Of all the players that suit up for Colorado’s first-team defense, Ahkello Witherspoon is the only one who has yet to make a tackle.
That’s not a criticism. In fact, it speaks to how well the senior cornerback has played so far this season.
Witherspoon leads the defense in snaps played (90), but has yet to make a tackle because he hasn’t needed to make one. His pass coverage has been so good, nobody has caught a ball against him.
“Ahkello has played really well,” Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He’s long and athletic and he’s played at times really well for us through the years.”
During Witherspoon’s first two seasons in Boulder, that was the knock on him — that he would play well “at times.” At other times, he was susceptible to giving up big plays.
While there’s no doubt that Witherspoon and the Buffs (2-0) have yet to get a serious test, Witherspoon’s play-to-play consistency to this point has been a plus for CU.
“Yeah, I’m pleased,” said Witherspoon, who has a team-high three pass breakups. “I’m just working on putting everything I’ve worked on in the offseason into play on the field, and I think I’ve done that.
“That’s what you work for, to see it come into play when it matters. That’s what I’ve harped on is just being consistent and coming out every game and playing well.”
CU is going to need Witherspoon — and everybody else, for that matter — to play well on Saturday when the Buffs visit No. 4 Michigan.
The Wolverines have a new starter at quarterback, but junior Wilton Speight has played well to this point, completing 70 percent of his passes for 457 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. That interception came on Michigan’s first offensive snap of the season.
Speight has looked good in part because he’s got two dynamic receivers in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. They were the Wolverines’ top two receivers last year, combining for 108 catches for 1,491 yards and 14 touchdowns. So far this year, they’ve tallied 15 catches for 280 yards and three scores (all by Darboh).
“They challenge you with their length and they have good size,” Witherspoon said of the 6-foot-3 Chesson and the 6-foot-2 Darboh. “With that length comes their speed, the up-top speed. We just have to really focus on playing disciplined and being able to run (with them).”
Chesson and Darboh are both better than anybody CU has seen from its first two opponents, Colorado State and Idaho State.
“Each week is a different challenge,” CU safety Tedric Thompson said. “Obviously going against a great team like this is another challenge for us, but we’re ready for it.”
The Buffs ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense a year ago and believe they are better this year. With veterans such as Chidobe Awuzie and Thompson in the secondary, it’s hard to argue that. But, it’s the emergence of players such as Witherspoon that could really make the difference for CU.
“He’s matured like the rest of our team and he’s gotten a little bit stringer, a little bit quicker, a little more confident,” MacIntyre said. “Out there at corner, you’ve got to have confidence; you have to forget the (previous) play and I think he’s learned how to do that.”
Doing that has served Witherspoon well to this point, and he’s hoping it helps him to have another great game on Saturday.
“I’m just going to go in there and play Colorado football,” he said. “I’m going to do the same things that have allowed me to be successful in these last two games. You just have to focus on being your best as individuals.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.