DENVER — Following one of the most dominant performances by a Colorado defense in recent years, senior cornerback Chidobe Awuzie lamented the fact that the Buffaloes missed a shutout.
"As a defense, that's what we expect," Awuzie said after the Buffs' 44-7 win against Colorado State on Friday. "We work hard, we do a lot of things in the offseason. We expect that and honestly we expect more than that. I'm kind of sad we let them score seven points. They're a great team, but we have high goals of ourselves and high expectations."
Throughout the offseason, the Buffs knew they had the potential to be very good on defense, but they were better than that against the Rams.
Despite giving up a touchdown — which didn't come until the first play of the fourth quarter — CU was stellar.
The Buffs made life difficult on CSU quarterbacks Nick Stevens and Faton Bauta, and, for the first time in three years, found a way to slow down the CSU running game.
As expected, CU's experience in the secondary was crucial against the young receivers of the Rams. The Buffs dominated that matchup, as CSU completed just 12 of 29 passes for 63 yards.
Overall, CSU managed just 3.52 yards per play and converted only five of 16 opportunities on third downs.
CU's 37-point victory perhaps did not provide the best setting to analyze the team's special teams, an area of weakness in 2015, yet kicker Diego Gonzalez nonetheless enjoyed a solid season debut.
After struggling down the stretch last year before finishing with an 18-for-29 mark on field goals, Gonzalez knocked down all three of his attempts on Friday night, with a long of 30 yards. Perhaps more encouragingly, Gonzalez's first seven kickoffs all went for touchbacks. Overall, eight of his nine kickoffs went for touchbacks. With Chris Graham handling the bulk of the kickoff duties in 2015, the Buffs recorded only 17 touchbacks all season.
"It's really good knowing your hard work is paying off, and it's always nice going 3-for-3," Gonzalez said. "All the kickers have been working very hard, just being more consistent and trying to keep fresher legs. If it's either me or Chris Graham, I think either of us can do the job on kickoffs."
The Buffs lost two fumbles, but won the turnover battle by forcing four from the Rams.
Awuzie and Tedric Thompson both intercepted CSU passes, while Olugbode and true freshman Tony Julmisse both recovered fumbles.
In the first quarter, Buffs center Alex Kelley was credited with a touchdown when he fell on quarterback Sefo Liufau's fumble in the end zone.
"I was just doing my job," Kelley said. "I'm glad it worked out the way it did."
Kelley became the first CU lineman to score a touchdown since Heath Irwin against Nebraska on Oct. 28, 1995. It was also the first time in program history that an offensive lineman has scored the first points of the season.
The 37-point margin of victory was CU's largest against the Rams since a 47-7 win on Oct. 13, 1956. ... Attendance for Friday's game was 69,850, the most in this series since 2003 (76,219). CU sold 33,486 tickets, 9,217 to students. ... True freshmen Beau Bisharat, Johnny Huntley and Julmisse made their CU debuts. Redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Montez also made his debut, playing late in the fourth quarter. Overall, 13 players made their CU debuts. ... Prior to the game, former Denver Post writer Tom Kensler was honored. Kensler, who covered CU and CSU during his career, passed away from July 22. ... Receiver Jaleel Awini (back) and backup offensive lineman Jonathan Huckins (finger) did not play for the Buffs.