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Buffs Football, Basketball Notebook

Nov 10, 2021
CU's Nique Clifford had 11 points and nine rebounds in the Buiffs' opening win.

 BOULDER — Notes and quotes from Colorado football and men's basketball after overtime victories from both in their last outings … 


— Buffs All-American linebacker Nate Landman, who has missed the last two games with an injury, is "doubtful" for Saturday's game at UCLA according to head coach Karl Dorrell.

"He is closer," Dorrell said. "He's chomping. In my opinion he's not ready yet. He's starting to negotiate, which is Nate. But he's making tremendous progress. I think he's very doubtful this week. There might be a chance next week."

The Buffs no doubt miss Landman in the middle of the defense, particularly against the run. CU's last two opponents have rushed for 256 yards (Oregon) and 220 (Oregon State).

But the Buffs are adjusting to his absence, and last week made some big strides, coming up with some critical stops when most needed. Linebacker Quinn Perry had a career-best 11 tackles in the win over the Beavers, Robert Barnes had seven (his best as a Buff) and Joshka Gustav and Marvin Ham each had four.

The Buffs have developed specific situational packages to best utilize the strengths of each player, with Jack Lamb also getting into the mix.

They will face another stiff test in Saturday's game at the Rose Bowl (7 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network). The Bruins have a solid back in Zach Charbonnet, who is averaging nearly 90 yards per game and almost 6 per carry, and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a big threat with his legs as well.

One stat to remember?

The 5-4 Bruins are 5-0 when they rush for at least 200 yards.

— Five CU freshmen are producing some significant numbers for Colorado's offense, especially over the last couple of weeks.

Quarterback Brendon Lewis has thrown six touchdown passes in the last two games (after having just four in the first seven games). Also, seven of his TD passes this year have gone to freshmen.

Meanwhile, freshmen wide receivers Brenden Rice, Chase Penry and Montana Lemonious-Craig are all producing big catches in key moments; and freshman offensive lineman Jake Wiley has started every game this season. 

All told, freshmen have accounted for 106 of CU's 172 points this year — including, of course, 44 points from freshman kicker Cole Becker, who had the game-winning field goal in overtime against Oregon State.

 On defense, true freshman safety Trevor Woods' role continues to grow. He's the player who had the blocked punt and return for a touchdown against Arizona, but he's played 63 snaps at safety the last two weeks and has 13 tackles.


— Colorado big man Evan Battey had an outstanding game in the Buffaloes' 94-90 season-opening win over Montana State on Tuesday.

Battey finished with 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the floor and added five rebounds — all in 21 minutes of play that included four minutes of overtime.

Battey was in foul trouble for much of the game. He played just six minutes in the first half and was whistled for his fourth foul with 12:47 to play in the second half, sending him to the bench for another six minutes.

But when he was in the game, he had a terrific impact, finishing a plus-7 for the game, meaning the Buffs outscored MSU by seven points when he was on the floor.

Battey's impact, though, was more than just numbers. He brings a leadership quality to the team and the Buffs seem to feed off of his confidence. He had some big plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch, and was critical in the overtime period. 

He also showed the ability to put bad nights in the rearview mirror in a hurry. He endured a difficult 0-for-10 shooting game in CU's exhibition loss to Nebraska, but that obviously didn't phase him, as he came back to hit all six FG tries against the Bobcats.

— Speaking of plus-minus, the Buffs' leader against MSU in that category was sophomore Nique Clifford, who came off the bench to finish with 11 points and nine rebounds and a plus-9 in 35 minutes of play.

Clifford, who can play multiple positions, saw his playing time increase due in part to early foul trouble for Tristan da Silva. But it was also hard for head coach Tad Boyle and his staff to take Clifford off the floor, because good things were happening when he was in the game.

Boyle has called Clifford his "sixth starter." His versatility allows the Buffs to use him in a variety of ways, and his rebounding and ball-handling skills give Colorado the opportunity to get down the floor in a hurry after a defensive rebound.

— Yes, everyone was waiting to see how Keeshawn Barthelemy would handle the point guard duties — the first time in five seasons the Buffs didn't have former Buffs great McKinley Wright available at the position.

Barthelemy answered the challenge with 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and just two turnovers. While Boyle said he wouldn't mind seeing Barthelemy's rebound numbers increase just a little, it was an overall solid opening starting performance.

"Keeshawn's going to be great," Boyle said. "(Freshmen) K.J. Simpson and Julian Hammond will be great. Our point guard position is in good shape. It's just a matter of who can be consistent, and it might be a different guy on a different night."

— And finally, CU's overtime win against Montana State was the first overtime season opener since 1996, when the Buffs outlasted Drake, 82-80, at the Events Center.

The Buffs had a starting point guard that season by the name of Chauncey Billups, who ended up leading Colorado to a second-place finish in the Big 12 and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.