In recent years, it has become a tradition for the Colorado State football team to produce elite receivers.
This year, CSU may not have the firepower of Michael Gallup, Rashard Higgins or Preston Williams – former Rams now in the NFL – but junior Warren Jackson leads what should be a solid unit once again.
Colorado’s first-year cornerbacks coach, Travares Tillman, is aware of the Rams’ talent at receiver, but said the key to the Buffs’ success on Friday night is to focus on themselves.
“Truthfully, we’re trying to make sure we’re right,” Tillman said. “We’re just going to try to play our rules. Whatever they do, we’re playing our rule. They have a good receiving corps and they have guys coming back, so we’re looking forward to playing them.”
There will be plenty of focus on the Buffs’ cornerbacks. Senior Delrick Abrams Jr., junior Mekhi Blackmon and sophomore Chris Miller come in with some experience, but it’s a fairly green group of corners.
Abrams and Blackmon are listed as the starters after playing well during preseason camp, but Miller, who started two games last year, has improved, as well.
“He was slow coming back but he’s turned it on lately,” Tillman said. “He’s coming in and meeting extra, trying to get on the field. He’s doing a great job. The past two weeks, he’s really elevated his game as well.”
Beyond the top three, the Buffs have four freshmen, two of which began camp as receivers before making the switch.
“They’re doing great,” Tillman said. “(Tuesday) was probably their best day since I’ve been here. They came out and knew exactly what to do, they played correct technique.”
True freshman Tarik Luckett, who moved over from receiver, has shown great ability since his switch, but Tillman said there’s still work to do.
“He’s still got a couple weeks before you really want to put him in there, just getting the technique down and the calls,” Tillman said. “Sometimes I’m having to tell him what the call is an what the technique is, so he’s a couple weeks away, but he’ close.
“He’s a big, long guy and it’s hard for guys to get around him. He runs well and when the ball is in the air, he’s a former receiver so obviously he’s going to go up and get it. … He’s going to be a good corner when it’s all said and done.”
Head coach Mel Tucker has praised senior quarterback Steven Montez several times throughout the offseason and sees a different player now than in the spring.
“He’s really been focusing on the details,” Tucker said. “He has a command of the offense, he knows all the checks he’s a really smart kid. We know how talented he is. I’m actually seeing more leadership from him. And, his decision making, getting rid of the ball, throwing the ball away, taking what the defense gives you, he’s been doing that on a consistent basis , which makes him a better player and makes us better team.”
Consistency up front
It seems like ages since CU has had the same group of five offensive linemen working together week after week. Going into Friday’s opener, however, senior Tim Lynott said the Buffs feel some comfort because they finally have some cohesion.
Lynott is slated to start at center, while Kary Kutsch (left) and Colby Pursell (right) will be at guard and Arlington Hambright (left) and William Sherman (right) at tackle.
“That five, we’ve been working together honestly since the second week of camp,” Lynott said. “Everyone knows what they’re doing. It makes it easier for everyone on the line, knowing everyone does their job.
“That’s the best thing you can have on the line. You can trust one another, and that’s huge. Trust is a big thing on an O-line. If you don’t trust the guy next to you what are you going to do? You’re going to freak out and mess up your assignment.”
The Miami Hurricanes have the turnover chain. At Georgia, Tucker’s defenses used spiked shoulder pads as a reward for a player who got a turnover. Will CU adopt a similar tradition? “We may have something,” Tucker said. “First thing we have to do is get some takeaways. We’ll see what happens after that.” … Tucker has coached at Broncos Stadium at Mile High once before, during a 2007 preseason game when he was the defensive backs coach with the Cleveland Browns.