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Battered CU Buffs bitten by injury bug

CB Chris Miller out for season; Laviska Shenault, Mustafa Johnson sit vs. Arizona

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Saturday started with Colorado announcing that cornerback Chris Miller would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and that two of its best players wouldn’t be in uniform for a home matchup with Arizona.

By the end of the game, several other starters were on the sidelines with injuries as the Buffs lost a nail-biter to their Pac-12 South rivals, 35-30, at Folsom Field.

“Our trainers are going 100 miles an hour working to get our guys back, our guys are doing a great job with treatment and recovery,” CU head coach Mel Tucker said in his postgame press conference, which was largely focused on the health of his team. “This is a human performance game and injuries are part of it. They’ll be ready when they’re ready.”

Miller won’t be ready until next year. The sophomore cornerback injured his knee in a Sept. 21 win at Arizona State. He had surgery on Friday and will miss the rest of the season and likely all of spring drills.

It’s the latest in a series of injuries for Miller, who was hobbled by a hamstring in 2018 fall camp before suffering a season-ending fractured thumb with five games to play and then missing spring ball this year with a dislocated shoulder.

Miller was a starter the past two games before his latest injury.

Star receiver Laviska Shenault (core muscle strain) and defensive end Mustafa Johnson (high ankle sprain), who, along with Miller, were injured at ASU, both sat out of Saturday’s game.

Senior tight end Jalen Harris and starting right guard Colby Pursell were both in uniform, but did not play.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photogrpaher
Colorado head coach Mel Tucker is not using the Buffs’ injuries as an excuse for the loss.

Already without safety Aaron Maddux (leg laceration) the past two games, the Buffs then lost safety Mikial Onu (torso) and nose tackle Jalen Sami (knee) during Saturday’s loss.

Receiver KD Nixon and tight end Brady Russell were also on the sidelines by game’s end with undisclosed injuries.

“I’ll have to kind of see, talk to the trainer and get more information on guys,” Tucker said. “Our guys when they’re not in there, it’s not because they don’t want to be in there and obviously KD is one as one of our best players.

“Obviously, we have some guys banged up. We haven’t benched anyone or anything like that.”

Brown stellar again

Despite injuries around him, senior Tony Brown continued his sensational season with a career-high 10 catches for 141 yards, while also scoring on a 15-yard run.

“(There are) a lot of expectations for me and a lot of guys were going down,” Brown said. “You know, it’s next man up. I’m going to continue doing me.”

Brown leads the Buffs with 29 catches for 442 yards and four touchdowns. He has 19 catches for 291 yards in the last two games combined.

His rushing touchdown, on a reverse, gave CU a 27-21 lead in the third quarter.

“It was pretty fun,” he said. “I wasn’t really expecting a rushing touchdown, but I do what I can to contribute, do what I can to help the team out. I had to make a big play and that’s what I did.”

Run game solid

CU finished Saturday’s game with 159 yards on 37 rushing attempts. It was the Buffs’ best rushing total since having 243 against Colorado State in the opener.

“Whenever you’re able to run the ball and pound it, that just opens up the pass game for everybody else,” said sophomore Alex Fontenot, who ran for 94 yards on 21 carries. “We were able to gash it every now and then. So just being able to do that really put us in a good position on offense to get everything going.”

Notable

Saturday’s attendance was 52,569, giving CU it’s second sellout of the season (also Sept. 7 against Nebraska). This is the first season since 2005 that CU has had two sellouts in one campaign. They haven’t had more than two since four in 1996. … True freshman cornerback KJ Trujillo and redshirt freshman guard Casey Roddick made their first career starts. … CU leads the all-time series with Arizona, 14-8, but the Wildcats have won seven of the past eight. … Safety Mikial Onu recorded his fourth interception of the season. … CU did not allow a sack for the second game in a row.