Colorado Daily – Utah Week

November 25th – Game Day!

… CU in a few minutes … 

CU’s Pac-12 finale: “It’s a pride game, so we’ve got to go out there and win”

From the Daily Camera … It would be easy for the Colorado football team to shut down mentally this week.

At 4-7, the Buffaloes can’t finish with a winning record and won’t be playing in a bowl game. They’re also riding a five-game losing streak as they head into Saturday’s finale at Utah.

Oh, and they might be without their most important player, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who is hurting and may not play in Salt Lake City.

The Buffs insist, however, that they’ve got plenty to play for this week, including pride.

“That’s the biggest thing,” linebacker LaVonta Bentley said. “We started with a win versus TCU (on Sept. 2) and we’ve got to end that way and that’s the main thing. I feel like the guys came in (this week) ready to get better, not pouting or down on themselves and stuff like that. We’ve got one more game. It’s a pride game, so we’ve got to go out there and win.”

Bentley came to CU used to winning. He played the previous four seasons at Clemson, which has been a national power for years, so this season has been new for him and many other first-year Buffs.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “Coming from Clemson – win, win, win. … But, for me, I just know I gotta show up every day, each and every day. No matter win or loss, I still gotta get the job done for the next opponent. You’ve got to control what you can control once you’re out there. I know for me, I’m gonna get my best foot forward each and every day to try to get better. My goal is to get to the NFL so I know each game counts and I know the little  things matter, so I can learn from this game tape (from last week against Washington State) to try to get better for the next game.”

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November 24th 

… CU in a few minutes … 

Report: Utah down to fourth-string quarterback

From Bryson Barnes is not expected to suit up for the Utes on Saturday against Colorado. Instead, it is expected backup quarterback Luke Bottari will be leading the charge for Utah. The news comes on the heels of reports earlier in the week that fellow backup quarterback Nate Johnson left the program. It is unclear whether Barnes is hurt or suffering from a bout of the flu that has been running through the Utah program.

(“Well, there is a flu bug going around on top of everything else,” Whittingham said on Tuesday. “So, today- if we had to play today, we’d probably be shy a dozen guys. Hopefully, we can get some of those guys back before the weekend.”)

With Cam Rising, Barnes and Johnson not available for various reasons, it’s left the program with Bottari, redshirt freshman Brandon Rose, and true freshman Mack Howard as options.

Rose suffered a significant injury in fall camp and is hoping to gain a medical redshirt for this season that requires he does not play at all and Howard is still very green.

Bottari joined the Utah football program for the 2022 season after spending 2019-2021 at College of San Mateo.

The senior signal caller came to the Utes as a preferred walk on and never saw any action last season. Bottari did enter the NCAA Transfer Portal briefly this spring with intentions of joining the Cal Golden Bears.

Neill Woelk’s Keys to the Utah Game: No. 1 – Start Fast

From … Neither team in Saturday’s Colorado-Utah matchup in Salt Lake City (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network) is rolling into the game with a load of momentum.

Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ Buffaloes (4-7 overall, 1-7 Pac-12) have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. There will be no bowl berth for the Buffs in Sanders’ first year at the helm, but a win would give the team some “feel good” heading into what is no doubt going to be a very busy offseason.

Meanwhile, the Utes (7-4, 4-4) have lost two in a row. After spending most of the season in the top 25, they have fallen out of the rankings and now need a win to give them a little boost heading into the bowl season.

Colorado is a three-touchdown underdog. As of midweek, the status of injured starting quarterback Shedeur Sanders was still up in the air. If he doesn’t play, it will put even a bigger burden on Colorado’s defense.

But Coach Prime made it clear this week that he expects his team to compete Saturday in what will be the program’s last game as a Pac-12 member.

“We got to finish and I want to finish with an exclamation mark,” he said. “You should always play to win. I don’t know about pride, you got to play to win. You got to play to the best of your ability, you got to play because this is what you chose. Nobody’s forcing you to go out there to play. You gotta want this. You may not have the same amount of handclaps that you had at the beginning, you may not have the same amount of noise and the same amount of fans with the same amount of passion, but you got to figure this thing out. And you got to play.”

Utah has struggled all season on offense, averaging just 24.6 points per game (10th in the Pac-12). But as is almost always the case under coach Kyle Whittingham, their defense has been solid, yielding just 20 points per game (3rd in the conference).

No doubt, a win would be a big boost for the Buffs. No team likes to enter the offseason on the heels of a long losing streak.

So how do the Buffs pull off the upset?

