Random Thoughts – Fall Camp Roster (Defense) Edition – Volume XXXV

Related … Random Thoughts – Fall Camp Roster (Offense) Edition – Volume XXXIVcan be found here

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … How many times has Colorado hosted ESPN GameDay? What is CU’s record in those games?

While Signing Days and Spring Practices whet the appetite of the Buff Nation for the opening of the Mel Tucker era in Boulder, things start to get real over the next few weeks.

CU players report for Fall Camp this Wednesday, July 31st, with it all becoming real for the 2019 Buffs on Thursday, August 1st, with the first practice.

It’s time for a re-introduction to the 83-man CU roster. We’ll started with the offense (which can be found here), with the defense and special teams detailed below …

Defensive Line

Scholarships (9) … Mustafa Johnson, Jr.; Jeremiah Doss, So.; Janaz Jordan, So.; Terrance Lang, So.; Jalen Sami, R-Fr.; Lloyd Murray, Jr., Fr.; Na’im Rodman, Fr.; Jayden Simon, Fr.; Austin Williams, Fr.

Comment … The first thing you notice about the defensive line roster … where is everybody? CU’s starting lineup looks to be Mustafa Johnson, Terrance Lang, and Jalen Sami. Johnson is a star in the making, Lang looks to be a solid player, and Sami is being counted on to plug up the middle the way Javier Edwards did the past two seasons.

It’s risky enough depending on Lang (in for 263 snaps last season, with 11 tackles) and Sami, who hasn’t played a down since 2016 (Sami joined the team in January, 2018, having sat out the 2017 season as a grey-shirt. Sami then sat out his red-shirt season in 2018 after injuring his knee during 2018 spring practices), but after those two … ?

Perhaps junior college transfer Janaz Jordan will impress during camp, and find his way into the lineup. If not, Lloyd Murray, Jr. or Austin Williams will be forced into action as true freshmen.

If Mustafa Johnson or Terrance Lang get hurt … ? It could be a tough season for the CU defense.

Outside linebackers … 

Scholarships (8) … Nu’umatu Falo, Sr.; Davion Taylor, Sr.; Alex Tchangam, Sr.; Jamar Montgomery, Jr., Jacob Callier, So.; Carson Wells, So.; Joshka Gustav, Fr., Alec Pell, Fr.

Comment … The outside linebacker position is almost as deep as the defense line roster is thin. Mel Tucker’s defense has a “Star” position, and Davion Taylor looks to be a good fit for the outside linebacker/defensive back hybrid. For the “true” outside linebacker position, Carson Wells might option No. 1, but Falo, Wells, and Tchangam all have game experience.

Inside linebackers … 

Scholarships (8) … Jash Allen, Jr.; Akil Jones, Jr.; Nate Landman, Jr.; Quinn Perry, Jr.; Chase Newman, So.; Jonathan Van Diest, So.; Ray Robinson, R-Fr.; Marvin Ham, II, Fr.

Comment … Nate Landman is one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12, and, if CU has a magical season, will be up for national recognition as well. For the other inside linebacker position, the betting favorite coming out of the spring was Jonathan Van Diest, but two junior college transfers, Jash Allen and Quinn Perry, have now entered the fray. At worst, the two new additions, along with returning part-time starter Akil Jones, will add significant depth.

Cornerbacks … 

Scholarship (5) … Delrick Abrams, Jr.; Mehki Blackmon, Jr.; Chris Miller, So.; D.J. Oats, Fr., K.J. Trujillo, Fr.

Comment … If you squint at the roster, and only see the starters, the Buffs are okay. Abrams, Blackmon, and Miller provide a strong starting lineup. Miller was out this spring with an injury, but is expected to be a “full go” for the fall. If any of the three potential starters are injured or ineffective, the defections from this past off-season, including the transfers of Dante Wigley and Ronnie Blackmon, will be felt.


