Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre has always believed that it’s vital to have several good players at safety.
Saturday was a good example of why.
“You always need a bunch of safeties, because that’s just a position where you get called for targeting, you get dinged up some,” MacIntyre said.
During the Buffaloes’ 41-21 win against Northern Colorado, the Buffs had both happen.
Senior Ryan Moeller went out of the game early with a stinger. Then, senior Afolabi Laguda was ejected from the game in late in the second quarter after a targeting penalty.
Laguda drilled a UNC receiver coming across the middle on a third-down play.
It’s the third targeting call against Laguda during his career at CU. He was ejected for targeting against Massachusetts on Sept. 12, 2015, and against Washington State on Nov. 19 of last season.
CU, in fact, had two players ejected from Saturday’s game, as defensive lineman Chris Mulumba was flagged for targeting when he hit UNC quarterback Jacob Knipp in the fourth quarter.
“I go by their calls,” MacIntyre said of the targeting penalties. “We’re trying to protect young men out there. We have to do a better job of making sure our guys target lower. I completely go by what the officials are doing there. They’re trying to protect all the kids out there.”
Because Laguda’s penalty came in the first half, he will be ready to play against Washington next Saturday. Mulumba will have to sit out the first half against the Huskies, but can play the second half.
At safety, losing Moeller and Laguda forced the Buffs to adjust their lineup, as juniors Nick Fisher and Kyle Trego wound up playing most of the game.
“Fisher made a couple big pass breakups; I was glad to see him back,” MacIntyre said. “Kyle plays on all our special teams and did good out there. He’s a physical slasher.”
Fisher, a projected starter coming into the year, saw his first action of the year after missing more than a month with a hamstring injury. He returned to practice this past week and admitted he was still shaking off some rust against the Bears.
“I haven’t played any snaps,” he said. “I’ve just been watching. This week it really ramped up and I came back. They needed me and I tried to get in there.”
Fisher had four tackles, including one for loss, and a nice pass breakup, but said getting into a rhythm was the biggest challenge.
“I haven’t gotten all of my kinks out,” he said. “I may be holding people back because I haven’t played so long. I’m making mistakes and stuff like that. That’s the hardest thing.”
Before Saturday, Trego had played just 13 defensive snaps since coming to CU a year ago.