CU opponent glance

Opponent: Arizona State Sun Devils

Game time: Saturday, 7:07 p.m. MT, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Coach: Todd Graham, 6th season (43-30; 92-59 career)

Record: 4-4, 3-2 Pac-12

Last week: Lost at home to USC, 48-17

Key players: RB Kalen Ballage, Sr. (93 att., 378 yards, 5 TD); LB D.J. Calhoun, Sr. (70 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks); WR N'Keal Harry, So. (54 catches, 713 yards, 3 TD); RB Demario Richard, Sr. (100 att., 379 yards, 5 TD); LB Christian Sam, Jr. (83 tackles, 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT); DE JoJo Wicker, Jr. (26 tackles, 9 TFL, 4.5 sacks); QB Manny Wilkins, Jr. (173-of-263, 2,096 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT; rushing: 82 att., 51 yards, 4 TD); WR Kyle Williams, So. (41 catches, 469 yards, 3 TD).

Notable: After back-to-back impressive wins against then-No. 5 Washington and Utah, the Sun Devils were routed by USC on Saturday night. ... ASU was held to 79 rushing yards in the loss. ... ASU is 4-0 all-time against the Buffs in Tempe, with each win coming by at least 19 points. ... The Sun Devils are averaging 27.9 points per game. They haven't finished below 32.3 per game since 2009. ... ASU is one of the least penalized teams in the country, with 4.0 per game (tied for sixth nationally). ... The Sun Devils have scored on 96.0 percent of their red zone trips, second only to Georgia among Power 5 teams.

After demanding more from his quarterbacks, Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre knew he had to give more, as well.


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Following a 28-0 loss to Washington State on Oct. 21, MacIntyre was upset enough with the performance at quarterback to open the competition between starter Steven Montez and backup Sam Noyer.

As he sat in Pullman, Wash., that night talking about his quarterbacks, MacIntyre added this: "We have to coach them better."

He took that to heart, and in doing so last week, the Buffs brought out the best in Montez and the offense in Saturday's 44-28 win against California.

"I went back and looked at how we were practicing. I was up all night Sunday night," MacIntyre said in recalling the night after the Wazzu loss.

MacIntyre changed CU's practice routine last week to add more "pass skeleton" drills, which allows the quarterbacks to throw specific routes without any offensive or defensive linemen on the field.

"I think we needed the timing," MacIntyre said. "I think (Montez) needed more touch, I think he needed to get really comfortable where he was not worried about the rush and he could just see the coverages. We'll keep doing that. I really believe they took to that."

MacIntyre said the Buffs added about 45 minutes of that drill to their routine. It's not a drill that's done often because it can wear out of the legs of the receivers, but after a poor performance at Wazzu, he felt it was necessary.

"I said, 'Forget it, just rotate every receiver in,'" MacIntyre said. "Steven and Sam need to see that."

Because that drill can be taxing to the receivers, MacIntyre said the Buffs won't do it as often going forward, but will still incorporate it because of the results it produced.

After a week of working with MacIntyre and co-offensive coordinators Brian Lindgren and Darrin Chiaverini, Montez had one of the best games of his young career against Cal.

He completed 20 of 26 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. He was sharp, in sync with his receivers and poised in running the offense.

"Yeah, I think so," he said when asked if he felt more comfortable during the game against Cal. "I think I needed to be a lot more focused when I was out there actually reading the defenses. I think I was and I think it kind of paid off for us."

After staying up late last Sunday night, MacIntyre left practice excited on Monday because of how his quarterbacks responded to the situation and the different routine.

"I was really excited because both of them were helping each other, both of them were focused, both of them were competing," MacIntyre said. "Nobody was pouting or hanging their head, so I knew they were going got get better. I think both of those guys got better. That was good to see. The results came out."

Overall, it may have been the best week of the season for the entire coaching staff.

The offensive coaching staff, led by Chiaverini and Lindgren, put together a game plan that had the Buffs moving the ball — and scoring points — throughout the day. CU scored on five consecutive possessions in the first half, and had just one three-and-out.

Defensively, coordinator D.J. Eliot and his staff kept the Bears in check by stuffing the run and putting pressure on the quarterback - two areas in which CU has struggled recently. CU held Cal to 61 yards on the ground and sacked Ross Bowers four times, while adding five hurries.

"That's something our coach has been harping on all week," said linebacker Drew Lewis, who had his first sack of the season. "They wanted to get pressure on the quarterback and help the (defensive backs) out obviously. It was great to be able to do that."

Collectively, CU's staff found a way to help the Buffs bounce back from their worst game of the year and put together their best. It was the most complete game by CU this season.

The results were exceptional against Cal, but now the Buffs need the results to be there against Arizona State this next Saturday, and in future games.

To do that, MacIntyre recalled a line from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, "Do your job, but do your job well."

Notable

CU went 11-for-17 on third downs against Cal, just one week after going 1-for-17 against Washington State. ... Sophomore Tim Lynott Jr. struggled with his snaps after switching to center against Washington State after starter Jonathan Huckins went down with a concussion. On Saturday, with Huckins out, Lynott was nearly flawless on snaps. "He did an excellent job today," MacIntyre said. ... The Buffs went five-for-five in the red zone three touchdowns, two field goals).