Nothing of note occurred in Pullman Friday night. If you are unaware of what happened to the Buffs on the Palouse last night, I’d recommend that you keep it that way and go enjoy your weekend.
It’s not like Colorado got absolutely crushed in a 42-point loss to Wazzu, right? That doesn’t even sound like a realistic possibility, as the Cougs were 4-6 before the night and on a six game losing streak. There’s just no way they’d curb stomp the Buffs and put 42 points up in the first half, right?
Welp, here we are. The final score Friday night was 56-14 in favor of Washington State. This was easily the worst performance we’ve seen out of the Buffs this season. It was so bad that Cougars edge rusher Brennan Jackson scored as many touchdowns as Colorado did during the game, with two a piece. The Buffs got cooked in all facets on the game and there’s no way around it.
The offense looked awful last night, but it’s really hard to look good when your star quarterback goes down early in the game. After taking a monumental beating behind center this season, injuries finally got the best of Shedeur Sanders on Friday. After getting drilled on a monster blind-side sack in the first quarter, Shedeur suffered an injury to his right arm.
After throwing on the sideline, it was evident Shedeur was uncomfortable when gripping the ball. Colorado’s starting QB returned to the game despite the pain in his arm. That decision proved to be costly, as Shedeur took another bad sack that injured his ankle this time.
“When they knocked Shedeur out of the game, it was tough from then on,” Deion Sanders said postgame. “He had numbness in his hand. He got hit in the forearm and he couldn’t really grip the ball, he couldn’t really feel the ball. The second time he got injured, he had an early snap and they rolled up his ankle, that was it. Couldn’t grip the ball and his ankle, so we took him out of the game.”
Without Shedeur, Colorado’s offense looked clueless. Colorado two backup QBs, who of both got significant playing time in Pullman, finished the game with a combined QBR of 6.8. Ryan Staub and Gavin Kuld struggle to throw or run and they had turnover issues. It was just a mess.
The most costly mistakes were a pair of strip-sack fumbles that were both returned for touchdowns by Jackson. Another bad turnover may have been the highlight of the game. Kuld threw a pass that was deflected at the line of scrimmage, caught the ball, and then tried to throw it again... right into the hands of Wazzu’s Taariq Al-Uqdah. That was an illegal forward pass that was only allowed because he threw the interception, so kudos to Kuld for doing something that none of us have ever seen before.
Colorado’s defense wasn’t much better than the offense unfortunately. The Buffs just couldn’t stop Washington quarterback Cam Ward. Ward torched Colorado’s secondary with some perfectly placed passed and his impressive arm-strength. Ward attacked Colorado cornerback Cormani McClain all game long and it unfortunately worked great for the Cougs. Coach Prime said that Washington State probably saw some inefficiencies in Cormani’s game, but he’s growing as a player and learning.
“Sometimes the young kids don’t understand that what you put on firm is indicative to what a coach is going to attack the following week,” said Coach Prime. “They’ve probably seen some inefficiencies on film and they went at it, but [Cormani] has to be ready to stand up. He didn’t give up, he fought to the end and I’m proud of him. He’s certainly growing... He just needs time.”
It was just a tough night for Colorado in every way possible. The Buffs just didn’t look right in Pullman on Friday. Whether it was Shedeur’s injury sapping their energy or another unknown reason, something made the team decide to lie down and give up. Players who were in the game looked checked out on certain plays and you could tell the usual effort that CU gives just wasn’t there. Deion wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in the first half either, but praised his team for their effort in the second half.
“I’m very saddened by how we played,” Sanders said. “We practiced hard this past week. We prepared like no other and to go and play a performance like that, it is not indicative of who we are, what we are, how we are. There were some plays in the first half that I didn’t see the passion I wanted to see, but we came and got on them a little bit at halftime and they got there and they fought. I do applaud them for fighting in the second half.”
With this loss, Colorado is officially not going to reach bowl eligibility. This Buffs team just can’t seem to get right after the second half of the Stanford game and likely won’t until 2024. Now, Coach Prime and his team have to go and play 22nd ranked Utah in Salt Lake City next Saturday. Colorado probably won’t win this game, but weirder things have happened (like nearly throwing a pick two times on the same play). The Buffs’ record now falls to 4-7, as they look to pull off a miracle next weekend against the Utes.