Using the speed that carried him to a couple of 400-meter championships in the Big Sky Conference, Northern Colorado receiver Alex Wesley got behind the Colorado secondary for a pair of long touchdowns on Saturday.
In all, the Buffaloes gave up three touchdown passes of 27 yards or more in the 41-21 win over the Bears.
Cause for concern for the Buffs?
“That’s the only time we’ve shown it,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’ll just work on it. We haven’t shown it any other times.”
UNC was the first team to burn the Buffs on deep passes this year, although the Buffs haven’t been spotless otherwise.
In the opener against Colorado State, the Buffs benefitted from three questionable offensive pass interference penalties and a CSU penalty for illegal hands to the face. All four of those flags wiped out deep completions, two which would have been touchdowns.
On another play, CSU hit a 38-yard pass down the middle, but CU’s Afolabi Laguda stripped the ball and the Buffs recovered the fumble.
UNC should have had four long touchdown passes, but had a wide open receiver drop what would have been a sure 52-yard score.
In preparing for Saturday’s Pac-12 opener against No. 7 Washington (3-0), which features the dynamic duo of quarterback Jake Browning and receiver Dante Pettis, the Buffs are confident they will iron out the kinks in their pass defense.
“We were able to look at the schemes and what hurt us,” said cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who gave up both of Wesley’s scores. “I feel like that was good for us. Going into that game we felt like nothing could hurt us because it hadn’t yet. Now we know and we were able to work on it this week, so now we can get ready and go forward.”
Secondary coach ShaDon Brown took blame for some of the issues against UNC, while also mentioning miscommunication as a factor. They are all fixable issues, he said.
“Every week, no matter who we’re playing, we’re going to make sure that we cover our bases on the deep shots and this week is no different,” he said. “In every game you play you have to be prepared for the deep balls and, quite frankly, every team we’ve played has had a pretty good receiver. They’re going to catch some, but we’re going to make some plays, too.”
Indeed, Oliver leads the country with eight passes defended, and all four of CU’s interceptions have come on deep passes.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.