After having one of the worst defenses in the country in 2012 there was not anywhere to really go but up for Colorado in 2013. The expectation was that the defense would improve this year but still be talent deficient, especially against the pass.
However, through their first two games the defense has been a pleasant surprise while being very opportunistic by forcing six turnovers. It may come as a surprise to the fans at how much the defense has improved this year but for head coach Mike MacIntyre the way the defense has played through two games doesn’t come as a shock.
“No, I’m not,” MacIntyre said on whether he was surprised with how well the defense has played so far under the new coaching staff. “[Defensive coordinator] Coach Baer and our coaching staff does a great job. We have some good players on defense and I think they are playing extremely hard and communicating better.”
It’s an early sample size for Colorado’s defense but just by watching their play through the first two games it is evident that their confidence is much higher and it’s leading to more success on the field.
Just for some perspective on this year’s team compared to last year’s team, Colorado is allowing 171 yards less per game so far and have already forced 14 “three-and-outs” after forcing just 29 all of last season. On top of that they have already matched their interception total from last season (3) through the first two games this year, including returning two of those for scores last week against Central Arkansas.
The six turnovers they have forced already can be attributed to an emphasis they have every day in practice at trying to force the offense into mistakes and capitalize on those miscues.
“Every day we have a winning edge period,” MacIntyre explained during his weekly press conference. “We’ve cause two fumbles that were cause-fumbles. The guys specifically went in there and hit the ball with their hands. We stress it daily and it becomes second nature, it just happens. It’s fun to see those happening.”
It is safe to say that the defense is much improved but now the challenge will be to sustain their new-found success as the opposing talent increases. They will certainly face much tougher opponents than their first two games and that will be the true measuring stick of their improvement but MacIntyre still has high hopes for his group’s continued improvement.
“The kids are playing extremely hard, communicating better, listening and they are playing hard under pressure. So I think if they keep doing that I think they’ll keep playing real well.”