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Buffs D-Line, O-Line Rotations Got Valuable Snaps Vs. UNC

Sep 6, 2021
Buffs D-lineman Jalen Sami had one sack against the Bears.

BOULDER — Thanks to building a three-touchdown lead in the third quarter Friday in a 35-7 win over Northern Colorado, Karl Dorrell's Colorado Buffaloes had the opportunity to give a number of backups a chance to get at least a few snaps down the stretch.

That kind of action always proves valuable as the season progresses. You can't replicate game-day speed in practice, and every rep in a game gives players at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots on the depth chart invaluable experience.

That kind of experience can be a difference maker if and when they are called upon to contribute in critical situations.

Here's one more look at a few numbers from the UNC game before we dive headlong into Saturday's upcoming matchup with Texas A&M at Empower Field in Denver (1:30 p.m., Fox):

—  A total of 27 Buffs got at least one defensive snap against the Bears. Four — DB Mekhi Blackmon, LB Nate Landman, DB Mark Perry and DB Isaiah Lewis — played 47 defensive snaps with DB Christian Gonzalez right behind with 46.

— A number of newcomers and young players got double-digit snaps, including true freshman DBs Kaylin Moore, Trevor Woods, Tyrin Taylor and Nikko Reed. That's good news for a secondary needing to build depth, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see some of these young DBs get a little more time in the future.

— Although he didn't start, revised CU defensive stats had linebacker Quinn Perry credited with four tackles, including a sack, in 32 defensive plays.

— CU is no doubt working toward a defensive line rotation that will keep fresh legs in the trenches throughout the game. Friday's game saw Na'im Rodman get the most action, playing 42 snaps and finishing with two tackles, including one for loss. Other D-linemen getting time were Terrance Lang (39 plays), Jalen Sami (20), Janaz Jordan (25), Jayden Simon (18), Justin Jackson (15) and Ryan Williams (4).

— On the offensive line, 11 Buffs saw at least a few snaps. Veterans Colby Pursell and Kary Kutsch led the way with 58 each and freshman left tackle Jake Wiley was right behind with 46 while Chance Lytle had 42 on the right side.  Kanan Ray had 39 plays at guard and Casey Roddick logged 19, while Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan had 22 plays at tackle and transfer Max Wray tallied 18. Other O-linemen getting a few plays included Austin Johnson, Joshua Jynes and Carson Lee (each with 6).

— Along with Wray on the O-line, another transfer getting some playing time was linebacker Jack Lamb, who had 13 defensive snaps. 

— The Buffs seem ready to make sure to utilize all their skill positions as receivers. Of the 10 passes completed by QB Brendon Lewis, six went to wide receivers, two to running backs and two to tight ends.

— Ray Robinson had a nice special teams night, leading the team with five special teams points. Robinson had one tackle inside the 20 and also a big block to spring a long kick return. 

— Thanks to the redshirt rule instituted in 2018 that allowed players to play in four games and not lose a year of eligibility, along with last season's "free" year of eligibility, CU's roster is dominated by underclassmen. 

After one game, CU's leading passer is a freshman (QB Brendon Lewis); the top three rushers are a sophomore and two freshman (Jarek Broussard, Lewis and Ashaad Clayton); and the top two receivers are freshmen (La'Vontae Shenault and Montana Lemonious-Craig).

UP NEXT: Texas A&M, ranked No. 6 in the preseason AP poll, visits Colorado on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game against the Buffs at Empower Field. The newest AP rankings will be released at noon Tuesday and the Aggies will almost certainly remain in the top 10 after an opening 41-10 win over Kent State.

Texas A&M led in that game just 10-3 at halftime, but got a spark when Leon O'Neal took his second interception of the game 85 yards for a touchdown as Texas A&M scored 31 points in the second half. Running back Devon Achane ran for 124 yards and two scores and the Aggies ran for 303 yards, helping make up for quarterback Haynes King's three interceptions in his starting debut. Wide receiver Ainias Smith had eight catches for 100 yards and two scores, linebacker Aaron Hansford had eight tackles and freshman defensive lineman Shemar Turner was in on four tackles, including 1.5 sacks.