Scholarship (6) … Mikial Onu, Sr.; Aaron Maddox, Jr.; Derrion Rakestraw, Jr.; Trey Udoffia, Jr.; Isaiah Lewis, So.; Mark Perry, Fr.

Comment … CU lost both starting safeties to graduation, so this has been an area of concern since the final gun in Berkeley last November. Onu, a graduate transfer from SMU, who had 20 starts for the Mustangs, could be immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Udoffia, Rakestraw, Maddox and Lewis all have experience wearing the black-and-gold on the field, but were backups to Evan Worthington and Nick Fisher. If none of those players work out, Mark Perry, one of the top signees from the Recruiting Class of 2019, could be forced into action as true freshman.

Specialists … 

Scholarship (3) … (P) Alex Kinney, Sr.; (LS) J.T. Bale, Sr.; (K) James Stefanou, Jr.

Comment … It may seem to the rest of the conference that Kinney and Stefanou have been the CU kickers for most of the Buffs’ run in the Pac-12. Truth is, Kinney is on year six, as he was supposed to have his senior season last fall. Instead, Kinney was injured during the Nebraska game, and took advantage of the new NCAA run allowing players who only participate in four games to return without burning a red-shirt year (or, in Kinney’s case, burning his senior season).

The duo of Kinney and Stefanou should be one of the best in the Pac-12, if they can live up to their potential. In addition to Stefanou, walk-ons Davis Price, Evan Price and Tyler Francis have all kicked field goals in games, and Davis Price has been CU’s kickoff specialist.

As to the return game, Ronnie Blackmon, who fielded most of the kickoffs and punts last year (with some of the punts being fielded inside CU’s ten yard line, much to the consternation of the Buff Nation) has moved on. There are a host of speedy young wide receives and defensive backs on the roster, with Fall Camp being a time to sort out who will be on the field for the Buffs this fall.

Overview … 

CU’s starting lineup on defense looks good on paper.

But it’s also paper thin.

There is a notable lack of depth and experience along the defensive front, and a notable lack of depth and experience in the secondary.

If the defensive line starters can stay healthy and productive, and if the starters at cornerback and safety can stay healthy and productive, the Buff defense, in its first year under Mel Tucker & Co., could surprise.

But keep an eye on the injury updates this August. The first goal for Fall Camp for CU’s defense:

… Keep the starters healthy.

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … How many times has Colorado hosted ESPN GameDay? What is CU’s record in those games?

Answer … ESPN GameDay has been to Boulder three times, with the Buffs going 1-2. ESPN was on campus twice in 1995, with the Buffs defeating Texas A&M, 29-21, in September, but then falling to Nebraska, 44-21, in October. In 1996, ESPN returned for the Michigan game, with the Wolverines defeated the Buffs, 20-13.

Colorado has made three other appearances in games with ESPN GameDay. In 1994, the CU/Nebraska game in Lincoln hosted GameDay (a 24-7 Nebraska win). In 1995, No. 4 Colorado defeated No. 10 Oklahoma, 38-17, in Norman. In 1997, the CU/Michigan game in Ann Arbor hosted GameDay (a 23-7 Michigan win).

So … CU is 2-4 overall in games with ESPN GameDay on hand (Source: NCAA.com) … Among schools with at least five GameDay appearances, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have the worst record, at 1-7.


4 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Fall Camp Roster (Defense) Edition”

  1. On point as usual. Will be interesting to see how Coach Tuck balances his desired physicality w/injury concerns during Camp….w/the lack of depth on the line easy to see this D setup to funnel everything to the LBs, DL ‘just’ needs to hold the point (there should be an Antwine in the incoming group)
    Pass D looks iffy at best due to depth at CB, no way Abrams/Miller hold up for a year. Will be interesting to see if anyone moves to CB…(crowded WR room)

    1. You are correct, sir!
      Thanks for the heads up – glad to see that CU has two wins in front of the ESPN GameDay audience!!

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