Last Saturday, the Colorado Buffaloes took the field in Folsom Field for the third week in a row. The Buffs were playing the first opponent with a win in about a month. There were plenty of questions about CU, and plenty more about Arizona State. On a perfect Saturday afternoon in Boulder, the Buffs answered almost every question they could. They played fast, physical, and most importantly, kept Laviska Shenault on the roster.
The game started out in ASU’s favor. Eno Benjamin was slicing and dicing CU’s run defense in the first half. They were blocking well, and Benjamin’s powerful frame and quick feet led to a lot of extra interior yards. But forget all of that for a play. This play is about the freak that is Mustafa Johnson. The Sun Devils blocked this play well. Every linebacker and lineman is held up by a block except the OLB on the opposite side of the play. Well, until Mustafa decides to shrug off the double team and explode in the backfield. He does this consistently and excellently all game.
After a few bad drives, I was happy to see this play back in the playbook. The quick shotgun pitch was a Phillip Lindsay special in 2016 and opens up a lot of play action possibilities. Here, it’s called at the perfect time. There is single man-on-man coverage on the wide receivers on the long side of the field, with no safety coverage. Jay MacIntyre does a great job holding his block, and McMillian doesn’t get touched until he has a first. Then, he gets 7 or 8 extra yards with some quick feet and tough running.
This is a simple play to break down. The Buffs have been great in 3rd-and-long all year, and it’s because Steven Montez is a great college QB. The offensive line gives him all the time he needs, and MacIntyre find a nice hole in the zone. Montez drops it in with velocity and timing.
This is another play to show Montez’s growth. Will Sherman does his job at LT to push the defensive end behind Montez, and Chris Bounds picks up the free DL perfectly. After that, Montez makes a great throw with touch to the sideline. Of course, Laviska Shenault made a beautiful double move to get open as well.
After Nate Landman was ejected with targeting, I was worried about interior run defense. Well, Drew Lewis remembered his old MLB ways well. This play is a fantastic Landman impersonation. Lewis is in the backfield before the guard can get a block on him, and he wraps up well on the elusive Benjamin. Also, check out Chris Mulumba, doing a great job occupying two blockers.
The score is 21-21 at this point in the game, but the CU defense is starting to flex its second half muscles. This is a fantastic play call by DJ Eliot. The unbalanced blitz by Nick Fisher and Davion Taylor forces the LT to make a choice quick. He has to block #7 or #5, and he has to it fast, because those are two of the fastest players on the field. Unfortunately, he chooses the outside blitzer, giving Taylor a free run at the backfield. He gets there in a hurry.
Javier Edwards is playing out of his mind this year. All year, and all game against the Sun Devils, he has been stout at the point of attack, even against double teams. He has even shown the strength and agility to get in the backfield. Just admire the brute strength on this play. He takes on two and a half blockers, shrugs them off, and greets Benjamin at the line of scrimmage like a boogeyman. It’s been fantastic watching his growth this year.
I’ll also take this opportunity to compliment Jase Franke for an amazing game last Saturday. He played early and often to better match up against ASU’s gigantic line, and it paid off. He was blowing up running lanes all day, and even got pressure a few times.
The Buffs score again, and they are now in the driver’s seat. It’s the early fourth quarter, and the Buffs need to control the clock. Luckily, they have a sledgehammer of a running back and an offensive line that is really starting to impose its will. Sit back and watch the beauty of Barnett-era run power. Focus on #65, center Colby Pursell, and #55, guard Brett Tonz. For fun, watch the wallop Will Sherman and Chris Bounds lay on the defensive end. This is an unbalanced line, with two tight ends on one side, and the play goes to the weak side. McMillian could have taken ten seconds to choose his hole if he wanted to.
I leave you with another boring run play. This is what the entire fourth quarter looked like. The Buffs held the ball for more than 12 minutes in the fourth. They ran the ball down ASU’s throats, and did it well. Chris Bounds deserves a game ball for his blocking in this quarter. Watch him pull off the LT and blow up the MLB. It was beautiful.