Colorado has weapons: Trailing 31-20 on the road, the Buffs showed a little bit of fight in coming back and winning 41-38 over UMass. We're not calling them a bowl team (because they probably won’t be), but the offensive numbers from Sefo Liufau -- 26-of-42 for 318 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) -- were encouraging. Nelson Spruce’s performance of 10 catches for 145 yards and two scores was nice to see, as were rushing touchdowns from Christian Powell and Tony Jones.
"I've said that all along, he's just really good," CU coach Mike MacIntyre said of Spruce, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior who caught 55 passes as a sophomore.
"He catches everything, he competes, he understands how to play. If he gets on top of the (defensive back) the DB's not going to get back on top - like a good race car driver; get on top and they can't get by you, they finish, and that's what he does."
"I thought we played extremely hard and we fit the run a lot, lot better this game, which was good for us," he said. "In the second half, except for the penalty-ridden drive, we pretty much dominated. If you look at all the stats and look at everything they did."
That said, there were some bright spots for the Buffaloes. They showed great resiliency in scoring 21 straight points in the third and fourth quarters to grab ahold of the lead after losing it. "It’s definitely easy to panic and give up. I’m really proud of the team for showing some heart and fighting," sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau said about being down 31-20 in the third quarter.
Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado: The Pac-12 blog thought Sefo Liufau had a strong game. And Spruce was a big reason he did. Spruce hauled in 10 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yarder that put Colorado ahead of UMass on its way to a 41-38 win.
Sefo Liufau is the perfect quarterback for this offense. Though it was against a team that is only in its third season as an FBS member, the Buffs' offense put up 474 yards on 89 plays, averaging over five yards a play.
"We started getting to the second level better," coach Mike MacIntyre said. "That's where we were able to spurt some of those and squeeze through there. Their second level from the backside was getting there and we started double teaming better and chipping him, getting a piece of that guy and we had a better seam."
One more bad quarter against UMass, and CU's defense would officially have become known as one of the nation's worst statistically. Instead, the Buffs are now 1-1 in this young season and can thank a defense that played a strong final 25 minutes in their 41-38 win over the Minutemen at Gillette Stadium.
Massachusetts had 14 possessions in Saturday's game and while not all of them followed kickoffs, the Buffs' inability to consistently cover kickoffs well contributed to the Minutemen having an average starting field position of their 36-yard line. UMass averaged 23 yards per kickoff return in the game, which isn't a bad number, but the Buffs allowed returns of 43 and 34 yards and then twice gave the Minutemen the ball near midfield when squib kicks didn't work as planned.
There were six lead changes in Colorado's 41-38 win over UMass. The Buffs eventually distanced themselves from the Minutemen with 21 unanswered points, but they also had to overcome an incredible 12 penalties for 124 yards. An impressive road performance by Sefo Liufau (318 yards, three touchdowns) and big games by Nelson Spruce and Shay Fields did the job.
Out of the cellar. A road win against an FBS team will do that. The Buffs showed a little bit of grit in overcoming an 11-point deficit in the third quarter en route to a 41-38 win over UMass. The Sefo Liufau-to-Nelson Spruce connection looked pretty, and there are plenty of signs to be encouraged. But also a lot of room for improvement (i.e., kickoff coverage).
Despite a developing special teams and MacIntyre’s belief that "we left about 17 more points out there that could have been good plays," he knows that a win is a win and is confident that Saturday’s win over UMass was chock-full of "big, big turning moments."
It should be a strong test of the Sun Devils' passing game. Keep in mind the opponents, but no one receiver has tallied more than five receptions for 83 yards against this group so far this season. Watch to see if these corners have success early against Kelly, because if the tempo gets disrupted the Sun Devils struggle to find the end zone. The run game might prove to be crucial and the maroon and gold could have to lean on D.J. Foster again Saturday.
"In recent weeks I’ve been feeling like I can do all the things I need to do," Dinwiddie said recently. "I feel good. I feel like I can do a lot. "Like I said, there’s no timetable as far as when I’m officially going to play. I would say in the last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling really, really good."