Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Losing cornerback Chris Miller to a season-ending injury has left the Colorado Buffaloes scrambling a bit, but another top corner is rounding into shape this week.
Miller fractured his thumb in CU’s 27-13 loss to Washington last weekend. He had surgery on Monday, officially ending the season for the promising freshman, who had earned a starting job and played well at Washington.
Miller’s injury toward the end of that game left CU without its top two corners, because junior Delrick Abrams Jr., missed the game with a calf injury. Abrams, however, is on track to play Saturday when the Buffs (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) host Oregon State (1-6, 0-4).
“He did good out there today,” MacIntyre said Wednesday. “We didn’t give him all the reps; we gave him half the reps. Hopefully he’ll be good today in recovery. Right now it looks good.”
Trey Udoffia and Dante Wigley, who have the most starting experience in the group, are ready to play, too, and nickel back Ronnie Blackmon is available. If needed, the Buffs may also need to pull the redshirt from junior college transfer Mekhi Blackmon.
“We’ve moved Mekhi up the depth chart over there and he’s backing up and corner and doing a good job,” MacIntyre said.
Mekhi Blackmon played in the first four games, but CU announced at that point that he would redshirt. Now, that may not be possible.
“I told him that if somebody got hurt he was going to have to step in and play,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll see how everything unfolds in the next couple of weeks, but he’s ready to play.”
This is the first year of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, which allows players to participate in up to four games and keep a redshirt intact. MacIntyre said it’s been a bit like a chess game trying to navigate that rule with different players.
“It’s fluid with every guy,” he said. “We have a couple guys that we played a little bit the other day (at Washington) that if people stay healthy they might not play again later. It’s a fluid situation. We’ve held a couple guys from not playing in some game early (to be ready) here late. It helped us a little bit Saturday and I imagine it’s going to help us in the future, too.”
One of those players who helped Saturday was receiver Dimitri Stanley. He stepped into the lineup because of injuries and caught four passes. He’s still played in just two games, though, and could still redshirt.
Still day to day
Of course, the injured player everyone is curious about is receiver Laviska Shenault. The nation’s leading receiver and early candidate for the Heisman Trophy, Shenault injured his toe against Southern California on Oct. 13 and missed the Washington game.
As he has said for the past week, MacIntyre reiterated Wednesday that Shenault is day to day.
“When (the doctors) tell me he can go and he’s been doing stuff, we’ll see,” he said. “Hopefully he can go Saturday.”
Although the offensive line has struggled of late, junior guard Tim Lynott is breaking out of his early season slump.
The junior, who had started every game of his career in which he played until getting benched against UCLA on Sept. 28, has shown improvement that line coach Klayton Adams was hoping to see.
“I think he’s done a really good job of finding some urgency and fixing some fundamental things that were really giving him problems,” Adams said.
Lynott missed the final two games of the 2017 season with a torn Achilles tendon. He said he wasn’t feeling any affects of the injury early in the season, but just wasn’t playing at his best.
He’s worked his way back onto the field, though, and started last week against Washington.
“It’s like a job,” Lynott said. “If you’re not performing well at your job, you’re not going to have that job; someone else will take your place.”
While not thrilled with losing his job earlier this season, Lynott said he feels he’s playing much better now.
“You have to keep improving every day,” he said.
Kicker James Stefanou (hip) is also day to day, while punter Alex Kinney (collarbone) continues to progress. Kinney has missed the past five games. … Saturday is CU’s homecoming game. The Buffs are 63-35-5 all-time on homecoming.