August 30th – Denver          Colorado 52, Colorado State 31

Colorado was out-gained by Colorado State (505 yards to 475), and had fewer first downs (27-23), but four CSU turnovers (including two interceptions by Buff safety Mikial Onu) doomed the Rams’ chances at an upset, with the Buffs posting a 52-31 victory in Denver.

In the final Rocky Mountain Showdown game to be played in Denver, sophomore running back Alex Fontenot led the Buffs with three touchdowns and 125 yards rushing on 19 carries. Steven Montez had a mediocre start to the 2019 campaign, completing 13-of-20 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with star wide receiver Laviska Shenault being held to three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown (also contributing 35 yards on three rushes).

The game was a see-saw affair until the Buffs created a two-touchdown lead on the last play of the third quarter on an Alex Fontenot 14-yard run. A 22-yard rushing touchdown by Fontenot and a nine-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson were enough to send new head coach Mel Tucker back to Boulder with a 1-0 record.

“I’m proud of the group, I really am,” said CU head coach Mel Tucker, who became just the third Colorado coach since 1932 to win their opener. “It’s very rewarding to take a group like this, that’s all bought in, players and coaches, and see them go out and perform and have a really good team win.”

Game Story … After nine months of living with a seven-game losing streak, and after waiting out a lightning delay, the 2019 Colorado offense finally took the field to try and meet expectations. New head coach Mel Tucker had promised a strong running game, and the Buffs were determined to prove his point.

In the opening drive of the season, which covered 75 yards in ten plays, there was only one pass completion. There was one pass thrown in the vicinity of Laviska Shenault, which resulted in a pass interference penalty, but otherwise the Buffs stayed on the ground. A 32-yard run by Alex Fontenot was the big chunk play, with a 12-yard run by Jaren Mangham giving the Buffs a first-and-goal at the one. There Steven Montez threw his first official pass of the season, hitting senior tight end Jalen Harris for a one-yard touchdown.

Instead of folding in response to a early score by the Buffs, like they did in 2016 and 2018, the Rams responded. A 31-yard completion from quarterback Collin Hill to Marvin Kinsey, Jr. put the ball on CU’s side of the field. Two plays later, on a third-and-seven at the CU 39-yard line, the Buff defense gave cornerback Delrick Abrams, Jr. the unenviable task of trying to cover two receivers on his own. The result was a 39-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Dante Wright.

After a three-and-out from the Colorado offense, the Rams set off down the field again. At the CU 32-yard line, however, Collin Hill got greedy, going for a touchdown instead of a first down, with Buff safety Mikial Onu intercepting the ball in the Buff endzone.

On the ensuing drive, Steven Montez underthrew a potential touchdown pass to Laviska Shenault, but did get a second pass interference call against the Rams. Montez did hit K.D. Nixon for ten yards and Jalen Harris for 23, but the drive stalled at the CSU 24-yard line. Junior kicker James Stefanou then hit a 41-yard field goal to give CU a 10-7 lead in the first minute of the second quarter.

CSU’s next turn with the ball resulted in a disheartening drive for the Buff Nation. The Rams drove 92 yards in 11 plays, never facing a third down. A nine-yard touchdown pass from Collin Hill to Warren Jackson gave CSU its first lead of the game, at 14-10, with 8:39 remaining in the half.

Down for the first time, CU’s smash-mouth offense took a back seat for a few plays.

With the power running game not dominating the Rams, the Buffs finally turned to their big play maker, Laviska Shenault. Shenault’s first two catches of the season got the Buffs near midfield. After an 11-yard run by Alex Fontenot, Steven Montez hit senior wide receiver Tony Brown for 38 yards to the CSU three-yard line. On second-and-goal at the five, freshman Jaren Mangham picked up his first career score, making it Colorado 17, Colorado State 14, with 5:39 still to play in the half.

No problem for the Rams, who continued to leave their most decorated player, their punter, Ryan Stonehouse, on the sidelines. The Rams did fail on a third down for the first time in the game, but went for it on fourth-and-two at the CU 41-yard line. The result: A 41-yard touchdown run by Dante Wright. CSU 21, CU 17.

But wait, there’s more.

The Buffs took their turn with the ball to cover 75 yards in just six plays. Two completions to sophomore tight end Brady Russell, going for 27 and 15 yards, set the Buffs up in CSU territory. With 25 seconds remaining in the half, Steven Montez hit Laviska Shenault for a 25-yard touchdown, giving the Buffs the lead at the break.

Halftime score: Colorado 24, Colorado State 21

The second half opened as well as any Buff fan could hope.

