During the first quarter of Saturday's 38-24 win against Central Arkansas, Colorado cornerback Kenneth Crawley was beaten by UCA receiver Courtney Whitehead.
Quarterback Wynrick Smothers threw a pass to Whitehead, who bobbled the ball and nearly hauled it in before Crawley chased him down, pushed him and knocked the ball loose.
"In the past, when I first got here, nothing against anybody else, Kenneth would have stopped," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "That's a big deal and we pointed it out as a big deal. If he wouldn't have pushed the guy, the guy would have caught a touchdown on him."
Instead, it was an incomplete pass on fourth down. That play was one of many examples throughout the first two weeks that Crawley, a true sophomore, has made great strides during the past year.
"I'm a lot more comfortable," he said. "It seems like the game has slowed down to me. I know what's coming and I've been doing a lot of film study."
Highly regarded coming out of high school, Crawley was thrust into a starting role last season. He started 10 of CU's 12 games and, like many of his fellow defensive backs, struggled throughout a tough season.
Although tougher tests are coming, Crawley is off to a better start this season. He has played all 148 defensive snaps, while recording two pass breakups, two third-down stops and three touchdown saves.
The 6-foot-1 Crawley did give up a touchdown against UCA -- "It was a blown assignment," he said -- but he also recorded his first career interception late in the game to prevent another score.
Crawley said his experience on the field, coupled with his comfort level with CU's new defensive scheme, have allowed him to enjoy some early success.
"We've got the scheme down, so it allows us to go out there and fly around at a fast face and just have fun," he said. "We've got new coaches that are going to put us in the right position to make plays."