MacIntyre: Protecting Montez is key to success against UCLA

Scott Hood, Staff Writer
CU Sports Nation

Buff Nation Message Board

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USA Today Sports

Stopping the run has proven troublesome for the UCLA defense in the first four games of the season, a trend that bodes well for Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay and the Buffs offensive line.

The Bruins have enjoyed more success defending the pass as opposing quarterbacks have completed just 54.5 percent of their passes against the Bruins. Only four Pac-12 teams have lower defensive pass completion percentages.

Part of the reason the Bruins have been able to stop the pass better than the run is their pass rush. Through four games, UCLA has nine sacks and four quarterback pressures to go along with 22 pass breakups and three interceptions.

The Buffs have allowed 14 sacks, tying them with Washington State for second highest in the conference. Only Arizona State has given up more sacks (19).

According to Mike MacIntyre, a key storyline for Saturday night’s Rose Bowl battle between the Buffs and Bruins (8:30 p.m. MT, ESPN2) is how well the Colorado offensive line protects quarterback Steven Montez from the UCLA pass rush.

“Some of our sacks (allowed) have been the offensive line’s fault, some have been Steven’s fault and some have been coverage sacks,” MacIntyre said. “Steven is starting to understand better and better the need to get rid of the ball. He is starting to step up in the pocket and make some throws instead of rolling out. When he does that, the lineman go past him.

Senior DL Jacob Tuioti-Mariner leads the Bruins with 2.5 sacks. Freshman Jaela Phillips is second with 1.5 sacks.

“They have some excellent pass rushers,” MacIntyre said of UCLA. “(Phillips) is talented. He looks special. They have pass rushers all over the place. UCLA always seems to have a great pass rusher, a first or second round (NFL Draft) type guy. We’re going to have to protect and Steven is going to have to know where to go with the ball. An extra split second can make a difference.”

Keeping the Buffs offense two-dimensional is also important. Opponents have enjoyed a lot of success running the football against UCLA, so expect the Colorado offensive coaches to do the same thing. Lindsay has 90 carries for 446 yards (4.96 yards per carry) and 4 touchdowns through four games, an average of 22.5 attempts per game. He is currently on pace for over 1,300 rushing yards. Montez has run the ball 42 times. Nobody else, including Michael Adkins, has more than nine carries.

“Phillip has been running (the ball) really well and doing some good things,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll try to get different guys in there at different times. Phillip has done pretty well. The time will come when we need to get a different guy in there. We feel good about all those guys.”

On the other side of the ball, UCLA will likely come out throwing. Quarterback Josh Rosen has already attempted 200 passes in four games (50.0 per game) as opposed to 101 rushing attempts. Thus, the Bruins basically throw the ball about two-thirds of the time when they have possession of the ball.

In other words, the Colorado secondary is going to stay busy.

“Rosen is getting rid of the ball and he’s usually right on target,” MacIntyre said. “He’s very accurate. He knows right where to go with it. Our guys will be excited to play against him. We’ll try to disrupt their routes with how we play in the secondary. Our guys up front are getting better at pass rushing. We have some guys that have a knack for it. We’ll need to do that to have a chance in the game.”

WEEK 5 PAC-12 SCHEDULE (Sept. 29-30)

Fri., Sept. 29

USC at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sat., Sept. 30

Arizona State at Stanford, 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Washington at Oregon State, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

California at Oregon, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)

Colorado at UCLA, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

(All Times Mountain)

Byes: Utah, Arizona

PAC-12 SOUTH STANDINGS

USC 2-0

Utah 1-0

Arizona State 1-0

Colorado 0-1

Arizona 0-1

UCLA 0-1

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