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Colorado Buffaloes vs. Washington Huskies: Report card

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Day after thoughts from the Buffs troubling loss

NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) took one on the chin Saturday night in Boulder, losing to the Washington Huskies 37-10 in a game eerily reminiscent of last year’s Pac-12 Championship. The loss was the Buffs’ fourth in their last five conference openers.

OFFENSE: C-

Sophomore signal caller Steven Montez orchestrated a beautiful 11-play, 75-yard opening drive capped off by a Phillip Lindsay 1-yard touchdown run to give the Buffs an early 7-0 lead. But following that drive, Colorado’s offense quickly fell apart behind the quarterback’s poor decision making. Montez did finish the game 21-of-27 for 171-yards, but half his incompletions were caught by the Huskies secondary, including this pick-six by cornerback Myles Bryant:

“I don’t know, I’ll meet with him Monday.” CU Head Coach Mike MacIntyre said when asked what Steven Montez would take away from the loss.

“I hope he takes away not throwing the ball to the wrong colored jerseys.” Through four games, Montez has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 1,029 yards; great numbers for any FBS quarterback. But the most significant number is SIX, the amount of interceptions he’s thrown. Bottom line, Montez’s decision making needs to improve immediately or it could be a long season with him at the helm of the Buffs offense.

DEFENSE: C+

Earlier in the week, when asked what the Buffaloes must do to pull off the upset over Washington, my colleague Jack Barsch simply said “They have to shut down the run. Number one goal.”

Jack was right. Washington’s junior tailback Myles Gaskin torched the Buffs for 202 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. It was the first rushing touchdowns the Buffs defense have allowed all year. While the Buffs front seven struggled to contain Gaskin, the secondary fared much better against Dante Pettis. A week after the Huskies leading receiver hauled in three touchdowns in a 48-16 win over Fresno State, Buffs Cornerback Isaiah Oliver and the #MoneyGang held Pettis to just three catches for 54 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+

On the positive side, 30-year old freshman place kicker James Stefanou cut Washington’s lead to seven early in the 3rd quarter by draining a career-long 49-yard field goal. The Melbourne, Australia native has looked impressive through the first four games, connecting on 7-of-8 field goal attempts. True freshman K.D. Nixon showed some promise with three kick returns of 27, 17 and 33 yards. Negatively, Alex Kinney had a punt blocked by Vita Vea early in the second quarter leading to the Huskies first score of the game. The Buffs were also flagged with kick catching interference penalty late in the first quarter which thankfully didn’t lead to any points for Washington.

OVERALL: C

There were some positives on both sides of the ball, however the negatives were just too hard to overcome against the defending Pac-12 Champions. “A great team like Washington, you can’t give them the ball that many times. They’re a great team, they kicked our butts tonight,” said Buffs defensive back Ryan Moeller. Miscues and the running of Myles Gaskin simply cost the Buffs a shot at revenge.

NEXT UP: Saturday, September 30 at UCLA (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) – 8:30 p.m MT, ESPN2

Expect a high scoring shootout. UCLA’s 180 points scored this season are second most among Pac-12 teams behind only Oregon (203). The Bruins have also surrendered 173 points, second worst in the conference behind Oregon State’s 190. The last three games in this series have been decided by 10 points or less with the Buffs winning 20-10 in Boulder last season.