BOULDER - The Colorado Buffaloes fell to the Washington Huskies in their first Pac-12 tilt of the season on Saturday night. What started as a close game, with the Buffs scoring on the first drive and intercepting the Huskies on the next, ended in a 37-10 blowout.
As CU heads into a streak of Pac-12 engagements, their first loss at Folsom in almost two years highlighted a series of issues for the offense and demonstrated the holding power of their defense.
The offense continued to struggle
After the first commanding drive of the game, which resulted in a Phil Lindsay touchdown, the Buffs offense stalled dramatically. Quarterback Steven Montez threw three interceptions, one of which was returned 35 yards for a score by the Huskies. There were several opportunities to right the ship, but Montez's mistakes would instead come back to haunt the Buffs. The CU quarterback overthrew Shay Fields in the end zone and a wide-open Devin Ross on the sideline. Following the loss, Montez put the blame squarely on himself.
"Just point blank, you can't throw three picks & expect to win a game," he said. "So that's on me. I have to take that & just get better."
The Buffs signal-caller was not alone in his struggles. Not a single CU receiver eclipsed the 50-yard mark or found the end zone, and the offensive line stumbled throughout the battle. Through four weeks, the CU offense has failed to find their stride, and it won't get any easier moving forward. The Buffs face UCLA, Cal, Washington State and Utah on the road, and host USC at Folsom. They must get their offense firing on all cylinders if they hope to bounce back from this weekend.
The defense bailed the Buffs out time and time again
CU's defense was not perfect last night, letting Huskies rusher Myles Gaskin pound them for over 200 yards. But more than once, they gave the Buffs offense the opportunity to stay in the game.
In the first half, the CU defense forced an interception or held Washington to a field goal on three of their four possessions. They also kept the Huskies from extending their lead on the final drive of the second quarter, allowing the Buffs to head into halftime down only three points.
In the second half, Washington scored four times. Two of those were the result of mistakes by the Buffs offense, as a turnover on downs and an interception thrown by Montez handed the Huskies solid field position.
The defense saw strong play from their veteran defensive backs, as safety Afolabi Laguda grabbed an interception in the first quarter and corner Isaiah Oliver shut down Huskies wideout Donte Pettis for the evening. This defense has shown that they are capable of holding up their end of the bargain in games, but they will have to be even better moving forward if the Buffs offense continues to struggle.
Bright spots in the next wave of 'Black Out Boyz'
The bout with Washington marked the first significant game time for wideout Juwann Winfree, who started in place of the injured Jay MacIntyre. Winfree recorded five receptions for 33 yards, finishing third in the receiving corps.
True freshman K.D. Nixon racked up 77 yards on kick returns during the matchup, finishing second on the team in all-purpose yards. He flashed big-play potential and explosive speed and could be in line for more snaps as the season progresses.
There is a lot to look forward to in the Buffs offense moving forward, with Winfree, Nixon and Laviska Shenault Jr. among the talented next wave of receivers.
The narrative around CU has not changed much because of this weekend's loss - the Buffs still need to get their offense on the same page if they have any hope of battling for another Pac-12 title bid. With a bevy of talented opponents on the horizon, CU has plenty to improve before they head out for their first road game of the season.