Standing on the Kentucky bluegrass field at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Friday evening, Colorado cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr. was in awe as he looked up and saw over 70,000 fans in the stands.
The junior-college transfer and first-year Buffalo was a long way from his home in Angie, La., but throughout CU’s 45-13 victory against Colorado State, he grew comfortable in his new surroundings.
“Delrick did a really good job out there for his first (Division I) start,” CU cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said. “He made a lot of plays and did some good things. When I get a chance to grade it (on film), I’ll see, but it looked like he graded out really high.”
Unofficially, CSU receivers covered by Abrams were targeted 10 times, catching five passes for 42 yards, with just six yards gained after the catch.
Abrams spent much of his night covering highly-touted Tennessee transfer Preston Williams, who torched Hawaii for nine catches, 188 yards and two touchdowns a week earlier. Williams had six catches for 49 yards against the Buffs — with four of the catches against Abrams.
Abrams, who played the previous two years at Independence (Kan.) Community College, finished with nine tackles, including one for loss, and a pass breakup. He was not only impressive in pass coverage, but making stops in the run game, too.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said of his first game. “(The coaches), they just told me go out there and play football. The game plan was just to go out there and compete every play. It’s one on one every play; win your one on one.”
Abrams and CU’s other corners did a good job winning those one-on-one battles against a CSU passing attack that was the focus coming into the night.
K.J. Carta-Samuels set a CSU single-game record for passing yards (537) in the Rams’ opener against Hawaii. The Rams also feature three big receivers — Preston Williams, Olabisi Johnson and Warren Jackson — who are expected to give opponents fits all year.
CU held the Rams to 181 yards on 19-of-37 passing, while the receiver trio combined for 143 yards on 13 catches.
In the first quarter, Johnson got behind CU’s Dante Wigley for a 26-yard touchdown, but it was one of the few mistakes of the night by the Buffs’ corners. The Rams completed just six of their final 19 passes, for 43 yards — and only one completion gained more than eight yards.
“I’m very encouraged,” Ambrose said of the performance of his group. “(The Rams) have NFL type receivers over there. (Receivers coach Alvis) Whitted, a former teammate of mine in Atlanta, is their coach and he’s a heck of a coach. He’s been putting them out (to the NFL) year after year.
“I like what he’s doing with those guys, and I thought our guys did a phenomenal job of stepping in and playing those guys tough. We did some good things against them. It’s a good way to start.”
CU’s corners went through a tough competition for starting jobs all through fall camp. That competition figures to continue, but Wigley, a junior who started seven games last year, started along with Abrams.
“Wigley started off a little slow, it looked like,” Ambrose said. “They beat him early on the touchdown and a few passes. But he bounced back in the second half and did some good things. I thought Trey Udoffia did some really good things as well, because he had a couple of coverage sacks.
“It was a good start for these guys. It’s going to be something to learn from and get these guys focused for Nebraska.”
CU (1-0) visits Nebraska (0-0) on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.
Nebraska is expected to start true freshman Adrian Martinez at quarterback, and the Cornhuskers feature one of the top receivers in the nation with senior Stanley Morgan Jr. Sophomore JD Spielman is also one of the best receivers in the Big Ten.
CU’s corners gained some confidence against the Rams, however.
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Abrams said. “We know we can stop the pass, stop the run, so we can go on to the next thing.”
For Abrams, that means another big, loud stadium, but he’ll never forget his CU debut.
“It feels very great,” he said. “I was just in junior college, so being in this stadium, in an NFL stadium, to see how the atmosphere feels, it’s a real blessing to be here.
“I want to play here again.”