CU Buffs begin preparation for Pac-12 opener at ASU

Tucker: “We need more consistency”

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After being dealt his first loss as the head coach of the Colorado football team, Mel Tucker was eager to get back on the practice field Monday morning.

He was in good spirits coming off the field, too.

“It felt good getting out there and I feel even better coming off the field today with our focus and our resolve and just turning the page and getting ready for Arizona State,” Tucker said. “It was a good day’s work.”

CU (2-1) is coming off a 30-23 overtime loss to Air Force and has a quick turnaround to get ready for Saturday’s trip to Tempe, Ariz., to take on No. 24 Arizona State (3-0) in the first game of Pac-12 Conference play. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. MT (TV: Pac-12 Network).

“You only get so many shots (to play),” Tucker said. “You get into league play and it actually sometimes ramps up a little bit. It’s very important, it’s very competitive. Our league is very competitive. We have a lot of great coaches in our league, great players, everyone has got guys. It’s a tremendous challenge. We’re preparing for that challenge.”

Part of that preparation includes fixing some issues that cost them against the Falcons. The Buffs struggled offensively, especially on the line, and gave up big plays on defense once again.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer
The Colorado defense will face the No. 24-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday night and will be testing depth at the safety position with the loss of Aaron Maddox to injury.

“Not to get into specifics, but we need more consistency in our performance and we need better execution,” Tucker said. “It really drills down to details. We’ve evaluated everything we’ve done and we do that every week. We have three games with our guys. As we see them in game situations more, we’re able to make adjustments in our planning and our preparation in order to get better execution.”

The preparation for ASU will include at least one lineup change, and maybe more.

Safety Aaron Maddox is expected to miss four or five weeks after suffering a laceration to his left leg on Saturday. Junior Derrion Rakestraw took Maddox’s spot in the lineup on Saturday and could start at ASU.

“We need everyone, so everyone gets reps during the week,” Tucker said. “You never know when your number is going to be called. If you’re in the game, you’re a starter. It’s the next man up mentality. I have confidence in our guys to step up and get the job done.”

If not Rakestraw, it could be Sam Noyer’s number that gets called. The former quarterback, who converted to safety last month during camp, was listed with the second team last week.

“Sam has made tremendous progress and I have a lot of respect for Sam and how he’s gone about his business to learn what to do and how to do it and to compete,” Tucker said. “He’s also a guy who can help us.”

Freshman Mark Perry is still developing, but the Buffs like his progress and he could get into the mix, as well.

The Buffs are also unsettled at offensive guard. Kary Kutsch (left) and Colby Pursell (right) have started all three games, but the Buffs used freshman Casey Roddick and sophomore Chance Lytle on Saturday, as well. Roddick played most of the game, as Pursell was apparently unable to continue, line coach Chris Kapilovic said.

“(Roddick) played solid; not great, but that’s his first real reps in his career, so if you’re taking it from that perspective, then he did a pretty good job,” Kapilovic said. “If you’re taking it from the perspective of what we need to be great, then he still has a little room to grow, but I was pleased with what he did. He had a good week of practice.”

Saturday was a rough day for the offensive line – even center Tim Lynott had some bad snaps – and Kapilovic said the Buffs are still figuring out their best group up front.

“Our interior three, we have to continue to get better there and the only way you’re going to get better is if you do get some reps in a game, so we have to do that,” he said. “We’re trying to rotate those guys in and some guys really perform well in a game situation; some it’s too big for them or whatever. You’re trying to see who are the guys who can rise up and what’s our best combination inside.”

As for the general mood of the team, Tucker and players felt the Buffs bounced back from the loss.

“I think we responded perfectly, just the way we needed to,” right tackle William Sherman said. “It was definitely a learning lesson that we’re not as good as we thought we were. I’m glad we had our wakeup call before Pac-12 play. We can make the adjustments we need to make and then move forward.”

Notable

Pursell has started 15 consecutive games, including all 12 last year at center and three this year at right guard. … Tucker said Maddox is back with the team and beginning rehab. “I’m just happy to see him right now back on the road to recovery,” Tucker said. … Tucker said he’s been impressed with ASU’s start to the season. “You can tell they’re very well coached and they’re playing with confidence,” he said. … Kapilovic isn’t too worried about Lynott having snapping issues going forward. “You’re always concerned, but he’s been very consistent so I believe that won’t be a problem,” he said.