On the first play from scrimmage, junior safety Aaron Maddox forced a fumble on a carry by Ram running back Marvin Kinsey. The fumble was recovered by nose tackle Jalen Sami at the CSU 27-yard line. A 19-yard run by Steven Montez gave the Buffs a first-and-goal at the seven, with Alex Fontenot taking it in on the next play, giving CU its first two-score lead of the game just over a minute into the second half.

It appeared that the Buffs had a chance to take control of the game a few moments later, when Mikial Onu collected his second interception of the game, giving CU the ball at the Buff 42-yard line. Instead, the Buffs went three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Ram offense.

Given new life, the Rams regained the momentum. CSU marched smartly down the field, stopped only when a snap from center went over the head of Collin Hill, resulting in 15-yard loss after the Rams had made it to the CU 20-yard line. The Rams had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Max Poduska, making it a one-score game, 31-24, with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.

It was back to smash-mouth football for the Buffs on their next possession, with seven straight runs to open the series. An eight-yard run by Steven Montez on third-and-one and a five-yard run by Laviska Shenault on fourth-and-two at the CSU 42 kept the drive alive. The first pass of the drive was a 24-yard completion from Montez to Tony Brown, with Alex Fontenot finishing off the drive with a 14-yard scoring run on the final play of the third quarter.

Colorado 38, Colorado State 24, to open up the final stanza.

Could the Buff defense finally take control of the game?

Um, no.

It took the Rams only six plays to cover 75 yards to make it 38-31. A 13-yard touchdown pass from Collin Hill to Cameron Butler capped the drive. Colorado 38, Colorado State 31, with 12:13 still to play.

Buffs to Rams: Anything you can do, we can do … also.

The Rams needed only six plays and 2:47 of clock to post their score. The Buff offense responded with a six-play, 75-yard drive of its own, taking an extra ten seconds – 2:57 of game clock – to regain a two-score lead.

A 19-yard completion from Montez to K.D. Nixon gave the Buffs new life after a holding call, with a 16-yard completion to freshman Dimitri Stanley and a 23-yard run by Laviska Shenault putting the ball at the CSU 22. Alex Fontenot took it in from there, pushing him over 100 yards for the night. Colorado 45, Colorado State 31, at the 9:16 mark of the fourth quarter.

On CSU’s next drive, three things happened which hadn’t happened all night: CSU went three-and-out; the CU defense picked up a sack (by Terrence Lang); and CSU punted the ball.

With a chance to salt the game away, the Buff offense held the ball for only four plays, failing to convert on a third-and-one.

A 63-yard punt by senior punter Alex Kinney, though, put the Rams back at the CSU eight yard line. Three plays later, it was fourth-and-two at the CSU 16. With 4:05 left to play, CSU head coach Mike Bobo had no choice but to go for a first down. On the game-clinching play, a blitz by sophomore linebacker Jonathan Van Diest was not picked up. Van Diest sacked Collin Hill, forcing a fumble. The ball was scooped up by defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson, who took the ball nine yards untouched for a score. Colorado 52, Colorado State 31.

Out of time and realistic chances, the Rams got the ball back twice more in the final four minutes, but were unable to post any points.

Final score: Colorado 52, Colorado State 31

“We’re going to make our most improvement from the first game to the second game,” said Tucker, whose defense surrendered over 500 yards of total offense, and forced only one punt. “I have a really good idea right now of where we are as a team, but it’s a starting
point. This is not the end, it’s just the beginning of our program.”

For a team whose best unit was perhaps its wide receivers, a 13-completion night (with four of those passes going to tight ends) might not seem the best use of the Buffs’ talent. “We want to have balance on offense, not just run-pass (CU had 243 yards rushing to go with 232 yards passing), but also with how we distribute the ball with carries and touches (Tony Brown and Laviska Shenault led the team with three catches apiece). Tonight was a starting point.”

On the night, Buff star Laviska Shenault only had six touches (three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown; three carries for 35 yards), but Mel Tucker did not see that as a detriment to the team’s success. “Laviska’s going to get targets, he’s going to get touches, he’s going to make plays for us”, Tucker said. “He’s such a force. But we also have other guys who can make plays and that’s going to make defense hard to play against.”

