The Colorado Buffaloes entered Saturday night’s contest against Washington with a ton of excitement.
It was their first game against a conference opponent this season, and also their first matchup against the Huskies since getting blown out 41-10 in the Pac-12 championship last year.
While the Buffs stayed in the game for the better part of three quarters, unfortunately the combination of fundamental errors, poor decision making, and a worn down defense led to their 37-10 defeat at Folsom Field.
In the week leading up to the game, Mike MacIntyre discussed the importance of stopping the run game. Last year, they let up 265 yards on the ground in the championship game, which allowed Washington to consistently move the ball down the field, and let their dominant defense take over.
Saturday, the script seemed to flip as the Buffs let up only 93 yards on the ground and trailed 10-7 at the half. Additionally, they showed the ability to consistently move the ball downfield on offense. It had all the makings of a close game Buffs, and one they could win at that.
Once the second half came around, running back Myles Gaskin capitalized on a worn down Buffs defense, using his Le’Veon Bell-esque patience to allow his lineman to set up blocks, which allowed him to slip through small gaps and rush his way to 138 yards in the second half. Gaskin’s dominating performance was captivated by a 57-yard touchdown run with 7:29 left in regulation.
In his postgame press conference, MacIntyre expressed his displeasure with the team’s ability to stop the run - something that killed the Buffs in the last matchup between the two teams.
“It was pitiful to us, in the second half stopping the run,” MacIntyre said. “We should be better than that so we have to find a get better at it on that part of it.”
Safety Afolabi Laguda made one of the biggest plays for the Buffs in Saturday’s matchup. After the Buffs commanding 11-play, 75 yard drive to start the game, he made a great read on the ball and intercepted a pass thrown by quarterback Jake Browning deep in Colorado territory. Although he was able to make a play on the ball in that instance, Laguda wasn’t able to single handedly elevate the overall play of the defense - something that’s to be expected.
After the game, Laguda gave credit to the Huskies offense, and their ability to wear down the defense, as well as capitalize on the Buffs mishaps.
“They were just efficient. They played together last year,” Laguda said. We are just jelling as a new defense. So I guess that experience of being in those situations in crunch time and big moments - I guess they shine. They made the plays they were coached to do.”
One of the other things that hurt the Buffs in today’s game was the lackluster play of quarterback Steven Montez. Although he has shown his ability to improvise by using his feet to consistently escape the pocket in the past, the sophomore struggled mightily Saturday.
Although not entirely his fault, Montez threw three interceptions at vital junctures of the game, and made a questionable decision to slide on a running play despite the fact that he was short of the first down marker. Additionally, he took several big hits where he appeared visibly shaken up.
One of the things that precipitated Montez’s struggles tonight - especially when taking the hard blows, was his inability to get rid of the ball quickly. After the game, he gave credit to Washington’s defense, and their ability create well mapped out coverage schemes.
“They were kind of just playing some soft zone stuff,” Montez said. “Some of the routes were covered. Some of them, they just zoned it up. They fit it well. They are a good football team. They are a good defense. We just have to be better. We have to go in, watch the film, and come out ready for UCLA.”
The Buffs will have to bounce back from this tough loss in time for next week’s matchup against UCLA, if they want any chance at winning the Pac-12 this season.
Fortunately for them, the Bruins got blown out by the Stanford Cardinals, 54-38, late Saturday night. The Bruins struggles on the defensive side of the ball set the stage for the Buffs to have their best offensive performance thus far. We’ll see if they can go back to the drawing board, cut down on the mistakes and ultimately capitalize.
TAKEAWAYS: Washington runs away with victory over Colorado https://t.co/ZzsY14gyDS
— CUSportsNation (@CUSportsNation) September 24, 2017