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Improved Nate Landman excited about CU Buffs defense

Linebacker was popular pick for all-conference teams

Colorado linebacker Nate Landman has racked up 260 tackles in the last two seasons.
CU Athletics
Colorado linebacker Nate Landman has racked up 260 tackles in the last two seasons.
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Preseason camp was delayed for two months by the coronavirus pandemic and it was rushed a bit.

Colorado senior Nate Landman made the most of the time, though.

“Personally I feel great,” Landman said this week. “I think I had my best camp. I feel like I’m coming off my best camp.”

That’s great news for the Buffaloes and bad news for their opponents. First up is UCLA on Nov. 7 (5 p.m., TV: ESPN2).

Considered one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12, Landman was a popular choice on preseason all-conference teams.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Landman has improved each year he’s been in Boulder.

A reserve in 2017, Landman recorded 17 tackles in some late-season action. In 2018, he took over as a starter and racked up 123 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Last season, Landman became one of the leaders of the defense and finished with 137 tackles and two sacks. His 112 unassisted tackles are the second-most in a single season in CU history (Jordon Dizon had 120 in 2007).

With the scheduled shortened to seven games this year, Landman likely won’t touch last year’s numbers, but he feels he’s a better player than he’s ever been.

“(Defensive coordinator Tyson) Summers and I talked about my goals and areas where I need to improve and I feel like he’s helped me improve in those areas, along with (quality control coach Bryan Cook) and the guys next to me,” Landman said. “I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect; still working towards that, but I believe that I’ve improved in the areas I need to and I’m excited to contribute to my team for my senior season.”

More so than his personal growth, Landman is excited about the development of the entire defense.

Last season, CU’s first with Summers as coordinator, the inexperience on defense often showed as they gave up 31.8 points and 441.9 yards per game. Statistically, it was CU’s worst year in defense since 2014.

During the final month of the 2019 season, however, CU’s defense showed dramatic improvement and actually proved to be the difference in November wins against Stanford and Washington.

Although the Buffs have a new head coach in Karl Dorrell, Summers’ return has provided some stability to the defense. Experience helps, too.

In addition to Landman, inside linebacker Akil Jones, outside linebacker Carson Wells, defensive linemen Mustafa Johnson, Terrance Lang and Jalen Sami, safety Derrion Rakestraw and cornerback KJ Trujillo all return as starters.

CU has high hopes for several others on defense, too, including defensive backs Chris Miller and Mark Perry.

“The defense, in my opinion, has been pretty dominant this camp,” Landman said. “We come out every week and we make plays. We call them havoc plays and it’s getting teams and our offense to third downs and I think we’ve improved that and that’s our biggest thing this year.  We’ve gotten better since day one and keep getting better every day.

“We have a lot of young guys and a lot of old guys. I’m excited to see it all come together. I think we’re gonna have a pretty good defense and keep carrying on from where we left off at the end of last year.”

Backing Noyer

On Friday, CU announced that fifth-year senior Sam Noyer will start at quarterback for the opener against UCLA. Landman said the team gave him an ovation when it was announced.

“Myself and the team are super happy for Sam,” Landman said. “Sam has been working to this role for a long time. He came in a year before I did, but sitting under (former starter Steven Montez) and then moving to safety and then coming back to quarterback, you can just see that Sam’s a team player and  he’s focused on the team first. I’m super happy for him that he got a shot this year and I’m excited to see him work.”

Notable

Dorrell said on Friday there’s been great moments on offense and defense during camp. “That’s usually a pretty good sign of a good team is when there’s good give and take on both sides,” he said. … CU is scheduled for a “game simulation” practice on Sunday. … CU’s players have been staying at the Millennium Harvest House hotel since camp began on Oct. 9, but will be checking out of the hotel on Sunday.

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