The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season took a turn in Week 7 against the Oregon Ducks. They left Eugene with a bad taste in their mouth after a 45-3 drubbing by the Ducks. Things would only get worse in rain-soaked Pullman, Washington as the Buffaloes were dealt another blowout, 41-10, by the Washington State Cougars.
The goal of the 2019 Colorado Buffaloes season was to see the team make a bowl game after two disappointing “bowl-less” 5-7 campaigns in 2017 and 2018. After a 3-1 start, there was optimism that the team could get to the six-win benchmark to appear in a bowl game. However, inconsistencies in every aspect of the game have put their goal in serious jeopardy.
A Start to Forget
Mel Tucker tried to give his offense a jump start against WSU after a zero-touchdown performance in Oregon. He elected to receive the opening kickoff to get his offense going. The Buffaloes would provide a valiant attempt at backing up Tucker’s decision as the offense moved into field goal range. However, James Stefanou would miss a 48-yard field goal, and this would mark the beginning of another tough game for the Buffaloes.
Ultimately, the defense was unable to stop the Cougars’ Air Raid attack in the first quarter. The offense, led by Steven Montez, was struggling. Montez threw a floater on the team’s second offensive possession that was intercepted. Unfortunately, the defense could not stop the bleeding. Washington State RB Max Borghi, who was once committed to play for the Buffaloes, broke down the Buffaloes defense and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. After many first-quarter breakdowns, the Buffaloes found themselves in a 21-3 hole.
Offense and Defense are not able to help each other
The defense was able to execute some damage control in the 2nd quarter as they stopped the Washington State offense on a fourth down. An attempt to cut into the Cougars’ lead was stifled as Montez again rolled out of the pocket, threw off his back foot, and was intercepted in the end zone. That deflated the team and fans because it reminded them of the two interceptions in the Oregon end zone in College Football Week 7. It was his sixth interception in six quarters.
With this set of experienced receivers and a fifth-year senior quarterback, it’s easy to be frustrated by the lack of cohesion shown by the Buffaloes’ offense on a week-to-week basis. Montez had a wide-open touchdown to Shenault early in the third quarter which he overthrew slightly but was dropped. The defense was on damage control as the game was still within three scores, but the offense could not capitalize quickly enough. On the next offensive possession, Shenault would score a 6-yard touchdown from the wildcat to cut the lead to 24-10, but the defense ran out of gas, as the Cougars scored touchdowns on their next two possessions to put the game out of reach.
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For the second straight week, Montez was pulled out of the game in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Tyler Lytle entered but appeared to injure his shoulder on the one play he was in. Third-string quarterback Blake Stenstrom took the reigns, and his first pass would be intercepted. This sequence summed up the last two weeks for the Buffaloes, as nothing went right. Stenstrom would finish the game, but the Buffaloes would leave Pullman with an even worse taste in their mouths after a 41-10 defeat.
The loss leaves refrain of “Same Old Buffs”
The Mel Tucker era got off to a promising start, but these last two games have felt like a massive step back for the progress of the program. It always takes a few years to gauge where a program may be headed under new leadership. The injury bug has caught up with them and there seems to be a talent margin between them and the top teams in the Pac-12, as the Buffaloes sit at 3-4. They will have to go 3-2 in their remaining five games, all Pac-12 encounters, to be eligible for a bowl game.
Looking ahead to Colorado Buffaloes Week 9
The players will have to respond to the tests that Tucker and his staff put them through to avoid a repeat of 2018. They will have a chance to show their response under the Folsom Field lights against the USC Trojans in College Football Week 9. This game is a must-win for the Buffaloes if they hope to make a bowl game. History is not on their side, however, as they have failed to beat USC in 13 tries. On the other hand, USC has not won a road game yet this season, and every Buffaloes’ home games have been within one possession. However, players and fans alike will want to get the bad taste of embarrassing road defeats out of their mouths, and will be relentless in their efforts to beat the Trojans and get back to .500 on the season.