Sunday Afternoon Quarterback


Program Note … Sunday Afternoon Quarterback is a new series here at CU at the Game, making its debut this weekend. I’m sure it will evolve over time, but, at least initially, the goal is to post my grades for the Buffs’ performance, and post my own set of Pac-12 Power Rankings.

As always, your comments are welcome …

… Game One … Colorado 45, Colorado State 13 … 

— CU rushing offense v. CSU rushing defense —

By the numbers … The Buffs ran for 258 yards on 40 carries (a 6.4 yards per carry average) and two touchdowns … Virginia Tech graduate transfer Travon McMillian led the Buffs with ten rushes for 103 yards, including a 49-yarder … Kyle Evans, who started the game, had 12 carries for 59 yards … Beau Bisharat had seven carries (all in the fourth quarter) for 52 yards.

Grade: A … This is a Buff team which ran for an average of 157.2 yards per game in 2017, 74th in the nation. Travon McMillian became just the eighth Buff in school history to go for over 100 yards in his CU debut. The Buffs were able to run the ball with great success, not even counting all of the yards gained on the Buffs’ shovel passes, which are basically running plays. Time will tell if the the Buffs are equally successful against better defenses, but the goal for Game One was to dominate the Rams. Mission accomplished.

— CU passing offense v. CSU passing defense —

By the numbers … Steven Montez completed 22-of-25 passes for 338 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. Montez was not sacked once by the Ram defense.

Grade: A- … Montez completed all 12 of his first quarter passes, tying a school record for most consecutive completions to open a game. His 246.4 quarterback rating was the best in school history for a quarterback with over 20 passes. Montez also chipped in a 38-yard scoring run to open the scoring, the longest touchdown run by a quarterback since Kordell Stewart went for a 60-yarder against Missouri in 1994. The interception came on the first play of the second quarter, a badly underthrown bomb which was reminiscent of the Steven Montez who made some bad decisions in 2017. Otherwise, Montez was almost perfect.

— CU rushing defense v. CSU rushing offense —

By the numbers … Colorado State finished with 103 yards rushing on attempts (a 2.6 yard average). Marcus McElroy led the Rams with 14 carries for 61 yards, with Izzy Matthews gaining 30 yards on 15 carries.

Grade: A- … Not too be too picky here, but had the Rams taken a knee on the final play of the game (after the Buffs had taken a knee three times at the CSU 12-yard line), the Buff defense would have held CSU under 100 yards. Instead, Marcus MaElroy went up the middle for 11 yards, pushing the Rams over the century mark.

— CU passing defense v. CSU passing offense — 

By the numbers … K.J. Carta-Samuels went 18-for-33 for 176 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Collin Hill came in briefly in the second half, going 1-for-4 for five yards. Carta-Samuels was sacked three times on the evening.

Grade: A- … A week after Carta-Samuels went for a school-record 537 yards and five touchdowns against Hawai’i, the Buff secondary held the Ram passing game to one touchdown and under 200 total yards. There was one lapse in the first quarter, when Carta-Samuels connected with Olabisi Johnson for a 26-yard score. The touchdown made it a 14-7 game, and gave the Ram Nation hope, albeit briefly.

— CU special teams — 

By the numbers … Seven of Davis Price’s kickoffs went for touchbacks (with the only kick return coming after CU was penalized 15 yards for a touchdown celebration), with the lone return only coming out to the CSU 28-yard line. James Stefanou was good on his one field goal attempt (39 yards) and all six PAT’s. Alex Kinney had three punt for an average of 43.3 yards per kick (one downed at the one yard line). Ronnie Blackmon had five punt returns for 82 yards, with Donovan Lee contributing a 31-yard kickoff return.

Grade: A- … The only quibble I have here is that Ronnie Blackmon continues to field punts inside the CU five yard line. He did it three times in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. While he got away with it against the slower Rams, it will come back to bite the Buffs against teams with faster players on special teams.

Overall Grade: A … There are plenty of nits to pick in any given game (CU had six penalties, was a minus-one in turnovers). However, we’re looking big picture here. The last time the Buffs took the field, they were down 28-0 at halftime against Utah. They came to play against Colorado State. They were well-prepared, focused, and dynamic on offense. Three touchdowns on three drives (without a third down) in the first quarter is about as good as you will ever get … against anyone. The defense gave up less than 200 yards passing against a quarterback who threw for 537 yards and five touchdowns the week before. I’ll never be upset at a 45-13 win against anyone, much less than against a rival.


