Bray Looks Ahead to NMSU Challenge

The Buffs are preparing to face New Mexico State on Saturday, a team that under new head coach Hal Mumme threw the ball 62 times in its season-opening loss to UTEP. Inside, CU defensive backs coach Craig Bray talks about what he saw from his unit in CU's win over Colorado State, and looks ahead at the challenge of playing a passing team like NMSU. Also, an update on the status of Brian Iwuh and Brian Daniels.

Q: Did anything stand out to you when you watched the tape of Saturday's win over CSU?
Craig Bray:
Yeah. We're not near as good as we need to be.

Q: Specifically, where did you see that?
Well, it's a combination of a lot of things. We made mistakes down in the red zone that were simple, simple things, if they play the technique and their eyes are in the right place.

We busted some coverages from safeties not doing some things that they should've done. We've got a long ways to go. But the positive was, in the second half, we played solid from a secondary standpoint. We were in position, we got our hands on some balls and made big plays.

So that's good. We're way ahead of where we were a year ago.

Q: Those second half interceptions, were those the result of guys being in the right place, plus the pressure on Justin Holland?
Sure it is. And the pressure really helps. Yeah, we were in the right place. And we were in the right place for the most of the day. But we just didn't do some things that we've gotta do in order to win the games on the road, the games against a better opponent. But from the standpoint of a start, I'm optimistic.

Q: New Mexico State; what kind of challenges to they bring to your unit?
Oh, Geez Louise. They line up in a no-back, they throw the ball all over the place. Anybody that does that puts stress all over the secondary every single play.

They might run 10 times and throw 60. They might throw 70 or 80. They do it a lot of different ways in a lot of different formations.

It's just like when we zone pressure – a lot of those pass plays where they gained a lot of yards were in zone pressure. (The secondary) might've been in the right place, but the guy that's supposed to be dropping under that bites on a run fake or something, and the tight end is open running down the seam.

So there's variables that come into play.

We've got to stay focused every snap because they throw it short, short, short, then throw it deep. They don't give you anything you can sit on.

Q: Do they mirror or remind you of any of the teams you'll face later in Big 12 play?
No, not at all. Totally different feel. They're a shotgun throwing team. They're going to stay in the pocket, the quarterback's not a guy that moves or does option or anything like that. It's a true "we're going to pass first and fool you with a run every now and then."

Not a lot of play action, which is good because play action tends to get people to suck up and then they go over you.

In some ways it's simpler than playing a CSU, a team which can do everything. But in the stress that it puts on you every down, it's a lot different.

Q: Speaking of that stress, do you anticipate playing more defensive backs Saturday than you did against CSU?
Absolutely. We'll have five and six DB packages. You'll see more guys in the game, and hopefully, you'll see more rotation. We'll hopefully play more guys. I only played five guys the whole (CSU) game. And that was playing nickel, so there were no subs. We've got to get other guys involved.

Q: Do you think Terry Washington, Gardner McKay, those guys will be ready to play?
Terry's got the ability to the best corner that we have in our program at this time. He just has to learn how to come out here and do it on the practice field so that I can feel comfortable putting him in a game situation. I wanted to put him in last Saturday, but I was too scared. Is he gonna do the right thing? He might've had a helluva game, but if you don't show it out here (on the practice field), you're not going to get on there (the game day field). It's that simple.

Gardner McKay's a guy, we'll kind of bottle-feed him and bring him along. You never know. Look what happened to Iwuh — in the second series he goes out and we're a totally different football team because the guy behind him wasn't ready to go. We've got to be sure those guys that are behind understand "that can happen to you."

Q: Do you like having this kind of unique challenge with New Mexico State this early in the season?
Sure. I do like it, but it's always stressful. It's the amount of defense that we put in that will make us successful. If we get too much, then we can create confusion. If we don't have enough then maybe we can't do what we need to do against a two-minute drive. There's that fine line.

After a day off Sunday, the Buffs put in a physically demanding practice Monday without pads….Outside linebacker Brian Iwuh will have his knee scoped Tuesday and be out "eight to nine days," according to head coach Gary Barnett. Iwuh has a similar issue to what safety Ryan Walters had in August after injuring his knee in Saturday's game, and Barnett said the arthroscopic procedure is "a pain management issue" in Iwuh's case. …Offensive guard Brian Daniels is doubtful for Saturday's game vs. New Mexico State (8 p.m., FSN), with a fractured rib. …Linebacker Thaddaeus Washington was held out of Monday's practice after suffering a concussion in Saturday's win over CSU. Barnett thought he would be cleared to practice Tuesday. …Asked if he thought there was a danger of his team suffering a letdown after the dramatic come-from-behind win over the Rams, Barnett said, "This team wants it too badly (for that to happen). They know the value of every game."

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