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University of Colorado Boulder senior inside linebacker Nate Landman (53) tackles University of Northern Colorado wide receiver Dylan Thomas (11) for a one yard gain on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.(Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
University of Colorado Boulder senior inside linebacker Nate Landman (53) tackles University of Northern Colorado wide receiver Dylan Thomas (11) for a one yard gain on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.(Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
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Nate Landman declared before Colorado’s season opener that he was an even better player than he was before suffering a ruptured Achilles’ tendon on Dec. 12, 2020 against Utah.

In Friday’s 35-7 win against Northern Colorado, Landman backed that up.

Although credited with only four tackles, Landman was flying around all night, showing the physicality he’s known for and maybe even a bit more speed than usual.

“It felt great,” Landman said. “I didn’t have the perfect game and there’s no such thing as a perfect game. I was excited to be out there. I felt good. I obviously made some mistakes, made some plays and I’m excited to learn from Week 1 and excited to move on to Week 2.”

An All-American candidate, Landman said his Achilles’ tendon felt great throughout the game and he was able to stay loose during timeouts and at halftime.

Landman played a key role in the Buffs holding UNC to seven points and 20 rushing yards.

“We didn’t know much about them, so we kept a vanilla scheme coming in,” Landman said. “We had to make a lot of adjustments during the game, especially in the first quarter. Then going through halftime, we made some adjustments. They came out with some new stuff also in the second half. They were just trying to dictate where the ball would go and get us moving, get us in awkward positions but I think we adjusted the defense pretty well for not having great film on them.”

It was the first game for Chris Wilson at defensive coordinator and he became just the fifth CU coordinator since the late 1960s to hold an opponent to one score in his debut. The 20 rushing yards allowed are the lowest amount in a coordinator debut.

“I think overall the defense played really, really well,” head coach Karl Dorrell said.

Missed tackles plagued the Buffs on UNC’s lone score, a 34-yard pass from Dylan McCaffrey to Kassidy Woods on the final play of the third quarter, but it was a good performance overall.

“We emphasized trying to stop the run and forcing the quarterback to throw the ball,” defensive lineman Jalen Sami said. “When they came out throwing it, it was a little different. We just adjusted and played well.”

Cleaning it up

Dorrell made it clear to his team after the game that the penalties can’t continue. The Buffs were flagged 12 times for 118 yards, including three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and two personal fouls. They also had three false starts — two on receivers.

“Coaches weren’t very happy about that,” safety Isaiah Lewis said. “That’s something that obviously will get us beat in big games. We’re going to be focusing on that; focusing on physical and mental details as well.”

CU’s season-high for penalties in 2020 was nine, and the 118 yards are the most for a Buffs’ team since racking up 128 penalty yards in a 20-10 win against UCLA on Nov. 3, 2016.

“We addressed that in our locker room at the end of the game, and we’re not going to ever see that again,” Dorrell said.

Notes

A CU-record 11,537 student tickets were scanned at the gates on Friday night. … Going back to 2013, the Buffs are 20-3 in regular-season nonconference games. … The Buffs went 5-for-5 in the red zone with five touchdowns. … CU had 17 players make their debut, including 11 true freshmen.

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