Our final Fast Five of the season:

1. Produce a quick start. The Utes will be hoping to administer a knockout punch early. They’ll have cold weather and a sold-out home crowd on their side.

But the Buffs have to avoid falling behind early and instead get some points on the board and make the Utes play from behind.

Arizona executed the perfect game plan in last week’s 42-18 win over the Utes, producing two big pass plays for touchdowns and a special teams score in the first quarter. The Utes never recovered.

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November 22nd

… CU in a few minutes … 

Coach Prime: “We’re not an ATM. That’s not gonna happen here” 

From The Athletic … Colorado coach Deion Sanders knows his roster has holes, but has no plans to use money to fix it in the offseason.

“We’re not an ATM. That’s not gonna happen here,” Sanders said Tuesday. “If you come to Colorado to play football for me and the Colorado Buffaloes, it’s because you really want to play football and receive a wonderful education.

“All the business stuff will be handled on the backend. But we are not an ATM. You’re not coming here to get rich unless you’re really coming here with a plan to go to the NFL and get your degree. Not to come here and be Moneybagg Yo. That’s a rapper, right?”

Nine prospects are currently committed to Colorado’s 2024 class, which ranks 69th nationally and includes a pair of four-star prospects.

“We want players that want us,” Sanders said. “Trying to convince somebody and doing that, being held hostage financially, we ain’t with that.

“We’re not going to buy anybody whatsoever,” Sanders continued. “We have tremendous needs. I’m pretty sure everybody in the country knows what we need and how much we need. That’s not a secret and recruits are responding.

“Trust me, there’s not a day that goes by that kids aren’t blowing our recruiting staff up. They’re calling and we’re responding.”

Talan Chandler, one of Colorado’s two offensive line commitments in the class, flipped to Missouri earlier this week. And four-star 2025 commit Winston Watkins, who committed to Colorado the day Sanders was hired at Colorado, decommitted from the Buffaloes on Sunday.

“A kid ain’t even faithful to his girlfriend. You think (he’s) gonna be faithful to a school? Come on, man. That’s an emotional thing,” Sanders said. “What I wish the NCAA would do, if you’re committed somewhere, you can’t go on any other visits. If you’re committed, that means you’re committed.

“You can’t go on no other visits. Why would you be committed but you’re still letting kids go on other visits? That means you just playing.”

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Edge rusher Arden Walker; running back Sy’veon Wilkerson talk with the press

From Nikki Edwards …

Edge rusher Arden Walker … 

Running back Sy’veon Wilkerson 


November 21st 

… CU in a few minutes … 

*Video: Coach Prime Press Conference*

From BuffsTV … Coach Prime starts about the three minute mark … LaVonta Bentley starts at about minute 32 … 

Coach Prime: “We’re taking a step in the right direction, two steps in the right direction”

… SHEDEUR SANDERS UPDATE: Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who left last week’s game in the first half with an injury, is day-to-day according to Coach Prime.

“Shedeur is not feeling well right now, it’s a day-by-day situation,” Coach Prime said. “We’re praying that he gets healthy and he’s able to play because he is who he is. And when he’s on the field we have a tremendous chance to win” …

From … While Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes still have a game remaining this year, questions from the media at his weekly press conference focused much more on the big picture.

Colorado (4-7 overall, 1-7 Pac-12) wraps up its season Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at Utah (7-4, 4-4). The Buffs have one last chance to end a losing streak that has hit five games and a skid that has seen them drop seven of their last eight.

That’s certainly not how Coach Prime envisioned CU’s stretch run unfolding — but no matter what happens Saturday in Salt Lake City, he knows this season has been a solid step forward for a program that won just one game a year ago.

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted but we accomplished what we needed,” Sanders said. “I think hope is instilled tremendously in this city, in the student body, within his team, within this building, and you see the direction that we’re headed.”

Sanders and Colorado took the college football world by storm in September. After he almost completely remade CU’s roster, the Buffs jumped out to a 3-0 start and were ranked in the nation’s top 25.

But since then, CU has struggled — and the microscope hasn’t always been kind.

“I think we didn’t do certainly what I wanted to do,” Sanders said. “But we’re doing tremendously much more than what was done. So you got to put it in perspective. Some things that we accomplished are tremendous. There’s some things that we didn’t. But we’re taking a step in the right direction, two steps in the right direction.”

What lies directly ahead — after the Utah game — is recruiting, both from the high school ranks and via the transfer portal.

