MacIntyre Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year; 16 Buffs Draw All-Pac-12 Honors
By: Jason Clay, Associate SID
Release: November 29, 2016
MacIntyre First Coach Of The Year Since Barnett In 2004; CU’s 16 Honorees Trail USC & Washington’s 18 For Most In Pac-12
SAN FRANCISCO – Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has been named the Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year and a total of 16 Buffs earned All-Pac-12 football team honors, as the league unveiled the all-conference team and postseason awards on Tuesday.
In leading Colorado to the greatest overall improvement in Pac-12 Conference history from one year to the next – a seven-game improvement from going 1-8 in 2015 before jumping up to 8-1 and South Division champions this year – MacIntyre earned the top coaching honor. He becomes the first CU coach since Gary Barnett in 2004 (Big 12) to be named a conference coach of the year.
Colorado has put together a historic season, finishing the regular season with a 10-2 record. Under MacIntyre and staff, the Buffaloes became just the ninth Power-5 team since 1972 to win 10 or more games after finishing the previous season with four or fewer victories (CU is the only school on that list to do it twice, also accomplishing it with a 10-3 record in 2001 after going 3-8 in 2000). The 10-win season is the seventh in school history and first since 2001, a year the Buffs reached as high as No. 3 in the national rankings. This year, CU has climbed back into the top 10 for the first time since 2002 and currently sits at No. 9 in the College Football Playoff Rankings (which will release new rankings Tuesday evening).
Of CU’s 16 All-Pac-12 selections, the Buffs received two first-team nods, five were second-team selections and nine were chosen as honorable mention. The two first-team selections are one more than CU had combining its first five years in the conference (Paul Richardson, 2013), but were less or the same amount than any other team in the league who finished with a winning record in Pac-12 play.
CU’s 16 selections trailed only USC and Washington, who both had 18, for the most by one team in the conference.
Outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert became the first Buffalo defensive player to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors and did so after a breakthrough senior season when he ranked third in the conference in sacks and was second in the FBS in forced fumbles.
Ryan Moeller was CU’s other first-team selection, earning the nod as a special teams’ performer (not by a kicker or returner).
Colorado’s secondary, which ranks fourth in the FBS in pass efficiency defense at 97.65 and 22nd in passing defense – both categories that led the Pac-12 – had three second-team selections in Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Joining those three on the second team were running back Phillip Lindsay, who’s 15 rushing touchdowns led all Pac-12 players, and left tackle Jeromy Irwin.
The nine Buffaloes placed on the honorable mention team were: WR Bryce Bobo, Jr.; DE Jordan Carrell, Sr.; WR Shay Fields, Jr.; OL Alex Kelley, Sr.; OL Gerrad Kough, Jr.; QB Sefo Liufau, Sr.; ILB Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.; WR Devin Ross, Jr.; NT Josh Tupou, Sr.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning, who CU will face Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship game (7 p.m. MT/FOX), was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. USC defensive back Adoree’ Jackson collected the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award, Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold was named the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and Huskie defensive back Taylor Rapp the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
A look at CU’s All-Pac-12 honorees:
Senior OLB Jimmie Gilbert – First-Team All-Pac-12: Ranked third in the Pac-12 in sacks (9½ by CU’s count, nine by press box stats that the Pac-12 uses; CU uses coaches film for defensive stats) … his six forced fumbles are the second-most in CU single-season history, rank in a tie for the second-most forced by any player in the country this year and are the most by any Pac-12 player since Arizona’s Scooby Wright III also had six back in 2014 … led the team in multiple categories including tackles for a loss with 11.5 (includes sack figure), third-down stops with 19, quarterback hurries with 13 and quarterback chasedowns with six … had 47 tackles on the season (35 solo, 12 assisted) … he recorded a sack in 8-of-12 games on the season, which ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 for the most games recording a sack in 2016 … his three games (vs. Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona) with two sacks tied for the league lead in games posting two or more sacks (tied with Utah’s Hunter Dimick and Arizona State’s Koron Crump).
Senior DB Ryan Moeller – First-Team All-Pac-12 (as a special teams player): Was third on the team in special teams points with 20 … his nine total tackles on specials teams ranked second on the team (six solo and three assisted tackles), he forced six fair catches, was credited with being the first down field (on a kickoff or punt that altered return path) three times and he downed one punt … overall for the season he played on 391 snaps on defense while making eight starts (in his nickle back/outside linebacker hybrid role) … had 36 total tackles (two for losses) two forced fumbles, one pass breakup, one quarterback pressure and one third-down stop.
