CU Notes: QB Lewis Enjoys Best Day As Buff; Big Plays From Woods, Wells
BOULDER — Saturday proved to be a dose of redemption for Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis, who had been taking a healthy helping of criticism during the course of the Buffaloes' recent four-game losing streak.
Lewis had his best overall day as a Buff in CU's 34-0 win over Arizona at Folsom Field, completing 12-of-19 passes for career highs in yardage (248) and touchdowns (two).
"I feel good about Brendon's progress today and I felt good about what he was doing the last couple of weeks," said CU head coach Karl Dorrell. "It was just a matter of time before he was going to start to feel very confident in what he can do. We had some receivers that made some terrific plays, but he made some terrific throws. We really felt good about that progress that we worked on with getting him more foundationally set and doing some really really good things for us offensively."
Indeed, Lewis seemed to benefit greatly from CU's bye week and the extra practices. He averaged more than 20 yards per completion, with four completions of at least 20 yards. His 62-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Rice in the third quarter was perfectly thrown, as Rice never broke stride in hauling the ball in and taking it to the end zone, and he had what probably should have been a touchdown pass dropped in the end zone in the first half.
"I feel like he's definitely stepped forward and taken that leadership role," said wide receiver Dimitri Stanley, who capped CU's scoring with an 11-yard touchdown reception. "As a quarterback you kind of have to. And, as it showed tonight, he just took control of the game and did some big things for us out there."
Lewis, who had been perhaps overly careful with his decision-making in CU's first five games, took some chances Saturday — and they paid off. His second completion of the day was a 31-yarder to Rice when Lewis put the ball on target and let Rice go up and make a terrific catch.
"We stood behind Brendon," said Rice, who had three catches for 111 yards, his first 100-yard game as a Buff. "We knew what we were capable of in the beginning of the season and we knew that we could be electric. It was just a matter of time like before we actually went out there and did our thing. We just have to make plays and execute every day in and day out."
Lewis' quarterback rating of 205.7 was the best of his career and the best by a CU quarterback since Steven Montez had a 246.8 rating in CU's season-opening win over Colorado State in 2018.
BIG-TIME BLOCK: CU safety Trevor Woods, a true freshman from Katy, Texas, has been limited to special teams play this year.
But Saturday, he turned in maybe Colorado's biggest play of the season thus far by blocking an Arizona punt, then scooping it up and racing 36 yards to the end zone. His score broke open a tight 6-0 ballgame and opened the gates for two more Colorado touchdowns over the next five minutes.
"I missed out on (a block) a couple of weeks ago," Woods said. "But Coach kept me in there. He said, 'You're going to get one and I believe in you.' He kept letting me rush every time. There's not a lot of ways I can impact a game at the moment, but that's one of the few ways I can do it right now."
PICK SIX: Barely a minute after Woods' scoop-and-score, Buffs defensive end Carson Wells recorded his first collegiate touchdown by picking off a Gunner Cruz pass and rumbling 50 yards to the end zone.
The interception return gave Colorado a 20-0 lead and completely deflated any hopes the Wildcats may have had for a comeback.
"We called a pressure from the other side," said Wells, who then dropped into coverage on the play. "I just hit number two, and three just stuck right to me, so we just broke on the ball. We got a good block from Nate Landman and another couple of good blocks."
Wells also spent plenty of time in Arizona's backfield, recording four tackles for loss, including a sack. Overall, CU had nine tackles for loss.
Mark Perry added a second interception for the Buffs later in the half, his first career pick.
FAITH IN THE PROCESS: Colorado's bye week, coming after a fourth straight loss, probably couldn't have been better timed. It gave the Buffs a chance to work on a number of issues — and the result Saturday reflected that work.
"When you have nothing to show for it as to why it hasn't worked, it takes a lot of faith and hope," Dorrell said. "You keep preaching those principles, day in and day out, months on end. If they don't see the results, they start to wonder if we're on the right track. But it all came together today. It was good to see the progress in everything we worked on. All the time and emphasis we spent on getting those things corrected really paid dividends today."
WATTS A PERFORMANCE: CU punter Josh Watts continues to be a big weapon. Watts punted four times for a 48-yard average, including a 64-yarder. He also dropped one inside the 20, and he finished with an average of 47 yards net punting — an outstanding number.
BUFFS BITS: Colorado scored touchdowns in all three phases Saturday, the first time the offense, defense and special teams have scored in the same game since 2004, when Dominique Brooks returned a fumble for a score and Stephone Robinson took a punt to the house in a 30-21 CU win over Kansas … Woods' blocked punt for a score was the first by CU since Lawrence Vickers recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown against Washington State in 2004 …
Along with Saturday being CU's first shutout of an opponent since blanking Nicholls State in 2015, it was Colorado's first shutout of an FBS opponent since a 34-0 win at Oklahoma State in 2005 … CU now leads the series with Arizona by a 16-8 count (7-5 in Boulder) … Wells now has 31 career tackles for loss, moving him into 19th on the Buffs' all-time list … Arizona WR Stanley Berryhill caught 13 passes — but for a grand total of 48 yards.