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Countdown to Spring Practices – Linebackers

Note … This is the third in a series of unit-by-unit spring previews. A new unit will be previewed every few days over the next month, leading to the start of spring practices in late March. The defensive line preview will be posted this weekend …

Previously posted … 

The Roster … 

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … *= early enrollee (in school for spring practices) … TR … Transfer …

— Outside linebackers (8):

  • Seniors … none
  • Juniors … Carson Wells … Guy Thomas … Jamar Montgomery … Robert Barnes (TR)
  • Sophomores … none
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Joshka Gustav
  • True freshmen … Alvin Williams … Devin Grant
  • 2021 Signees … Zion Magalei

— Inside linebackers (9):

  • Seniors … Nate Landman 
  • Juniors … Jon Van Diest … Quinn Perry … Chase Newman … Devin Lynch
  • Sophomores … Ray Robinson … Jack Lamb (TR)
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Marvin Ham … Hayden Waters
  • True freshmen … Mister Williams
  • 2021 Signees … Zephaniah Maea*

The Stats … 

How important was Nate Landman to the Colorado defense? Despite being sidelined for the year in the second quarter of the Utah game, Landman led the team in 61 tackles (49 unassisted). A distant second on the team was Derrion Rakestraw, who had 35 tackles for the year. Landman, on his way to being named to the first-team All-Pac-12 team (and second-team All-American team), also led the team in sacks (5), third down stops (13), and tackles for zero (7).

The only other linebacker to make a significant contribution last year was Carson Wells, who was third on the team in tackles (34 tackles, 26 unassisted), first in tackles for loss (9), second in sacks (4.5), second in third down stops (8), and tied for first in quarterback pressures (5). After that, you are down to Jonathan Van Diest (11 tackles in 81 plays) and Guy Thomas (seven tackles in 80 plays).

Nationally … 

  • Team Tackles for Loss … 8.2 per game … 7th in the nation
  • Third down conversion defense … .318 … 13th in the nation
  • First downs allowed, defense … 128 … 27th in the nation
  • Team sacks … 2.5/game … 45th in the nation
  • Passing yards allowed … 239.2 yds./game … 71st in the nation
  • Scoring defense … 31.67 pts./game … 77th in the nation
  • Total defense … 420.3 yds./game … 76th in the nation
  • Passes intercepted … 4 … 94th in the nation

CommentsInside Linebackers … The Buff Nation will be waiting with baited-breath over the next six months, awaiting word on the recovery of Nate Landman from his Achilles injury. Surgery took place on December 15th, and the 7-9 month recovery clock is ticking. On the good news side of things, Landman recently posted on social media that he was out of his protective boot, an important step in his recovery process. What can also give CU fans hope for Landman’s return to Folsom Field is that recovery from this type of injury is partially dependent upon the dedication of the patient to the rehabilitation process, and it would be hard to imagine a player with more determination than Nate Landman … If a recovery is possible, Nate Landman will make it happen.

How important is Landman to the Buffs’ success? The Buffs were 4-0, and ahead of Utah at home when Landman went down. In the six quarters played without Landman, the Buffs were out-scored 83-30. Jonathan Van Diest … Quinn Perry … Chase Newman … decent players all, but they are not Landman. This spring, with Landman out and Notre Dame transfer Jack Lamb finishing up his degree at Notre Dame, freshmen Marvin Ham, Mister Williams, and 2021 signee Zephaniah Maea will all be given their chance to impress CU’s new inside linebacker coach, Mark Smith.

Comments Outside Linebackers … If it were not for Nate Landman, Carson Wells would be considered to be the star of the defense. Wells has 21 starts to his credit, and was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 performer this past fall. Guy Thomas and Joshka Gustav had their moments in 2020, but more will be expected from them in 2021. If they are not able to deliver, the Buffs may look to transfer Robert Barnes – the former five-star prospect from Oklahoma – to make an impact.

Overall, there are any number of questions when it comes to the CU linebacker corps:

  • When will Nate Landman be back, and will he back at 100%?;
  • How well will the transfers – Jack Lamb from Notre Dame and Robert Barnes from Oklahoma – bolster an otherwise thin unit?;
  • Who, other than the known quantity Carson Wells, will step up this spring, giving Buff fans confidence in the unit as a whole?

To be determined …

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8 Replies to “Countdown to Spring Practices – Linebackers”

  1. Everybody had a semi dry-run, red shirt year in 2020:players and coaching staff!

    What we considered “young”in the past will have a year added to it this year, so it should help. We’ll see a lotta guys with “FR” behind their names, who would otherwise be RS or Soph in a normal year, so get used to that.

    Be interesting to see how Noyer comes back off that injury. Turley’s supposed to be a rehab magician. And a full year with Langsdorf, who is probably the best of the QB coachs Noyer has worked with. it could be fun to watch the competition in the QB room, as there’s a good mix of talent and moxie.

  2. All injured players should greatly benefit from the hire of Turley, who was known at Stanford, as a rehab “miracle worker”! Players returned quickly from injury, often saying they felt and performed better than before, because the rehab corrected some physical shortcomings that had resulted in the injury itself. Turley often had former players returning from their pro teams to rehab with him, since they felt he was better than their team rehab guys. Hope portends well for Landman, Miller and other injured player

  3. I’ve long wondered this, are tackles for losses and third down stops included in total tackles? I assume so, but statistics are always listed as X tackles, X for a loss, and X third down stops rather than X tackles, including/of which X were for a loss and X third down stops.
    Thanks!

    1. I’m going with the tackles for loss and third down stops being a part of total tackles. If Nate Landman stops a runner on third-and-two for a three-yard loss, that would be a tackle, a third down stop, and a tackle for loss.

  4. Looks like we are going to have to rely on the youngsters to provide any serious depth. Another good thing about KD is that he is not afraid to play em if they are up to it. Witness Gonzalez

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