The list of players projected to help the Colorado defense next season that weren’t available for Saturday’s spring football game is a long one.
Defensive coordinator Tyson Summers wasn’t about to make excuses, however.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You have to go play with what you’ve got. We’re going to play with the best players that we can and we’re going to play with whatever number we’ve got and we’ll figure it out.”
The CU offense put 76 points on the board during the Black & Gold game, and Summers’ initial reaction was simply, “Too many points.”
CU played the spring game without its best defensive lineman, Mustafa Johnson, who wore a walking boot after being injured about a week earlier. Six other defensive linemen, including Auburn graduate transfer Jaunta’vius Johnson, are expected to join the team this summer.
The Buffs also played without potential starters or contributors at cornerback (Chris Miller and Ronnie Blackmon) and safety (Aaron Maddox and Hasaan Hypolite).
While fairly healthy at linebacker, the Buffs will add three junior college linebackers in the summer, all of which could compete for starting roles.
Despite the lack of depth this spring, Summers didn’t waste much time worrying about who wasn’t available to the Buffs.
“We were able to figure it out today and again I think (defensive line coach Jimmy) Brumbaugh and (outside linebackers coach Brian) Michalowski have done a really nice job with those groups, improving them throughout the spring.”
Summers acknowledged that the reinforcements will help the Buffs.
“I feel we have a really talented group that is coming that should provide some depth for us,” he said.
But, the process of laying the foundation on defense didn’t slow down because the Buffs were shorthanded. That’s why he wasn’t pleased to see so many points scored against his defense.
“I felt like overall, we came out there and everything we’ve done a good job with so far is having a sense of urgency and understanding we have to be in a position where every situation we’re in is a competitive situation,” Summers said. “That was obviously the most competitive situation we’ve been in all spring and I expect us to go out there and be able to dominate. I really do. That should be our mindset. If we don’t and we don’t play well on the snap, that’s fine; we have to be able to come back and make a play the next time.”
Summers was pleased the Buffs’ first-team defense responded in the second half by picking off four passes — two by Mehki Blackmon, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Overall, Summers came out of spring pleased with the Buffs showing an “ability to adapt,” learn and buy into the system. The next step is consistency.
“We were never really able to put together defensively, I felt like, a Monday, Wednesday and Friday where we really held our standard the way it needed it to be,” Summers said. “One day a week we weren’t able to meet our standard where we needed to, but they did always answer the bell, they did always answer the call, they did always come back and respond the way they needed to and I think there’s a lot of positives to draw from that.”
It wasn’t perfect, by any means, for the Buffs in their first spring with Summers, but it was a good start.
CU’s opener is four months away, on Aug. 30 against Colorado State, and in that time, head coach Mel Tucker said he wants to see his players improve every day. “I want to see them compete,” he said. “I want to see them compete in the weight room. I want to see them compete in the drill work we do this summer, continue to watch film, continue to get better at their craft and just understand that every day is a competition.” … CU players are scheduled to report for fall camp on July 31, with the first practice scheduled for Aug. 1.