Oregon State at Colorado
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. MT.
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder
TV: Pac-12 Networks
When Juwann Winfree spoke nearly a month ago about being healthy enough to play against UCLA, his voice was filled with hope, rather than confidence.
The Colorado senior is now truly healthy, and eager to do all he can to help the Buffaloes (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) finish this season the right way. CU hosts Oregon State (1-6, 0-4) on Saturday with a chance to secure bowl eligibility.
"That's all it was for me, just having faith and just trusting the process and trusting my trainers that they were going to put me through the best to get me back out there," said Winfree, who returned to the field last week after missing four games, including the one against UCLA, with a high ankle sprain. "I trusted it and it felt great to be back there."
Star Laviska Shenault was sidelined with a toe injury for the Buffs' 27-13 loss at Washington, which made the timing of Winfree's return ideal. Just one of quarterback Steven Montez's 28 passes came Winfree's way, however, and he didn't have any catches.
Despite that, Winfree said he didn't worry about his name not showing up in the box score.
"I try not to be selfish," he said. "As receivers, it's easy to get caught up in your own stats and all that stuff, but my main purpose is to win. There's times where I wanted the ball and times I felt I could have helped, but I just have to be patient and wait. I feel it's going to come. It's definitely going to come."
Winfree had a monster game against Southern California last year (five catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns) and expected big things this year. So far, he has just seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.
After the frustration of sitting out a third of the season with an ankle injury, Winfree said it was a positive step that he was able to play against Washington and test his ankle.
"It just felt good," he said. "I was just thanking God that I got the opportunity to finally be back out there with my teammates and help. I want to be able to contribute in as many ways as possible."
Even better for Winfree is that playing against the Huskies didn't aggravate his ankle.
"I was expecting it to be a little more sore (this week) than it was, and I was able to push through and I'm feeling good," he said. "This week should be good.
"I'm praying and keep getting better. I still have to deal with soreness, but I'm able to push through. I feel my talent has never left. It's just the point of getting my footwork down and timing back with Steven."
Shenault's status for this week's game is up in the air, so Winfree might get some passes thrown his way. Whether he is catches passes or not, Winfree said this is a big week for the entire offense, which has struggled the past two games.
"We need that spark," he said. "The defense has been doing a great job. We haven't been capitalizing (on offense). This would be a big game for us to get that spark, wake everybody back up on offense.
"This is the perfect time to do it. We're back at home. We get to play at Folsom in front of our loving fans, so they're going to hype us up. It's a great week to get back on track, get bowl eligible and continue to end the season the right way. This is the mid part of the season, where things can either go up or go down and we know it's going to go up from here."