PULLMAN, Wash. - To a young quarterback making his first career start, Nelson Spruce provides a sense of security.

Colorado's Cade Apsay looked Spruce's way most of the night during a 27-3 loss to Washington State. The freshman said he should have looked at Spruce even more.

Spruce, a senior, caught 10 passes for a season-high 120 yards. The rest of the Buffs combined for 16 catches, but Apsay was disappointed by a series of drops by his receivers.

"Those dropped balls, they were key on third down," Apsay said. "I feel like I didn't look at (Spruce) enough. There were a lot of dropped balls in other places, so I think I should have gone to him a little bit more. He's a playmaker and reliable."

Asked if he lost faith in his other receivers, Apsay said, "No, not at all. I just know if they're dropping balls, if they're going to be consistent like that, you can't give them the ball every play, so I have to go to my playmaker."

Apsay was also disappointed in CU's lackluster running game, which generated just 85 yards on 30 carries. Washington State came in ranking 127th - out of 127 teams - against the run, allowing 206.7 yards per game.

"The run game was definitely lacking," Apsay said. "There's not enough push on the snap and the line, I don't know what the problem was; we just couldn't move the ball on the ground."

So far in his young career, Apsay is proving to be an emotional player.


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After a low snap led to a 4-yard loss and cost Colorado a shot at a touchdown during the fourth quarter, Apsay got up, slammed the ball to the ground and barked at his linemen.

Since 2008, CU quarterbacks have a 1-6 record in their starting debut. The only win came from the man Apsay replaced, Sefo Liufau.

Falk carted off field

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who came in as the nation's leading passer, left the game in the third quarter after hitting his head on the turf.

Falk was sacked by CU's Samson Kafovalu and had his head slammed to the ground. The hit appeared to knock him out. After several minutes on the ground, he was carted off the field and gave a thumbs up to the crowd.

It's the second week in a row that Falk took a big hit to the head. After the game, Washington State coach Mike Leach was in no mood to discuss Falk. He answered "next question" to two requests for updates on Falk and on the third, he threatened to walk out and end his press conference.

Falk completed 27 of 35 passes for 199 yards. He completed 25 of his first 27 passes.

Century mark

It took 12 games, but Spruce finally hit the 100-yard mark.

Before his 120-yard performance on Saturday, Spruce's high game 94 yards, a week earlier against USC.

Dating back to last season, Spruce had been held below 100 yards in 14 consecutive games. He now has eight 100-yard games in his career.

On the season, Spruce has 84 catches for 942 yards.

If he hits the 1,000-yard mark, Spruce will become just the third CU player ever to do so twice in a career, joining Charles Johnson (1992 and 1993) and Rae Carruth (1995 and 1996).

Left hash woes

During the first half Saturday, CU kicker Diego Gonzalez missed field goal attempts of 47 and 33 yards. Both were kicked from the left hash mark, giving him seven consecutive misses from that hash.

Gonzalez broke that streak my making a 24-yard field goal from the left hash during the third quarter.

During Pac-12 play, Gonzalez is 10-for-17 on field goals, going 1-for-8 from the left half and 9-for-9 from other spots.

Pinning them deep

Punter Alex Kinney set a couple of CU records on Saturday night.

The freshman from Fort Collins pinned Washington State on its 4-yard line with a punt late in the first quarter. That was the 22nd time Kinney has pinned an opponent inside the 20 and the ninth time he's had a pin inside the 10.

Kinney broke CU freshman records held by Darragh O'Neill, who had 21 inside the 20 and eight inside the 10 in 2011.

Awini at QB

Linebacker Jaleel Awini has returned his old position, quarterback.

With Liufau out for the year with a foot injury, the Buffs needed a third quarterback and have apparently turned to Awini. 

A junior, Awini played quarterback during warm-ups, and he had presumably played on offense all week in practice. He did not play on offense during the game.

Awini, a graduate of Aurora's Rangeview High School, played quarterback at Air Force before transferring to CU. He made three starts at QB for the Falcons, completing 21-of-42 passes for 275 yards. He also ran 45 times for 220yards and four touchdowns.

Notable

Phillip Lindsay led CU in rushing with 78 yards on 16 carries. He has 997 yards in his career, including 605 this year. ... Safety Tedric Thompson had his second interception of the season and fifth of his career. ... CU's captains for Saturday were: Chidobe Awuzie, Alex Kelley, Lindsay and Kenneth Olugbode. ... The two teams combined to go 1-for-11 on third downs (CU 1-for-6, WSU 0-for-5) in the first half and 8-for-28 overall.

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