Colorado's Uzo-Diribe ready to be play-maker

Colorado's Uzo-Diribe ready to be play-maker

Junior looks to be force against the run, in addition to rushing the passer.

The Colorado defense could use some playmakers in 2012. Junior Chidera Uzo-Diribe hopes to be one that makes a big impact.

A 6-foot-3, 255-pound defense end, Uzo-Diribe recently finished the first half of spring practices. He looks the part of a disruptive force.

"He is really good. He's big, fast, strong, can run," CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown said. "The thing that you don't realize until you watch him up close and just see him is how smooth of an athlete he is. There's not a lot of wasted steps."

Uzo-Diribe, from Corona, Calif., has steadily improved every year he's been in Boulder. A reserve in 2010, he had 3.5 quarterback sacks in limited time on the field.

Last year, he started six games, played more than 400 snaps and finished second on the team with 5.5 sacks.

Now, with sack leader Josh Hartigan gone, Uzo-Diribe is doing what he can to make more of an impact.

"It's going pretty good," Uzo-Diribe said of spring ball. "I'm still working on a lot of technique stuff out here."

He said he's spent most of his spring working on the little things, such as his hand-work and his steps.

"This being my second spring, I know what the plays are, know what they expect out of us out there, so I definitely feel more comfortable," he said.

Although Hartigan's eight sacks will need to be replaced, Uzo-Diribe said he's not worried about that. Whether it's himself, a linebacker of a defensive back, Buffs will get to the quarterback in Brown's system, Uzo-Diribe said.

"Just as long as we play in Brownie's system, we'll be OK in the sack totals," he said.

More than anything, Uzo-Diribe said he wants to make sure he's a well-rounded defender.

"I'm improving a lot more in the run," he said. "That's what was keeping me off the field a little bit in the past. I wasn't able to hold my own against the run. This spring, I'm seeing that I'm doing more of that."

The Buffs need that out of Uzo-Diribe, and Brown is seeing it during spring ball.

"He can put his foot down in the ground and go, he can rush the passer, he can cover, he can stop the run," Brown said. "He's a good player. We wish we had about 25 more Chideras on the team."

As he heads into the second half of spring practice, Uzo-Diribe wants to continue seeing progress from himself. The better he gets now, the more likely he will be to make a difference in the fall.

"I think they just want me to be out there and be a play maker, whether it be against the run or the pass. Just go out there and make plays. If that's what they want from me, that's what I need to do."

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