Buffs Notes: Defense Tires Down Stretch Vs. Gophers
BOULDER — While the Colorado offense's struggles were the headline issue for the Buffaloes in their 30-0 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, the defense was not quite as crisp as it had been a week previously against Texas A&M.
The Buffs defense did play reasonably well in the first half, holding Minnesota to 13 points. But as CU's offense continued to be unable to move the ball, the defense became more and more tired and the Gophers' punishing ground game took its toll down the stretch.
"There were probably issues on both sides of the coin," CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. "I felt defensively we hung in there at times. (But) we still missed a lot of tackles and we weren't getting guys down. So they were moving the ball and sustaining some drives and I do think because of the offensive inefficiencies, too, that creates a level of tiredness for the defense. So, it's a little bit that they didn't play as well as we expected and I think the offense compounded that too."
The Gophers didn't throw any new wrinkles at the Buffs. Colorado expected Minnesota to attempt to establish a run-first attack, and that's exactly what happened.
Still, Colorado did keep the game within striking distance for a half, as the Gophers led just 13-0 at intermission.
But when CU's offensive struggles continued through the third quarter — compounded by a pair of Buffs turnovers — the Gophers pushed their lead to 23-0 midway through the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Colorado did receive another solid performance from linebacker Nate Landman, who was in on 13 tackles (10 solo), including three for loss. Fellow 'backers Guy Thomas and Quinn Perry were each in on 10 tackles.
But unlike last week against A&M, the Buffs couldn't control the line of scrimmage and Minnesota's rushing attack slowly but steadily wore the Buffs down.
"We didn't play as well as we should have," said defensive end Carson Wells. "You have to look at yourself in the mirror as a man and you have to physically come back tomorrow with a better mindset and get ready to work again."
BUFFS BITS: Punter Josh Watts had the best day of his career, with five punts for 50 yards or more, including a career-best 63 yarder. He averaged 51.9 per attempt, the best since 2002 Ray Guy Award winner Mark Mariscal had a 57.4 average against USC … Running back Alex Fontenot needed 4 yards to hit the 1,000 mark for his career, and he hit the mark exactly, finishing with 4 yards on three carries … Colorado now leads the all-time series 3-1 … Saturday's game was the first time the Buffs have been shut out at home since a 48-0 loss to Stanford on Nov. 2, 2012. It's the first time the Buffs have been shut out overall since a 28-0 loss at Washington State on Oct. 21, 2017 … CU's 63 yards total offense was the eighth-lowest in school history and the fewest since gaining just 46 against Oklahoma in the 2004 Big 12 title game … TE Caleb Fauria and OL Noah Fenske saw their first action as Buffs on Saturday.