It was on the Folsom Field turf nearly three years ago that Dante Pettis put his explosiveness on display for the first time.

Then a true freshman receiver at Washington, Pettis scored the first touchdown of his career on a 28-yard reception. Later in the game, he had an 87-yard punt return for touchdown - the first punt return score by a Husky in 11 years.

As Pettis and the No. 7 Huskies (3-0) make their return to Folsom Field on Saturday against Colorado (3-0), he's no longer a secret weapon.

Pettis, a senior, has a punt return for touchdown in each of Washington's three games this season, and he's got a Pac-12-record eight for his career.

So, it stands to reason that the Buffaloes won't punt the ball in his direction. Or will they?

"We'll see what we're going to do on that," said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre, who is never too keen on revealing much during a game week.

CU will have its hands full with Pettis, who is not just the best punt returner in the country. He's also one of the top receivers in college football, with 18 touchdown receptions since the start of last year (20 for his career).

"Pettis has, to me, gone to a different level," MacIntyre said. "He's a really good player. He's made a lot of plays and does a really good job, but they really do a great job blocking for him, too, because they know they can get him started (on punt returns).

"He's a guy we have to know where he is offensively and on punt returns. Hopefully we can corral him."


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Pettis has more punt return touchdowns in the first three weeks of this season than CU has as a team in the last 10 years combined.

First impression

MacIntyre, of course, is very familiar with Washington, which thumped the Buffs 41-10 in the Pac-12 title game last year.

After watching them on film this weekend, MacIntyre said the Huskies "look better than they did last year when we played them. They're a really good football team."

CU’s Chris Mulumba was ejected from Saturday’s game for this hit on Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp.
CU's Chris Mulumba was ejected from Saturday's game for this hit on Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

The Huskies returned a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, including Pettis, quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskin and several stars on defense.

"I think they're just more polished at what they're doing," MacIntyre said.

Rewind

After reviewing film of Saturday's 41-21 win against Northern Colorado, MacIntyre said he was pleased with how hard the Buffs played.

"We were very, very physical," he said. "We just gave up two deep balls where we screwed it up. We were definitely physical and came ready to play and play hard. I was pleased with all of that."

Quarterback Steven Montez said he felt "a little bit better" about the offense after the win against UNC, but knows the Buffs have to ramp it up this week.

"Just practicing full speed, practicing hard; that's going to be key for us this week and hopefully we can go out there and execute that," he said.

CU-UCLA game time set

On Monday, the Pac-12 announced that CU's game at UCLA on Sept. 30 will be slated for an 8:30 p.m. MT kickoff.

The game, to be played from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., will be televised by ESPN2.

It will be CU's first road game of the year, as the Buffs look to win their second straight against the Bruins.

Notable

After having two players - safety Afolabi Laguda and defensive lineman Chris Mulumba - ejected for targeting against UNC, MacIntyre said it'll be a point of emphasis to re-teach players to hit lower and avoid the head when going after offensive players. "You just keep teaching and working with how they target," he said. ... CU cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who is likely to spend much of his night covering Pettis, is tied for the national lead - along with Iowa's Josh Jackson - with eight passes defended. ... As of Monday morning, CU had sold more than 45,000 tickets for Saturday's game.

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