Colorado’s Delrick Abrams, back, deflects a pass intended for Arizona State’s Curtis Hodges on Saturday at Folsom Field.
Colorado's Delrick Abrams, back, deflects a pass intended for Arizona State's Curtis Hodges on Saturday at Folsom Field. (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera)
From the small town of Bogalusa, La., came a mighty roar on Saturday afternoon when Colorado's Delrick Abrams Jr., reached up and punched the ball away from Arizona State receiver Curtis Hodges early in the fourth quarter.

"I was hollering and excited," said Earnestine Abrams, Delrick's mother. "To hear his name said on TV, 'Delrick Abrams,' it was amazing."

Delrick's pass breakup in the end zone thwarted an ASU scoring threat and helped preserve a 28-21 victory for the 19th-ranked Buffaloes (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12).

To head coach Mike MacIntyre, it was a perfect play.

"He played it just like we taught," MacIntyre said.

To Delrick, it couldn't have been any better.

"It was pretty big," he said. "I knew they were going to come my way because (Hodges) is 6-8; he's a big receiver. I was looking at him the whole time. I just played with the technique coach Mac told me to do and it came out the right way."

To Earnestine, it was yet another moment of pride, as she watched her only child continue to live his dream, which began in his hometown of Varnado, a village of roughly 330 people near Bogalusa.

"Really proud," Earnestine said Sunday. "I always brag him up and talk about him and how he's doing so good and I talk to him about it. I said, 'Son, I'm so proud of you. You were amazing on the field last night.' The whole team was, but he's amazing."

Most amazing about Delrick's performance was that he played with a heavy heart after what has been an emotional roller-coaster over the past two weeks.


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Two days before the game against the Sun Devils, Delrick found out that his grandfather on his father's side of the family, Clarence Abrams, passed away. The two were very close.

"I knew I had to come out here and play for him, play for my family," Delrick said moments after the game against the Sun Devils. "I knew (Clarence) wouldn't want me to be sad. I called my grandma to see how she was doing, and every time I pray, I pray for my grandma and my family.

Colorado’s Delrick Abrams poses with his mother, Earnestine Abrams, after the Buffs’ 38-16 win against UCLA on Sept. 28 at Folsom Field.
Colorado's Delrick Abrams poses with his mother, Earnestine Abrams, after the Buffs' 38-16 win against UCLA on Sept. 28 at Folsom Field. (Delrick Abrams)
"

Delrick wore his contagious smile even as he talked about his grandfather, but that doesn't surprise Earnestine.

"He don't let nobody know (when he's emotional)," she said. "He tells me he's alright, but in his eyes, I know he's not alright when he hears bad news."

While his heart hurt, Delrick was also still glowing from the previous weekend.

On Sept. 28, Earnestine was in Boulder to watch the Buffs knock out UCLA, 38-16.

This is Delrick's third season of college football - he transferred to CU this year after two seasons at Independence (Kan.) Community College - but the first time Earnestine saw him play in person since his senior year at Varnado High School.

"She didn't have the money to come out there (to Independence)," Delrick said. "First time I saw her in the hotel, I almost cried. It was pretty great to have my mama come out here."

Family friends, including Delrick's mentor and former high school coach Donald Frazier, helped Earnestine make the trip.

"It meant so much to me," Earnestine said. "It was the experience of my life. It's a dream come true for me and him. I enjoyed the game and everything. And he played so good."

Delrick's been playing well all season for the Buffs, and Earnestine couldn't be more pleased.

"It's amazing for him and amazing for the whole family," she said. "It's his dream come true. All he wanted to do when he was little is play football and it's amazing he got this far.

"We always say we believe he's going to make it. We told him he's going to make it because he loves it too much and he wasn't going to give up."

Delrick's talent and passion for football led him to CU, but through the emotions of his mother's visit and his grandfather's passing, there's no question what motivates him.

"I was really just playing for (Clarence) and trying to make my family proud," Delrick said.

A few thoughts from the weekend:

1. I'm still not sure how good Colorado is at this point, but I'm growing more impressed each week. During the first two games of Pac-12 play, the Buffs have been very physical and they get tougher as games go along. Both of those games were in Boulder, however. Give CU a ton of credit for taking care of business at home.

Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault was once against the Buffs’ best player on Saturday, scoring four touchdowns in a 28-21 win against Arizona State.
Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault was once against the Buffs' best player on Saturday, scoring four touchdowns in a 28-21 win against Arizona State. (Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera)
 That's critical for a team that has conference title hopes. Now, the Buffs have to prove themselves on the road. They visit a USC team they've never defeated this week. That's followed by a trip to Washington - a team that's hammered them in Boulder and at a neutral site the last two years. Winning in Seattle will be tough. I think going 0-2 in this stretch is much more likely than 2-0, but if the Buffs can go 1-1, that'll be big.

2. Youth flag football update: I missed my 8-year-old son's game last weekend because of the CU-ASU game, but he scored three touchdowns in a 24-18 victory. I'm still trying to figure out where he got this talent!

3. Unfortunately for my 8-year-old, his favorite football player - Mason Crosby - had a dreadful day on Sunday. It was rather stunning to see the former Buff miss four field goals and an extra point. In his 12-year career, he had never missed more than two kicks in a game.

4. Folsom Field is such a different place when the fans show up. Seeing over 52,000 fans in the stands Saturday was impressive and it creates one of the most underrated atmospheres in college football. Having a good team helps, but a full Folsom is a sight to behold. I've been to every Pac-12 venue except for Washington (I'm looking forward to that visit next week), and I'd rank a full Folsom near the top, in terms of best atmosphere. Oregon and Utah are great venues, as well, and Washington State, despite being small, can get loud. I hear Washington has a great atmosphere, too, but Folsom - when it's full - is among the top four.

The week's best Buffs

From the win against Arizona State, here are the Buffs that really stood out to me:

1. WR Laviska Shenault: Let's just leave him in this spot all year, shall we? The sophomore is an incredible football player and I love his humility. (Honorable mention to KD Nixon, who came up with a couple of big plays for the Buffs, including a 51-yard catch that set up Shenault's winning touchdowns).

2. QB Steven Montez: Honestly, if Montez played for one of the traditional powers - Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, etc. - he'd be talked about as one of the Heisman favorites right now. He's been that good, and yet he's been overshadowed on his own team.

3. DL Mustafa Johnson: I continue to be impressed with what Johnson is doing in his first season at Colorado. His sack of Manny Wilkins on second-and-goal in the fourth quarter was massive. (Honorable mention here to Javier Edwards, who was a beast at nose tackle once again).

4. LB Drew Lewis: Very impressive performance once again for the senior, who didn't miss a beat when he had to move inside after Nate Landman's targeting ejection.

5. Offensive line: Coach Klayton Adams likes when they play as one, so we'll list them as one. However, I've got to give a special nod to Tim Lynott. The junior lost his starting job a week earlier against UCLA and came off the bench against the Sun Devils. He was a key part of CU's run game in the second half.

6. RB Travon McMillian: Normally, I go with five on this list, but I might have to expand this to six or seven, because Shenault and Montez keep hogging the top spots. McMillian has proven the last two weeks he's capable of getting tough yards. It's odd to say, but with McMillian's performance this season, I don't think they've missed Phillip Lindsay.

7. CB Delrick Abrams: Gotta put him on the list for that fourth-quarter pass breakup. That was a huge play for CU, and he was pretty good throughout the day.

Stat of the week

Five games into the season, Colorado leads the nation in fewest points allowed in the fourth quarter, with 3.

Colorado State kicked a meaningless field goal midway through the fourth quarter in the opener on Aug. 31 to pull within 45-13 of the Buffs. CU's last four opponents have failed to score in the fourth.

That's impressive, considering how close several of those games have been. In Week 2, Nebraska led 28-27 going into the fourth, but didn't score again; in Week 4, CU's lead was just 28-16 against UCLA going into the fourth; and last week, the Buffs had a 28-21 lead going into the fourth.

Even more impressive is that opponents have driven into CU territory six times in the fourth quarter without scoring points in the last four games.

Pac-12 players of the week

Colorado's Laviska Shenault and Mustafa Johnson were nominated. Here's who I voted for this week:

Offense - Shenault: There wasn't much competition for Shenault this week. Not that there weren't great performances from others, but it's tough to beat Shenault's four-TD performance. Washington State QB Gardner Minshew (430 yards, 5 TD) was impressive, too.

Defense - Scottie Young Jr., Arizona: The Wildcats' safety picked off two passes, including a pick-six with 3:13 to play to seal a 24-14 win against Cal. He also had a season-high seven tackles.

Special teams - Matt Gay, Utah: In an upset of Stanford, he was 4-for-4 on field goals, including kicks of 48 and 49 yards. He also went 4-for-4 on extra points.

