“I needed to read my keys faster and that is what I really worked on after last season,” said Gamboa, a 6-foot-0, 230-pound inside linebacker originally from Sylmar, Calif. “Being able to read my keys faster allows me to just react and get to the ball carrier instead of having to think about what I am going to do when I am out there.”
Gamboa's improvement was on display in the Buffaloes' season opener last Friday. He appeared to be more decisive in the 48 defensive snaps he was on the field, and Gamboa finished with five tackles, one third down stop and a pass break-up.
“I felt I played well,” he said of his first game as a sophomore. “I was comfortable being out there, especially with having a whole season under my belt. It felt way different. There wasn't much nervousness, I could just play, run and react within the scheme we were running.”
Some Colorado fans might have been surprised that Gamboa received the starting nod at Mike linebacker over Addison Gillam, who is healthy again after missing all but two games last fall. Gilliam did still rotate in and play 23 defensive snaps against the Rams.
“Even though we have Addison back, I am still going to compete every day,” Gamboa said. “And adding Addison gives us a lot of depth. He gives us a good rotation at linebacker. It allows the two guys who are out there to be fresh instead of having guys in there that are tired.
“It helps a lot when you are not having to play 80-90 snaps a game. Instead, now, maybe your plays go down to 50-60 and it saves your legs for later in the game. We definitely have a good rotation going on.”
When asked about their match-up against Idaho State this Saturday, Gamboa said they are prepared for the Bengals to spread the ball around and play similarly to the Hawaii offense they faced in Honolulu last year.
“They like to get the ball out quick, give you a lot of formations, make us think a little bit but as long as we're doing our jobs, I feel like we have a good game plan going into this,” Gamboa said. “The main thing for us will be tackling in space. Everybody has to make sure they rally to the ball.
“We know we played well last week but coming into this week we can't overlook who we're playing. You don't want to take a step backwards, you just want to keep moving forward. Maybe you can't be perfect but we can at least strive to be perfect, so we're going to keep pushing for that every week.”
Additional notes -
*** Idaho State will receive $500,000 for traveling out to play Colorado this weekend. Bengals head coach Mike Kramer admits “anything can happen,” and he knows first-hand because he coached Montana State to an upset victory over the Buffs in 2006, but he is not overjoyed by the challenge. Idaho State will also travel up to Oregon State next weekend.
“I love them as an athletic administrator. I love them as a college president. I love them as a member of the ISU athletic department. But as the ISU head football coach ... If we were in the Pac-12, I wouldn’t want to play an NFL team,” Kramer said of taking his FCS squad to play two FBS programs. “That’s the same thing. When you’re going up to resources that are just unimaginable above you, and you’re saying they got 11 guys, you got 11 guys, compete. It’s not quite the same.”
*** This will be the first meeting on the gridiron between Colorado and Idaho State, despite being less than 500 miles apart. The two have met three times in men's basketball, the last time in 2010, with Colorado owning a 3-0 edge. The Buffs are 11-6 all-time in football versus current members of the Big Sky Conference.
*** Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie needs two more sacks to pass Michael Lewis and become the school's all-time sack leader among defensive backs.
*** Although offensive center Alex Kelley and safety Tedric Thompson were banged up in the season opener, they are expected to be available on Saturday. There are no new names on the Buffs' weekly injury report: receiver Jaleel Awini (back, out indefinitely), offensive tackle Isaac Miller (knee, out indefinitely), receiver Juwann Winfree (knee, out for the season), defensive back Jaisen Sanchez (knee, out for the season) and walk-on inside linebacker Trent Headley (shoulder, out for the season).
*** Saturday's game is set to kick-off at Folsom Field at 3:37 pm (MDT) with regional television coverage on Pac-12 Mountain.