BOULDER — Colorado’s offensive line took a step forward Saturday, giving up just three quarterback sacks in the Buffaloes’ 34-31 loss to Arizona.
Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders entered the game as the most-sacked quarterback in the nation. Saturday’s three sacks matches the fewest given up by Colorado in any game this year.
“I feel like it’s an improvement,” said Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders. “I praised the line all game long. They gave us a clean pocket at times and there were times (Shedeur) had to scramble. You’re going to do that because the opposing team is going to blitz sometimes. But overall, I really think they’ve improved tremendously.”
Saturday was the second game with recently promoted Pat Shurmur calling the plays. CU seemed to focus a little more on quick drops and getting the ball out of Sanders’ hands quickly, but he was still under pressure for much of the game. His ability to scramble was also a major factor in limiting the number of sacks and he finished as CU’s leading rusher with 42 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run.
“We’re not as (up) tempo as we once were,” Coach Prime said. “Instead of going fast, I wanted to get it right. And they did a phenomenal job. They did a good enough job to win. We just have to support them defensively. I think he called a phenomenal game. He really did.”
Shurmur was named co-offensive coordinator alongside Sean Lewis.
“They called a phenomenal game because it’s a collaborative effort,” Coach Prime said. “When you hear it on the set, they’re working together as one and they’re unified.”
SEASON AND SUCCESS? Sanders was asked whether he thought this year had been a success.
“In many aspects, certainly,” he said. “I feel as though every time these fans come into the stadium there’s an expectation for us to win. I think that’s progress … We have consistency in several positions that are phenomenal and I truly feel that there’s progress.”
Sanders did say there are some “inconsistencies in some positions.”
“We know the problem, we identified it, and we’re going to fix it,” he said. “That’s progress because we know what the problem is, and we have the aptitude to fix it. I really feel like we’re underachieving from my standards, but when you really look at it, I’m pretty sure you see a better football team out on the field each and every Saturday. Just ask the fans.”
ANOTHER BIG DAY FOR HUNTER: Colorado cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter continued to prove he is among the nation’s most versatile players.
Hunter again played on both sides of the ball for most of the game. He finished with five catches for 74 yards on offense and was credited with six tackles — one for loss — and a pass breakup on defense.
PENALTY PROBLEMS: The Buffs entered the game as one of the Pac-12’s most penalized teams, and they finished the day with 11 flags for 83 yards. Several of those penalties helped keep Arizona scoring drives alive while others ended CU drives prematurely.
“That’s discipline on the field, discipline off the field,” Sanders said. “Those little moments and those little penalties are costly because at the end of the day they add up … We controlled the clock, we controlled the ball, we just came up short — but those costly little penalties, those little knucklehead plays are going to cost you every time.”
GETTING TIRED OF ‘CLOSE’: Sanders admitted the Buffs’ string of narrow losses is frustrating.
“Each week I see improvement in certain areas,” he said. “But we sit up here week in and week out and it’s the situation where we could have won. We could have won the darn game … I’m tired of how we could have won. I’m tired of that part. We should have won. There ain’t no losing in me. Losing doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t rock well with me and don’t lay down with me. We have some phenomenal men in that locker room that feel the same way. We just have to be a lot more disciplined, understand what’s at hand and stand up to the task on every darn play. And we’re going to get there. I promise you. I don’t know when, but we “We’re going to get there.”
BOWL ELIGIBILITY? The Buffs need to win their last two games — at Washington State and at Utah — to become bowl eligible, but Sanders said that’s not on their minds.
“It’s about one game at a time,” he said. “It’s about doing the little things to win one game at a time. It’s about winning the personal battles one play at a time. It’s about dominating the guy in front of you, flipping the guy in front of you, and being successful versus the guy in front of you. You got to win to down. You got to win the series. We got to win the quarter, we got to win the half, then we win the game. After we win the game, we do it all over again. So we’re not thinking about bowls. We are thinking about doing what we need to do to improve.”
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