The defending Pac-12 South champion Colorado Buffaloes fell to 4-4 (1-4 in Pac-12) following a 28-0 loss to Washington State Saturday night. It marked the first time the Buffs had been shut out since a 48-0 loss to Stanford on November 3, 2012.
Despite the best efforts of Phillip Lindsay — whose 98 rushing yards put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season — the Buffaloes were shutout for the first time in five years. Sophomore Steven Montez was 4-of-13 for 21 yards before redshirt freshman Sam Noyer replaced him in the second half. Noyer wasn’t much better, finishing 7-of-18 for 53 yards. Offensive line issues continue to plague the Buffs. Three more sacks allowed brings this year’s total to 23 in just eight games. Colorado was 1-of 17 on third downs (2-6 on fourth down) against Washington State. To put that in perspective, Kansas managed just 21 yards of offense in a 43-0 loss to TCU and still converted more third downs (2-of-15) than Colorado. Per this very telling stat from BuffZone.com writer Brian Howell, the Buffs couldn’t muster much of anything despite running quite a few plays in Washington State territory.
Perhaps the most amazing stat from last night: Colorado ran 34 of its 74 plays in Washington State territory and failed to score. Gained a total of 46 yards on those 34 plays. #cubuffs Second-most amazing stat might be CU going 1-for-17 on third downs.— Brian Howell (@BrianHowell33) October 22, 2017
Last week, California put a lot of pressure on Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, sacking him nine times and forcing five interceptions. Falk (17-34, 197 yards, 3 TD vs. Colorado) had a lot of time to throw against the Buffs. Colorado’s front seven managed only two sacks — their first since the UCLA game — and three quarterback hurries in the 28-0 loss. The Buffs defense also gave up 194 yards on the ground to the Cougars, a team that entered the game averaging 74.1 rush yards per contest, DEAD LAST in the nation. The secondary played very well despite losing top cornerback Isaiah Oliver to an injury in the second quarter. Evan Worthington, Dante Wigley and Trey Udoffia — who replaced Oliver — combined for 11 total tackles, 5 pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Alex Kinney averaged 40.6 yards per punt (10 punts for 406 yards). George Frazier recovered a fumble by Cougars punt returner Marcus Strong in the third quarter, giving the Buffs the ball as Washington State’s 25-yard line.
Defensively the Buffs needed to pressure on Falk. They didn’t. D.J. Eliot’s defense has 12 sacks through eight games. Last season the Buffs had a total of 36. Sure, outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert and his 11 sacks are gone. But something else is missing. The cornerback blitz that Chidobe Awuzie worked to perfection.
Awuzie recorded eight sacks and 17 quarterback hurries during his junior and senior seasons. Like Gilbert, Awuzie is gone too, but nonetheless Colorado needs to find a way to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Maybe implementing more cornerback blitzes can help.
Pulling Montez in favor of Noyer was probably the right call, but it really had no impact Saturday night. It’ll be interesting to see who starts under center for Saturday’s homecoming matchup against California.
What Mike MacIntyre told the team after the loss to Washington State sums it up perfectly. “I told them they had 45 minutes to get on the bus and were going to get for on Cal, that’s exactly what I told them.” Time to put this one behind us. Were it not for the efforts of Lindsay and the #MoneyGang this grade would be a lot worse. The poor play of the offensive and defensive line has the defending Pac-12 South champions fighting to become bowl eligible this season.
NEXT UP: October 28 vs. California (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) – 12:00 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks
The Golden Bears are coming off a heartbreaking 45-44 double-overtime loss to Arizona. ESPN’s Football Power index gives the Buffaloes a 56.4 percent chance to win this homecoming matchup.