Pac-12 Power Rankings

Note … These are my subjective Power Rankings, which will be updated every Sunday. (Please feel free to post your own rankings in the comments section) …

1. Washington … Pac-12 media prediction: Pac-12 champion

This weekend … Lost 21-16 to No. 9 Auburn. The Huskies had six trips to the red zone Saturday, and came away with one touchdown. You are just not going to beat elite teams with that kind of production. The Washington defense is going to make life miserable for most Pac-12 teams, but the Huskies may need to run the table in order to get back into the College Football Playoff discussion.

Up next … North Dakota

2. Stanford … Pac-12 media prediction: 2nd in the Pac-12 North

This weekend … Defeated San Diego State, 31-10. Heisman trophy candidate Bryce Love was held to 29 yards on 28 carries by the Aztecs, but the Cardinal won comfortably, anyway. Stanford relies on stout defense, and surrendered only ten points to a very good San Diego State team (10-3 in 2017). With Washington stumbling, the battle for the “Which other Pac-12 team has a chance at making the College Football Playoffs?” may be decided this weekend.

Up next: No. 13 USC

3. USC … Pac-12 media prediction: Pac-12 South champions

This weekend … Defeated UNLV, 43-21. Don’t let the final score deceive you. The Rebels were up, 14-9, in the second quarter, as freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels struggled. We’ll know a great deal more about how the Trojans are going to fare in 2018 after their trip to Stanford this weekend.

Up next … at No. 15 Stanford

4. Utah … Pac-12 media prediction: 2nd in Pac-12 South

This weekend … After spotting Weber State from nearby Ogden a 10-0 lead, the Utes woke up and put away the Wildcats from the Big Sky Conference, 21-10. There is a drop off between the top three teams in the league and the rest of the Pac, but Utah is always solid, and will have a chance to make its national statement at home against Washington in a few weeks.

Up next … at Northern Illinois

5. Oregon … Pac-12 media prediction: 3rd in the Pac-12 North

This weekend … After spotting Bowling Green an early 10-0 lead (yes, there is a developing theme here), Oregon woke up and rolled the Falcons, 58-24. With a pathetic non-conference schedule (Bowling Green went 2-10 last year … and represented the Ducks’ most difficult non-conference game), Oregon will continue to climb in the rankings without justification. The Pac-12 opener against Stanford (9/22) is the game which will introduce the 2018 Ducks to the nation.

Up next … Portland State

6. California … Pac-12 media prediction: 4th in the Pac-12 North

This weekend … The Golden Bears played good defense (at least for three quarters) in holding off North Carolina, 24-17. Cal is an enigma (rotating three quarterbacks; needing four interceptions to hold off a North Carolina team which played without suspended players). Still, if the Golden Bears can take care of business against BYU (which defeated Arizona Saturday night), Cal will be undefeated when they take on Oregon (after a bye week) to open Pac-12 play.

Up next … BYU

7. Colorado … Pac-12 media prediction: 5th in the Pac-12 South

This weekend … Manhandled Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, 45-13. The Buffs scored touchdowns on all three first quarter drives, looking good on both offense and defense. Questions remain as to how decent an opponent Colorado State will look like later in the season, as the Rams are in shambles. A win over Nebraska on the road this weekend would go a long ways in garnering national respect.

Up next … at Nebraska

8. Arizona State … Pac-12 media prediction: 6th in the Pac-12 South

This weekend … Defeated Texas-San Antonio, 49-7. This may be the highest ranking the Sun Devils enjoy all season, but you have to give it to the Sun Devils. In Herm Edwards’ debut as head coach, the Sun Devils looked good, with quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for four touchdowns. Lost in the hoopla over the Edwards hire was the fact that the Sun Devils finished second in the Pac-12 South last season. The next three games are a gauntlet … Michigan State; at San Diego State; at Washington. Win any one of those three, and the Sun Devils may go bowling in 2018.

Up next … Michigan State

9. Washington State … Pac-12 media prediction: 5th in the Pac-12 North

This weekend … The Cougars trailed Wyoming, 16-13, and fell behind, 19-13, before taking over and pulling away for a 41-19 victory. Without Luke Falk at quarterback, the Cougars are relying on graduate transfer Gardner Minshew, who threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Washington State now gets San Jose State (which lost to UC-Davis, who is coached by … Dan Hawkins) before taking on Eastern Washington. Getting off to a 3-0 start will be important, because the Cougars’ first two Pac-12 games will be against USC and Utah.

Up next … San Jose State

10. Arizona … Pac-12 media prediction: 3rd in the Pac-12 South

This weekend … The Wildcats fell at home to BYU, 28-23, and didn’t look particularly good in doing so. The Cougars (4-9 in 2017) had a 28-10 fourth quarter lead before two late touchdowns by the Wildcats made it interesting. All-everything quarterback Kahlil Tate was held to 197 yards passing and 14 yards rushing (on eight attempts) in Kevin Sumlin’s debut as head coach. At some point, the pundits are going to notice that Arizona lost four of its final five games in 2017, as teams began to figure out how to defend Tate.