Sanders said he and his staff have carefully identified needs and he is confident that the Buffs will be able to bolster the areas that need improvement.

“We have tremendous needs,” he said. “I’m pretty sure everybody in the country knows what we need and how much we need it. It’s not a secret and  the recruits are responding. Trust me …  They’re there. They’re calling in and we’re responding.”

When Sanders arrived last December, he and his staff embarked on a rebuild the likes of which college football had never seen before. By the time the Buffs hit the field in December, there were more than 80 newcomers on the roster, including 68 scholarship players.

This year, the approach will be much more targeted.

“(Last year) Ol’ Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard and there wasn’t anything there,” Sanders said. “You had to just fill the kitchen up … Now it’s more directed and more accurate. OK, we need three of those. We need two of those. We need one of those. That’s pretty much how we’re going at it. We know what we want and we’re gonna go get it. I promise you that.”

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November 20th

… CU in a few minutes … 

Neill Woelk Takeaways from WSU game: Attitude Matters

From … By any objective measure, this season has been a solid step forward for the Colorado Buffaloes.

The program that endured a 1-11 finish in 2022 is 4-7 this season with one game remaining. Thanks to the presence of Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders, the Buffs are once again nationally relevant. They have played competitive football, have earned the respect of opposing coaches and have put down a foundation for the future.

No doubt, the expectations sparked by Colorado’s 3-0 start and spot in the nation’s top 20 have made CU’s current five-game losing streak much harder to swallow. Two months ago a bowl game seemed like a sure thing, only to see seven losses in the next eight games douse those expectations with a harsh dose of reality.

But nobody’s expectations have taken a bigger hit than those of Sanders, a man whose entire career — playing and coaching — has been about winning.

Sanders didn’t come to Colorado to engage in a slow rebuilding project. His aim was to turn the Buffs’ fortunes around immediately — and for a while, it seemed as if he was going to accomplish that goal.

Now, while it is relevant to compare this year’s team to the state of the program a year ago, Sanders is far, far from satisfied.

He believes the Buffs should be better.

“We try to compare it to what we’re capable of,” he said in the wake of Friday night’s 56-14 loss at Washington State. “And we are falling short of what we’re capable of. And that’s the tough thing. That’s tremendously tough to digest week in and week out.”

While the Buffs have been competitive in most of their losses — four have been by one score — CU’s weaknesses have nevertheless been exposed. It’s why the oddsmakers have made Colorado a three-touchdown underdog heading into next Saturday’s season finale at Utah (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

But while the Buffs would no doubt like to end the season on a strong note, it is difficult not to cast an eye to 2024. CU’s coaching staff has already started the process of evaluating the roster with an eye on next season, when Colorado will move to the Big 12.

Thus, our takeaways from the Washington State game and how they might apply to the longer term:

1. Improvement up front will be critical. There may be no more two confounding statistics this season for the Buffs than passing yardage per game and sacks allowed.

The Buffs are 12th in the nation in passing yards per game (301). But they are dead last in sacks allowed, having given up 54 — with No. 1 quarterback Shedeur Sanders having been taken down 52 times.

The moral to this story is a simple one: if Colorado can beef up its talent in the trenches, the tools for an outstanding offense are otherwise in place.

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Cormani McClain learning on the job: “(Washington State) probably saw some insufficiencies on film, and they went at him”

From the Daily Camera … From the time Cormani McClain arrived in Boulder this summer, it’s been a series of growth opportunities for the highly touted freshman cornerback.

A week after playing an entire game for the first time and doing fairly well, McClain was picked on repeatedly in Friday’s 56-14 loss at Washington State and it was a game from which he can learn plenty.

According to Pro Football Focus, McClain was thrown at 11 times, giving up eight receptions for 206 yards. No other CU player was thrown at more than five times, and the Cougars gained 60.2% of their passing yards when throwing in McClain’s direction.

“It’s not only part of the learning process,” CU head coach Deion Sanders said. “Sometimes these young kids don’t understand what you put on film is indicative of what a coach is gonna attack the following week.”

A week earlier, Arizona threw at McClain just once, completing a 12-yard pass, despite him being on the field for every defensive snap.

“(Washington State) probably saw some insufficiencies on film, and they went at him,” Sanders said. “But he has to be ready to stand up.”

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November 19th

… CU in a few minutes …

Kickoff time set for CU at Utah

From …  The Colorado Buffaloes football game at Utah on Saturday, November 25, 2023, will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. MT and be televised by Pac-12 Network, the conference announced Saturday evening.

