Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
There may never be a perfect time for the bye week to pop up during the college football season.
No matter when the bye falls into place, there are pros and cons.
Yet, after rolling past New Hampshire 45-14 on Saturday at Folsom Field to complete a three-game sweep of the non-conference schedule, Colorado players said the bye is coming at a good time.
The Buffaloes (3-0) will take this week off before opening Pac-12 play on Sept. 28 when UCLA (0-3) comes to Boulder.
“I think this is a perfect time for the bye,” quarterback Steven Montez said. “It gives us time to get locked in and get ready for Pac-12 play.”
A year ago, the Buffs played 11 straight games before the bye week preceded the season finale. This year, the Buffs have their earliest bye since 2013.
For health reasons, this might be an ideal time for CU’s bye.
Several Buffs have been banged up in the first few weeks and could use the time to heal; the team does not practice until Wednesday. Receivers Laviska Shenault (shoulder) and Juwann Winfree (ankle), and offensive lineman Brett Tonz (ankle) are among the Buffs who could benefit from a light week.
“I think we’re pretty healthy,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’ll have a few guys beat up, but the guys that can go this week will have an excellent practice. If not, we’ll rest some guys.”
Perhaps just as important as getting physically healthy, the Buffs hope to stay mentally sharp during the bye.
After three solid performances, the Buffs could lose their edge with a week off, but hope to avoid that letdown.
“We want to keep the intensity up,” defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson said. “Thirteen days (off) is a lot of time to start slacking off or lose our focus before our next game, so definitely (the goal is to) get better during our 13-day break.”
While MacIntyre said he’s not worried about the Buffs getting complacent, he will alter their practice schedule a bit. Rather than practicing on Franklin Field, where they typically work out during the season, the Buffs will move this week to the lower fields, where they hold preseason camp.
The idea is to give the Buffs the mental feeling of preparing for a new season — the Pac-12 slate.
“It’ll take us right back to fall camp and get us locked back in for the start of Pac-12 play,” Montez said. “I think it’s very good for us.”
A year ago, the Buffs started 3-0, but then lost their first three Pac-12 games and finished 5-7. CU hopes a re-charging of the batteries this week will prevent that same type of result.
“(In 2017), when we got into Pac-12 play, we kind of folded a little bit,” Montez said. “I think we need to come into Pac-12 play, into UCLA, real hungry and with a chip on our shoulder, and we need to be playing real physical. I think we’ll do that and I think we’ll do well.”
Buffs gain ground in polls
On Sunday, CU remained unranked in the Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls, but picked up more votes than a week ago.
The Buffs earned 49 points in the AP voting, placing them 29th overall. They earned 41 points in the Coaches poll, placing them 29th there, as well. Last week, the Buffs had 25 points in the AP voting and 20 in the Coaches poll.
In the Pac-12, Stanford (3-0) leads the way at No. 7 in the AP poll, followed by No. 10 Washington (2-1) and No. 20 Oregon (3-0).
Southern California and Arizona State both fell out of the Top 25 after losses.
CU has started 3-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1994-95. … The last two times CU started 3-0 (2017, 2008), it finished 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game. … The Buffs have scored in eight consecutive quarters and in 11 of 12 this season. The only quarter they didn’t score in was the fourth against Colorado State, but the Buffs took a knee in the red zone rather than running up the score. … CU’s defense has three interceptions — all by linebackers. Linebackers had zero in 2017 and haven’t had more than three in a full season since getting four in 2004.