Afolabi Laguda was a newcomer to Colorado last year, and had a lot to learn as he embraced a new home and a new team.
With his second season in Boulder underway, the junior safety from Snellville, Ga., is more at home.
"I definitely feel more comfortable. I feel more settled," Laguda said.
It showed during CU's 44-7 win against Colorado State on Friday. Laguda got his first career start and finished with five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
"Fo had a good game, he made some good plays," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He made a few errors there on a couple coverage things, but he played well, played hard and flew around."
Part of the Buffs' talented secondary, Laguda has worked hard all offseason to get his chance to make an impact on the CU defense. He was pleased with his start to the season.
"I didn't have too many nerves out there in the game," he said. "I just kind of played football and just treated it like a practice, but a practice that counts."
Last year, the transfer from Butler Community College, played in 237 snaps, finishing with 22 tackles. On Friday, he played in 55 of CU's 64 defensive snaps.
"It was definitely a good experience to get out there with my brothers and just put it all out there and just display what we've been working on for the last year," he said.
Laguda said he has learned a lot from teammates Chidobe Awuzie, Ryan Moeller and Tedric Thompson, as well as from MacIntyre and his defensive coaches. He said he has taken the lessons learned from all of them to try to develop his own game.
"I'm just more disciplined (than last year)," he said. "I use more of the coaching, I apply more coaching to my game.
"Every time I hit the field, I just try to get better every day."
For the first time in nearly eight years, the Buffs received a couple votes in the latest Top 25 national polls.
On Tuesday, the Buffs received one point in the Associated Press Top 25 poll — getting a No. 25 vote from Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald. They also received one point in the USA Today Coaches' poll. It's unknown which coach recognized the Buffs, although CU said that vote did not come from MacIntyre.
The last time CU received even one vote in either poll was on Sept. 28, 2008, when they got two points in the AP poll. The last time they received votes in both polls was a week earlier, on Sept. 21, 2008.
CU has not been in the top 25 since Nov. 6, 2005, when they were No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 21 in the Coaches' poll.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of MacIntyre since Friday's win was his decision to leave starting quarterback Sefo Liufau in the game until the final minutes.
Despite the Buffs holding a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, backup Steven Montez didn't play until 2 minutes, 38 seconds to play in the game. He took four snaps, handing the ball to running back Beau Bisharat each time.
Many fans and media were surprised that MacIntyre stuck with Liufau so long, especially after Liufau took some hard hits late in the third quarter and after a big hit early in the fourth quarter that caused him to fumble the ball.
During his press conference on Tuesday, MacIntyre showed no interest in talking about it. When asked if there have been discussions since Friday about when to pull Liufau from lopsided games, MacIntyre gave an abrupt answer, "No, we have not."
Liufau said there have been no internal discussions about it, but coaches have talked to him about making sure he slides to finish runs, rather than taking hits.
"I just have to be smart when to run, when to slide," he said.
MacIntyre said safety Tedric Thompson has passed concussion protocol this week and the Buffs are hopeful he will return to practice on Wednesday. ... Liufau, who earned Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors, said he plans to take his offensive line out to dinner on Thursday as a thank you.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.