The Colorado football team’s defense had a very difficult time getting off the field last year. According to NCAA.com, the Buffs ranked 117th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense. They allowed a little more than seven yards per a play. Opponents averaged about 38 points per a game against Colorado, which ranked 112th in the whole nation. This was indicative of their 4-8 record.
The defense needs to improve dramatically if we have any chance of competing in the Pac-12. Stanford has had massive amounts of success with running the ball and playing very tough defense. Oregon was supposedly a national title contender before playing Stanford. Oregon’s high flying offense was shut down by a superior Stanford defense. A strong defense is clearly an indicator for success in the Pac-12, as shown by Stanford.
The defense is losing some key pieces from last year’s team. They include leading pass rusher Chidera Uzo Diribe and second leading tackler Derrick Webb. Both were integral parts of this defense, but Webb already had a solid replacement with freshman Addison Gillam. Uzo Diribe will be difficult to replacement because of the void of a true pass rusher.
The leading tackler was Addison Gillam. He played outside and middle linebacker. He led the team with about 10 tackles a game and 107 for the whole year. He was also second on the team in sacks. Gillam made the Football Writers Association of America’s Freshman All American team in 2013. This shows how important Gillam was to Colorado’s defense throughout the season and how he was a leader. He sure looks like a star in the making for the Buffs, and will hopefully continue to improve this offseason.
Gillam was not able to do enough to keep the Buffs from ranking last in rush defense in the Pac-12, according to Pac-12.com. They allowed 208 rushing yards per a game, which was 20 more yards than any other team in the conference. This allows the offense to run a lot of play action plays, which makes it very easy for quarterbacks and the offense. When the defense is giving up that many rushing yards a game, it opens up the passing game even more.
The Buffs were not very successful in placing pressure on the quarterback. If the quarterback has plenty of time to throw, it makes it much more difficult for the rest of the defense. The cornerbacks need to mark their man for longer, which means for time for the receivers to get open. The Buffs clearly had a difficult time reaching the quarterback. They had a total of 18 sacks all year, ranking 99th in the nation. Sacks are indicative of a successful defense because it makes everyone else’s job a lot easier.
Colorado had some success in forcing turnovers. They had a total of 11 forced fumbles and 10 interceptions, according to NCAA.com. Junior Jered Bell led the team in interceptions with 4, including one returned for a touchdown. He is returning for his senior season. They ranked 60th in turnovers forced, which is very impressive considering they were not very successful at pressuring the quarterback.
Overall the Colorado defense was well below average. They were more successful in the secondary than the front four. With the emergence of Addison Gillam, there is hope in the linebacker core. The Buffs signed a couple players to the front four like defensive ends, Eddy Lopez and Michael Matthews to help.