Heading into the last five games of the regular season, the Colorado football team will have an on-going competition for place-kicking duties.
“Well, it kind of has just gone back and forth, whoever is hot right now,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said after Saturday’s 40-16 rout of Arizona State.
With senior starter Diego Gonzalez out for the season with a torn Achilles he suffered Sept. 17 at Michigan, the Buffs have used junior Chris Graham and Davis Price in that role.
Graham initially won the job after Gonzalez’s injury, but after he missed two extra points – both hitting the uprights – the Buffs replaced him with Price, a true freshman walk-on.
Price came off the bench against Oregon State on Oct. 1 and went 2-for-2 on field goals – including a 54-yarder that was the longest ever by a CU freshman – and 5-for-5 on extra points. He earned Pac-12 special teams player of the week honors.
Against USC on Oct. 8, Price hit his only field goal attempt and both of his extra points. After he missed an extra point – hitting it off the upright – and a short field goal on Saturday night, however, the Buffs went back to Graham, who drilled a 36-yard field goal and an extra point in the second half.
“Both have good legs, they just haven’t played out there in the field goal situation a lot and that’s a lot of pressure,” MacIntyre said.
MacIntyre pointed out that both kickers – especially Price – came into the season not expecting to even play, let alone have to deal with pressure situations, and that these are growing up moments for them.
“Of course (Price) missed some tonight, but now he has to fight through that,” MacIntyre said. “That is part of a growing up process. Every kicker has missed them and every kicker has to fight through that and go back out there and make them. And that goes for every player that plays. You make mistakes and you have to learn how to bounce back. That will be another growth process for Davis and it was good to see Chris bounce back and do that what he did (against ASU).”
Stunning the Devils
Under head coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils have usually been very good against the run.
A year ago, ASU was third in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, and it came into Saturday’s game No. 1 in the conference and No. 5 nationally. A week earlier, ASU held UCLA to negative-1 yard on the ground.
So, watching his team give up 315 yards and five touchdowns on the ground was stunning to Graham.
“They ran the ball on us unlike anybody has ran it in the whole time I’ve been at Arizona State,” he said. “They just blocked our butt. I don’t think anybody has done that.”
In fact, it was the most rushing yards yielded by ASU since the Marcus Mariota-led Oregon Ducks ran for 406 yards against the Sun Devils in 2012.
The only other team top the 300-yard mark in Graham’s five seasons was the run-heavy offense of Navy, which had 313 yards against the Sun Devils in the 2012 Fight Hunger Bowl.
CU quarterback Sefo Liufau has not thrown an interception this season. In fact, he has not thrown an interception since Nov. 7, 2015, against Stanford – tossing 123 consecutive passes without a pick.
That streak is the longest of Liufau’s career and the third-longest in CU history:
139 – Joel Klatt (2005)
131 – Tyler Hansen (2011)
123 – Liufau (2015 to 2016)
In CU history, there have been only eight streaks of 100 or more, and Liufau owns three of them (no other QB has more than one). Liufau’s longest streaks without an interception:
125 – from 2015 to current
118 – Four games during the 2015 season
107 – Four games during the 2015 season
Even more impressive streak
With Afolabi Laguda picking off an ASU pass on Saturday night, the Buffaloes have now forced a turnover in a staggering 20 consecutive games.
The streak covers every game over the past two seasons – each game since Jim Leavitt was hired as defensive coordinator.
Lindsay hitting milestones
Junior running back Phillip Lindsay was a beast against ASU, racking up a career-high 219 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. It was the 13th-best single-game rushing total in CU history, and the most by a Buff since Chris Brown’s 309-yard performance against Kansas on Oct. 12, 2002.
With his big game, Lindsay vaulted from 32nd to 24th on CU’s all-time rushing chart, with 1,658 career yards. He also moved into ninth (from 15th) on CU’s all-time list for all-purpose yards, with 3,204.
Lindsay also had 20 yards on four catches, giving him 517 receiving yards for his career. He’s just the 14th player in CU history with at least 500 yards rushing and receiving.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.