Skip to main content

Buffs Notes: Freshman Rice Has Big Game For Buffs

Dec 12, 2020
Brenden Rice had a receiving touchdown and punt return for a score Saturday for Colorado.

BOULDER — Brenden Rice made some history Saturday afternoon for the Colorado Buffaloes.

But despite a receiving touchdown and punt return touchdown by the true freshman in the span of less than two minutes, the Buffs came up short in their bid to remain unbeaten, dropping a 38-21 decision to visiting Utah.

"I have to say it kind of hurts," Rice said. "We were doing so well all season with our drive and passion in the locker room. At the end of the day, you have got to be afraid of losing as much as you want to win. And you just have to keep pushing towards your goals, and I think we lost track of that. We got too excited after the first half and we couldn't keep up the pace."

Rice, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, gave the Buffs a 14-7 lead in the second quarter when he took a Utah punt and raced 81 yards untouched to the end zone with just 1:30 left in the first half.

Then, just 21 seconds into the second half, he took a short pass from quarterback Sam Noyer and raced 61 yards to paydirt to give the Buffs a 21-10 lead.

Rice was actually one of two Buffs back to receive on the punt. He figured the kick would go Stanley's way.

"The whole punt team was moving towards Dimitri," Rice said. "I'm trying to get in front of them trying to block for a punt returner, and then as soon as I saw the ball in the air, I knew I had to go get it. Go try to make a play, so I cut downfield heading towards the kicker. Hopefully I can slip by him because I know if I get tackled by the kicker my teammates are going to talk crap to me all the time. I just wanted to contribute to the team." 

Rice, who scored his first touchdown as a Buff against Stanford earlier this season, became the first CU player since 1981 to catch a touchdown pass and score a touchdown on a return in the same game.

The last player to do it? Walter Stanley, whose son is Dimitri.

Colorado coach Karl Dorrell no doubt liked what he saw from Rice, but said there's still improvement to be made.

"He's a player that we feel has a lot of upside," Dorrell said. "He's trending up and he's getting better week after week, so it was fun to see him make a few plays. I thought he had a dropped pass today, though, so I won't be too high on his bandwagon. But he's making really good progress. We're happy he's getting acclimated into the college level of play. He'll continue to get better." 

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Rice, who prepped at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., was a member of the 2020 recruiting class.

Saturday yielded his first loss as a collegian.

 "Honestly we just have to watch the film and drop it," Rice said. "We'll get ready for practice next week because it is in the past now. We can't do anything about the past, we just need to push forward."  

FOURTH DOWN STAND: Late in the third quarter, the Utes had a chance to give themselves a nice cushion when they produced a first-and-goal at the Colorado 7-yard line.

Two plays later, they had a third-and-goal from the 1 — and CU's defense sent them away empty handed. The Buffs forced an incompletion on third down, then produced a four-yard loss on fourth down to keep Colorado's deficit at 24-21.

It was the eighth time an opponent has tried to convert a fourth down this year, and the seventh time the Buffs have thwarted the attempt.

Colorado's defense then held Utah to a field goal on the Utes' next possession, and the Buffs offense regained possession with more than nine minutes remaining and a chance to take the lead.

But the drive stalled at the Utah 34-yard line when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Utes then scored on a 66-yard run to basically put the game away.

LANDMAN INJURED: CU's leading tackler for the season, inside linebacker Nate Landman, suffered what Dorrell said was an ankle injury in the first half and did not return. Dorrell said Landman, a senior, is almost certainly finished for the season. He was credited with six tackles Saturday before his injury. If that number is correct — and if he does not return next season — he would finish with 337 career tackles, 11th on CU's all-time list. He would also have 46 third-down stops, third on the all-time list. 

BUFFS BITS: Colby Pursell returned to the starting lineup for CU, getting the nod at center after missing the last three games with an injury … Kanan Ray got the start at guard. The Buffs were missing regular Kary Kutsch, out due to coronavirus protocol; and Chance Lytle, injured last week … In the first half Saturday, Utah averaged 2.6 yards per carry while rushing for 47 yards on 18 carries. In the second half, with CU missing Landman, the Utes rushed for 145 yards while averaging 6.6 yards per carry … Utah was flagged for a penalty just once all day, and the penalty was declined by Colorado as the play produced a 41-yard completion to La'Vontae Shenault. Thus, the Utes finished with zero penalties while Colorado was penalized four times for 35 yards … Temperature at kickoff was 23 degrees, making it the 10th coldest game in CU history and seventh coldest at home. The coldest is still a 1911 home game against Colorado A&M that saw the temperature at 7 degrees at kickoff … CU running back Jarek Broussard (80 yards on 14 carries) was held under 100 yards for the first time this year. But he still has 813 rushing yards in five games, the second-most of any Buff ever in the first five games of a season. He trails only Rashaan Salaam (893) in that category and is still averaging 162.6 yards per game … CU is now 24-30-1 when wearing all-black uniforms; the Buffs are 3-20 in black helmets and 0-8 when in black from head-to-toe.