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Sometimes in sports, a team loses its coach and responds with a game or two of inspired play under the leadership of the person tapped as the interim coach. Unfortunately for Colorado football fans, last Saturday night was not one of those times.

At least on the offensive side of the ball.

The Buffaloes committed five turnovers, digging themselves a hasty two-touchdown hole in the process, a hole which then grew to three touchdowns, from which they ultimately were unable to climb out of, dropping their 7th straight, 33-21.

Defensively, on the other hand, Colorado proved more than up to the task, limiting the Golden Bears to 211 total yards of offense and holding Cal to an unheard-of 1 of 17 on third downs.

One of the more impressive team defensive efforts you’ll see ultimately was for naught.  The Buffs’ D deserved a better outcome on this day.

QB Steven Montez

The Colorado QB had one for the ages on Saturday. No, we’re not talking about one of those memorable 5-touchdown days that put a quarterback on every football fan’s radar.  No, that is not what we’re talking about at all.

On the game’s third play, Montez connected with Cal cornerback Elijah Hicks on a 34-yard pick six. Three plays later the junior QB hit Golden Bear free safety Ashtyn Davis on a 35-yard interception return for that 14-0 deficit.

Montez finished 16 of 33 for 170 yards and two touchdowns to go along with those pesky INTs (3 of them).

Grade: D

Draft stock: 6th round

HB Travon McMillian

The workhorse back certainly could and probably would have had a solid statistical night had it not been for the fact that his team found itself down 21-0 after the game’s opening quarter.  Early three-touchdown deficits have never been known for opening up running lanes.

McMillian finished the game with 21 carries for 58 yards, all of them hard-earned.

Grade: C

Draft stock: 5th round

WR Laviska Shenault

When you’ve had the highlight reel season that Shenault has, the attention from DBs tends to come in heavy doses.  That was certainly the case Saturday, as Cal’s defense refused to let Shenault do so much as make a routine cut without tracking him sideline-to-sideline.

Battling ongoing turf toe injuries as well as the Golden Bear secondary, the Biletnikoff nominee nevertheless finished the night with 7 receptions for 65 yards, both team highs.

Grade: B

Draft stock: 2nd round

MLB Rick Gamboa

The senior fell victim to his own defense’s great day.  The Buffs’ D spent the entire game playing, as they say, with their hair on fire.  Gamboa’s line, 4 total tackles with 1/2 for loss, may have gotten lost among the litany of his teammates making endless plays all over the field Saturday.

The Colorado defensive leader certainly played no small part in his team’s holding Cal to that anemic 3rd down success rate.

Grade: C+

Draft stock: UFA

SS Evan Worthington

The line might not exactly jump out at you: 3 tackles, 1 sole.  1 pass defended.  Yeah, it’s not exactly Ronnie Lott-level stats for the Colorado senior.  Not on its face, anyway. 

But when you throw in the concussion issues that have been hounding Worthington for the better part of the past month, you tend to see the stats in a completely different light.

My question is, how might this season have turned out if a few of this team’s leaders, Evan Worthington among them (Shenault, anyone?) hadn’t been bitten by the injury bug?  That’s obviously a conversation for another day, another season.

Grade for Worthington: C+

Draft stock: 6th round

Mike Clark

Author Mike Clark

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

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