Note: This content was originally published by the CU Independent Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo Last week, Sports Illustrated did a Pac-12 Conference preview for the upcoming football season. Take a wild guess and pick the team in the Pac-12 South that was barely mentioned and was projected to go 3-9. You most likely didn’t have to think too hard on that one, but to put minds at ease for those of you struggling to find an answer, it was the Colorado Buffaloes. What a surprise. Another football season brings out the legions of naysayers, who look at the Buffs’ 2016 schedule (which is no cakewalk) and precedent, also known as the last decade of football at CU. But once we forcibly block the last decade of results out of our minds, it is possible to look at the 2016 Buffaloes roster and proclaim that this squad has the potential to gain the program some long awaited traction in the college football world. Look no further than the defensive backs. The Buffs’ secondary this season is among the most experienced positions on both the offense and defense. This season is going to determine if the Buffs’ secondary can build upon the success it enjoyed in 2015. Let’s hit the brakes for a moment. Last year, the team finished 4-9, making it hard to commend individuals or positions. That being said, the Buffaloes’ defensive backs played well last year. Four of the top ten tackles leaders last season were defensive backs, and only Ken Crawley (who by the way has been looking good at the New Orleans Saints summer practices) will not return this season. As for the other three, seniors Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson, as well as junior Ryan Moeller, their experience and camaraderie is something that many are overlooking. “They’ve been in the system for another year,” said assistant/safeties coach Joe Tumpkin. “They had last year’s fall camp and spring on top of this year’s so I think they have a better understanding of what we’re doing and are really able to sharpen up their tools.” More important than their practice/camp experience is their game experience. Last season, Awuzie and Thompson were first and second on the team in total snaps played. Awuzie was in for 897 and Thompson was right behind him with 882 total snaps played. In addition, last year, the defense recorded 14 interceptions, nine of which were by returning defensive backs. It was the highest interception total since the 2006 Buffaloes (the most recent football squad that didn’t have a losing record) recorded 15. If there’s one thing that has gone nowhere but up since head coach Mike MacIntyre took over the program in 2013, it’s depth. The depth chart at the defensive back position looks particularly good. Junior Afolabi Laguda and senior Ahkello Witherspoon both saw extended action last season. Laguda played in 12 games and Witherspoon saw action in 13. Between them, they saw over 750 snaps in 2015. Freshman Johnny Huntley III and sophomore Nick Fisher could get the call to fill in at DB in the event of injuries to the starters. It is worth noting that in recent years, inexperienced second or third stringers were Plan B if injuries sidelined a starter. That is beginning to change. But no matter how experienced, talented or driven this team, and for that matter, any team is, winning football games requires making the most of each play. “At the end of the day, it still comes down to execution,” Tumpkin said. “I really don’t think about being the underdog or being favored, because when you cross those white lines, you still have to make plays and execute.” The Buffs will get their first chance to prove they can execute in their season opener against Colorado State on Friday, Sept. 2. Kickoff is at 6:05pm MST at Sports Authority Field in Denver.