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Takeaways From Buffs At Oregon State

Oct 23, 2022
Jayle Stacks had 50 yards and a touchdown vs. Oregon State.

BOULDER — Back to square one?

At first glance, that could be the general assessment after taking a quick glance at the final score in Colorado's 42-9 loss to Oregon State on Saturday.

But despite the final score — which greatly resembled the first five games of the season — there were some subtle differences.

CU's defense played until the end, coming up with a fourth down stop in the fourth quarter. Colorado's offense did the same, getting to the red zone twice in the final period (before turning it over on both occasions).

Meanwhile, outside of TCU, Oregon State is the best team the Buffaloes have seen this year. The Beavers have a solid, opportunistic defense, a well-balanced offense that starts with a quality O-line, and a veteran coaching staff that brings continuity to the equation. It is a program head coach Jonathan Smith has built from the ground up in his five years in Corvallis, and the OSU fan base's patience is paying off. The Beavers are bowl eligible with a very real chance to push their win total to nine or 10 by season's end.

And the Buffs?

They are still in the Silver Lining Dept., finding glimmers and flashes of hope as coach Mike Sanford does his best to turn the program back in the right direction down the stretch.

The Buffs arrived in Corvallis with big hopes after collecting their first win of the season a week earlier. But the Beavers — who have their eyes on a quality bowl appearance — were clearly the more talented team on a night when the Buffs also contributed significantly to their own downfall.

Our takeaways:

1. Missed opportunities. In a game where Colorado's margin for error was razor thin, the Buffs committed far too many mistakes and failed too many times to take advantage of the opportunities they had.

It started with a fumble recovery forced by CU's defense on Oregon State's first possession. The Buffs took possession in OSU territory, along with the opportunity to grab some early momentum.

But instead, Colorado turned it back over to the Beavers three plays later, and OSU proceeded to convert the turnover into a touchdown — the first of three scores set up by CU turnovers.

Throw in a series of dropped passes and some critical penalties, and the list of mistakes is lengthy.

The Buffs simply aren't good enough to overcome those kinds of mistakes and missed opportunities, especially against a quality team.

2. Red zone misses. In three trips inside the Oregon State 20-yard line, the Buffs produced just six points. OSU, meanwhile, produced 28 points in five trips inside the 20.

Two of CU's empty red zone trips ended on turnovers (fumble and interception). Both came in the fourth quarter, and touchdowns on both trips wouldn't have changed the final outcome.

But those are opportunities the Buffs can't afford to let slip away. There will be a time over the last five games when they will be in the red zone with the game on the line.

Some positive experience in that department would no doubt be a big help.

3. Young players making plays. Colorado's leading receiver Saturday, Jordyn Tyson (3 catches, 92 yards), is a true freshman. CU's leading rusher, Jayle Stacks, is a sophomore. The O-lineman with the highest Pro Football Focus grade, tackle Jake Wiley, is a sophomore.

Defensively, sophomore safety Trevor Woods continues to be an impact player, sophomore corners Jason Oliver and Kaylin Moore were among those with the best PFF grades, and freshman defensive end Devin Grant made some plays in his brief appearance.

Granted, nobody likes the growing pains associated with developing young players, especially when the outcome isn't a win.

But the Buffs are building a base of young players who could be difference makers in the near future — a critical first step in rebuilding a program.

4. Buffs haven't quit. We mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating.

Even down by five scores late in the game, Colorado played like the game was still in reach. The defense tried to make plays. The offense showed some spark. While the outcome was much different than Sanford's debut, his influence was still evident.

"It's been a complete resurgence of energy over the last couple of weeks," linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said. "I feel like that's fed into us. Before, we were lifeless. You could tell by the way we played on the field and the way we responded to certain things. Now we have a little bit more energy, a little bit more life. We just have to be more consistent."

That's a credit to CU's coaching staff. Sanford is the interim, but he's coaching like someone trying to build a long-term foundation.

5. Rebuilding isn't impossible — but it usually takes time. If CU fans want an example of a program built on good recruiting, player development and coaching continuity, the example was there for all to see Saturday night.

The Beavers are by no means considered among college football's elite programs — but they have thrust themselves into the Pac-12's upper echelon by doing everything right. It's nothing fancy, but OSU has paid attention to the details and been patient — and now the Beavers are reaping the benefits.

It can be done.