DENVER -- The fall has been a trying one for Toney Clemons.
The Colorado Buffaloes' second-leading receiver a year ago, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver was maligned in fall camp -- not to mention spring ball as well -- for dropping passes and not giving consistent effort. The first two weeks of the season he had one catch for 9 yards.
The senior's potential finally started shining through in Saturday's 28-14 win over the Colorado State Rams at Sports Authority Field. And it couldn't have come at a more opportune time, given the Buffs' early struggles on offense and on a day when speed-burner Paul Richardson was bracketed by double coverage.
Clemons caught three passes for 65 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that gave the Buffs a 21-7 lead.
"I called him out during spring camp because I felt like he was under-performing," CU coach Jon Embree said. "And then the issues we had at Hawaii (in the season opener), he was man enough to come in and we talked and communicated about what my expectations were and his expectations were. I told him I don't hold a grudge, and I don't. And he got back in and to his credit he made some big plays for us."
Clemons' first two catches of the game came on the Buffs' first scoring drive, with CU trailing 7-0 and sputtering on offense. The first went for 13 yards, the second for 8, and both produced first downs.
With CU leading 14-7 late in the third quarter, quarterback Tyler Hansen dropped back on a play-action pass and hit a wide open Clemons for a score. It came after Hansen had missed Clemons on a deep ball earlier.
"It feels good to be at this point," Clemons said. "I've been tested for so long through August and through the season. The coaches gave me a chance to go out there and redeem myself, and I think I did pretty well, decent. ... I've still got to come back to work next week."
One week after Richardson torched Cal for a school-record 284 yards receiving, the Rams did their best to blanket the sophomore. He caught four passes for just 27 yards and helped the Rams out by dropping a couple of balls that looked like they could go for decent gains.
"We had to step up for him," said Clemons, whose 43 catches last season were nine more than Richardson's total as he came on late as a freshman. "I was bracketed a lot last year, and he stepped up for me. Other guys in the unit just have to step up and make plays."
Said Hansen, who was 17 for 32 for 215 yards and also hit Kyle Cefalo for a 24-yard score: "(Clemons) has been fighting. He's had a hard last couple of weeks. But I feel good for him. ... We need that guy real bad."