Here are YouTube highlights from the game … 


Game Notes

— Attendance for the final Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver was 66,997. CU sold 38,102 tickets (25,868 public, 12,234). CSU, which requires season ticket holders to purchase tickets, sold around 25,000 (with the difference coming from sales by the Denver Broncos and Ticketmaster);

— The series in Denver ended with CU holding a 13-6 advantage, including the final five games played at Mile High. The win upped CU’s all-time advantage to 67-22-2;

— Kickoff was postponed from 8:10 to 8:47 due to lightning issues, the second-latest start in CU history (the Oregon game in 2015 started at 9:08). The game ended at 12:06 a.m., also the second-latest finish (Oregon game finished at 12:31 a.m.);

— Mel Tucker joined Rick Neuheisel (1995) and Mike MacIntyre (2013) as the only CU coaches since the Great Depression to win their debuts;

— Four players made their first career starts: NT Jalen Sami; LB Nu’umotu Falo; OT Arlington Hambright; and S Mikial Onu;

— The 52 points scored was the third-most ever in a season-opener is school history, and the most since routing Drake, 61-0, in 1954. The Buffs last scored 50+ points in 2016, in a 56-7 win over Idaho State;

— Steven Montez started his 25th consecutive game at quarterback, the third-highest total in CU history (Kordell Stewart, 33; Gale Weidner, 31). Only Montez, Sefo Liufau, Tyler Hansen, and Cody Hawkins have done so in Buff annals;

— While collecting only three catches for 48 yards, Laviska Shenault did move past his position coach, Darrin Chiaverini, on the all time receiving yardage list (1,227 to Chiaverini’s 1,199);

— Alex Fontenot’s 125 yards rushing (on 19 carries, with three touchdowns) were the most by a Buff back in his starting debut since Michael Adkins had 135 yards against Charleston Southern in 2013;



18 Replies to “Colorado 52, CSU 31”

  1. Everybody loves to climb on Montez’ back. Just like someone said earlier our receivers, with the exception of Viska’s TD were covered pretty well. Montez put it on the money on the first TD and on Brown’s big catch. I dont think the play selection allowed him to get into a good rythm and once again the O line, even though they didnt allow sack made it pretty close a lot of times. Dont discount his running either.
    I am glad we got him

  2. Well we kept hearing that the D was YOUNG and INEXPERIENCED. Maybe too much Koolaid probably laced with Rum or Tequila (I think Tequila with a lot of fresh lime is probably the best way). We, or at least I got caught up that Mel Tucker would be like like the guy that many years ago fed all those multitudes all that fish and bread when there was scant to start with. He will eventually get his players and have them coached up. I do like his sideline demeanor. I imagine some of the glaring problems will get corrected somewhat even for the next game. But I think this will be one of those years where when it looks just like we got’em where we want’em that there might be a mistake or to by the D. Also I hope that the O isn’t quite as vanilla against the Fuskers this coming week.

    Is South Alabama as good as CSU? Hard to tell but the Fuskers got some things to work on also before their next game (Buffs Stampede). I finally got tired watching the game in Linkin Stinkin due to all that Red Color. Now I have to go see if my Mother when she passed many years ago left me some Pinkeye Medicine from when I was a kid.

  3. Additionally:
    Buffs had little pressure on the QB from the DL.
    Buffs had little pressure on the QB from the LB.
    Buffs did a bad job of defending the edge.
    Lbers appeard slow and missed tackles (even landman)
    The “Star” position appeared……….with its bright light………….Nowhere.
    Enough said about the DB’s. Blew some overages, missed some assignments but most disappointing looked like they never practiced tackling during camp. Or very little.
    Perhaps the defensive scheme is too complicated. Perhaps it was jitters.
    All in all it needs to be fixed at least 3 orders of magnitude by next Saturday.


    Note: Kornholers look pretty good………………….I hate em. And they ain’t showing much (I am hoping HCMT didn’t show much either)
    Note 2: Montez remains a mystery don’t he??

    1. 6:47 to go in the 3rd. Kornkobs up 28-14………….they have a special teams touchdown and a pick six touchdown. Hmmmmm

      1. VK, hard to say if they are showing very much or not, but not the Offensive Juggernaut that I expected out of the KK’ers.

  4. It was the first game under a new coach. Yes, the team is learning the new system. I am worried about them giving up 31 to CSU but putting up 52 on them was a good sign. It may be that they will be trying to outlast the other teams, could see some shootouts.

  5. Always happy with a W, but the defense is a real concern. If not fixed this could be a3-9 season. The DBs looked confused and didn’t understand cover 2, when they went man coverage they were beaten. Defense reminded me of the Embree era. Coach Mel is supposed to be a defensive Guru. I know it’s only one game but there was too much confusion on the field.

    1. You’re right about the DB’s, I hope Mel can fix some of that every week and get these guys up to speed. However, Bobo threw everything he had at the Buffs and was working and confusing our DBs, hopefully Mel can use the film and correct.

      On the other hand, the DBs have been giving up some big plays in scrimmages too, so part of last night was expected, we (I) just thought it would be less against the Rams; that 6’6″ WR is a great target with good skills. PAC12 has many teams that can air it out, so the Buffs need to learn from last night; fast.