The full schedule of Pac-12 games for that week is below:

Friday, November 24, 2023

6:30pm MT – Oregon State at Oregon (FOX)

Saturday, November 25, 2023

1:00pm MT – Colorado at Utah (Pac-12 Network)

1:30pm MT – Arizona at Arizona State (ESPN)

2:00pm MT – Washington State at Washington (FOX)

5:00pm MT – Notre Dame at Stanford (Pac-12 Network)

8:30pm MT – Cal at UCLA (ESPN)

Coach Prime:

From the Daily Camera … Following an embarrassing defeat on a cold Friday night on the Palouse, Colorado head coach Deion Sanders was asked if this is the toughest stretch of his coaching career.

Of course it is, because before this season, Sanders had never really lost as a coach. Sanders has more defeats in the last two months (seven) then he did in three seasons at Jackson State. He was 27-6 at JSU, with half of those losses during the pandemic-delayed spring season of 2021 when he was just getting started.

Between coughs and with a throbbing headache as he battled flu-like symptoms, Sanders answered the question by saying, “This is toughest stretch of, probably, my life.”

For a man who had multiple surgeries two years ago because of life-threatening blood clots and who has been through two divorces, that’s a strong statement. But, for a man who loves winning as much as Sanders does, this hasn’t been an easy first season as the head coach of the Buffaloes (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12), who have sunk to the bottom of the conference with one game – at Utah – to play.

At worst, CU will make a three-win improvement over last year in Sanders’ first season. Rather than getting blown out in 10 games, like CU did in 2022, the Buffs have only been blown out twice this year. With a few breaks, the Buffs could easily be bowl eligible already.

“I mean, if you compare it to last year (we’re better),” Sanders said, which is a message he has delivered a few times during the Buffs’ losing streak. But, that’s not the measuring stick he prefers to use.

“We try to compare it to what we’re capable of and we are falling short of what we’re capable of,” he said. “And that’s the tough thing. That’s the thing that’s tremendously tough to digest, week in and week out.”

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Rooney: WSU beatdown should signal a turn of the page to the 2024 season

From the Daily Camera … The most damning part of the broadcast of Colorado’s absolute meltdown at Washington State wasn’t the three non-offensive touchdowns allowed by the Buffaloes, or even watching a junior college journeyman quarterback take over the huddle.

It was when the announcers said the effort, such as it was, turned in by CU was reminiscent of the 2022 Buffs.

They were right, of course, as the Buffs continued limping to the finish line by offering little to no resistance in a 56-14 Friday night loss at Washington State. The beat down should signal a turn of the page to the 2024 season.

The challenge for first-year head coach Deion Sanders isn’t to try and recapture the electricity of the opening weeks, when the Buffaloes’ 3-0 start made them the darlings of college football. Those days are over, at least until the Buffs can potentially write a new script in 2024. Instead, it’s to look ahead at what’s best for the 2024 Buffs — even if that means shutting down Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter for the finale — while trying to keep the program’s big-picture progress this fall at the forefront even while the losses pile up.

In the case of Shedeur Sanders, keeping him on the sideline for the finale at Utah should be a no-brainer, particularly with bowl eligibility officially out of the equation. Shedeur has nothing to prove anymore. He was the biggest reason the Buffs upset TCU in a memorable opener and started 3-0. His toughness is without question. He is an NFL-caliber quarterback and the key to whatever fortunes the Buffs might be able to reap in 2024.

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6 Replies to “Colorado Daily – Utah Week”

  1. nebraska lost at home today and won’t earn a bowl berth this year, again… very proud the Buffs continue to play a role in their perpetual downfall – life is good 🙂

  2. I think I remember McCartney using a bowl game to try an entirely different O scheme.
    Only a week to practice here before the last game but put something different in please for the run game at least. You got nada to lose. Go for it. Give me some hope for next season.

    1. That was the bowl against Alabama. Switched to a pro style offense with Hagan as the QB. Not a good mix. However the change led to getting Kordell and Koy. But also caused Tommy Frazier to decide on the holers. Win some lose some.

    2. IIRC that new offense for the bowl game was a flop. Didn’t they go away from the wishbone run-heavy to a pro style offense and more passing? Plus they had multiple weeks to practice on it. But anyway, I wish they would run more too at this point. Seems a necessity to protect either a gimpy Shadeur or help the backup QBs.

  3. I guess it is appropriate that CU’s last football game in the PAC (1)2 is on the boondoggle network that basically caused the ultimate demise of the conference.

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