Colorado at No. 15 Washington
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle
TV / radio: KDVR (31) / 850 AM
Colorado cornerback Chris Miller has spent a little extra time at practice this week working with position coach Ashley Ambrose.
After a game in which Miller and the CU secondary got stung a few times, the Buffaloes are hoping the extra work pays off.
During Saturday’s 31-20 loss to Southern California at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Buffs gave up three touchdown passes — taking away from what was otherwise a very solid overall effort defensively.
“Hats off to them,” CU safeties coach and defensive passing game coordinator ShaDon Brown said. “They threw the ball down the field on a couple deep balls and made plays. If you look at the overall game, that was the difference in the game on defense.”
Facing No. 15 Washington (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) this week, the Buffaloes (5-1, 2-1) know they have to be better against the pass.
The Huskies feature one of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks, Jake Browning, and a pair of receivers — Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones — that have combined for 53 catches, 911 yards and seven touchdowns.
“It’s a huge learning experience to know that every week you have to be ready,” Brown said of the loss to USC. “We weren’t as good as we want to be. We have to go play another good team. It’s Pac-12 football; anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”
CU had given up just five passing touchdowns all season before the USC game, but gave up three in about nine minutes against the Trojans.
Early in second quarter, USC faced third-and-15 from its own 26-yard line when the Trojans’ Michael Pittman, Jr., beat Miller for a 19-yard pass from freshman quarterback JT Daniels.
Beginning with that play, Daniels went 9-for-10 for 204 yards and three touchdowns during a span of 10 minutes, 32 seconds of the second quarter. Daniels went 9-for-25 for 79 yards and two interceptions during the other 49 minutes of the game.
“Their game plan was to run the ball and then max protect so we couldn’t sack them and then throw it deep,” CU defensive coordinator DJ Eliot said. “They won a couple and we won a couple, we just didn’t win enough.”
Getting his first career start, Miller was burned a couple of times, including by Tyler Vaughns for a 27-yard touchdown. Vaughns faked a short hitch that caught Miller and then ran by him for an easy touchdown.
CU coaches are excited about Miller’s talent, and both Brown and Eliot said the freshman will learn from a play like that.
“He takes coaching well,” Eliot said. “He understands that he’s got to be disciplined in his technique and not necessarily bite on those double moves, especially in critical situations like that.”
Miller wasn’t alone, of course. Fellow corners Delrick Abrams and Dante Wigley were beat a few times, as were the safeties. The group also made some plays, including an interception by safety Evan Worthington.
USC gave CU perhaps its best test in the secondary this season, but Brown knows more tests are on the way, beginning this week.
“We have to get better,” Brown said. “We have good players. I’m still confident in our guys. It’s one loss and we have to go back to the drawing board and come back ready to go next week against a good Washington team.
“It comes down to who makes the play in the one-on-one situations, and we’ve made a lot of those and (on Saturday USC) made them. We have to go get better.”
CU is trying to break a couple of ugly losing streaks this week. The Buffs have lost 28 consecutive road games against ranked opponents, dating back to 2002. The Buffs have lost eight in a row to Washington, dating back to the 1996 Holiday Bowl. … Opposing quarterbacks have completed just 52.3 percent of their passes against CU. The Buffs lead the Pac-12 in that category.