On Saturday, Folsom Field was filled with drama and emotions as the Colorado football team rallied from a 17-point deficit to stun then-No. 25 Nebraska, 34-31 in overtime.
The victory will be remembered by CU fans for years to come, but by Monday morning, the Buffaloes (2-0) had their minds on something else. On Saturday, they welcome Air Force (1-0) to Folsom Field for an 11 a.m. kickoff (TV: Pac-12 Network).
“We did a good job of finishing the game (against Nebraska),” CU head coach Mel Tucker said after Monday’s practice. “Obviously there’s some things we need to clean up on both sides of the ball and special teams. We addressed those things and we’re on to Air Force.”
While the fans can enjoy the Nebraska win all week, the Buffs have a 24-hour rule: enjoy it for 24 hours and then get ready to work. That can be challenging at times to get 18-to-22-year-olds to turn the page that quickly, but Tucker said it’s the expectation with his program.
“That’s why we put the 24-hour rule into effect, so when the guys come back in, we turn the page and we’re on to the next opponent, which is Air Force,” he said. “The focus was good today and I anticipate it will continue to be like that.”
Sophomore tight end Brady Russell said the Buffs didn’t have any trouble moving past the Nebraska win.
“Yeah, it’s just another game, another week, another time to prepare,” he said. “We have to prepare really well because of the offense they run and for their defense, as well.
“We want to have the same amount of effort every single day and the same amount of juice.”
CU has embraced Tucker’s message to move on to the next play, the next drive, the next game.
“It’s incredible how everybody has just jumped onto that train and how everybody has become that positive in wanting to just win,” safety Aaron Maddox said. “Not having a doubt in our mind. I think it really starts with the head guy and how he leads us and how he carries us. We trust him.”
Shenault doing fine
Star receiver Laviska Shenault caught just five passes for 31 yards against Nebraska, while also rushing for six yards on three attempts and having a 54-yard kickoff return. Several times he got up slowly, but Tucker said Shenault is fine physically.
“I’m not worried about him,” Tucker said. “He’s a competitor. He answers the bell. He’s a big, strong, fast physical guy. He’s going to give it out as much as he takes it, I can promise you that.”
Prepping for the Falcons
Air Force is one of just a few teams around the country that still runs a triple option offense. It’s a scheme that gives defenses fits, in part because it is so uncommon. The Buffs have devoted a little bit of practice time on the Falcons since fall camp, however.
“That’s what’s necessary,” Tucker said. “You can’t just start preparing for teams like this the week of; that’s not going to get it done, obviously, because they’re so different. As a staff we have some experience versus these option teams. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense, obviously, but we’re doing the things, we have done the things and we’ll continue to do the things we need to do to prepare our guys.”
Stepping up on D
Shenault’s one big play, the long kickoff return, ended with a fumble that gave the ball back to Nebraska with 5 minutes, 35 seconds to play in the game and the Huskers leading, 31-24.
Instead of that play being a dagger for the Buffs, their defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back to the offense, which marched down the field and scored the game-tying touchdown.
“In those sudden change situations, you have to go out and put the fire out,” Tucker said. “Those are things that can keep points off the board and hold people to lower numbers. Those are things we have to continue to do.”
Johnson honored by Pac-12
CU’s Mustafa Johnson was named the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the week on Monday.
Johnson had eight tackles (seven solo) and three sacks – all of which came on third downs. He also forced a fumble in the win against Nebraska.
CU announced on Monday that its Sept. 21 game at Arizona State has been slated for an 8 p.m. MT kickoff. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. … This will be the first meeting between the Buffs and Falcons since Oct. 5, 1974, at Air Force. CU has won the last five meetings and is 12-4 all-time against the Falcons. … Former CU linebacker Chad Brown will be the color analyst for the Pac-12 Network for this game. Guy Haberman will do play-by-play, with Camryn Irwin reporting from the sidelines.