The University of Colorado football team faced their biggest challenge this weekend when they played against Arizona State. Colorado won in Boulder 28-21 and kept their record unblemished at 5-0. ASU has been a little inconsistent to start the season, but they are the hardest team Colorado has faced yet. Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. continue to dominate their opponents. Montez finished 24-33, with 328 yards and two touchdowns. Shenault did everything he could for the Buffaloes with 140 total yards and four touchdowns. He caught both of Montez’s touchdown passes and ran in both of Colorado’s rushing touchdowns. Neither team had a turnover, so up until the third quarter the game was very back and forth. Everything ASU did, Colorado did the following play. Even when ASU missed a field goal late in the first, Colorado came back down the field and missed one of their own. Colorado won the game, but it felt like the game could have gone either way.
ASU has had a bumpy start to the season after their first two games. Arizona ranked No. 23 after a win against then No. 15 ranked Michigan State. They started their season 2-0 after that game, but since that they have gone 1-3. All of their losses this season have been by a touchdown and this loss was no different. Colorado showed some areas that they have worked on, like defending the run game. Colorado only allowed 145 rushing yards this game, but Arizona does not have a strong running offense. The pass defense was decent for the Buffaloes, but they allowed too many big plays. Manny Wilkins went 12-18, but he had 222 yards and touchdown pass that he threw deep between two Colorado defenders. Arizona State does not have the best offense, but they tested CU with a decent run game and pass game. It wasn’t ASU’s best performance on offense, but the Buffs took advantage of it.
Colorado has been electric when they let Montez and Shenault control the offense, but they still struggle in the run game. This was clear in the game as Shenault scored both of CU’s rushing touchdowns. Colorado’s running backs keep posting decent stats, but the obvious inability to get into the end zone is concerning. Shenault is shifty and provides a more athletic rusher in the end zone, but the other backs need to start scoring before Shenault gets hurt on an unnecessary rush. Shenault ranks third in the nation in receiving yards, and they need to keep him healthy, so he can continue to help the Buffaloes in that area. Montez ranks 28th in the nation in passing yards, so both players are showing outstanding season so far. One thing the Colorado offense has done two weeks in a row is getting something done on their first possession. Against UCLA and ASU, Colorado has punted on their first offensive possessions. In both games, CU’s opponents go on to score a touchdown and force the Buffaloes to strike back. The offensive play calling needs to be more aggressive with the pass. Montez has shown time and time again that he can make difficult passes and just make better decisions when the ball is in his hands. The play calling obviously is to get the run game going, but at some point CU needs to start being more aggressive.
Colorado proved again that this season will be better season than last year. The Buffs have grown up and are showing their ability to win tough games. ASU and UCLA are good wins for Colorado, but the real test will take place over the next two weeks. The team plays at USC and at Washington for their next two games. These games will be the real test of strength, and if they can defeat these teams, they will be seen at as a serious bowl game contender. The team still has work to do before they face USC, but they carry the momentum into that game. Hopefully they prepare well and continue to play good offense like they have. then they might have a chance to upset these teams on the road.