Fans pass the race, takeout is the priority



Neill Woelk, editor

BLOCK — Colorado Coach Karl Dorrel saw his defense produce a pair of interceptions in Wednesday’s practice, which he considered a solid step forward.

Takeout production has been the focus of the defense this spring, while also creating more pressure on the quarterback — and for good reason.

When the Buffs were proficient in these areas last season, they were a competitive football team.

In 2021, Colorado’s defense produced just 13 takeaways — nine interceptions and four fumble recoveries. That’s the fewest in a full season since the 2014 Buffs had just 11 takeouts.

Yet when the Buffaloes won the turnover battle last year, they were a respectable 4-2 – meaning they haven’t won a game if they haven’t forced more turnover than they had made.

It was a similar story when it came to the pass rush. The Buffs finished with just 15 quarterback sacks for the season — the lowest total by any CU team in a full season since the 1980 Buffs had just 11.

But again, when the Buffs came to quarterback with anything resembling consistency, they usually produced a positive result. Last season, when Colorado recorded at least two sacks in a game, the Buffs were 3-1. In games where they had one or no sacks, they were 1-7.

“Defensively, our pass rush is really improving from a year ago,” Dorrell said after practice Wednesday, CU’s second in full pads this spring. “We have a few guys who are part of it. justin jackson has been a guy who has flashed since we started spring training, really getting into the backfield and creating a lot of pressure on the quarterback. »

Also showing a knack for getting off the edge was Devin Grant, Terrence Lang, Jamar Montgomery, Alvin Williams and Guy Thomas.

“One thing we didn’t do on defense (last season) that’s a point of attention is create more turnovers,” Dorrell said. “We didn’t have much last year. We didn’t give up much (the Buffs only gave the ball away seven times), but that’s something we want our defense to be better at, generates more turnovers and getting more pressure on the quarterback. Those are two big priorities for us this spring and I think we’re making good progress there.

The Buffs will perform their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Folsom Field. Practice, which is scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m., is open to the public.

Dorrell has simple goals for his team.

“I want to see the quarterback under pressure,” he said. “I want to see those guys in the backfield creating havoc. I’d like to see plays on the football at the back with creating turnovers and making plays. I’d like to see those two things really start to show for us. These are glaring things that hadn’t come to light a year ago.

RELIEF QB RACE: Substitute quarterback Drew Carter and newcomer Maddox Kopp (a transfer from Houston) are both getting their share of reps this spring. holder holder Brendon Lewis is clearly in control, with its main competition, J.T. Shoutlimited to non-contact work as he continues to return from a knee injury.

The competition between Carter and Kopp is heated, Dorrell said. The coaches also added a bit of pressure to the competition – make one glaring mistake and you’re out.

“It’s a humbling experience when you know they’re your reps but you just let them down,” Dorrell said.

PROGRAM: The Buffs won’t be on the court on Thursday. They will practice again on Friday, then hit Folsom Field on Saturday for their first scrimmage of camp. The training is open to the public and admission is free.

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