LOS ANGELES — A week ago, during a 47-6 rout of Oregon State, the Colorado offensive line had perhaps its best performance of the season.
On Saturday at Southern California, the Buffs’ were unable to make it two in a row.
During the 21-17 loss to the Trojans, the Buffs had a tough day in the trenches, yielding four sacks and several quarterback pressures, and struggling to open up holes for the running backs.
“I thought coming in we matched up pretty well against them,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “But, I thought in the first half they pushed us around a little bit. Then, we gathered our momentum and saw what they were trying to do to us. I thought we ended up doing a good job (in the second half), not as well as we have been.”
CU’s inability to find running room wound up disrupting the whole game plan offensively.
“When you struggle to the run the ball and you have to rely just solely on the pass and they’re bringing some heat and able to get that pass rush going, it puts you in a tough situation,” co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. “We have to find a way to continue to be balanced and be able to run it a little bit better.”
In addition to the troubles blocking, the Buffs had trouble with penalties. On the day, CU was flagged just five times for 26 yards, but all of that went against the offensive line.
The Buffs were flagged twice for snap infractions, once for holding and once for a false start. The other penalty — for intentional grounding – technically went against quarterback Steven Montez, but it came as a result of Montez being under pressure from the USC pass rush.
“The frustrating part to me was the penalties we had,” Lindgren said. “Against a good defense like that, you can’t put yourself into second and longs continuously and expect to stay on the field.”
Turnover streak continues
With four forced turnovers, the Buffs extended their streak to 19 consecutive games of forcing a turnover – the longest such streak in the country.
“It was our goal coming in to get at least three turnovers,” linebacker Addison Gillam said. “To us that was big.”
CU didn’t waste much time in extending the streak, either. Kenneth Olugbode forced a fumble by USC quarterback Sam Darnold early in the first quarter, and Ahkello Witherspoon recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Afolabi Laguda and Jordan Carrell also had fumble recoveries and Olugbode had an interception.
“Defense played phenomenal. Phenomenal,” quarterback Steven Montez said. “That’s the only way I can describe it. They really just kept us in the game. They played absolutely lights out.”
Bobo’s big day
Junior receiver Bryce Bobo has had a great season so far, but Saturday was one of his best games.
Bobo caught a career-high 10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He also threw the first pass of a career, a 67-yard strike to running back Phillip Lindsay that resulted in a touchdown to spark the CU offense.
“We just needed a big play,” Bobo said. “We need to switch the momentum because USC had the momentum throughout the game. That pass to Phil for the touchdown just set it off for us, and that gave us a little more spirit and a little more hope that we could come back and win this game.”
Two plays after CU tied the game at 14-14 in the fourth quarter, USC receiver Darreus Rogers came up with the catch of the game. He leaped over CU cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and snatched the ball away from the senior and ran a few more yards before being tackled for a 46-yard gain.
That play set up the game-winning touchdown for the Trojans.
“I thought Ahkello had it picked,” MacIntyre said. “It was right in front of me. He goes over and pulls it out of his hands. That was a great play by their receiver.”
The temperature at game time was a balmy 90 degrees, and it felt warmer than that on the field. The Buffs were not used to that heat and it impacted them a bit.
“I had to go in and get an IV in the third quarter,” Gillam said, “and I think a lot of those guys were noticing it. We just have to prepare better.”
CU right tackle Aaron Haigler left the game with a knee injury. The Buffs believe it might be an MCL tear, but won’t know until Haigler gets evaluated in Boulder. … Lindsay had career highs in catches (six) and receiving yards (105). … CU lost the coin toss for the first time this season. … After coming to CU as a receiver and practicing on both sides of the ball this fall, true freshman cornerback Anthony Julmisse got his first offensive touch on Saturday, gaining 10 yards on a reverse run.