If the Colorado Buffaloes are to win their final regular season game on Saturday against Cal and become bowl-eligible, they will do so without coach Mike MacIntyre on the sidelines.
The 2016 national coach of the year, MacIntyre was fired after the Buffs’ lost their sixth straight game, this one a 30-7 pounding at the hands of Utah last weekend in Boulder.
In a season that has become an ongoing series of Yogi Berra “deja vu all over again(s)”, the Buffs kept that theme going on Saturday. After jumping out in front 7-0 in the latter stages of the first quarter, the Buffaloes’ offense gradually succumbed to a Utah D that registered 16 tackles for loss and 6 sacks by six different players.
The Utah offense also eventually settled in and had their way with the Buffaloes on the snowy surface at Folsom Field. The Utes totaled 169 yards on the ground to go with a pretty impressive 221 yards through the air on that chilly, snow-covered field.
Colorado was particularly putrid on offense, however, leading former coach MacIntyre to mention that his team was “just inept on offense right now.” Apparently, that interviewer forgot to ask about the team’s D.
The Colorado signal-caller had a day that, hopefully, both the QB and the Buffalo faithful will soon forget. Montez finished his day 13 of 22 for 84 yards and an interception before leaving the game in the latter stages with an injury.
With super soph wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. back for the second straight week, along with fellow sophomore K.D. Nixon, you certainly couldn’t have been faulted too terribly for expecting a much better day from Montez.
If you’re an avid excuse-maker, then just go with cold weather and a little snow as the reason for the junior QB’s unremarkable day. Sure, let’s go with that. Because, you know, the conditions were obviously markedly better whenever Utah had possession.
Draft Stock: 6th round
Preview for Cal
The Golden Bear defense is 18th nationally, and 20th in passing yards per game allowed. Their D has been steadily improving as the season has progressed.
This sounds eerily similar to the defensive stats of the Buffs’ previous two opponents, although I don’t think Cal has quite the number of elite defensive athletes that neither Washington State or Utah had.
Montez has gone two straight games without a TD pass. That’s two straight games that both featured Shenault in the lineup. With the weather no doubt being far better this Saturday than last, the pressure will be mounting for the Buffs’ offensive leader to do just that: lead.
If he’s recovered from the injury and plays, I could see the possibility of an interim coach having a go-for-broke approach against Cal on Saturday. If that’s the case, good things could be in the offing for Montez this weekend.
“Mr. Reliable” had, at least based on his production otherwise this season, a down day on Saturday. But I’m not sure that his numbers necessarily tell the whole story of his game against Utah.
McMillian put Colorado up late in the first quarter with a 13-yard touchdown run. Unfortunately for the workhorse HB, the Utes’ offense began to take over, limiting his carries from that point forward as the Buffaloes played catch up for the duration of the game. He finished the day with 41 yards on 13 carries.
Draft Stock: 5th/6th round
Preview for Cal
Cal-Berkeley’s defense is considerably better at defending the pass than they are at stopping the run. So, although they have one of the top D’s in the PAC-12, I think that ranking is somewhat skewed. I don’t think the Golden Bears can bottle up McMillian, certainly not for an entire four quarters.
Considering all that the Colorado program has gone through over the past week, I could very well see Travon McMillian picking up the leadership mantel, having a monster game on Saturday and leading the Buffs to the bowl promised land.
In his second game back from the turf toe injury, Shenault had what might be considered, at least by the lofty standard he set for himself this season, an off day. The Buffs’ playmaker had 9 catches for 64 yards. I’m not sure if those totals are more a reflection of the conditions in Boulder last weekend or the general ineffectiveness of the Colorado offense at this point in the season.
For most receivers, Shenault’s day would have been one to tell the grandkids about, but, as I said, he’s set some lofty expectations for himself.
Draft stock: 2nd round
Preview for Cal
The Golden Bears D is stronger against the pass than they are at stopping the ground game. Some might think that with the injury to Montez that Cal might have an even more effective game plan for Shenault, but I don’t quite see it that way.
Regardless of Montez’s status, I think the Buffs’ stud receiver will benefit from another week of treatment on that toe as well as better playing conditions in Berkeley. I see Shenault finishing the regular season with a bang.
MLB Rick Gamboa
The senior middle backer had perhaps his best all-around game in the snow last Saturday. The numbers are good-8 tackles, 3 solo. 1/2 tackle for loss and 1 pass defended.
But those numbers might be a tad misleading. All things considered on Saturday, including the poorly executed, turnover-laden offense and the less-than-ideal playing field, Gamboa’s production tells me this is a football player who was intent on leaving it on the field in the last home game of his career.
Draft stock: 7th round/UFA
Preview for Cal
While the Golden Bears’ defense is solid, particularly against the pass, their offense is nothing to write home about. Having returned the bulk of their starters from last season, I think folks around the Berkeley program expected more offensive production.
With Gamboa looking like he’s got his game back after several subpar performances, I’m looking for his final regular season game to be one of his best ever.
The senior missed yet another game with concussion issues.
Preview for Cal
He’s listed as questionable for this weekend. If he can play then that’s yet another reason to think that Colorado’s defense can put the clamps on Cal and let Messrs. McMillian and Shenault take their chances with a mediocre D.