That opportunity finally came this year, and the junior linebacker has been one of the best players on the Colorado defense this season.
"Doug is starting to come into his own, and he's due," said long-time CU linebackers coach Brian Cabral.
Through three games, Rippy is second on the team with 26 tackles (cornerback Parker Orms has 28). Rippy had a career-high 14 against Cal in Week 2.
"It was just time for me to step up," said Rippy, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound product of Columbus, Ohio. "It was time for me to come step up and play."
After redshirting in 2008, Rippy played a total of just 94 defense snaps in 2009 and 2010 combined.
This season, he's been on the field for 165 of CU's 187 defensive plays, and he's one of the team leaders with two sacks and three quarterback pressures.
"Just the time, the window of only having a year left after this year," Rippy said of why he finally took his game up a notch.
He also credited his maturity and "learning how to do things on my own."
Rippy's maturation from backup to team leader began in the spring.
"I know that he's capable of making those plays and he's just starting to make those plays," Cabral said. "Ever since this spring, he's been showing that he's going to make more and more plays."
PASS DEFENSE SHINES: Although Colorado State completed 67 percent of its passes (20-of-30) last Saturday, the Buffs limited the effectiveness of those passes.
CSU quarterback Pete Thomas threw for just 157 yards, 34 of which came on his second throw of the afternoon. Thomas was also sacked three times and pressured several other times.
"We were trying to keep him in the pocket and get to him, but he kept flushing through the middle," Buffs defensive lineman Nick Kasa said. "We were practicing that because we knew he was going to come up through the middle. We got him in the second half."
Other than two long passes to tight end Crockett Gillmore – including a 23-yard touchdown on a half-back pass – the Buffs' secondary avoided big plays.
"I thought our defense stepped up and was able to handle it pretty well," safety Anthony Perkins said. "Our front seven was able to get some pressure on (Thomas) and make him a little uneasy in the pocket, but he's a great quarterback and he's going to continue to get better."
POSITIVE GAINS: Against CSU, Buffs running back Rodney Stewart finished with 98 rushing yards on 19 carries. Most important, he moved forward.
Stewart was tackled for a loss just one time by CSU (for 3 yards), and was held to zero yards twice.
During the first two games, Stewart ran 42 times. In those 42 carries, Stewart was tackled for a loss six times and for zero yards eight times – that's one-third of his carries going for zero or negative yards.
Overall this season, Stewart has had 61 rushing attempts – 24 of which have gone for 1 yard or less.
Stewart had five attempts of 10 yards or more against CSU, after having just five attempts go for 10-plus yards in the first two games combined.