With three new starters on the defensive line this season, Colorado needed somebody to step up and be a leader.
Senior Leo Jackson III took that challenge seriously, and so far he’s delivering.
In Saturday’s 37-3 win against Texas State, Jackson registered a career-high three sacks. In fact, it matched the total he had in his entire 27-game CU career before Saturday. It was also the first three-sack game by a Buff since Josh Hartigan against Kansas State on Nov. 20, 2010.
“That’s the main reason we come and play this game, to make plays out here,” he said. “I’m thankful to have the teammates I have and the coaches I have to put me in position to make these plays.”
Listed at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Jackson may be even a bit bigger at this point. He’s certainly playing bigger, as he’s already got four sacks this season.
“Leo’s a phenomenal young man,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He started for us when he came in as a sophomore and played on and off last year. This year he’s gotten a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger. He’s a guy that’s a multi-dimensional lineman.
“I knew Leo would have a great year this year.”
Led by Jackson, the Buffs had six sacks against the Bobcats – the most by a CU defense since Nov. 25, 2011, at Utah.
The 100-catch club
Going into Saturday, the Buffs had 14 players in program history collect at least 100 catches in their careers. Now, they’ve had 16.
Seniors Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo both topped the century mark and are now tied with 103 catches apiece.
Bobo had seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Bobcats, while Ross had four catches for 68 yards.
Another senior, Shay Fields, passed the 100-catch mark long ago and after his five-catch, 110-yard performance he now has 155.
This is the first time in CU history that three players with 100-plus catches have been on the same team.
“We all have been here for four-plus years, so we all three of us work every day,” Ross said. “We push each other every day, and it’s just been showing in the film and on the game days.”
Running back Phillip Lindsay is close to joining the club, as well. He has 90 catches.
Freshman kicker James Stefanou was 3-for-3 on field goals and nailed all four of his extra points.
The 30-year-old from Australia is now 4-for-5 on field goals in his first two games of American football.
“That’s what we’ve been seeing (in practice), that’s what we hoped we would see (in games),” MacIntyre said.
Meanwhile, sophomore Davis Price continues to excel on kickoffs. This season, he’s put 10 of his 12 kickoffs into or out of the end zone for touchbacks. Of his 12 kickoffs, the only one that didn’t reach the end zone came late in the third quarter Saturday, when, after a 15-yard CU penalty, Price had to kickoff from the 20.
Add in another strong day from punter Alex Kinney – who had a career-long 70-yarder – and MacIntyre said, “I’m excited about those guys. It’s exciting what’s going on with our kicking game.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Noyer, who serves as Steven Montez’s top backup, made his collegiate debut.
Noyer completed four of five passes for 40 yards and led the Buffs to a fourth-quarter field goal.
Senior captains Jeromy Irwin (left tackle) and George Frazier (tight end/defensive end) were in uniform but did not play again. They have been suspended for the first two games. MacIntyre said both will be back this next week. … Senior center Jonathan Huckins came out of the game in the second half after getting hit in the thigh. Right guard Tim Lynott Jr., moved to center. MacIntyre said the Buffs were going to switch centers anyway that late in the game and said Huckins “is going to be fine.” … CU distributed 43,822 tickets – the most for a season opener in MacIntyre’s five seasons. … True freshman Nate Landman made his debut, giving the Buffs seven true freshmen that have played this season. … CU has sold out of student season ticket passes, hitting the 11,500 mark. … CU won the coin toss for the 10th consecutive game and is 15-1 on the toss since the start of the 2016 season.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.