Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault delivered a message on Instagram that should have Buffaloes fans excited.
“The return of 2Live ..” he posted Sunday night.
The star sophomore — who was once a Heisman Trophy candidate — has missed three games in a row, as the Buffaloes (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) continue to slide down the South division standings.
Getting Shenault back on the field would certainly help the Buffs’ quest to end their four-game losing streak. Head coach Mike MacIntyre, of course, was more cautious about the return of his best player.
“He’s still day to day,” MacIntyre said Monday. “He did a little bit (in Monday’s practice). We’ll just see. Hopefully we’ll get him back sometime before the year is over. I sure hope so.”
With No. 10 Washington State (8-1, 5-1) coming to Boulder on Saturday, MacIntyre isn’t going to reveal much about the injury status of his players, but Shenault’s Instagram post has to be somewhat encouraging.
During the first six games of the season, Shenault caught 60 passes for 780 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for five more scores. He’s no longer played in enough games to qualify for the national leaderboard, but no player in the country has averaged more catches (10.0) per game, and only two players have topped Shenault’s 130.0 receiving yards per game.
MacIntyre also gave a “day to day” answer about receivers KD Nixon (hip) and Jay MacIntyre (concussion), who both left Saturday’s 42-34 loss to Arizona with injuries.
Praise for Tate
After reviewing the film of Saturday’s loss to the Wildcats, MacIntyre gave more praise to Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who threw five touchdown passes.
“(I saw) Khalil Tate running around and throwing and heaving it up and hitting targets,” MacIntyre said. “He hadn’t done that as much in the other games. We have to play those balls better in the air, but he made some good throws and they were kind of broken type of plays that most of their big plays were made on.”
MacIntyre also pointed to execution errors on defense at times.
“Their quarterback made some good throws, we didn’t make some plays we should have made,” he said. “We have to make those plays. We had a couple instances where some guys should have blitzed and didn’t blitz; I have no idea why. That would have helped us, too, on some of those plays. That was some miscommunication with us; you can’t have that kind of thing happen either.”
To slide or not to slide?
That’s a question the Buffs have worked on with quarterback Steven Montez, but there have been a couple of times when his choice wound up costing CU.
On the opening possession against Arizona, Montez was flushed from the pocket and scrambled on third-and-4 from the 8-yard line. Needing to get to the 4, he could have lowered his shoulder and go the first down (or more), but went into a slide at the 6 – 3 yards in front of an Arizona defender. That forced a fourth-and-2, and CU failed to convert.
“We’ve talked about it,” MacIntyre said. “We want him to protect himself, but there’s times you’ve got to get a first down and there’s times you have to get a touchdown. He’s got to know that. We (the coaches) are not out there playing. We’ve coached it, we’ve coached it, we’ve coached it; Steven’s got to go do it.”
MacIntyre pointed to that possession as a big missed opportunity for the Buffs.
“We had a good punt return, and screwed it up,” he said. “We should have scored down there. Those are some coaching points we have to get across to our guys and do a better job of coaching them.”
Wells coming on
Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Carson Wells played just 12 snaps against Arizona, but had five tackles and two sacks giving him 3.5 on the season.
“Carson’s very coachable,” MacIntyre said. “He’s a young man that’s extremely bright, he’s big, he’s athletic. He is just getting better and better and better.”
MacIntyre said there “is a chance” that punter Alex Kinney comes back next year. The senior broke his collarbone against Nebraska and, as long as he doesn’t play in more than four games, could use this as a redshirt year. He’s only played in two games and it’s unclear if he’ll return this year. “It depends on how well he feels and how well he’s catching the ball on high snaps,” MacIntyre said. … Pac-12 players of the week: Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry (offense) and Merlin Robertson (defense) and Oregon’s Ugochukwu Amadi (special teams).