Senior CB Chidobe Awuzie – Second-Team All-Pac-12: Marquee player in CU’s secondary that ranked fourth in the FBS in pass efficiency defense and 22nd in passing defense, both categories that topped all Pac-12 teams … finished the year with 54 tackles (44 solo), four sacks (the most by any CU defensive back), 11 pass breakups and two forced fumbles … also had one interception and 17 third-down stops, ranking second on the team in that category … he became CU’s all-time quarterback sacks leader – among defensive backs – over the course of the season and now stands with nine in his career … played in 771 snaps on defense, ranking third on the squad … led CU in special teams points with 26.
Junior LT Jeromy Irwin – Second-Team All-Pac-12: Graded out as CU’s best offensive lineman on the year … started in 11-of-12 games and played in 842 snaps … was credited with a team-high 19 knockdown blocks, 13 touchdown blocks (direct), 15 perfect plays on passing touchdowns while only allowing just a half sack on the season (CU attempted 406 passes on the year) … helped the Buffalo offense average 469.9 yards per game, which ranks as the fifth-highest average in CU history (and the highest average since 1995) … Colorado produced six games totaling over 500 yards of offense, tying the most in a season in school history behind the Buffalo offensive line.
Junior RB Phillip Lindsay – Second-Team All-Pac-12: Led the Pac-12 with 15 rushing touchdowns, which are the most by a Buffalo tailback since Chris Brown had 18 in 2002 (tied for the eighth most in CU single-season history) … ran for 1,136 yards, ranking No. 3 in the conference … also caught 44 passes that went for 371 yards and one touchdown … his 1,507 total yards from scrimmage ranked as the 22nd most in the FBS and second-most in the Pac-12, trailing only Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (1,913) … had four 100-yard rushing games on the year and one 100-yard receiving game at USC – the first by a CU running back since 2001 … his 11 receptions versus UCLA were a record for the most in a game by a CU running back … he ran for a career-high 219 yards (on 26 carries) against Arizona State, which was CU’s first 200-plus game since 2002 (Chris Brown, 211 at Missouri) … he scored multiple touchdowns in five games, including a high of three two times (versus Arizona State and at Arizona).
Senior S Tedric Thompson – Second-Team All-Pac-12: Led the Pac-12 in interceptions with seven on the season, a mark that tied for the most in CU single-season history … his seven picks were also the second-most in the country in 2016 … by CU’s count (school uses coaches film for defensive stats), his 24 total passes defended (17 pass breakups plus his seven interceptions) led all FBS players … his 17 pass breakups tie for the fifth-most in CU single-season history … ranked third on the team with 72 tackles (44 solo and two for losses) … was credited with 15 third-down stops and three quarterback pressures … twice collected Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors (for games at Stanford, versus Utah) – he was one of only two Pac-12 defenders to earn the award twice on the season (joined by Stanford Solomon Thomas) … he played in 776 snaps on defense, ranking second on the team.
Senior CB Ahkello Witherspoon – Second-Team All-Pac-12: Led the nation in pass breakups with 21 on the year, which are the second most in CU single-season history (trailing only Ben Kelly’s 22 recorded in 1998) … also ranked second in the nation in total passes defended with 22, trailing only teammate Tedric Thompson (24) … his lone interception on the year was one of CU’s biggest plays of the season, as his pick in the end zone at Oregon when the Ducks had the ball inside the Buffalo 10-yard line with under a minute to play sealed CU’s 41-38 victory to open Pac-12 play … was credited with a pass breakup in 11-of-12 games on the season, including seven games with multiple pass breakups (high of four versus Utah in regular season finale) … finished the year with 24 tackles and nine third-down stops … played in 719 snaps on defense.
Junior WR Bryce Bobo – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Ranked third on the team in receiving yards with 523 and was fourth in receptions with 41 … had two touchdowns on the year, including a game-winning, body-twisting, one-handed 31-yard touchdown catch that lifted the Buffaloes to a 41-38 win at Oregon and landed him with the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 that night (one of two Top 10 plays he was featured with on SportsCenter during the year – the other for a one-handed 46-yard reception against Colorado State) … had a career-high 10 receptions against USC that went for 83 yards and one touchdown and he also threw a 67-yard touchdown pass against the Trojans … caught six passes for a career-high 110 yards in a win over Arizona State.
Senior DE Jordan Carrell – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Played a big role in helping CU’s defense lead the conference by allowing just 323.8 yards per game, a mark that ranked No. 13 in the country … his 625 snaps played on defense were the most of any Buffalo defensive lineman, and his 46 tackles tied for the most by a CU defensive lineman … he had 5½ sacks on the season, ranking second on the team and in a tie for ninth in the Pac-12 … was also credited with 12 quarterback pressures on the season and four third-down stops.
