Despite a huge victory on the road almost a month ago at Oregon, Jimmie Gilbert wasn’t a happy man.
Sure, the Buffaloes achieved something that seemed impossible a few short years ago by returning from Eugene with a win. But as the Buffs’ most dangerous pass rusher, Gilbert wanted to see opposing quarterbacks under a little more duress from himself and his defensive teammates.
In the three games since, Gilbert has set a shining example for the rest of the defense to follow.
CU’s senior outside linebacker continued his historic ascension up the list of the Buffs’ all-time sack leaders during Saturday night’s 40-16 win against Arizona State. If Gilbert was hungry for a more consistent pass rush after that win in Oregon, he has been feasting ever since.
In a 41-point dismantling of Oregon State two weeks ago, Gilbert finished with a jam-packed statistical line of seven tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hurries, and a pair of forced fumbles.
In the Buffs’ most frustrating defensive effort of the season last week at USC Gilbert again was a bright spot, forcing another fumble and getting credited with a pass breakup.
Gilbert entered the weekend as the nation’s co-leader in forced fumbles and he added to that total with a strip sack in the first half against the Sun Devils, though ASU was able to pounce on the loose ball. In all Gilbert finished with six tackles, two sacks, and three total tackles for loss.
While the sack numbers are starting to look gaudy for Gilbert, his relentless pursuit of opposing quarterbacks has become a staple for the Buffs. One of his most impressive plays Saturday night wasn’t a sack at all, but a third-down tackle of Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins early in the second half.
CU had just pushed its lead to 30-10 on a 75-yard run by Phillip Lindsay on the first play of the second half when the Sun Devils faced a third-and-eight at its own 27-yard line. Though Wilkins was able to escape pressure for a four-yard gain, Gilbert didn’t quit on the play and dragged Wilkins down from behind before he had a chance to scramble for a first down.
Gilbert’s two sacks on Saturday night increased his team-leading total to six on the season. It also increased Gilbert’s career total 15.5 five and moved him past both Kanavis McGhee and Josh Hartigan for sole possession of 13th-place on CU’s all-time sacks list. Next up is Ryan Olson at 16.5.
“We have to thank the front four guys for allowing us to do that,” Gilbert said. “They played stout. They do their jobs which clears it up for us to come off the edge and come up the middle free.”