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By: CUBuffs.com
Senior tailback Brian Lockridge hopes to finish his career on defense.
Brooks: 'B-Lock' Will Take A Run At Cornerback
Release: September 28, 2011
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER - Brian Lockridge crunched the numbers and came up with these: nine and eight. The first figure represents the weeks remaining in his college football career, the second is the number of Colorado defensive backs injured since August.

And "B-Lock" probably factored in these stats: Zero carries through four games this season at tailback and just four kickoff returns for 51 yards - although that last entry may increase.

On Tuesday morning, Lockridge approached offensive coordinator/running backs coach Eric Bieniemy and defensive coordinator/secondary coach Greg Brown about a position switch. On Tuesday afternoon, for the first time in his football career, Lockridge was playing defense.

Brown has nearly run out of bodies. Lockridge, a fleet 5-7, 180-pounder, is offering his.

"I wanted to contribute; the last couple of weeks I've been on the sideline doing nothing - and that included the special teams," Lockridge said. "I just brought it to their (the coaches') attention - if you guys can use me, I'm a senior with nine weeks left. If I can do anything to contribute to the team, that would be great."

Lockridge's first day on defense probably was what he and his coaches expected: "Horrible technique," he said. "But my recovery speed helped me out."

And his learning speed, he believes, also will help absorb Brown's schemes before CU opens its Pac-12 Conference schedule on Saturday against Washington State (1:30 p.m., Folsom Field, FCS Pacific).

"Realistically it is (a lot to learn)," Lockridge admitted. "But I can do it. I have one class, so I can spend the majority of the day with the coaches and studying. Before Friday, I guarantee you I'll have it down."

He'll also have to remember Bieniemy's offense; if the Buffs need a fourth tailback it might be "B-Lock." He'll keep his current number (20) if he plays offense, but change to No. 10 if he's used on defense. (Starting freshman cornerback Greg Henderson has worn No. 20 for the first four games.)

It's only been a day and a half, but Lockridge calls the move "a good change-up for me. When I get the technique down it'll help. And communicating with our safeties (Anthony Perkins, Ray Polk) will help me out a lot. Other than that, it's just playing ball and being active. I'm having fun."

Lockridge arrived in the CU football offices early on Wednesday morning, meeting again with Brown. Head coach Jon Embree admitted the switch to defense wouldn't be easy at this point, but added, "He runs well . . . you just have to limit the things you have him do and go with it. I didn't watch him too much (Tuesday); I was watching what was going on up front rather than the back end. I'll know more (Wednesday)."

Lockridge, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., played in only five games in 2010 before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery that also kept him out of spring drills. Prior to his surgery he had carried 35 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. Included in those numbers was his first 100-yard rushing game - a 14-carry, 109-yard performance against Hawai'i.

Embree didn't discount Lockridge seeing duty at tailback as the season progressed, but said, "I think right now he just wants to play right now and contribute. He understands the situation over there (in the secondary) right now and wants to be a team guy and help."

Although he was utilized there in the opener, Lockridge had returned just those four kickoffs this season, which appeared to be his niche during his first three years. He entered 2011 in fifth place among CU's career kickoff return leaders, averaging 23.3 yards on 30 returns, including a 98-yard scoring return in 2009.

Embree didn't rule out Lockridge being used again on kickoff returns, an area that finds the Buffs ranked last nationally at 13.8 yards a return. "He's still back there; we're going to look at another couple of guys, too," Embree said. "We're just trying to see who can do it."

Lockridge was honored earlier this month as one of 22 student-athletes named to the 2011 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. He routinely devotes time to playing the piano at Boulder Community Hospital and other community service projects.

The secondary's run of injuries began early. CU lost freshmen Sherrard Harrington and Jered Bell to injuries in August, then lost senior Travis Sandersfeld (fractured fibula, Week 2) and sophomore Parker Orms (leg, Week 4). Sandersfeld could be another couple of weeks away from returning, while Orms is listed as day-to-day.

Earlier injuries were suffered by seniors Arthur Jaffee (knee) and Vince Ewing (knee). Jaffee is questionable this week, while Ewing could miss another two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 8. Also, sophomore Paul Vigo is sidelined with a pulled hamstring.

