What we learned from Colorado’s loss to Texas A&M
Colorado was so close to a momentous victory over the Texas A&M Aggies. It would have been the Buffs’ first Top 5 win since their loss to Oklahoma in 2007, but the offense failed and the Aggies eventually scored the inevitable touchdown. It’s a shame the Buffs didn’t have a CV win (and a cushy Top 25 ranking on Monday) but we can still learn mostly positive lessons.
1. This Colorado defense looks elite
For the first 28 minutes of this game, the Aggies totaled 22 yards and zero (0) first downs. The Buffs are so solid up front – Jalen Sami controlling the line of scrimmage, Terrance Lang penetrating, Nate Landman cleaning up the mess – that they could be tough against the run without having to engage too much. A&M have the talent and girth to dominate the field, but they had nothing to do at the start.
Zach Calzada looked terrible – until the last two practices, at least – and missed all kinds of easy throws. Coming in as an injury replacement is tough, but Chris Wilson’s defense didn’t make it easier, and it’s not like Haynes King had an easier time before his injury. Additional credit here should go to the pass rush, as well as Christian Gonzalez, Mekhi Blackmon and Nigel Bethel in what could be a very good defensive backfield.
Even though Colorado ultimately conceded the winning touchdown – on a gritty drive that required daring breakouts, tough catches and a great Calzada throw for the final score – the Buffs did all they could to win this game. . 10 points awarded to a national title contender is pretty darn impressive. Imagine what they will do against Cal and Oregon State.
2. There are reasons to believe in the offense, at least in the first half
Darrin Chiaverini struggled with this attack. He’s an air raid coach who struggles to plan easy shots for his freshman quarterback. He can be predictable in the rhythms of his playing, doesn’t adapt quickly when Plan A stops working, and can get too cute when he changes things up.
But even then, despite all of this criticism, the offense looks moderately decent when Chiv has a full week to prepare for the game’s first practices. These slash runs set up game action passes, the midfield opens up and the fast tempo keeps the attack in rhythm. . . and everything is fine before the opponent’s defensive coordinator understands and makes some adjustments to blow up the whole game plan.
Colorado will win a few games with its attack in the first half. There’ll be a game or two when they score 21 quick points, the defense gets a few saves and the Buffs can just run the ball through the entire second half. There will be more than one or two games that Jarek Broussard gets lost in, no matter the game adjustments or defenses, because he’s just too good.
3. Anyone can win the Pac-12 South (except Arizona)
Most of us assumed USC would be the Southern Division class, but they’re a complete disaster and just fired Clay Helton in week 2 (bad news for the Pac-12). UCLA That may be good, but it may be the least reliable program in the country. Arizona State is good, but they’re eagerly waiting for the NCAA to drop the hammer on half of their coaching staff. Utah will be good, most likely, but is struggling right now. Arizona could be the worst team in major college football.
If things go well, and UCLA does their usual UCLA, the Pac-12 South will be wide open. The Buffs need a lot of work on offense – and maybe some revival that’s three years overdue – but on goodnight they could beat anyone in the Pac-12 except Oregon. Elite defense gives you chances in games you shouldn’t be in, even against top teams like Texas A&M, and gives you a margin of error against lesser teams. On top of that, maybe the attack improves a bit if and when Brendon Lewis moves into QB’s position.