Notes: Laguda plays big role in opener

Just two seasons ago under former defensive coordinator Kent Baer, the Buffaloes gave up 39 points per game. Colorado improved 46 spots nationally in scoring defense in 2015, and then last Friday, the Buffs gave up just seven points against rival Colorado State.

Surprisingly, a number of Colorado's defensive players have expressed frustration over their performance against the Rams.

They have made quite a transformation.

[Second-year defensive coordinator and linebackers] coach [Jim] Leavitt and [head] coach [Mike] Mac[Intyre] have just set the bar high,” said junior defensive back Afolabi Laguda, who made his first start as a Buff, and played a big role, in the season opener. “They call for us to be aggressive and play with better technique and just be a strong defense. And with those expectations, we have started to really take pride in our game.

We're not happy, man. We want to give up zero touchdowns, zero first downs. I know it sounds crazy, but that is the goal. We did some good things, and it was definitely a good experience for the first game, but we want to get better every week.”

Playing both nickel back and safety against the Rams, Laguda finished third on the team in tackles, and he was one of five Buffs to record a tackle for a loss. Laguda showed his hard-hitting style on multiple occasions.

When asked about Laguda's performance last Friday, MacIntyre said “he made a few errors there on a couple coverage things but he played well, played hard, flew around.”

Laguda will likely continue to see action at both nickel back and safety as the season goes along.

In the spring and the summer, I watched a lot of film and asked the coaches a lot of questions and started listening to 'Chido' and Tedric [Thompson] more, and that started helping my game,” Laguda said. “Everybody kind of elevated my game and I am glad the coaches thought, 'Oh yeah, he is looking good.' They gave me an opportunity and I am thankful for it.”

Monday practice notes -

*** When asked to recap his team's performance against Colorado State, MacIntyre had a similar sentiment to the one his players have expressed since the game ended. Yeah, they played well in the 44-7 victory, but they could have performed even better.

We made quite a few mistakes, but I thought the kids played extremely hard,” MacIntyre said. “They came out fast and furious and stayed after it. I was pleased with that. … We did not hold the ball like I would like. Two of [the fumbles] were [on] Sefo [Liufau], which he has to work on and that is really the first time he has been hit in a long time. And Phillip [Lindsay] fumbled the one on the spin move. That is something we don't do [in practice] and we'll be better at.”

*** Liufau was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his 384-yard performance against the Rams.

I was pleased with the way he played coming back off the foot [injury]. I thought he did an excellent job,” MacIntyre said.

*** Liufau seemed to combine his gunslinger mentality from two years ago with his ability to make plays as a runner from a year ago. It caused some controversy, though, when he got hit hard on a running play early in the fourth quarter, and he fumbled the ball.

We talked about sliding,” MacIntyre said. “He slid early in the first half but [on the fourth down run], he said he couldn't see the down and distance marker because he was right down the middle of the field. And he goes, 'Man, I am faster than I used to be. I didn't know I had covered that much ground.' That is exactly what he said. I said, 'Well, you cover the ground and slide.'

But there are going to be times he has to get that first down, too, and he has to hold onto the ball in those situations. But that was a situation he should have definitely slid and we'll work on that.”

*** Offensive center Alex Kelley left the opener with an ankle injury and safety Tedric Thompson was also sidelined in the second half. MacIntyre expects both to be ready to play against Idaho State on Saturday.

"Alex was out here today,” said MacIntyre. “Tedric fell and kind of got whiplashed. He'll be back out tomorrow. So far he has passed all the concussion protocol. He looks like he'll be fine.”

*** Las Vegas Sportsbooks do not take wagers on games played between FBS and FCS teams, but offshore Sportsbook 5Dimes currently has the Buffaloes listed as a 38-and-a-half point favorite over Idaho State.

*** Idaho State won a home game against Simon Fraser, a Division-2 program from Canada, this past weekend, 47-3.

They throw the ball really well. It is a lot like Hawaii's offense last year. It is basically the same offense,” MacIntyre said when asked about his early impressions of Idaho State. “They have some good receivers, a quarterback that knows what he is doing with the football.

Defensively they are a true 4-3 football team, a little bit more like Oregon State used to be about two years ago with the wide ends. So they are going to try to get after our passer and cause some havoc to our tackles. They play inside a dome so they have to come outside to play but they are probably used to altitude.”

Idaho State is located in Pocatello, which has an elevation of 4,462 feet. Boulder's elevation is 5,430 feet above sea level.

*** Nelson Spruce made the Los Angeles Rams' roster, and Kenneth Crawley made it through the New Orleans Saints' final cuts, while Stephane Nembot will earn an NFL paycheck on the Baltimore Ravens' Injured Reserve list this fall. MacIntyre said he planned to reach out to them to offer his congratulations on Monday afternoon.


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