Up next … at Houston

11. UCLA … Pac-12 media prediction: 4th in the Pac-12 South

This weekend … The Bruins, a 15-point favorite, lost at home to Cincinnati, 26-17. Senior transfer quarterback Wilton Speight injured his back in the first half, and the UCLA offense sputtered, going for only 306 yards of total offense against a Cincinnati team which went 4-8 last season (and didn’t have a win of nine points or greater … except for the 26-14 breather over Austin Peay). Chip Kelly, who lost only seven games in four years at Oregon, is staring 0-2 in the face as UCLA next travels to Norman.

Up next … at No. 7 Oklahoma

12. Oregon State … Pac-12 media prediction: 6th in the Pac-12 North

This weekend … The Beavers got the fuzzy end of the lollipop in having to travel to Columbus to face No. 5 Ohio State in the season opener. The final score was 77-31, with the Buckeyes covering the 37-point spread. I’m not sure if I was more surprised that Ohio State scored 77, or that Oregon State managed 31. Artavis Pierce had 11 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns against the Buckeye defense, and may help Beaver fans forget about Ryan “Wrecking” Nall. (Stat of the Week: Ohio State allowed only five plays of at least 40 yards in 2017. The Buckeyes allowed three to Oregon State).

Up next … Southern Utah


9 Replies to “Sunday Afternoon Quarterback”

  1. Love the SAQ and P12 power rankings. reat adds Stuart!

    One suggestion though, flip the power rankings to show worst to first. Every good list is a countdown to #1!

  2. Montez on how much of the offense they showed against CSU: “We obviously didn’t run very much of the offense. That was fairly obvious. We ran a few plays we ran a lot in practive


  3. You The AZBUFF of the Desertcomes in spitting fire. An ol sun worshipper touting liver spots everywhere.

    Glad to see you are up and walking. Do walkers come in different styles and colors? Asking for EP.

    My one and only Husker buddy (ol school mates from many years ago) has a ticket for me. Haven’t decided. Got to soon. Will see.

    Stinkn Linkn is calling. Dang nab it.

    Note: Did you know that in the last 27 games the Mighty Buffs are 16 and 11 (10-8 in conference) ?????

  4. UCLaLaland looked terrible…U$C had a tough time with that LostWages
    High school team. Wash didn’t impress me.
    Buffs vs. Stanford for the PAC 12 crown

  5. I am gonna like this. Sunday Afternoon Quarterback (SAQ)

    I am gonna headline what I write under the SAQ the VKK (V K’s Korner)

    Note: I still hate the stinky cats and the Holers of the korn

  6. Im so happy to have seen that Arizona lost. Tate has a record breaking game against a Colorado team that didnt prepare for him and all of a sudden he is the greatest thing we have ever seen. HE IS ALL THEY HAVE! And they have a new coach which ALWAYS involves growing pains with changes in culture and philosophy. Arizona annoys me more than any other team in the Pac 12.

    1. The ZonaZooettes………arrogant arseholes with perhaps less class than the kornkobs.

      and that really stupid ……………………….”Bare Down”


      I hate em. Tate?……………never heard of em………..lousy punk telling the AD he didn’t want the AF Coach……….cause he didn’t like the offense………….punk

      Got bet by the real Mormons. Dam right you lousy sun worshippers……………

      The Mighty Buffs are coming to kick yur ARSE

      Up the cat with the Buffalo

      1. Sun Worshippers??? Boy VK, you sound like a guy that can’t take it that we play golf down here 365 days a year as opposed to your weather challenged area.

        Actually the Heisman Hype for Mr. Tate maybe died after just one game. The coaches want to make him a QB that is a great athlete, rather then a great athlete that is a so so QB. So far he has some long road to travel. They threw the ball long most of the night, really never hooking up with their pedestrian wideouts. The Cats Oline was totally dominated by BYU and is very inexperienced and not very good. Their Dline was dominated by BYU and the LB’s which was supposed to be the strength of the D really were a non factor.

        I don’t know what or where UofA will be when CU comes down here but right now looking at both teams, CU is far and away more talented, deeper, stronger, faster and just a lot better team at this time.

        God I hope the Buffs can go into Lincoln and give them a whuppin’. If they play with composure and don’t get rattled by that big crowd of corn shuckers wearing their ugly red high school colors, I think they can come out with a victory. If you want something fun to do pull up the Lincoln Star Journal and read all the Husker Hype for this coming week.

        1. Yo AZBuff,
          If you’re playing golf 365 days a year, the sun must have gotten to your brain. I was born in Scottsdale, home of many fine golf courses and temps from 110-125 in the summer. You might want to come up here to play in the summertime.
          Go Buffs!

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