CU Secondary Confident as Saturday Approaches

Before Colorado put together a game-winning goal line stand a year ago to beat the Rams, CU's pass defense was ugly. Colorado's starting cornerbacks Lorenzo Sims and Gerett Burl expect a prettier picture Saturday.

No quarterback threw for more yards against the Buffs in 2004 than CSU's Justin Holland.

No receiver caught more passes for more yards against Colorado in 2004 than the Rams' David Anderson.

But even through Holland torched the CU pass defense on 29-of-42 passes for 403 yards and two touchdowns; and even though Anderson hauled in nine catches for 156 yards, the CU defensive backs aren't shaking in their boots. In fact, they're confident those two players won't have repeat performances Saturday when the Rams visit the Buffs at Folsom Field.

"Last year, if we would have played against anyone (in the season opener), they would've found success," junior cornerback Lorenzo Sims said Monday. "I don't think it really was their scheme or how good they did. I think it was really us – the mistakes that we made and really not knowing the defense as much as we do now."

Sims is slotted to start Saturday at one corner, while junior Gerett Burl — who was starting his first game at CU in last year's in-state tilt — will get the nod at the other corner. Sophomore Stephone Robinson and junior Terry Washington will also see action at corner, as could freshman Gardner McKay. Juniors J.J. Billingsley and Tyrone Henderson look to start at safety, with senior Tom Hubbard and sophomore Lionel Harris and redshirt-freshman Ryan Walters backing them up.

When the Buffs beat CSU 27-24 in 2004, the defensive backs had been under secondary coach Craig Bray's tutelage for less than a month. Bray is a stickler for his defensive backs reading offensive players' alignments and movements for clues to where the play is heading. His players weren't used to playing that way.

Frankly, last year vs. CSU, most of the CU defensive backs were lost. They realized that recently when they reviewed tape of the 2004 game in preparation for this week's contest.

"We were like, ‘Dang, we didn't know we looked that bad,'" junior corner Gerett Burl said of the film session.

"Just looking at the tape, we made so many mistakes that could've been easily avoided by just knowing what to do," added Sims. "We were nervous. We were acting like we had never played the game before. We're a totally different team now."

A fall, spring and August camp under Bray and the defensive backs say they know what to do.

They'll need to. Holland, says Sims, is probably the most accurate passer the Buffs will face all season. Anderson is a speedy veteran receiver who has a knack for making plays. But the fastest receiver CSU will field is Johnny Walker, a sophomore who some think is primed for a breakout season. He had six catches for 74 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown grab, against the Buffs last year.

"They know what they're doing," Burl said of Holland and his receiving corps. "They're not going to make mistakes."

Colorado defensive backs expect to make a lot less mistakes this time around.

"I give those guys a great deal of respect. But last year it was a different story," Sims said. "I mean, they're a good group of players. But we're well prepared."

Notes
Depth chart tweak
CU released a new depth chart Monday, which revealed two minor tweaks. Terry Washington is listed as a kickoff returner beside Stephone Robinson. And Kevin Moyd is listed at No. 3 tailback instead of Mell Holliday, who was declared ineligible (transfer rule) by the NCAA last week. Gary Barnett said last week that V-back Lawrence Vickers would be prepared to play the No. 3 tailback if necessary.

Several Buffs back at practice
Colorado got back to practicing in preparation for Saturday's opener vs. Colorado State (1:30 p.m. kickoff, TBS) on Monday following two days off. Back in action were safety Ryan Walters, receiver Vance Washington, offensive linemen Daniel Sanders and Edwin Harrison. …Barnett said Monday that safety Dominique Brooks (high ankle sprain) is "very doubtful" for Saturday's game.

Denver Buff Club Kickoff Rally on tap
Join CU Head Football Coach Gary Barnett, the assistant coaches, this year's team captains and honorary rally chair Mary Barnett for a free rally to officially kickoff this year's exciting 2005 season. This event, sponsored by Hi Country Wire & Telephone and Pepsi, will take place on Friday, September 2nd, in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts outdoor galleria (14th and Curtis), from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Free hot dogs, Pepsi and Frito Lay Chips will be provided. The Denver Buff Club is hosting the rally and there is no charge to attend.

An honor guard of former CU team captains and players will start the event and the CU cheerleaders will lead the crowd in the CU Fight Song and other cheers. Larry Zimmer, who is in his 31st year broadcasting Buffalo football, will emcee the event. Coach Barnett will introduce his coaching staff and the CU captains will address the crowd. An autograph booth featuring former CU players will be set up and CU merchandise will be available for purchase. Special guests of the Denver Buff Club will be members of the newly-formed YMCA Junior Buffaloes, boys and girls ages 5-12 who participate in the flag football program of the YMCA.

Immediately following the rally, the Denver Buff Club is hosting a luncheon in the Donald Sewell Ballroom of the DCPA. Individual tickets are $25 and advanced purchase is required. To purchase tickets, call 303-492-5497 or 800-621-BUFF.


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