Earlier this week, Pat Shurmur was elevated from a quality control analyst to a co-offensive coordinator role. Shurmur would also be a play-caller for the Buffs’ offense, taking over for Sean Lewis after eight weeks. It’s safe to say the Shurmur experiment isn’t off to a great start… A new voice calling the shots wasn’t enough to dig Colorado out of their recent rut on Saturday, as they struggled to move the ball and eventually fell to Oregon State 26-19.
“This is hard. This is hard,” head coach Deion Sanders said postgame. “The reason it’s so hard is because you know you’re capable of doing better, playing better, performing better, calling better games, coaching better on my behalf. And you are coming up short when you have enough to get the job done. And it’s painful.”
Photo Cred: CNN
Colorado limped through the first half, mustering just 52 total yards of offense through the first two quarters. They just managed three points on a drive that started at the Beavers’ 19-yard line after a turnover. Perhaps the ugliest rendition of the Buffs’ offense came on their last series of downs before the half. Starting from their own four-yard line with just 49 seconds until intermission and facing a 7-3 deficit, Colorado started their drive by throwing two incomplete passes before finally running the ball on third down. As a result, Colorado punted it back to Oregon State with 22 seconds to go, giving the Beavers the ball with good field position. They wasted no time, capitalizing with a DJ Uiagalelei touchdown pass to Deshaun Fenwick on the first play following the punt.
“Right before the half, we wanted to get out of there because we knew we were receiving the ball in the second half,” Sanders said. “So the plan was to either get a first down and try to go or if we don’t, we’re not successful on first down, okay, let’s hit the clock. Let’s hit the clock. We had a drop, I think we maybe had one or two dropped passes on that series which is very unfortunate, then they get a tremendous return.”
That seven-point swing proved to be massive in a game decided by just one score in the end. The Colorado offense finally got something going in the fourth quarter, scoring touchdowns to cut the deficit back to just seven. However, the physical Oregon State offensive line and strong running game milked the rest of the clock. It was just too little, too late for the Buffs. Shedeur Sanders struggled a little more than usual in this one and was clearly battling through the pain throughout the night. Overall, the Colorado signal caller finished 24-for-39 with 245 yards and two late touchdowns.
Photo Cred: SI
“I mean, shoot, he’s been hurt,” said Deion Sanders of his son and quarterback. “I think he went in to get an injection so he could finish (the game). So, it’s extraordinary. The kid is tough. He’s tough. He’s fighting through it, and he doesn’t make any excuses. He wasn’t raised like that. We’re not making any excuses. We don’t do that.”
The Buffaloes’ refusal to run the ball and struggling on the rare occasion they tried to was a big storyline in this one yet again. Colorado finished the game with -7 rushing yards, leaving the offense vulnerable and predictable again. Travis Hunter starred as a receiver, reeling in eight passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Overall, it was the defense that shined for Colorado, forcing two first half turnovers and keeping CU in the game for long stretches while the offense was in the mud.
“Those guys are coming along well, and I’m truly proud of them,” Sanders said of his defense. “But it’s always one play here and there that causes you to sit in this seat and have this mood that I have right now.”
Photo Cred: Washington Post
On the Oregon State side, Uiagalelei finished 12-for-24 with 223 yards and the crucial touchdown before halftime. The Beavers established themselves on the ground early and often in this one. Running back Damien Martinez racked up 115 rushing yards on 21 carries. This loss marks three in a row for Colorado and five out of their last six as they fall to just 4-5 on the year, with bowl eligibility looking unlikely in year one of the Coach Prime era. They cap off their home slate next weekend against red-hot Arizona, who comes in after defeating three straight ranked opponents. Kick-off next Saturday will be at noon MST.