Colorado quarterback Steven Montez has often joked that his coaches wish he'd finish runs by sliding, rather than lowering his shoulder and plowing into a defender.

During Saturday's 37-10 loss to Washington, Montez finally slid, and that wound up costing him and the Buffs.

Facing third-and-3 from the CU 27-yard line early in the second quarter, Montez scrambled and took off running. With Washington defenders closing in, he slid, winding up past the first-down marker. Unfortunately, the play is dead at the point where the slide begins, and Montez was a yard short.

The Buffs had to punt, and Alex Kinney's kick was blocked. Four plays later, Washington scored a game-tying touchdown.

Had Montez finished his third-down run like he usually does, the Buffs would have had a first down and kept the drive going.

"I just have to know down and distance," Montez said. "I have to know I have to put my head down and go run them over or try to make them miss or do something to go get that first down. I definitely can't slide on third and (three) and come up short. You can't do that."

That certainly wasn't the play that lost the game for CU, but it was one of many plays on the night that features little mistakes, and those all added up to a bad night for the Buffs.

Break out for Winfree

Statistically, CU receiver Juwann Winfree had a modest night, with five catches for 33 yards.


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Despite the blowout loss, it was a significant night for the junior.

The junior college transfer, who missed the entire 2016 season with a torn ACL, finally made an impact on the CU offense.

"It was exciting for me," he said. "I wasn't able to see the field as much (earlier) this year and that was just something I had to be patient with. Be patient and just trust the process. It just felt great to get back out there."

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Winfree started at slot receiver in place of injured junior Jay MacIntyre. Winfree had never practiced in the slot at CU until this past week, and had just three catches for 33 yards on the season coming in.

With MacIntyre out, the Buffs felt Winfree's size could help them attack Washington's defense in the slot.

"That position was going to catch more balls in this game because of the way they played (defense)," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "It was good to see Juwann do that and step in there and he made a few plays for us."

In addition to his five catches, Winfree also executed several nice blocks.

Jay MacIntyre sprained a ligament in his foot during CU's 41-21 win against Northern Colorado on Sept. 16. He was able to finish that game, but coach MacIntyre said, "After the game he hadn't really been able to walk. Hopefully he'll get it healed up. (Doctors) don't think he needs surgery or anything."

Finding the five?

It took until the fourth game, but CU may have finally found the right combination of starters on the offensive line. Maybe.

For the second game in a row, the Buffs started Jeromy Irwin at left tackle, Gerrad Kough at left guard, Tim Lynott Jr. at center, Aaron Haigler at right guard and Josh Kaiser at right tackle.

CU's offensive line has had a shaky season to this point, but had its best half of the year in the first half Saturday. In the second half, however, the Buffs allowed four sacks and rushed for just 50 yards on 23 rushes.

"We will (look at the film) and see if we need to make any changes or do anything," MacIntyre said of the line.

For now, CU appears to have settled on moving Lynott to center. Prior to the UNC game, Lynott had started 16 consecutive games at right guard, but started at center against UNC because senior Jonathan Huckins was still recovering from an injury.

Last week, coach MacIntyre said Huckins could have played if needed, but hadn't practiced until Friday of UNC week. With Lynott starting a second game in a row, that could be a permanent move.

Record breaker

With five receptions, CU's Phillip Lindsay broke the school record for career receptions for a running back. He now has 96 for his career, topping the previous mark of 93, established by Rodney Stewart.

Lindsay also moved up one notch on CU's career rushing list. He had 68 yards, pushing his career total to 2,679 and passing Hugh Charles for seventh on the list.

Lindsay is just 11 yards behind Chris Brown for sixth.

Career best

Freshman kicker James Stefanou had the longest field goal of his brief career, nailing a 49-yarder in the second half.

Stefanou is 7-for-8 on field goals this season.

Blocked

The Kinney punt that was blocked in the second quarter was the fourth official blocked punt against him during the past three years. That doesn't include the kick that Kinney had against Michigan last year when he drilled his offensive line in the back.

The last official block of a CU punt came in that Michigan game, on Sept. 17, 2016. The Wolverines recovered that one and returned it for a touchdown.

Notable

With five catches, CU's Shay Fields moved past Michael Westbrook for third on CU's all-time list. Fields has 168 career catches. ... The touchdown scored by Washington after the blocked punt was the first red zone touchdown allowed by the Buffs this season. CU was the last team in the country to allow a red zone touchdown. ... With the field soaked with rain, CU mascot Ralphie did not lead the team onto the field. The last time Ralphie did not run in either half of a game was Oct. 3, 2015, against Oregon. ... CU lost the coin toss for the second game in a row. Prior to that, the Buffs had won 10 in a row and 15 of 16 dating back to last season. ... Announced attendance was 47,666. ... After converting their first four third-down opportunities, the Buffs converted just three of their last 11.

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