Pac-12 Team of the Week

Utah: The Utes may have saved their season with their stunning, 40-21 upset of then-No. 14 Stanford. Utah came into the game at 2-2 and 0-2 in the Pac-12 and really couldn't afford to fall to 0-3. That seemed inevitable against the Cardinal, who were playing at home and have eyes on a North division title. Utah was impressive from the start, though, thumping the Cardinal in the first half and then pulling away late. Although just 1-2 in the conference, the Utes can't be counted out in the South race just yet.

National Team of the Week

Texas: Can we officially declare that the Longhorns are back? They pulled off a 48-45 victory against rival Oklahoma to move to 5-1 on the season. It's been nearly a decade since Texas was a national power, and a season-opening loss to Maryland put a damper on the preseason hype surrounding this team. Since then, however, they've gone 5-0 with convincing wins against USC, TCU and now Oklahoma. Now ranked No. 9 in the AP poll, the Longhorns could make a run at a spot in the College Football Playoff. If they can win out and pair this win with a victory against West Virginia - currently No. 6 - in November, they'll be in the CFP conversation.

A few thoughts on the Pac-12 after Week 6:

1. Utah's win was huge. Underdogs on the road, the Utes (3-2, 1-2) were facing an 0-3 start to conference play, but gained a great deal of confidence with that win. They get Arizona and USC at home the next two weeks with a real shot of jumping back into the South race.

2. Washington State is a lot better than I thought it would be this year and Gardner Minshew has an argument for being the best QB in the conference this year. The graduate transfer was impressive against Oregon State and now that he's settled in, he's not making mistakes. In the last four games, he's completed 70 percent of his passes (143 of 205) for 1,689 yards, 13 TD and one INT.

3. Arizona State is going to be OK with Herm Edwards. At least for this year. Todd Graham recruited some good talent to Tempe and that's helping Edwards this season. We'll see what he does down the road when he starts bringing in his players. But, I give him credit for doing a nice job with the talent he's inherited. The upcoming schedule is tough, but that's a bowl team.

4. Don't discount Arizona just yet. So far, the Wildcats are 2-1 in the Pac-12. While the wins have come against arguably the two worst teams in the North division (Oregon State and Cal), I feel like Arizona is starting to settle in a bit with Kevin Sumlin. The second half schedule is difficult, but they get Colorado and ASU at home.

Pac-12 rankings

After week 6, here's how I rank the teams in the Pac-12:

1. Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12): Not a dominating effort against UCLA, but the Huskies are in control in the North division.

2. Oregon (4-1, 1-1): Ducks had the week off and now get ready to face Washington in what could decide the North.

3. Colorado (5-0, 2-0): The Buffs passed their first big test in the Pac-12, knocking off ASU at home.

4. Washington State (5-1, 2-1): Cougars let Oregon State hang around for a while, but an impressive second half allowed them to pull away on the road.

5. USC (3-2, 2-1): After a bye week, the Trojans have a shot to take control in the South with Colorado coming to L.A.

6. Utah (3-2, 1-2): The Utes were impressive in their rout of Stanford - on the road - last week. Might have been the most surprising result of the season so far in the Pac-12.

7. Stanford (4-2, 2-1): Without Bryce Love, this is a very ordinary team, as they showed it against the Utes.

8. Arizona (3-3, 2-1): It's been an up and down year for the Wildcats, but they're certainly not out of the running in the South after a good win against Cal.

9. Arizona State (3-3, 1-2): ASU continues to play solid football and good enough to win or stay in every game. They've got to figure out how to win on the road, however.

10. California (3-2, 0-2): Following a really good non-conference, the Bears have fallen flat in the first two games of Pac-12 play.

11. UCLA (0-5, 0-2): The Bruins haven't found the win column, but they've played better in recent weeks. They'll snap that losing streak soon.

12. Oregon State (1-5, 0-3): The Beavers' losing streak might continue for a while, but they do put up a fight in most games.

Quote the of week

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre talking the atmosphere around this year's Buffaloes:

"It is really exciting. I love all of my teams. I care about all of my teams. There are some teams you kind of like more than others just because of how they all are together and you kind of like what you see. This team I really like. I like being around them. I like going to practice. I like hanging out with them. They have that unique ability to be focused but also be loose. You don't find that all of the time. I think they have that - which you need. You have to be focused and you have to be loose. They just keep playing. They really just keep playing. I give credit to our strength staff and to our coaches for instilling that in them. I give credit to our seniors and our senior captains of how they have instilled that in them. This is not a selfish group. They really are a group that will do anything they need to do to help each other win."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.