BOULDER – The Colorado Buffaloes are 2-0 after convincing back-to-back wins over Colorado State and Texas State. As the Buffs turn their attention to a home matchup with Northern Colorado, here are three takeaways from week two.
The offense still needs to get going
The final score of Saturday’s bout with Texas State is somewhat misleading. While the Buffs pulled out a large margin of victory, the offense still hasn’t lived up to the offseason hype. On paper, this unit is loaded at almost every position – a group of talented, veteran receivers, a monster starting running back and an experienced offensive line. But they have yet to find their rhythm.
Quarterback Steven Montez struggled to get on the same page with his receiving targets, particularly in the first half. Montez put the blame on himself after the matchup, citing his rush to get out of the pocket as a major issue.
The offensive line’s stumbles added to the missteps at quarterback, as Texas State’s pass rush kept the pressure on Montez throughout. The Buffs were missing two team captains for the second week in a row (offensive lineman Jeromy Irwin and blocking tight end George Frazier) and it was glaringly obvious. The good news is both Irwin and Frazier are set to return this week, which should give a big boost to the offensive line.
Phil Lindsay continues to be productive on the ground and both Shay Fields and Bryce Bobo had solid outings, albeit against weaker competition. The Buffs should have run away with this game early, and instead, they struggled offensively for the second week in a row. Instead of brushing Colorado State off as a fluke performance, it now looks like the Buffs could have some honest problems. Week three gives them another opportunity to build some momentum before Washington, as CU plays host to Northern Colorado.
This defense is for real
On the other side of the football, the Buffs continue to put up impressive numbers. Allowing only six points in their first two matchups and securing a 54-6 margin through week two, CU’s defense has been downright dominant.
The Buffs relentlessly harassed Texas State’s quarterback, notching six sacks on the day (half of which belonged to Leo Jackson). The defensive line produced several key contributors, as Drew Lewis recorded ten tackles, Rick Gamboa eight, and Jackson added five more.
Defensive backs were big contributors as well, as Dante Wigley picked up a fumble recovery and Isaiah Oliver grabbed an interception. Evan Worthington had another impressive performance, notching nine tackles as he continues to shake off the rust of not playing for a year.
The unit has completely shut down opponents in the red zone, allowing -2 yards on nine plays over the first two games. The Buffs defense set out to prove public perception wrong, and they have stepped up in a major way.
Oliver is one of the best corners in college football
The Buffs’ star cornerback had yet another spectacular game this Saturday, dominating Texas State’s wide receivers just a week after shutting down CSU’s Michael Gallup.
Oliver’s interception was the second of his career and it was a big one – one-handed and returned over 40 yards. It was his 26th defended pass at CU, according to CUBuffs.com.
INTERCEPTION! @_isaiah_oliver_ is having himself a great game!
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 9, 2017
Perhaps overshadowed by Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon last year, Oliver has been explosive so far this season. He is an enormous part of the Buffs defensive prowess through the first two weeks.
In a scenario that feels reminiscent of 2016, the Buffs defense looks like the side of the ball that’s ready for a Pac-12 push. With so much talk in the offseason about the veteran offense and inexperienced defense, the narrative seems to have flipped. Northern Colorado should give CU’s offense one more shot at getting on track before the Huskies come to Folsom.