The Colorado Buffaloes looked a little rusty on both sides of the ball to start out on Saturday. The offense looked sluggish as senior running back Phillip Lindsay couldn’t break through and sophomore quarterback Steven Montez struggled to find open receivers.
The defense started even worse, giving up a 55-yard run on the very first play of the game. But much like they would for the rest of the game, the defense found its footing and denied Texas State a touchdown.
It definitely wasn’t a perfect game for the defensive 11. The Bobcats were able to get big plays in the first half, including a 45-yard completion to receiver Thurman Morbley on a busted coverage. But despite their lapses, the D refused to let Texas state finish a drive.
The Bobcats found success running the ball, but were shut down through the air by junior defensive back Isaiah Oliver and the CU secondary. The Buffs managed to keep Texas State off the scoreboard in the first half, allowing the sputtering offense (as well as the special teams) to put up a 14-0 lead.
Colorado came back out for the second half with some good adjustments on both sides of the ball. The defense seemed to tighten the screws, as Texas State found it harder push the ball past midfield. The Buffs seemed to find the right personnel packages on the defensive line, going with Leo Jackson III, Timothy Coleman, Jacob Callier and Derek McCartney. Jackson started finding holes in the offensive line and used them to record three sacks, all in the second half.
“That’s the main reason why we come and play this game,” Jackson said. “To make plays out here and I’m thankful that I have the teammates and coaches I have to put me in the position to make plays.”
The secondary stepped up its game in the second half as well. Oliver recorded his first interception of the season with an incredible one-handed grab over the head of receiver Elijah King. He returned the pick 41 yards before finally being tackled.
“Isaiah Oliver is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation,” Montez said. “That defense is nasty.”
The Buffs would force one more turnover late in the game as freshman linebacker Akil Jones ripped the ball away from running back Jaylin Nelson.
CU finished the game allowing only three points, making it two straight games surrendering only 6 points total and zero touchdowns. The Bobcats managed a respectable 156 yards on the ground, but could only muster 127 through the air and were held to just 12 first downs.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre spoke highly of the defense after the game.
“The thing I like about our defense is [that] when teams get down in our red zone, we don’t flinch,” he said. “We rise to another level. Our guys keep playing. We did that last year and these young guys are doing it even better this year.”
It was another dominant performance for a Buffaloes defense that was expected by many to be a weak link given all its offseason departures. While concerns will now start to swirl around the offense and its lack of efficiency, the defense is performing well beyond expectations.
The 37-3 victory on Saturday may give Buffs fans a mixed feeling, but the solid play of the defense can bring some comfort as the conference schedule approaches. The D will get another shot to impress when the Bears of Northern Colorado come to Boulder next week. That game kicks off from Folsom Saturday at 12 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Kyle Rini at firstname.lastname@example.org.