Buffs Notes: Close Finishes, Noyer to Stanley Stands Out, Defense Stops Stanford Run Game
STANFORD, Calif. — While it might not be a good thing for Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell's heart, the Buffaloes' ability to hold off opponents' comebacks is teaching them a valuable lesson.
Mainly, how to react with their backs to the wall.
A week ago, CU had to fight off a UCLA rally after the Bruins shaved a 35-7 lead down to a single score. Colorado prevailed, 48-42.
Saturday, the Buffs led Stanford 35-16 early in the fourth quarter — then had to hold on before coming away with a 35-32 win on the Cardinal's home turf.
"This team is learning how to play in difficult circumstances," said Dorrell, who improved to 2-0 at Colorado. "That can be a great experience for them to continue to build on so that when we're in a championship type of game, we can say we've been there, we know how to gut it out and find a way to win."
Of course, Dorrell would rather his Buffs build a big lead — then hold onto it. But as he noted, football is a game of ebbs and flows, and Colorado still came away Saturday with what matters most — a win.
Now, he and his team will work on fixing the issues that allowed the big lead to nearly melt into nothing.
"We need to play cleaner," he said. "We need to continue to get better, but I'm very proud of these guys and the way they hung in there … We have a lot of work to complete and get better at in a lot of areas. But the thing about this team is they are resilient. They understand we have some struggles we need to work through and get better at."
NOYER, OFFENSE ROLL AGAIN: CU quarterback Sam Noyer appears to be doing his best to make up for lost time.
After spending his first three years at CU as a backup quarterback, then one more as a safety, he finally earned a starting job this year — and has been outstanding from the get-go.
Saturday, Noyer threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 36 yards and a pair of scores. That came on the heels of 257 yards and one touchdown passing and 64 yards and another score last week in a win over UCLA.
"Two and oh is a great feeling," Noyer said after Saturday's game. "It wasn't the prettiest win, but at the end of the day a 'W' is a 'W.' We have to build on this and keep going. We know we have to clean some things up. But we got rolling and the defense did a great job of getting us the ball back."
A week ago, Noyer made good use of tight end Brady Russell, who caught five passes for 77 yards. But when Russell left Saturday's game early with an injury, Noyer again turned to wide receiver Dimitri Stanley. The sophomore followed up last week's six-catch performance with another half-dozen Saturday, but they went for a career-high 126 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown that saw him turn a short pass into a long score.
"Dimitri's a great player," Noyer said. "You saw that last game and this game. Dimitri will make plays, whether it's a 5-yard dump-off that he takes to the house or a long ball across the middle. Dimitri is fearless. He plays hard every game. All of our guys can do that. You saw that throughout the game."
Seven different Buffs caught passes Saturday, including freshmen Brenden Rice, who had two for 38 yards, including a 34-yarder that produced the first touchdown of his career.
But the Buffs didn't do it only in the air. Jarek Broussard notched his second straight 100-yard effort, following up last week's 187-yard performance with a hard-earned 121 yards on 27 carries.
It was the 49th time in CU history the Buffs had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game. CU is 38-11 in those contests. Stanley also joined his father, Walter Stanley, as a 100-yard receiver. The elder Stanley had 222 yards against Texas Tech in 1981.
"Two and oh is a great feeling and we want to get to 3-0," Noyer said. "We have to go back and watch the film and correct those mistakes. We have something great going here. We're building something special with coach Dorrell. Everybody's buying in. Guys are having fun out there. It's good to see again."
RUSH DEFENSE: Colorado held Stanford starting running back Austin Jones to just nine yards on nine carries, one week after he had 100 yards against Oregon.
"Colorado did a good job, a lot of movement, a lot of inside pressures and they made it tough for him to get through," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He barely got back to the line most of the day. That's them out-scheming us and outperforming us. We believed we were prepared for what we saw, we didn't execute. We believe Austin's got a chance to be an outstanding running back, but we hae to get him to the line of scrimmage. That just didn't happen with any regularity today."
The Buffs finished with five tackles for loss, including a sack by linebacker Carson Wells, who also had another stop behind the line. Terrance Lang also had a pair of tackles for loss, including a huge stop on third down, and Nate Landman had one TFL and 14 total tackles.
BUFFS BITS: The Buffs had to come up with a key onside kick recovery for the second week in a row, and they accomplished the feat Saturday when La'Vontae Shenault came up with the Stanford attempt. Shenault also had three catches for 60 yards, with his 29-yard reception early his first catch as a Buff … CU's offensive line did not give up a sack … Freshman Ashaad Clayton had his first rushing attempt as a Buff, a 3-yard gain … The Buffs scored five touchdowns Saturday — more than they had scored against Stanford in their previous five meetings in Pac-12 play. CU had just four touchdowns in those five games (but still managed to win the last two contests).