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Buffs Notes: Broussard Continues To Roll, Defense Dials Up Another Second Half Shutout

Dec 5, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. — Perhaps the only people who aren't startled at the incredible breakout season of Colorado running back Jarek Broussard are the people who matter most.

That would be the folks who have been watching him practice since the day the Buffaloes opened fall camp.

"I don't think any of us are surprised," CU coach Karl Dorrell said after Broussard rushed for 301 yards on 35 carries in CU's 24-13 win over Arizona on Saturday. "He was doing the same type of thing during training camp."

But there's also no doubt Broussard is also causing folks around the nation to do a double take when they see his statistics.

Saturday, the redshirt sophomore became the first running back in CU history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first four games, and became only the fourth CU back in Buffs annals to hit the 300-yard mark. He had runs of 75, 59 and 72 yards, two of which set up touchdowns in the second quarter and the third putting the Buffs in position for the game-clinching field goal late in the fourth.

All this from a back who just a few months ago was not considered more than an afterthought on CU's depth chart because of knee injuries that allowed him to dress (but not play) in his first two years in Boulder.

Dorrell joked that once Broussard is able to shed the knee brace he still wears, he'll pick up more yards and a few more touchdowns. Broussard had three scores in CU's first win of the year over UCLA, but Saturday came up short on all three long runs.

"He's a dynamite player," Dorrell said. "I'm just so excited for him. He's just doing the things that he's natural at doing. He has great vision, he knows seams, he hits it, he makes the most of his opportunities."

Broussard has done his best to shrug off accolades since he first hit the spotlight. But he does admit the long hours of rehab and time in the weight room coming back have given him reason to be proud.

"All of the hard work, hours of rehab, and cold nights in the hospital, it is all just paying off," he said. "It feels real good."

Broussard is quickly rewriting CU's record books, putting his name alongside such Buffs greats as Byron White, Eric Bieniemy and Rashaan Salaam.

His 301-yard effort Saturday came on the fourth anniversary of the death of Salaam, CU's only Heisman Trophy winner to date. Broussard is also now fourth on CU's all-time single-game rushing list, trailing only Charlie Davis (342 vs. Oklahoma State in 1971), Salaam (317 vs. Texas in 1994) and Chris Brown (309 vs. Kansas in 2002).

"It was really huge to do that," Broussard said. "Every day we walk in the Champions Center and walk past that (Heisman) trophy. It means a lot to be in that kind of company with that sort of player."

SECOND HALF SHUTOUT: A week ago, Colorado's defense gave up just a field goal in a 20-10 win over San Diego State, with the Aztecs' only touchdown coming on an interception return.

Saturday, the defense struggled early, giving up 13 points in the first 17 minutes — but then blanked the Wildcat the rest of the way. Defensive coordinator Tyson Summers' crew came up with two huge red zone stops in the fourth quarter, getting an interception in the end zone on one Arizona drive, then stopping the Wildcats on four straight plays after UA had gained a first-and-goal at the CU 7-yard line.

"Our defense did a nice job of getting themselves back in control," Dorrell said. "(Arizona) had a couple great opportunities to put points on the board and they went for a couple fourth-down situations and the defense came up big. They were inside the 5-yard line and we had a tackle for loss play and we created a huge play on fourth and 5."

Linebacker Nate Landman had the tackle for loss, stuffing Arizona's Gary Brightwell 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage on third down. Mekhi Blackmon then had the big pass breakup in the end zone on fourth down.

After allowing 51 points in the second half in the first two games, CU had held opponents scoreless in the second half the last two games.

MR. INSIDE AND MR. OUTSIDE: Back in the 1940s, Army running backs Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis were known as "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside," leading the Black Knights to three national titles with each winning a Heisman Trophy.

The Buffaloes are rapidly developing their own version of Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside on defense. 

Inside 'backer Landman, who earlier in the week was named a Butkus Award semifinalist, finished with 16 tackles (12 solo), including 3.5 for loss with a sack in Saturday's win. His roommate, outside linebacker Carson Wells, had 11 tackles (seven solo), including four tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks.

That came on the heels of their efforts against San Diego State, when Wells had four tackles for loss and a sack and Landman had three sacks, helping him earn national player of the week honors as well as boosting him to a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.

"We've been together for like two years and this whole quarantine," Wells said. "Obviously when I went home, I worked out with my dad (during the shutdown), but once we got back, I would do the workouts with Drew (Wilson, strength coach) and we had a field across from my house so we would go and do extra work and that is really paying off."

RUN, RUN, RUN: Colorado's 407 yards rushing Saturday were the most since 427 yards at Kansas on Oct. 12, 2002 — but it was the only the second-most in 23 games against Arizona. CU's all-time high of 551 yards rushing came against the Wildcats in 1958.

How dominant was Colorado's rushing game Saturday? Figure this:

The Buffs had three touchdown drives covering a total of 253 yards (95, 78 and 80). The Buffs threw just two passes on all three drives combined, and completed just one (12 yards). Meanwhile, Broussard had runs of 75 and 59 yards to spark two of the scoring drives while quarterback Sam Noyer had a 54-yarder on the third. 

Throw in Colorado's game clinching 94-yard field goal drive late in the fourth quarter — no pass attempts — and the Buffs' scoring drives for the evening covered 347 yards with just one pass completion and 335 yards on the ground.

LINEUP SHUFFLE: The Buffs had some new faces in the starting lineup Saturday. With offensive lineman Kary Kutsch unable to make the trip because of covid-related issues, sophomore Josh Jynes got his first career start at center. Also getting a starting nod was inside linebacker Jonathan Van Diest, stepping in for Akil Jones, who missed the game to be with his newborn son.

The Buffs then had to juggle their offensive line even more in the second half when Chance Lytle went out with a serious leg injury. Stepping in and helping the Buffs drive to their final score was sophomore Kanan Ray.

Dorrell called Lytle's injury "significant" and said it would likely require surgery.

The injury also provided a moment of sportsmanship. As Lytle was being placed on a stretcher and taken off the field, his CU teammates came by to wish him well. Joining the Buffs were a number of Arizona players as well, including several defensive linemen with whom Lytle had been battling all night.

BUFFS BITS: Dorrell is the fifth CU coach to open his Buffs career with four straight wins. He joins Harry Heller (won his first seven in 1894), Willis Kleinholtz (six in 1905), T.W. Mortimer (five in 1900) and Rick Neuheisel (five in 1995). He is the sixth coach to open 3-0 in conference games, but the first since Jim Yeager in 1941. This is also the first time the Buffs have been 3-0 in conference play since 2002 … Colorado had a season-high five quarterback sacks, with four on third downs for the second straight game … Freshman Ashaad Clayton scored the first touchdowns of his career, reaching the end zone twice in the first half.

RANKINGS: The Buffs received a handful of votes in last week's national polls, and will likely be in the top 25 when the new polls are released Sunday.

"If we continue to win games, I would feel that we should garner that attention," Dorrell said. "I feel that if we keep taking care of our business — we're 4-0 and we've made the most of each opportunity we've had … But I don't necessarily concern myself too much about that. The things that we can control, we're managing those things really well, which is winning games."