Junior WR Shay Fields – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Led Colorado in receiving yards with 819 and was second in receptions with 50 … he ranked fourth in the conference in receiving yards and fifth in touchdown receptions with nine … his four receptions of over 50 yards on the year tied for the 14th most of any FBS player … he had two 100-yard receiving games on the season with a high of 169 yards on seven catches with three TDs in a win over Oregon State … all three of his touchdown receptions against the Beavers came in the first half, setting a new CU record for TD receptions in a half while tying the school record for most TD receptions in a game … he also had two TD catches in the win at Arizona, when he went for 108 yards receiving on six catches.
Senior C Alex Kelley – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Played in 842 snaps for the Buffs at center on the year … was credited with 13 touchdown blocks (direct), 14 perfect plays on passing touchdowns and nine knockdown blocks … helped the Buffalo offense average 469.9 yards per game, which ranks as the fifth-highest average in CU history (the highest average since 1995) … Colorado produced six games totaling over 500 yards of offense, tying the most in a season in school history behind the Buffalo offensive line … he scored the first TD by a Buffalo offensive lineman since Oct. 28, 1995 (when OG Heath Irwin recovered a fumble in the end zone in a 44-21 loss to Nebraska) when he pounced on a fumble in the end zone on CU’s first drive of the season … he became the first offensive lineman in CU history to score the team’s first points of the year (127 seasons) … saw his streak of 26 consecutive starts snapped in week two when he missed the Idaho State contest due to injury, but he started every other game on the year.
Junior RG Gerrad Kough – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Played in 669 snaps on the year … was credited with 10 touchdown blocks (direct), 10 perfect plays on passing touchdowns and eight knockdown blocks … on Oct. 15 vs. Arizona State when he played in all 84 offensive snaps, he and his fellow offensive line helped the Buffaloes rush for 315 yards as a team and running back Phillip Lindsay had 219 yards of those – the first 200-yard rushing game by a Colorado TB since Nov. 9, 2002 … helped the Buffalo offense average 469.9 yards per game, which ranks as the fifth-highest average in CU history (the highest average since 1995) … Colorado produced six games totaling over 500 yards of offense, tying the most in a season in school history behind the Buffalo offensive line.
Senior QB Sefo Liufau – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: CU did not lose a game he finished on the season … was the only Pac-12 offensive player to earn conference player of the week accolades twice during the season, doing so for his performances in the Colorado State and Washington State victories … is one of five finalists for the Polynesian Player of the Year award … became just the second player in CU history to throw for over 300 yards in a game while also rushing for 100, doing so in the win over Washington State when he threw for 345 yards and rushed for a career-high 108 yards with three TDs on the ground, also a personal-best … ranked 21st in the FBS and fourth in the Pac-12 with a completion percentage of .646 on the year … threw for 2,150 yards with 11 touchdowns against just three interceptions … he did not throw his first interception of the season until game No. 9 against UCLA on Nov. 3 and was the last starting QB in the country who had not thrown an interception that late into the season … was CU’s second-leading rusher on the year with 483 yards and he scored seven touchdowns on the ground … owns 87 school records.
Senior ILB Kenneth Olugbode – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Ranked second in the Pac-12 in tackles with 116 on the year (by CU’s count, which tracks defensive statistics by coaches film) … that figure tied for the 16th most tackles in the country on the season … his three fumble recoveries tied for second in the conference and he returned one of those fumbles 10 yards for a touchdown in the regular season finale against Utah – his TD providing the winning points in CU’s 27-22 victory … recorded six games with 10 or more tackles, including three-straight from Sept. 17-Oct. 1 … he became the first Buffalo since Derek Webb in 2013 to record double-digit tackles in three-straight games … he picked off two passes on the year, first at USC and again vs. UCLA, the latter of which he returned 51 yards … became the first CU linebacker to have two interceptions in a season since Shaun Mohler had two in 2008 … his 779 snaps played on defense led all Buffalo defenders … with 285 career tackles he ranks 19th in CU history.
Junior WR Devin Ross – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: Led Colorado in receptions with 65 on the year, which ranked as the fourth-most in the conference … he had 758 yards receiving and five touchdowns on the season, all coming in the first four weeks to start the year, becoming the second Buffalo in the last three years to open a season with a TD catch in each of the first four games of a season (joining Nelson Spruce in 2014) … had a pair of 100-yard receiving games, first with a career-high 153 yards at Oregon and later with 121 yards against Washington State … his nine receptions in the win over Utah was a season-high and matched his career-high … he caught six or more passes in seven games – the most of any player on the team.
Senior NT Josh Tupou – Honorable Mention All-Pac-12: An all-important piece to CU’s outstanding defensive season, he played in 460 snaps at nose tackle with 46 tackles, 1½ sacks and two other separate tackles behind the line of scrimmage … key component in CU’s defense that led the league by allowing just 323.8 yards per game, a mark that ranked No. 13 in the country … had a season-high seven tackles in the late September win at Oregon to begin Pac-12 play … was credited with eight quarterback pressures on the season.