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Buffs Struggle As Minnesota Claims Win At Folsom

Sep 18, 2021

BOULDER — Colorado's offense struggled from the beginning and Minnesota's ground game wore down the Buffaloes' defense Saturday as CU dropped a 30-0 decision at Folsom Field.

Karl Dorrell's Buffs fell to 1-2 while Minnesota improved to 2-1.

The Gophers put two touchdowns on the board in the first half, then added two more touchdowns and a field goal after intermission to hand CU its first shutout loss at home since a 48-0 loss to Stanford in 2012.

CU's offense, meanwhile, never established any kind of consistency. Colorado finished with just 63 yards total offense and did not cross midfield until late in the second quarter and did not hit Minnesota territory again until late in the fourth. CU starting quarterback Brendon Lewis completed 8 of 16 pass attempts for 55 yards. Backup quarterback Drew Carter, who came into the game in the fourth quarter, led CU in rushing with 9 yards on two carries.

Minnesota finished with 441 yards total offense, including 277 on the ground. Trey Potts led the Gophers with 121 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was an efficient 11-for-17 for 164 yards passing.

"It's one of those things where we're going to have to wipe the slate clean and start all over and try to figure out how to do some semblance of offense and how to get some things back going," Dorrell said. "For us, specifically to play better on offense … We have a lot of work to do. I'm not blaming the players. It's going to be us coaches. We've got to get the same page."

Buffs linebacker Nate Landman proved to be one of the few bright spots for Colorado, finishing with 13 tackles (10 solo, three for loss) and a forced fumble. Linebackers Quinn Perry and Guy Thomas chipped in 10 tackles each.

HOW IT HAPPENED: The Gophers dominated from the beginning, driving for two touchdowns in the first half while the Buffs' offense could not move the ball.

CU finished the half with just 7 total yards, including minus-27 on the ground due in great part to four quarterback sacks by the Gophers. 

Minnesota, meanwhile, used a solid ground attack to slowly hammer the Buffs. Colorado dodged a bullet early when the Gophers' first possession ended at the CU 6-yard line with a missed field goal, but UM came back to tally a pair of touchdowns.

The Gophers drove 82 yards in eight plays for their first touchdown, getting a 13-yard scoring run from Potts for a 6-0 lead (the PAT try was no good).

Following CU's fourth punt of the day, Minnesota marched 62 yards in six plays for its second touchdown. Potts carried in from 2 yards out for a 13-0 Gophers lead.

Colorado, meanwhile, never found an offensive rhythm. The Buffs managed just four first downs in the first half, with their longest series consisting of just six offensive snaps. The Gophers had all four of their sacks in the first half and CU's longest play of the half was an 11-yard completion from Lewis to Brenden Rice. 

"Offensively, we're struggling in a number of areas," Dorrell said.  It's not just the quarterback. It's protection, it's run game, it's receivers, it's (running) backs, it's everything. 

The Buffs dodged a bullet early in the second half when the Gophers missed another field goal attempt. But CU failed to move the ball, gaining just one first down and punted.

CU then forced a Minnesota punt and had decent field position at its own 40. But Lewis fumbled the ball away on the first play of the series and the Gophers then put the game away for all intents and purposes with a seven-play, 43-yard touchdown drive. Potts capped the march with a 3-yard scoring run with 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter to give Minnesota a 20-0 lead.

The Gophers then added a field goal and another touchdown in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

"I take my hat off to (Minnesota head coach) P.J. Fleck and his team," Dorrell said. "They came in here and had a great game plan. They orchestrated exactly what we thought they would do, and they did it. It's unfortunate for us. We didn't finish. We didn't get a chance to sustain any opportunity to keep them off the field because we struggled offensively. We have a lot of work to do."

TURNING POINT: After Minnesota's first touchdown, the Buffs gained one first down on the ensuing possession, but then gave up a sack on third down and were forced to punt. The Gophers then drove 62 yards for their second touchdown and CU never really threatened to make a game of it after that.

KEY STATISTICS: Colorado finished with just 63 yards total offense on 45 plays — an average of just 1.4 yards per offensive snap … Minnesota ran for 277 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per rush … The Gophers had the ball for 40 minutes, 13 seconds while the Buffs had possession for 19:47 … Colorado crossed midfield just twice the entire game.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs must find a way to regroup in a hurry, beginnining with an offense that has gone stale since the first half of the Texas A&M game.

UP NEXT: The Buffs open Pac-12 play next Saturday when they head to Tempe, Ariz., an 8:30 p.m. matchup with Arizona State (ESPN2/U).

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu