradually shifted their focus from mastering their own schemes to dissecting the vulnerabilities of the opposition.
First and foremost on that list are the CSU Rams, who will take on their state rivals from Boulder for the 88th time in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 2. On Monday, head coach Mike MacIntyre said preparations for the 2016 opener are gaining increased intensity.
"We worked on a lot of (CSU) this summer too, but we worked hard this weekend on CSU," MacIntyre said. "Going back and watching their last five, six games, they drastically kept improving. I'm extremely impressed with their offensive line. They're big, they're good, they've played for a while together. We worked on CSU some today."
For the starting position battles still being waged, such along the offensive line and at backup quarterback, MacIntyre said in some instances those selections will be settled this week. Still others might continue the competition right up until the kickoff next Friday at Sports Authority Field.
"Some of them are cemented and some will go down to the wire," MacIntyre said. "In the game, at some of those positions we'll play a couple guys if there's not a huge separation. If you've got two guys that are pretty close to even and if one of them is getting tired, especially in the early games...it's a little bit different the first few games getting your lungs underneath you, your legs underneath you."
As for that backup quarterback spot behind starter Sefo Liufau, MacIntyre said he remains undecided between senior Jordan Gehrke and redshirt freshman Steven Montez.
"We feel good about Montez and Gehrke, so we'll just keep looking at that," MacIntyre said.
The Buffs were set to begin classes Monday afternoon. That means no more afternoon meetings, as well as a new round of responsibilities for MacIntyre.
"Instead of us having meetings with them, I'll be checking classes this afternoon to make sure they're in class," MacIntyre said. "I'm pretty sure they'll all be there, but I'll make a little path through campus. Instead of meetings now, they're going to classes and tutoring. You just have them mornings now instead of all day."
Defensive assistant Joe Tumpkin is a happy man these days. The top six defensive backs in CU's secondary all boast a wealth of starting experience, and that defensive strength will be magnified by the versatile skill-sets of those players.
"Both of our safeties are intertwined," said Tumpkin, who primarily oversees the Buffs' safeties. "They both have to be able to play the field and the boundary, strong or weak, depending on the formation. I think everybody in the secondary has kind of stepped up. That's where we've got most of our experience at on defense.
"Just about everybody back there has played, so everybody has been in the frying pan so they kind of understand what the situation is and the expectations of myself and coach (Charles) Clark have for the secondary."
Two more walk-ons were awarded scholarships on Monday — linebacker Aaron Howard and tight end Chris Hill. Running back Kyle Evans received the same honor last week.