The Colorado Buffaloes are in free fall right now. They were handled from the opening kickoff by Minnesota in all three phases. This game drops Colorado to 0-3 and the Buffs are in danger of another 2012-type season. There are a lot of questions to be answered by the players, coaching staff and administration as Colorado starts Pac-12 play.
Minnesota controlled the game in all three phases, jumping to a 35-0 first-half lead before employing backups in the second half. Colorado will have to rebound quickly as UCLA will be in town next weekend.
Let’s break down the 49-7 loss with five of my biggest takeaways:
Quick positive: Buffaloes debuts
Austin Smith and Owen McCown made their debuts, with Smith hauling in the only touchdown of the game. McCown also got his first snaps in a Buffs uniform, getting the final drive and finishing with more passing yards than JT Shrout or Brendon Lewis. He was also able to make plays with his legs and looks to be the future signal caller for Colorado.
The fight wasn't there in the trenches
Colorado got pushed around in the trenches, allowing Minnesota to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. In what is becoming too much of an issue to ignore anymore, Minnesota added to Colorado’s rushing woes by averaging 6.4 yards a carry on 52 attempts, good for 334 yards and four touchdowns.
Colorado couldn’t get push in the run game and allowed another sack/fumble to open its first offensive drive. CU gained most of its offensive yards once the game was over —136 yards came on the last two drives, with only 90 coming in the nine drives prior.
The big plays just aren't there
The Buffaloes did not have a play over 20 yards until the last pass completion of the game when McCown hit Jaylon Jackson for 28 yards. The defense was able to get one turnover on a first-quarter interception but overall, Colorado hasn’t been able to manufacture big plays on either side of the ball thus far.
The offense stayed vanilla
Colorado’s route tree rarely ever expands from a short curl or crossing pattern. Tight ends and running backs are not utilized in the passing game and the opponents have been able to load up the box because of this to stop the running game. Our friend Jon Kronenberg of Mile High Sports put it best:
Flee flicker was the most exotic play I have seen this season.
— Jon Kronenberg (@JonKayNFL) September 17, 2022
Has Colorado hit rock bottom?
As I mentioned above, 2022 is starting to look a lot like 2012. That 2012 season was the worst in school history at 1-11. The 2022 version of the Buffaloes has set some rough history to start the season:
First time in 132 years of football that Colorado has opened a season with 3 consecutive losses of 25-plus points #cubuffs
— Brian Howell (@BrianHowell33) September 17, 2022