Lockridge is the second offensive player to switch sides in recent weeks. Senior receiver Jason Espinoza also moved to cornerback, but unlike Lockridge, Espinoza has played in the secondary (safety).

"We are what we are," Brown said.

Nonetheless, his defense leads the Pac-12 in two categories - pass defense (183.5 yards a game) and quarterback sacks (14).

WSU STANDS TALL ON THE STAT SHEET: Whatever lineup Brown patches together for the Cougars will face a dynamic offense. WSU leads the Pac-12 in passing offense (380.0 yards a game) and in total offense (539.7) and is in the top six nationally in both categories (No. 4 passing, No. 6 total offense). Plus, the Cougars are second in the conference in scoring offense and No. 5 nationally (49.0 points a game).

"They are tough to contend with; they've got speed, size and ability and outstanding schemes," Brown said. Look at their rankings; that speaks for itself . . . that's pretty good; let me amend that, it's real good. Yeah, that's lights out good. It's a group that can score a lot of points in a hurry."

WSU quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, a senior who stepped in when junior starter Jeff Tuel suffered a broken left clavicle in the season-opening romp (64-21) over Idaho State, is rated the conference's No. 2 passer (319.7 yards a game) but is No. 1 in passing efficiency (180.2 rating) with 10 touchdowns against two interceptions.

"It's right there on film; he's pretty good," Brown said.

 The Cougars outscored their first two opponents (Idaho State, UNLV) by a combined 123-28 before being losing badly at San Diego State 42-24. WSU was off last weekend.

Critics have said the Cougars' impressive offensive numbers were inflated by two games against inferior opponents. "You can certainly say that, but they've done it," Brown argues. "They've still put the numbers up, believe me. A lot of teams - no matter who you're playing - with they had those statistics. You could be (competing against) air and be happy with those. The perception among some people is Washington State has been in the basement forever (in the Pac-10). But they've got guys, believe me. We played them last year (at Arizona), believe me, they've got guys."

WSU's trio of starting receivers stands 6-4, 6-4 and 6-1, with 6-4 sophomore Marquess Wilson averaging a national-best 143 yards receiving. He's caught four TD passes.

'J-MO' EAGER FOR HIS CHANCE: Redshirt freshman Josh Moten arrived at CU hoping to get a chance to play quarterback - his position at Narbonne High School in Carson, Calif. But he immediately went to defense and now could find himself getting significant time Saturday against WSU.

"He's another young guy who's trying to get it all figured out and put the pieces together and see how it all fits," Brown said. "He hasn't played much, but he's getting a chance this week in practice."

Moten, an athletic 6-0, 195 pounder, said his main objective this week "is just playing fundamental football at 100 miles an hour - mistake-free. If I can eliminate the mistakes I'll be in coach's good graces."

If there was disappointment at not being given a look at quarterback by the former coaching staff, it passed quickly. "I have no regrets about that - none at all," he said. "I love this position. I love the guys around, love the DB corps, love 'Coach Brownie' - he's a guru on the defensive side. I'm starting to get comfortable with the position - no regrets at all.

"Once I get the playbook down inside and out, I'll be there as a corner. My athleticism will take over from there."

Perkins, CU's senior safety, said he'll be comfortable with whoever lines up at corner this week: "Everybody was recruited here for a reason. Whether you're a freshman, a senior, everybody's gone through two-a-days, everybody's practiced and been in meetings. The guys who are going to step in, I'm fully confident that they'll be ready to compete. It's their time to shine now and I think they're going to do a great job with that."

UMM, THESE DOCS AND COACHES LOOK FAMILIAR: In the Irony Folder, file this: WSU's team physician, Ed Tingstad, is a former Cougars player and a former teammate of head coach Paul Wulff at the school. The same setup exists at CU, where Eric McCarty is the team doc and a former teammate of Embree's.

Might be the only two FBS schools with that situation, and further enhancing the irony is McCarty playing against both Tingstad and Wulff when WSU visited Folsom Field in 1987 (a 26-17 CU win). Embree's last season was 1986.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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