It’s been a long while since CU football had anything to be excited about. With just one winning season in nearly the last two decades, fans myself included had begun to tune out. After years of losing seasons and questionable coaching hires, the Buffs targeted a coach that could turn the tide right away.
Coach Prime had an unbelievable run at Jackson State but much like any Coach who makes the leap up a level in the college game there were questions about how he would adapt to the stiffer competition. So far the team looked impressive in week one collecting a win over 17th ranked TCU 45-42. Colorado never looked phased despite falling behind at multiple points. One of the biggest question marks for this team was how Shedeur Sanders would play at this level. It’s safe to say he silenced some doubters on this day.
Questions About Quarterback Play Answered Already?
Shedeur Sanders didn’t just play well, he LIT IT UP against a TCU defense that looked overmatched from the jump. Before the half Sanders had eclipsed the 200 yard mark throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions in route to CU’s first lead at halftime in over a calendar year.
Just after halftime CU added to their lead and already Sanders had 257 yards. By the end of the game Sanders had collected over 500 passing yards and doubled his first half touchdown total. He also helped four different pass catchers top 100 yards on the day.
Dylan Edwards, Jimmy Horn Jr., Travis Hunter and Xavier Weaver all topped the century mark on the day with Edwards making an absolute statement.
His stat line was unbelievable by the end of the game: 11 offensive touches, 159 total yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 kick return for 18 yards. The freshman was ranked as the second best player to come out of Kansas, and he certainly lived up to his hype as a 4-star recruit in this game. If he can continue to put up performances like this all season he will be a candidate to watch for Heisman Consideration.
Travis Hunter is as advertised, he has been talked about as a player who could be a WR1 OR CB1 for an NFL team. He certainly did his best to show us just that in this game. On offense he had 11 receptions for 119 yards. As if snagging 11 passes on offense wasn’t enough he added 1 on defense intercepting a pass to go with 3 tackles. Before halftime he had already been targeted five times allowing just one reception.
On defense it appears as if one name in particular needs to be on NFL draft boards everywhere either this season or next. At 6’2 205 pounds, Running somewhere in the 4.5 range, Trevor Woods’ ideal home is likely at strong safety in the NFL. Being coached by one of the best defensive backs ever to play the game certainly isn’t hurting his stock either.
During the game he had 9 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass break up, and 1 forced fumble. He was all over the field and near the ball on almost every play. He has played both free and strong safety in his time at CU. Also he has value on special teams having played on every coverage unit, and even returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown in 2021. This kid looks like a lynchpin on this defense, as he goes, the defense follows.
He should get at very least an opportunity to try and make a team as a mid to late round draft pick as it stands. One more solid season in 2024 and he could position himself to be the latest defensive back to be drafted high from CU. Names like Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tedric Thompson, and Isaiah Oliver come to mind.
Running Game Struggles, Coach Prime Takes Notice
During an interview as halftime started Coach Prime Pointed to the lack of production in the run game as an area to work on. Three backs carried the ball 6 or more times and only Dylan Edwards their third down back managed 4 yards per carry. Sy’Veon Wilkerson, and Anthony Hankerson both managed 3.2 yards per carry or less. I question if size is an issue here as all three backs stand 5’9 210 pounds or smaller.
Perhaps the Buffs need to get creative in the rushing attack and incorporate jet sweeps and other elements to spice up the play calling. I would also explore getting Ahmir McGhee, Kavosiey Smoke, and Christian Sarem more involved. All of these guys are bigger backs to offer more value running between the tackles albeit they give up a bit of home run ability.
Players At Hand
Smoke is an older player which could be holding him back from a larger role so far. During his time at Kentucky on 291 carries he averaged over 5 yards per carry. He is known for running through contact, and he is a solid blocker however, He doesn’t have much viability in the passing game which could be keeping him off the field so far as well.
Ahmir McGhee also brings experience having begun his college career at Fullerton Community College in 2019. He then spent three years at Portland State 2020-2022 before ending up at CU. He has two years of eligibility left. While at Portland State he only had 12 carries for 41 yards. At Fullerton he had 17 carries for 60 yards. He’s more of a wildcard than someone I feel you can count on being a bellcow back but giving him some touches can’t hurt if the floor is already 2.3 yards per carry.
Christian Sarem is a guy who could be used in several ways. I believe his best position if he added a bit more weight would be at fullback/tight end. In high school he played tight end and running back as well as defensive end. Upon arriving at CU they listed him as a running back and redshirted him in 2022. Perhaps Sarem getting involved as a lead blocker could aid the rushing attack without taking Wilkerson, Edwards, or Hankerson out of the game plan.
The front seven for CU didn’t produce a single sack on 42 passing attempts. The secondary was forced to step up in a big way to pull the extra weight. They still held TCU to just 279 yards passing, and 24 completions on the day. When completions were allowed the defense rallied to make the stop quickly holding their offense to 6.64 yards per passing attempt on the day while Sanders and their offense nearly doubled that mark with 10.85 yards per attempt.
This front three in particular may be a smaller group for a 3-4/4-3 over front but the thought process was that their quickness and agility would be an asset in rushing opposing passers. With just two players standing 300 pounds they currently start just one player on that defensive line over 275 pounds. That’s a scary proposition in this defensive scheme, one I believe may need to be adjusted as time goes on.
Granted these guys are already rotated situationally, I personally would revisit my philosophy and possibly have Bishop Thomas start next to Leonard Payne Jr. and use Shane Cokes as a defensive end in obvious running situations, and on the interior in passing situations. Cokes produced 8.5 sacks, and 14 tackles for a loss at Dartmouth so I certainly see why he is starting, but I question if he isn’t playing out of position at times. He primarily played defensive end with Dartmouth.
Overall there isn’t much to be mad at in this game. The Buffaloes came in and did their job cementing their first win under the new regime. Charles Kelly certainly should know how to scheme a defense having learned under Nick Saban for four seasons. During those four years Alabama produced 162 sacks, peaking in 2021 with 57. To any panicking Buffs fans I would simply say give it time, we all knew this secondary would do their part, once the pass rush gets going this defense will be very hard to score on.
Hopefully we can reuse this meme more often this season;
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