Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Tony Ding / Associated Press
On any given play, it’s tough to predict what Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie will do.
Some plays, he’ll stuff a running back at the line of scrimmage. Other times, he’ll rush the passer. He’ll also cover a receiver on a deep route from time to time.
It’s not unlike the role that Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers plays for the Wolverines.
When Colorado (2-0) visits No. 4 Michigan (2-0) on Saturday, the game will feature two of the best and most versatile defenders in the country.
“They’re pretty similar,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “(Peppers) is a physical enough guy that he can lay in the box or play outside the box. They are very similar in a lot of ways. They’re both physical, they’re both athletic, they flash like crazy on film. One wears No. 4 (Awuzie) and one wears No. 5 (Peppers), and I think you’ll see both of them making a lot of plays.”
A 6-foot, 205-pound senior, Awuzie has mostly played cornerback this season, but will also line up at nickel (where he spent much of the 2015 season). He leads the team with 11 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two quarterback pressures and two pass breakups. He also had an interception.
Last season, Awuzie had 90 tackles, including nine for a loss and four sacks, along with two interceptions.
Peppers, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior will play linebacker and defensive back. He had 45 tackles (5.5 for loss) and 10 pass breakups last year. This season, he leads Michigan with 16 tackles, including four for loss and one sack.
Peppers is also Michigan’s punt returner and he played a bit on offense last year.
Up to the challenge
Two games in, the CU offensive line has had a much better season than it did last year. That’s given the group some confidence going forward.
“We’ve come out with a better mentality,” left tackle Jeromy Irwin said. “Last year, I think after we lost some guys up front and we had to throw in some of the young guys, our mentality was like, ‘Oh (crap).’ Now, this year we have that game experience and some confidence so I think coming into most of the games, our mentality is we’re going to get things taken care of.”
It’ll be a tough task against Michigan, which has perhaps the best front seven CU will see this year. Irwin said he and his fellow linemen like the challenge, though.
“Every week is a challenge,” he said. “They run what they do and they do it well, so we’re going to have to execute.
“They’re going to be a lot better than what we’ve gone against. Going into this game, the morale and the psychological aspect is we need to play to (the level) we’ve been playing, no matter who we are playing.”
Fake depth chart
On Tuesday, CU was in the national spotlight for the fake depth chart it released, in response to Michigan not releasing a depth chart. The fake chart was created by CU sports information director David Plati.
MacIntyre said he hadn’t seen the national publicity, as it was picked up by ESPN, USA Today and more, but was aware of the depth chart.
“I really didn’t even know about it (ahead of time),” he said. “Dave told me he did it and I’m not on media, so I don’t know what happened with it, but my wife told me it was pretty funny. That was Dave’s deal, and he enjoyed it.”
MacIntyre joked that he would have started Fat Albert over Eric Cartman at left tackle. Plati had Cartman as the starter.
Saturday’s forecast calls for quite a bit of rain in Ann Arbor, but MacIntyre said he’s not concerned, “It doesn’t change anything we do. We’ve played in snow, we’ve played in rain, we’ve played in heat. They have field turf, too, so it shouldn’t bother your footing at all.