BOULDER, Co. — The Buffaloes continue to be the Pac-12’s biggest surprise as they successfully navigate through a schedule of uncertainty.
An opponent change on a short notice didn’t bother Colorado and it smothered San Diego State 20-10 Saturday night. Now the Buffaloes are starting to gel and looking more like a serious contender in the South. Colorado is 3-0 for the third time in the last four years and still hasn’t reached its’ ceiling.
However, Coach Karl Dorrell knows his team will have a target on their backs the rest of the way because of their success. The Buffaloes are no longer the hunters and are now the hunted.
Regardless of the matter Dorrell was impressed that his team found a way to win in ugly fashion. After all, delivering in the clutch will benefit the players in future close games.
Colorado’s defense made the biggest statement with a dominating performance. The unit played aggressive and dominated in the trenches. The Aztecs’ were held scoreless in the first quarter and second half. Not to mention the Buffaloes’ defense only allowed a season-best, 155 total yards.
“I’m very proud of how our defense played, I feel like they really look like a style of defense Colorado had in the past when I was here,” Dorrell said. “I’m proud about that transition and where it’s working towards.”
Senior linebacker Nate Landman led the pack with nine solo stops and had three of the team’s four sacks. The Buffaloes were in the Aztecs’ backfield all game long and didn’t allow them to get into a rhythm. Landman set the tone for the front seven and the defense answered the bell every time they were called on. Landman thought the defense controlled the line of scrimmage and finally learned how to finish.
“The attitude and energy on the sideline was great the whole game and we knew our offense was struggling a little bit,” Landman said. “We love being able to step up and win the game for the team.”
The offense didn’t have the explosive plays the unit had in the first two games and quarterback Sam Noyer threw his first interception that was returned for a touchdown. Still, the Buffaloes converted more first downs, ran more plays and dominated time of possession.
Freshman wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault finished with a game-high, six catches and reminded Colorado fans of his older brother LaViska. Jarek Broussard showed he can be a workhorse with a career-high, 32 carries. It was his third-straight 100-yard game, with 124 on the ground. He also looked stronger as the game prolonged.
“I love the game of football a lot and it’s something I take very seriously,” Broussard said. “So every time I step on the field I just try to make the most out of every opportunity I get.”
Overall Dorrell thought his team played inspired and with a lot of energy. He’s happy with the win and hopes the fans enjoyed it, but knows there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Dorrell is hoping Colorado carries that momentum to its’ next clash on the road at Arizona.
“We got good problems to have right now,” he said. “We’re 3-0, but yet we got some things we can continue to get better at.”