Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver has been excited all offseason about the prospect of facing top-notch receivers every week.

For the first time in his career, the junior is the top corner for the Buffaloes, which means he will often get matched up against the opposition's No. 1 receiver.

Oliver is going to get tested right away, as he's likely to see a lot of Colorado State's Michael Gallup in the season opener on Friday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

"He's a great athlete," Oliver said Monday. "He's a big receiver, a lot of speed. It's going to be a great challenge. It's going to be a lot of fun. Watching him in the Oregon State game, I thought he played really well."

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Gallup caught 76 passes for 1,272 yard and 14 touchdowns last season for the Rams. He began this season with 11 catches for 134 yards in a 58-27 win against Oregon State on Saturday.

Just how much Oliver, who is 6-1, 190 pounds, lines up against Gallup remains to be seen.

CU has not typically moved its corners to match up with specific receivers. Of course, that was a lot easier a year ago with two NFL-caliber corners in Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon. The Buffs had confidence in both of them against anybody.

Coming into this year, Oliver is the only scholarship corner on the roster with any Division I experience, and new secondary coach ShaDon Brown may rely on him to lock down the top receiver.


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"If they've got a great receiver, I'm just going to tell Isaiah to go play him because he can," Brown said at the start of preseason camp. "I'll take him nine out of 10 times. If he's covering the best receiver, he's going to win nine of those."

On Monday, head coach Mike MacIntyre said the matchup with certain teams will determine whether Oliver sticks with the best receiver or not, but doesn't sound like he'd be hesitant to have Oliver follow a receiver like Gallup.

"He's off the charts bright, academically and football wise," MacIntyre said. "We can change in the middle of a game with him and be able to flip-flop sides. We do that in practice all the time, so none of our secondary, they don't have to be one side or the other. I've always trained DBs like that."

If Oliver is to line up against Gallup all night Friday, that versatility will help.

"They do a good job of doing different concepts to be able to get him the ball, so it's something we're preparing for and it should be a great game," Oliver said.

Although he was the No. 3 corner a year ago, behind Awuzie and Witherspoon, Oliver has plenty of experience covering top receivers. Last year, he was lined up at times against Washington State's Gabe Marks, Washington's Dante Pettis and USC's JuJu Smith, among others.

Now, he'll be taking on the top receivers regularly, and he's ready for the challenge.

"It's just translating into a leader," he said. "Last year we had three seniors in the secondary and they were the leaders of the secondary, leaders of the defense. Now with those guys gone, we're looking for other guys to step up. Me, Afolabi (Laguda), Ryan Moeller, guys like that are going to have to lead the defense. That's the biggest change.

"Everything else, we're still playing the same defense, still playing the same game."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.