      Hopefully the plan is, the offensive playbook opens up next week and helps the defense stay off the field. It sure looked like they were trying to hide a lot from the corn last night, using only what they needed to, when they were a head.

  6. Some thoughts–Why are their throws to open receivers and our guys are contested catches? With our speed we should have a guy wide open every play. Also, our Off Line did well with few holding and offsides calls, rather clean 1st game in that dept. Do others see it the same way?

  7. We hid most of our offense for next week, very little Viska, KD, Tight Ends, etc. Be interesting to see. BOBO is a very good offensive mind, so he messed up our young defense with trick sets, etc. I expected more of a pash rush, and thought the O line would open bigger holes in the 1st half. However, we did wear them down,and scored OK, but worried about Martinez running around the ends. Seemed to me we didn’t shed blocks on the outside all night.

  8. Both Lines were pushed around. Defense was plagued by bad tackling and was completely out-schemed. Montez contributes to make bad decisions and got away with a few passes last night that a better /faster team would have intercepted. He’s also going to get his receivers hurt if he keeps hanging them out there to get crushed as soon as the catch the ball.

    Last night worried me because this was not the team I expected to see. I thought we’d be flying around on defense and thought the schemes would have had the Rams confused all night. The whole night felt like the opposite and against a pac-12 team the score would have been reversed.

  9. To me the crucial difference was coaching. Coach Tucker’s team made adjustments at halftime, he called timely timeouts and communicated with the team. He gathered the defense at one point in the second half to get them on the same page and they immediately came out and made a big play. He seemed to know when to assert himself at the appropriate times. This is a young defense that needs that kind of hands on approach. Good win.

    As for the team, we we opportunistic and that was good. Our defense was bullied a bit and that shows that there is still a lot of work to be done. Progress throughout the year is what will be important. On offense we clicked, but Montez can make some mystifying decisions at times. Hopefully he gets that sorted out. His throws off his back leg drive me crazy.

    Overall they have a lot of work to do, but they looked like a team and that cannot be overstated. To me they looked like a team that had their first real coach since Barnett. Can you believe that was fifteen years ago?

  10. Alrighty then……………The expected win………………

    But CSU has some players. Some real players that CU might like to have even. It was great the Mighty Buffs whipped em but I will be rooting for them to win all the rest of their games. They are so much better than last year. I like it.

    Okay Stu,………….some random and perhaps even………………….?

    End of first half………..
    6 plays, 75 yards, 1:10. Touchdown.
    How good was that eh? (Russel 2 for 44 in that drive) WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

    2nd quarter time of possession. CSU 10:01 CU 4 : 5 9
    2nd quarter points scored CSU 14 CU 17
    Hmmm very interesting. Quick strike ….

    CSU ran 72 plays.
    CU Ran 60. 20 passing plays………….40 running plays. Didn’t seem like that actually.

    CU gave up 131 yards rushing………..almost acceptable
    CU gave up 374 yards passing………….Whoa now that is a problem. Back end needs work.
    Had Barnett in my ear on the radio…………on that first CSU touchdown pass he said something to the effect as the teams lined up………….”there is a bust in the Buffs defense and CSU is going to find it……………Yup they did and scored………………Safety did not line up or cover correctly………….Man that guy is good.

    Pretty exciting game……………….Mickeys Buffs would have never recovered from being behind…………

    Now time to whip the nowledge no nothings.


    Note: It is said the most improvement comes from game 1 to game 2. I expect that to be the case with HCMT.

  11. O woe is the D. Can Mel come up with a miracle in a week? Can anyone shed a block? Can anyone cover the perimeter? The ram QB could have finished a couple of novels last night before he had to throw the ball. How many teams left on the schedule can we outscore?

  12. One of the more satisfying wins in recent years. CSU has the entire camp to prepare for their super bowl and opened the entire playbook on us in the first half. Buffs were pushed around a little bit but didn’t flinch and kept going. The halftime adjustments were made and CSU had a harder and harder time moving the ball at the end.

    This was a game where we broke their will and it showed.

    Glad this game is done in Denver.

    This looks like a team that will take lumps but grow throughout the season hopefully.

    1. I agree on the Rams opening their entire playbook, the TV announcers kept commenting on Bobo’s play calling and different looks they were giving the Buffs; meanwhile CU was keeping it pretty vanilla. They only went to Viska when they needed to and other times hit Dixon or Brown or… a TE!

      But I thought the Buffs saved their playbook for next week. Now if they can get the secondary up to speed, some good plays were made, but too many yards given up.

  13. Where was Landman? Was it the new defensive scheme or was he just confused/lost? Both lines struggled against a MWC team. I am very nervous about the Game Next week

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