In last year’s Colorado/Arizona game in Boulder, quarterback Khalil Tate came off the bench after an injury to the Wildcats’ starting QB and, uh, had what you might call a really good game.
At least that’s what you would have called it if you had a very limited vocabulary. Unreal, spectacular, superhuman and many other adjectives might be more accurate in describing Tate’s performance on that particular day as he rushed for a quarterback-record 327 yards in his debut.
Thankfully, the Buffaloes’ defense held Tate in check on the ground this time around. The explosive junior managed only 15 yards on 4 carries.
Unfortunately for Colorado fans, there’s another aspect of the quarterback position that the Buffs’ defense might just have overlooked. Yeah, the ol’ passing part of the game. It turns out Khalil Tate is more than capable of putting up numbers through the air, as well. Numbers that read like this, to be precise: 17 of 22 for 350 yards and 5 touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 42-34 victory.
Now before anyone gets too deliriously excited about Colorado’s run defense against the Arizona QB, maybe it should be pointed out that UA pounded its way to 216 yards on the ground. Sophomore J.J. Taylor chewed up the Buffaloes for 192 yards on 40 carries.
Offensively, Colorado is simply not the same team without wideout Laviska Shenault. The Buffs’ jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. And their passing game put up big numbers, 343 yards to be exact. But you just never got the feeling that a big play was imminent minus the presence of Shenault. The play of the day through the air was a 57 yard Steven Montez pass to running back Travon McMillian.
Those Colorado passing numbers are much easier to explain when you note that Arizona limited the Buffs’ running game to 40 yards on 32 carries. Yards do tend to come through the air where your running game is utterly stuffed.
After four straight losses, a team that once had designs on a quality bowl berth is now staring in the mirror, wondering if the team looking back at them is even capable of winning another game.
QB Steven Montez
Montez had, statistically speaking anyway, a good game. The junior completed 27 of 42 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown. It’s difficult to truly gauge his performance, however, considering how little the Colorado offense was able to do on the ground. All in all, you have to be pleased with Montez’s performance.
Draft Stock: 5th round
Preview for Washington State
Montez should have a successful passing day on Saturday. The Cougars secondary is the strength of their defense, but Montez has faced his share of top DB’s in the past few weeks and more than held his own. If the Buffs are to have any shot at an upset Saturday, it absolutely has to start with their QB.
RB Travon McMillian
McMillian continues to be the most consistent offensive weapon for Colorado. At Arizona, the senior carried 11 times for 59 yards. He was the extent of the Buffalo running attack. He also provided the biggest play of the day for Colorado, with a 57-yard catch and run for a second-quarter touchdown.
Preview for Washington State: If the past few games are any indication, McMillian will find himself picking his spots against an opponent dead set on stopping him and forcing Steven Montez to do the majority of the work through the air.
If McMillian remains patient through the early portion of Saturday’s game, he could just find himself putting together another triple-digit rushing game.
WR Laviska Shenault
Another Shenault-less game for Colorado and, yes, another loss. The latest word from the Buffalo coaching staff is that the stud receiver is yet again day to day. If he’s unable to go again this weekend, I expect to see the Buffs try to use K.D. Nixon in a similar fashion to what they did with Shenault in the first few games this year.
LB Rick Gamboa
The senior had possibly his most productive game of the season in Tucson, certainly his most active, recording 9 total tackles with 8 solos. It sure seemed like a long time coming for the Buffaloes’ senior leader.
Draft Stock: 7th round
Preview for Washington State: It should be a classic Mike Leach-coached game when the Cougars visit Boulder on Saturday. That means the football will be flying around the field early and often.
It also most certainly means Gamboa will be covering more of the field than he has in any game this season. Because of Washington State’s wide-open philosophy, I don’t expect a boatload of tackles for the Buffs’ LB. But I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him step up with a handful of stops and possibly even a pass or two defended.
Worthington’s absence last week was very poorly timed, to say the least.
Colorado will need all hands on deck this weekend with No. 10 WSU coming to Boulder. Worthington will certainly be key against the pass-happy Cougars. There has certainly never been a better time for Worthington to show his worth.