PASADENA, Calif. – Looking to spark their struggling offense, Colorado’s coaches dug into the playbook on Saturday.
During its 27-23 loss to UCLA, the Buffaloes called reverses, burned the Bruins on some short-yardage quarterback runs and even tried a few direct snaps to running back Phillip Lindsay – something they hadn’t done at all over the past two years.
“We needed to be able to run the ball better than we have been, so we were trying to find a few ways to do that,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We felt like we had a good game plan.”
Unfortunately for the Buffs, the creative play-calling didn’t change their results much, as once against the offense struggled, scoring just 23 points against a UCLA defense that had been allowing 43.3 per game.
“We just quite didn’t execute on a couple times that were just right there and just didn’t get it done,” MacIntyre said. “Hats go off to UCLA and the way they played.”
Give credit to CU’s coaching staff for trying some new things. The Buffs hit a couple of big plays – including a fourth-and-1 that resulted in a 25-yard run by quarterback Steven Montez and a third-and-1 that went for a 37-yard Montez run. Not enough of the plays worked, however.
“We kind of threw in a couple different things: different formations, different plays and some of them worked really well,” Montez said. “Some of them didn’t work. That’s football. Sometimes plays are going to work and sometimes they’re not going to work. You just have to make the best out of a situation in which you’ve got.”
Near the end of the first half, CU lined up for what would have been about a 28-yard field goal to cut UCLA’s lead to 14-13.
Instead, MacIntyre elected to try a fake, with holder T.J. Patterson throwing a swing pass to kicker James Stefanou. UCLA wasn’t fooled, however. The pass fell incomplete, but even if Stefanou had caught it, he would have been tackled for a loss.
“I’d do it again 100 times if I had 100 more chances,” MacIntyre said. “Everything we saw, it set up exactly the right way. It just didn’t work out. We had that planned and we were ready to do.
“We knew we were going to have to score more points to beat these guys and we thought that was a good way to do it; it just didn’t work out exactly like we hoped.”
It took five games, but the Colorado football team finally used the offensive line group it expected at the beginning of the year.
Jeromy Irwin started at left tackle, Gerrad Kough at left guard, Jonathan Huckins at center, Tim Lynott Jr. at right guard and Aaron Haigler at right tackle.
That’s the group that was projected to start the season, but a suspension (to Irwin) and injury (to Huckins) had prevented that group of being together until Saturday.
Irwin was suspended for the first two games. Huckins then sat out the third game with a quad injury. He was healthy enough to play last week, but the Buffs elected to stick with Lynott at center in a 37-10 loss to Washington.
Irwin, Kough, Lynott and Haigler were returning starters coming into the year, while Huckins brought in a great deal of experience, as well. Together, that group now has 104 career starts.
While it wasn’t flawless, the line helped pave the way for 191 yards rushing and, for the first time this season, avoided sacks.
Sophomore Lyle Tuiloma got his first career start at nose tackle, getting the nod over Javier Edwards.
As a reserve in the first four games, Tuiloma had been limited to 69 snaps on defense, but made the most of them. He recorded 10 tackles on those 69 snaps coming in.
Edwards had started each of the first four games and has played the bulk of the snaps at nose tackle this season. He was in on several snaps against the Bruins, as well.
Cornerback Trey Udoffia missed the second half with an undisclosed injury. Safety Abolabi Laguda went out after a late hit by the Bruins, but he returned. … Lindsay caught four passes for 47 yards, giving him 100 catches for his career. … UCLA’s Darnay Holmes was ejected for targeting in the first half. He had a helmet-to-helmet hit on the Buffs’ Phillip Lindsay in the first quarter. Because the play happened in the first half, he won’t have to sit out the next game. … CU was just four of 16 on third down conversations, while UCLA was 9 of 16. … Stefanou was 3-for-3 on field goals and he’s made nine consecutive field goal attempts, tied for the second-longest streak in school history.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.