To make Saturday’s 45-28 loss to the University of Michigan Wolverines even harder to swallow, it’s now confirmed that junior outside linebacker Derek McCartney will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
McCartney said that the injury happened in the middle of the second quarter.
“I just kind of landed funny and my knee buckled on me,” McCartney said. “It’s unfortunate for sure. I didn’t go back in because it didn’t feel right. It was really disappointing, but at the time I was just focused on the game and that my teammates were ready to go. Looking at it now, it’s just tough, but it’s part of the game.”
The loss of McCartney leaves a marked hole in Colorado’s defense that will be hard to fill.
“Derek is our biggest, strongest outside linebacker,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said after practice Monday. “[He’s a] good player for us and a great leader.”
The Buffs will likely turn to sophomore outside linebacker N.J. Falo or junior Christian Shaver.
Falo was suspended from the team along with freshman tailback Dino Gordon near the end of last spring semester. They were arrested and booked in the Boulder County jail April 28 on suspicion of burglary and theft.
Shaver started at outside linebacker last week against Idaho State and saw action in 13 games on special teams last season. Falo played in eight games in 2015 and was reinstated on the roster before the start of fall camp.
“N.J. will be back,” MacIntyre said. “He was out practicing today. He’s been practicing on the scout teams.”
In addition to McCartney, senior kicker Diego Gonzalez tore his Achilles tendon — in his kicking foot — while pursuing Michigan’s elusive specialist Jabrill Peppers on a kickoff.
“It’s really disappointing,” MacIntyre said. “The next guy’s got to step up and go. [With] Diego, you all have seen what he’s been doing, so we’ll have a kicking contest all week to see who’s going to kick field goals, extra points and kickoffs.”
The “kicking competition” will be between backup kickers Chris Graham and Davis Price.
Graham, a junior from Burlingame, California, is not intimidated by his potential new responsibilities.
“Last year, [before Gonzalez was named the starter], we always handled every kick like a competition,” he said. “We never let each other feel complacent. We always want to one-up each other.”
As for senior quarterback Sefo Liufau, who sustained a sprained ankle during the game at Michigan, MacIntyre has listed him as day-to-day.
“He was moving around better today than he was yesterday,” MacIntyre said. “It’ll just be kind of day-to-day as the week moves along. He didn’t practice [today]. If he’s moving good enough to play, we’ll play him. If he’s not moving good enough to play then we won’t play him.”
Despite the injury woes, this week of practice remains focused on the next game for the Buffs, who will fly to Eugene, Oregon, to play the Ducks in their Pac-12 Conference opener this Saturday.
“Every Monday, win or lose, we come back and prepare as hard as we can for the next game,” MacIntyre said. “[The matchup against Oregon will] be exciting — it’s our first Pac-12 game and, of course, they’re a great team.”
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.