CU Buffs open season in impressive fashion with rout of rival CSU Rams

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado quarterback Steven Montez, left, celebrates a touchdown with teammate Laviska Shenault on Friday against Colorado State in Denver. Go to for more photos

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson hits Colorado State quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels on Friday in Denver.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado receiver KD Nixon celebrates his touchdown catch on Friday against Colorado State in Denver.



DENVER — There was nothing smooth about Steven Montez’s touchdown run down the sidelines early in the first quarter Friday night.

“Man, I just didn’t want to fall over,” the Colorado quarterback said. “I almost tripped and fell over and almost looked like a fool. But we got it done so it was good.

“It definitely didn’t look like Laviska running down the field. When that man runs down the field, it looks a little dangerous. Me, I kind of look a little awkward.”

There’s no denying that, but whether it was the stumbling run of Montez, the jet-fueled sprints by Laviska Shenault or the efforts of several other Buffaloes, Friday was a good night for Colorado.

CU backed up a solid offseason with a dominating 45-13 rout of Colorado State in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

“I think it’s always big to start (like this),” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said after improving to 5-1 against the Rams during his tenure in Boulder. “The kids get more confidence.”

It was just one game – against a CSU (0-2) team that has been shredded defensively twice in the past week – but the Buffs (1-0) looked ready for their Sept. 8 trip to Lincoln, Neb., to renew an old rivalry.

Before getting reacquainted with the Cornhuskers, however, the Buffs had to get past their in-state rivals, and they did that in relatively easy fashion.

CU finished with 596 yards in total offense – dipping below 600 only because of six lost yards by taking a knee in the red zone three times in the final two minutes – while holding the Rams to 284.

The Buffs had leads of 14-0 and 28-7 in the first half and led by as many as 35 at one point.

Montez, who spent the offseason developing his mental game as much as anything else, looked confident and sharp all night. He completed 22-of-25 passes for 338 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

He also scored on that “awkward” 38-yard touchdown run to get the scoring started – the longest touchdown run by a CU quarterback since a 60-yarder by Kordell Stewart in 1994.

“He did a good job operating the offense at a high level and that’s what we want from our quarterback,” co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said.

The junior quarterback went 12-for-12 on passes in the first quarter, tying a CU record for consecutive completions to start a game. His 13th pass was intercepted, but he shrugged it off and kept the offense rolling.

In his debut calling plays for the Buffs, Chiaverini designed a game plan that allowed Montez to get comfortable with short passes and jet sweeps. But, Montez was also on point with a deep pass to K.D. Nixon for a 46-yard touchdown, a laser to Juwann Winfree for a 4-yard touchdown and a short pass to Shenault that turned into an 89-yard touchdown.

“It just felt like things were clicking,” Montez said. “We’ve been working extremely hard all across the board during fall camp, so I think our guys have been hungry and they’ve been kind of antsy to get out there on the field and I think that’s what happened today.

“Everyone was excited, everybody wanted to play. I think things just kind of clicked today and hopefully things click for us a lot this season.”

While Montez had a great start to his season, Friday was really the coming out party for Shenault, the highly-touted sophomore receiver who lived up to all his preseason hype. He caught 11 passes for 211 yards – both numbers ranking fourth in CU history for single-game performances – and a touchdown.

About the only thing Shenault did wrong was commit a holding penalty that wiped out a first-down catch by Nixon early in the third quarter.

Two plays later, Shenault caught a short pass from Montez in the middle of the field, broke a pair of tackles and sprinted to the end zone for an 89-yard score. It was CU’s longest play from scrimmage since a 94-yard pass from Robert Hodge to Jeremy Bloom in 2002.

“I’m just blessed to be able to come out and do what I did for the team,” Shenault said, who lined up at receiver, halfback and even once as a wildcat quarterback.

Nixon, who chipped in with six catches for 112 yards and a score, said the performance was no surprise to him.

“He’s new to you all, but he’s old to me,” Nixon said of Shenault, who was his teammate at DeSoto (Tex.) High School before both came to CU a year ago. “It’s what we’ve been doing since high school. We push each other and we feed off each other.”

CU’s defense seemingly fed off the offense and once against shut down the Rams. CSU has just 23 points in the last three meetings combined.

Sophomore linebacker Nate Landman was the defense’s version of Shenault in preseason camp, getting highlighted nearly every day by teammates and coaches. “The Hammer,” as he’s known by the Buffs, finished with 16 tackles – including two for loss – and an interception.

Cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr. (nine tackles, one pass breakup) was impressive in his debut, as was defensive end Mustafa Johnson, who made two impressive third-down stops early in the game and also tipped the pass the Landman intercepted.

All-in-all, it was the type of performance CU needed as it heads into a matchup with an old rival next week.

“I’m excited about what they did today,” MacIntyre said, “but we still have a long way to go.”

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or

Colorado 45, Colorado State 13

Colorado 21 7 17 0 — 45

Colorado St. 7 3 0 3 — 13

First quarter: COL — Montez 38 run (Stefanou kick), 13:45 COL — Nixon 46 pass from Montez (Stefanou kick), 8:17 CSU — O.Johnson 26 pass from Carta-Samuels (Bryan kick), 5:54 COL — Bisharat 4 pass from Montez (Stefanou kick), 3:25Second quarter: COL — Winfree 4 pass from Montez (Stefanou kick), 6:14 CSU — FG Bryan 51, :00 Third quarter: COL — Shenault 89 pass from Montez (Stefanou kick), 12:41 COL — McMillian 49 run (Stefanou kick), 8:46 COL — FG Stefanou 39, 3:23 Fourth quarter: CSU — FG Bryan 27, 8:39 A — 70,158.

COLCSUFirst downs2420Rushes-yards40-25839-103Passing338181Comp-Att-Int22-25-119-37-1Return Yards11625Punts-Avg.3-43.339-39.33Fumbles-Lost3-10-0Penalties-Yards6-445-35Time of Possession26:3333:27


RUSHING — Colorado, McMillian 10-103, Evans 12-59, Bisharat 7-52, Montez 3-34, Fontenot 3-14, Shenault 1-5, Noyer 1-(minus 3), (Team) 3-(minus 6). Colorado St., McElroy 14-61, Matthews 15-30, Hall 1-8, Carta-Samuels 9-4.

PASSING — Colorado, Montez 22-25-1-338. Colorado St., Hill 1-4-0-5, Carta-Samuels 18-33-1-176.

RECEIVING — Colorado, Shenault 11-211, Nixon 6-112, Winfree 2-7, MacIntyre 1-10, Bisharat 1-4, Brown 1-(minus 6). Colorado St., O.Johnson 6-82, P.Williams 6-49, Matthews 3-14, W.Jackson 1-12, Butler 1-9, E.Scott 1-8, Hall 1-7.


Chris Schmaedeke: 303-473-1303,