June 17, 2024

Coach Prime uneasy about number of sacks to Shedeur Sanders

Colorado Buffaloes Football

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders gets tackled by Nebraska defensive lineman Cameron Lenhardt during the second quarter Saturday September 9, 2023 at Folsom Field. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

BOULDER, Colo. — It’s no mystery that Colorado’s offensive line has been a liability this season.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders continues to sustain an alarming number of hits, and that has Coach Prime on edge. After all, the Buffaloes rank dead last in the Pac-12, and 129th nationally in sacks allowed. Coach Prime knows his team is approaching the meat grinder on their conference slate, and keeping Sanders healthy is the top priority.

“You don’t want your quarterback to get touched, but the fact is we’re giving up pressure and sacks when he holds it waiting for guys to clear, and get open,” Coach Prime said. “Sometimes there’s nobody open, so we gotta fix it, because you want him to endure throughout the season, when he’s doing his thing, we’re doing our thing.”

When Sanders has time, he can light up defenses like Christmas trees with his arm. However, when he has defenders constantly in his face, it disrupts the timing of the offense, and causes him to force things. That’s when mistakes happen, and now opposing defenses around the Pac-12 know the Buffaloes are vulnerable in the pocket.

Colorado (3-1) allowed four sacks apiece against TCU and Colorado State. Not to mention Nebraska put Colorado’s quarterbacks to the turf eight times, and Oregon recorded seven sacks last week. There’s no excuse for allowing 23 sacks through four games, but Coach Prime is trying to build on the positive aspects with Sanders.

“Giving up sacks that we’ve given up, the kid still has a 77 percent completion rate, and that’s phenomenal, considering what we’ve given up sack-wise,” he said. “That means when he gets it off he’s doing his job, which is tremendous.”

Unfortunately, the Buffaloes are going to have a tough task on their hands trying to contain the Trojans’ pass rush. USC (4-0) leads the Power Five, and is tied for third nationally in generated sacks. Alex Grinch has his defenders playing at a high level, and the unit averages four sacks a game. That means the big boys up front for Colorado need to have their best blocking performance to date, in order to give Sanders time in the pocket.

Despite having Travis Hunter out for a second-straight game, the Buffaloes have some receivers that can take the top off the defense. Wideout Xavier Weaver ranks second in the league, and sixth in the FBS in receiving yards. If the offensive line can give Sanders time to go through his progression, he’ll connect with Weaver on plenty of plays.

The Trojans are vulnerable against the pass, and tied for 68th nationally in yards allowed. That’s keeping Coach Prime optimistic about his game plan for Saturday. As long as the offensive line can keep Sanders upright, Coach Prime knows his team has a chance at pulling off the monumental upset.

“We just got to do a better job in protecting him, and getting the ball out of there.”