I’m going to be honest, if you watched the Colorado Buffaloes take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, you shouldn’t be reading a recap about the game because you have been through enough for one day. If you didn’t watch, please close the tab and enjoy the rest of your Saturday.
1st Quarter — Colorado 0, Minnesota 0
If you thought last week’s performance was more about Texas A&M’s defense than it was about Colorado’s offense, whoo boy. From the very first play of the game — an off-target snap from freshman Noah Fenske that Brendon Lewis couldn’t handle — the Buffs started moving backwards.
The CU coaches tried to get Lewis in an early rhythm with first down throws, but he didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and wouldn’t release the ball quickly, even with open receivers crossing the field. Almost every drive, Darrin Chiaverini followed that incomplete pass with a 2nd down run call, none of which were successful, before facing a 3rd-and-long with a rattled QB. The Buffs thrice went three-and-out, netting zero yards of offense in the quarter.
The bright side was that the Gophers were kept off the scoreboard. It got dicey when they made it all the way to the CU 5-yard-line, but Guy Thomas disrupted the drive before Matthew Trickett missed a 24-yard field goal attempt.
2nd Quarter — Colorado 0, Minnesota 13
Minnesota created the first big play of the day, a 32-yard pass from Tanner Morgan to Chris Autman-Bell to set up a 13-yard touchdown run for Treyson Potts. The Colorado secondary was really good in this game, but still, Morgan is a very good quarterback and made them pay with some quality throws.
Jarek Broussard, playing through a minor injury, saw his first action and immediately made his impact on the Colorado offense, gaining 8 yards (!) to set up a first down (!!) two plays later. The Buffs did nothing with that, however, and lost 12 yards on 3rd-and-10, pulling the offense to -1 yards of total offense in the game.
Morgan again created a big play for Minnesota as he connected with Dylan Wright for a 39-yard gain. Colorado looked like they were going to force another field goal attempt — with Trickett having missed a 24-yarder and an extra point attempt — but the Gophers made a smart 3rd-down audible that set up a 2-yard touchdown run for Potts.
Neither team scored the rest of the half, although Minnesota got deep into Colorado territory before running out of time after some strange clock issues. Maybe that was some hometown scoreboard operating, but it shouldn’t make a difference with the Buffs totaling seven (7) yards of offense in the first half. Let’s repeat that — 7 YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE. Counting the second half last week and this first half, that’s 38 yards in the last 60 minutes.
We spent all week criticizing Chiv and that was an issue again today. The Buffs’ play-calling was laughably predictable — 1st down quick throw (unsuccessful), 2nd-and-10 run up the middle (unsuccessful), 3rd-and-long pass (unsuccessful) — but that wasn’t the only thing broken.
Lewis was absolutely lost. He either didn’t see open receivers or he stared them down on what should have been quick throws. More often, he couldn’t pull the trigger, then ran either backwards to get sacked, or to the right for a throw-away. It’s clear that he isn’t ready to start and there is no discernible infrastructure around him. We’re close to an irreparable shattering of confidence from an electric prospect.
3rd Quarter — Colorado 0, Minnesota 20
After a miserable first half, the third quarter offered some comic relief with a pair of puzzling coaching decisions, one from each sideline:
1. Minnesota drove the ball into Colorado territory, but were stopped to set up a 4th-and-3 from the CU 28-yard-line. The Gophers were getting a ton of push on the line of scrimmage, but opted to kick a 46-yard field goal, despite their kicker having missed a 24-yarder and an extra point earlier in the game. Minnesota was leading by 13 points, so even if they made the field goal, it would still be a two-possession game. Trickett missed the kick and it wasn’t particularly close.
2. The Buffs took over in great field position and picked up a quick first down. The drive fizzled out immediately — welcome to the 2021 Buffs — but they still had a manageable 4th-and-1 from their own 48-yard-line, a yard marker they had only crossed once all game. Colorado needed something positive, but Karl Dorrell opted to punt the ball. He turtled when aggressive play-calling was required. The Buffs didn’t get that far again until garbage time.
On a less fun note, Brendan Rice fumbled the ball inside Buffs territory and the Gophers turned that into another Potts touchdown run to make it a 20-0 game. That was Rice’s fourth touch of the season, signaling again the offense’s inability to get the ball into their best players’ hands. Not that Rice did anything positive with the ball, but the futility is all-encompassing.
4th Quarter — Minnesota 30, Colorado 0
The Buffs gained -2 yards before punting again, giving them a grand total of 28 yards of offense before the coaches pulled Lewis from the game. It’s hard to say what is best for his development. At what point does lost confidence outweigh experience gained? If this offense is indeed irreparable, do you sacrifice true freshman Drew Carter to preserve Lewis?
It would have been nice to see what Carter could do against an honest defense, but his two drives were in garbage time with the Minnesota defense going easy. Still, he showed some athleticism and threw a 12-yard dart to Chase Penry on what was the longest play of the day. (Yes, that is a brutal sentence to type.) The good news was that he was fine after this scary play, which would better sum up the CU offense if he had ran backwards 10 yards before flipping over the wall.
Colorado finished the day with 63 total yards. Combined with last week’s second half futility, they now have 94 yards of offense in the last 90 minutes of game time, and have not scored in the last 107 minutes.
After the game, Dorrell mentioned that the offense needs a “clean slate” moving forward. Maybe that’s a switch at quarterback, but it won’t make a difference unless there’s a structural change to give the offense some cohesion moving forward.