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Colorado Buffaloes Week 5 Grades And Week 6 Matchup

Aside from an early touchdown and three fairly meaningless field goals by UCLA, Colorado’s performance against the Bruins last Friday can only be described thusly: Dominating. The numbers speak volumes:

Total Yards:

Colorado – 477, UCLA – 289

1st Downs:

Colorado – 26, UCLA – 15

Time of Possession:

Colorado – 35 minutes to UCLA’s 25

Granted, the Bruins are in the very early stages of a rebuilding of their program under first-year head coach Chip Kelly, but I’m certainly not going to put an asterisk next to a big win. Any big win.

QB Steven Montez

Montez had what might have been the best all-around game of this still-young season, completing 84% of his passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. The athletic junior complimented his passing day with 81 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Like I said earlier, all of this was accomplished against a UCLA team that is still getting its feet wet under Kelly. But those would be pretty impressive numbers against any FBS team.

Grade: A-

Draft stock – 3rd Round

Preview for Arizona State: 

The Sun Devil defense leads the PAC 12 in sacks and tackles for loss, which could mean one of two things, either the O-Line is able to give Montez time to exploit the aggressiveness of ASU for a number of big plays, or the Buffs QB is forced into bad play after bad play. I’m leaning toward the former.

WR Laviska Shenault Jr.

The dynamic sophomore continues to make heads turn with his weekly performances. Against UCLA, Shenault snared 12 passes for 126 yards, including an impressive 57-yard touchdown catch well behind the Bruin secondary. For good measure, the playmaking wideout added a one-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter.

Grade: A

Draft stock – 2nd Round

Preview for Arizona State: 

Like I mentioned in the Montez preview, the aggressiveness of the Arizona State defense could very well offer Shenault some prime opportunities for big plays, especially against a Sun Devils secondary that I consider to be mediocre at best. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Buffs’ offense continue to open things up for him, possibly with more motion and formations putting him in position for more running opportunities. Those opportunities may well start on Saturday.

HB Travon McMillian

McMillian, the Virginia Tech grad transfer, is averaging 7.3 yards per carry through four games. Against UCLA, he continued to churn up the yardage, carrying a season-high 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. McMillian’s coaches appear to be gaining more confidence in him by the week, as evidenced by his increased workload.

Grade: B+

Draft stock: 5th – 6th round

Preview for Arizona State: 

Seeing how the Sun Devils D leads the Pac 12 in tackles for loss, Saturday could prove to be a true measuring stick for McMillian. To this point in the season, he has been very limited in the passing game, with only three receptions through the season’s first four games. If Colorado’s offensive coaches can figure out a way to get their lead back more involved in that part of the game plan, it could open things up even more for McMillian in the run game. I’m not sure that will happen against Arizona State Saturday. A true test this week for McMillian.

LB Rick Gamboa

Against UCLA, the senior LB recorded five tackles, all solo. He also defended one pass against the Bruins.  All in all, it was a somewhat lackluster performance from one of the team’s defensive leaders.  

Grade: C

Draft stock: 7th round/UFA

Preview for Arizona State:

The Sun Devils switched to more of a gap-blocking scheme two weeks ago against Washington in order to basically impose their will on defensive fronts.

Or, as Arizona Sports 98.7 quoted Devils OC Rob Likens, you can “pound on people a little bit.  Bruise people up”. 

That scheme and philosophy certainly paid dividends last week, as sophomore RB Eno Benjamin rushed for 312 yards and 3 TDs in a blowout win over Oregon State. Clearly, it will be on Gamboa to lead the Colorado defense against what promises to be the biggest challenge yet for the Buffs in 2018.

SS Evan Worthington

To this point in the season, it has been a statistically disappointing season for Worthington. The stat line shows 17 total tackles and two passes defended through four games. The UCLA game saw Worthington collect two tackles and the two defended passes. But I’m not sure that statistics are the end all, be all, for the senior safety. Leadership at the back end of the defense seems far more important for this defense. I think Worthington offers that leadership.

Grade: C

Draft stock: 6th-7th round

Preview for Arizona State:

I see Saturday’s game as a huge test of the run support ability of Worthington and his cohorts in the secondary. The Sun Devils have been pounding the ball down the throats of their last two opponents with their revised running game philosophy. Worthington should get his chance for a big game this weekend in the run defense category.  

Mike Clark

Author Mike Clark

Founder of the sports blog Redbloodedsports.com Member, Football Writers Association of America

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