1. Shedeur Sanders is the best CU QB since Kordell Stewart
The Colorado QB might have had the single best debut in school history. He put up a school-record 510 yards and 4 touchdowns, completed 38/47 passes, extended plays with his legs, dropped dimes when he needed to most, and ultimately led CU to their most important victory since the 2016 win over Utah. He is so composed, so polished and so focused, it’s ridiculous. Words cannot do justice just how good he was.
It also cannot be overstated how important it is to have such a dynamic and capable quarterback. The Buffs haven’t had a truly good quarterback since Joel Klatt’s senior year — Sefo was the heart of the 2016 team but was banged up all year, Montez was elite on his day but frustratingly inconsistent. With Shedeur, the Buffs can trust him to not only make the right read to keep everything on schedule, but he can also make those next-level throws when they’re needed most. Did you see his throw over the middle to Jimmy Horn, Jr. on 3rd-and-long, or his pass Xavier Weaver on that 4th quarter fly route, or the 3rd-and-16 pass to Travis Hunter? Oh you have? Go watch it again.
2. Travis Hunter is Him
As Jason Kirk pointed out on Twitter, all the offseason noise kind of overshadowed that Deion Sanders brought with him a “particularly special #1 recruit”. Travis Hunter was rated as the #1 WR and #1 CB in the country coming out of high school. Florida State fans had an online cry session when he went with Jackson State over them. He is Him. I don’t know who the last college football player capable of playing 126 snaps across offense and defense, catching 11 catches for 119 catches, shutting down TCU’s Savion Williams and picking off this pass.
This isn’t something Adoree’ Jackson was doing at USC, or Myles Jack at UCLA, or Shaq Thompson at Washington. This is closer to the legends of Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey and *gasp* Deion Sanders, and even then Hunter is playing damn near every snap on both sides of the ball. This probably isn’t sustainable, but the Buffs can better afford to rest him in slower-paced games against opponents who weren’t just playing in the National Championship.
3. Sean Lewis’s offense is *chef’s kiss*
The former Kent State head coach was previously a candidate for the CU job before Karl Dorrell was hired. Now he’s here as the OC and possible head coach in waiting if things go very well with Deion and he takes over for Nick Saban in a couple years. The problem is that Lewis might be too good and get a head coach offer as soon as November. It’s a blessing that no one besides Jack Barsch and the CFB online nerds noticed his Kent State offenses that were consistently among the most efficient and explosive offenses in the country.
It’s a spread offense that wants to quickly get the ball out into open space. Sanders is the perfect QB for it because of his decision-making ability, short-throw accuracy and just enough mobility to be a rushing threat in the RPO. You just need an outside receiver like Weaver to take the top off the defense, a Hunter-type unicorn to make contested catches, a powerful slot receiver like Horn to keep the chains moving, and an explosive running back like Dylan Edwards to beat contain and break off chunk plays. Easy stuff really.
4. Defense and special teams need work, but that’s no fun
The good thing is that the Colorado defense came up with every stop they needed to. It was Trevor Woods jumping a route in the end zone, Hunter apparating for his clutch interception, or the pass pressure finally coming home to force that final fourth-down stop. Those were tremendous plays that were needed in part because, oooof, this defense is going to get torn up.
The defensive line was always going to be a work in progress. They got pushed around in the run and couldn’t get into the backfield without some aggressive playcalling from Charles Kelly, leaving them further vulnerable to chunk plays. It’s a mystery why Kendal Briles kept calling pass plays when he was averaging like 8 yards per run, but it’s also a mystery why he even has a job coaching at all.
When the Frogs did pass, the Buffs couldn’t really handle all the crossing routes and it seemed like someone was always wide open in the immediate areas. That’s not a DB problem as much as it the linebackers having to support the OL while being able to track these speedy slot receivers. Both of these things will continue to be a problem and the Buffs are going to be in a lot of these shootouts, for better or for worse.
5. Coach Prime has brought a culture of winning
For all the questions and concerns about Deion’s culture at Colorado, it’s become clear that he’s brought in guys who are going to fight for everything. We have the glamour players to carry us, but there are also the Power Five transfers who want to prove their doubters wrong and the FCS and Group of Five transfers who have scratched and clawed for this chance. This team looks confident and they look hungry. They have completely bought in to Deion’s vision and that is something to behold.