For the second week in a row, the Buffs walked to another sleepy win in Folsom, this time against UCLA. CU stumbled out of the gates, but found its footing quickly in the 2nd half and never looked back.
There were plenty of fun things to look for in this game. Drew Lewis and Davion Taylor both enjoyed their best games of the year. Tony Brown continues to step up. And it’s nice to see Evan Worthington back to his old self. None of these guys are featured below. I picked a few plays to look that seemed important or fun or whatever.
Steven Montez played another phenomenal game. His 22/26 mark is obviously great, but it’s plays like this that put him a cut above. 3rd and 6 around midfield. A punt would give UCLA extra momentum. The Bruins drop 9 in coverage (yes, you read that right), so Montez has to be patient. He rolls out (the only mistake in this play), and then throw across his body to find a smart Kabion Ento sitting in the middle of the field. This is vision and patience he didn’t have last year.
Montez shows some great footwork here, but the real star of the play is Brady Russell. Tony Brown running across the formation causes two of UCLA’s linebackers to crash hard on that side of the play. This leaves the three linemen that are occupied by Buff OL, one LB handled by center Colby Pursell, a DB that Chris Bounds gets in the way of, and two free defenders. Russell gets enough on both defenders to get Montez in the end zone. First, he chips the DL that has a free rush at Montez, but he’s smart enough to realize his job isn’t done. So, he sidesteps him and forces #6 out of the running lane. This gives Montez just enough room to get into the end zone. Great blocking all around, but Russell made the TD happen.
This play is fun for a number of reasons. Number one, it’s the most obvious hold I’ve ever seen on the blitzing ILB. I don’t know how this wasn’t called. Number two, this is a great throw by Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Touch and accuracy. Number three, I would prefer that DJ Eliot doesn’t put Jacob Callier in coverage on a running back again.
Above illustrates the difference between last year’s defensive line and this year’s defensive line. Chris Mulumba was a starter last year, and a heavily-used starter. This year, he’s a backup that rotates in regularly. He is also better than he was last year. He completely destroys the point of attack and pursues the ballcarrier. You’ll notice that Israel Antwine and Javier Edwards also won their batlles.
Jay MacIntyre’s career in six seconds. This play doesn’t have a chance and was in fact called back thanks to a dumb move by Brett Tonz. Through pure willpower. Jay grabs the ball from the defender and sets up the team for a score before half (or so he thought). CU fans are going to miss him.
In the second half, as usual for this team, the offensive line really started to push some bodies around. Every single member of the OL holds their block on this play, and slanting to the sideline for their blocks throws off the linebackers. The only pulling blocker is Chris Bounds, who finds no one to block because every lineman has been sealed off and the linebackers are waiting for a running back that never comes. Travon McMIllian wastes no team cutting to the center of the field and getting a nice five yards before his tough running gets him eight more.
Let’s talk about DJ Eliot’s playcalling a bit. This year, he has done a much better job of calling blitzes at the right times, but more importantly, he’s mixing in stunts and spins to get pressure with just four. Even if this wasn’t a run play, Alex Tchangam (who has come on strong the past two games) is there with a free run to the quarterback. This happens because of a nice stunt he pulls that leaves #55 in the dirt. Eliot has done a great job mixing up where the blitz is coming from and how the edge rushers are used. It helps when you have four legit OLBs that you can move around.
This play got called back, but it just shows you how superhuman Laviska Shenault is. Tony Brown misses his chip block and actually gets in Viska’s way here. It doesn’t matter because Montez is patient, waits until he’s open, and throws for a three yard gain. Or so you think. Laviska then spins AWAY FROM HIS MOMENTUM and gets an extra five. This is the subtle athleticism that gets you the extra yards and makes people look dumb.
Steven Montez is a pocket Houdini. 3rd and 6 and UCLA has a sure sack. Montez, ducks and dodges past two defenders then jukes another out for the first. That takes special athleticism. That play kept the long drive alive and allowed McMillian to drive in the sealing score.