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CU Buffs defense stuffs Arizona run game, but can’t slow Khalil Tate

Arizona QB continues to torch Buffs

Colorados’ Na’im Rodman pressures Arizona’s Khalil Tate on Saturday at Folsom Field.

There were a number of final numbers that the Colorado Buffaloes defense probably will be happy with. And, had some crystal ball informed the Buffs of those results beforehand, the guess is CU would have come out of its Pac-12 Conference battle against Arizona with a win.

As always, though, the only numbers that matter in the end are the ones on the scoreboard, and on Saturday the final tally was a 35-30 win for the visiting Wildcats.

Certainly no defense wants to surrender 35 points. But for a unit that went into the game missing three starters — safety Aaron Maddox, lineman Mustafa Johnson, and cornerback Chris Miller — the Buffs acquitted themselves well despite losing a few more players along the way Saturday. However, unlike the win at ASU two weeks ago in which CU got three straight stops down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns on their final two full drives (not including a very late running-out-the-clock situation) to gain the upper hand in a back-and-forth contest.

“We should have just communicated better and just executed the plays that coach called,” CU cornerback Delrick Abrams said. “We wish we could go back but we can’t, so we’ve just got to move forward. Start back tomorrow and see what we’ve got going for Oregon.”

Last week, Arizona managed to produce a win against UCLA with a 99-yard performance on the ground. It was only the seventh time since the start of the 2012 season the Wildcats had been held to under 100 rushing yards, and the win ended a 12-game losing streak in games in which UA failed to reach the 100-rushing yard plateau.

Arizona extended that streak to two wins in a row after mustering just 83 yards rushing against the Buffs, but CU’s injury-depleted defense still was unable to fully maintain Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate despite taking advantage of a rookie mistake by Tate in the first half to net an interception by Mikial Onu.

It still wasn’t enough to fully corral Arizona. Two years after watching Tate run through the Buffs defense for 327 rushing yards, the senior quarterback got it done through the air on Saturday, completing 31 of 41 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns. Tate has made a career out of torching the Buffs — in the past three years against CU, Tate has completed 60 of 76 passes for 908 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions.

“I think we did a great job up front, and as a whole defense, stopping the run. the numbers don’t lie,” CU linebacker Nate Landman said. “And I think we do a great job being gap sound and everybody doing a job and counting and all 11 to gang tackle and get some knock back tackles. They’re a great team, but like Steven said, we’re going to take it as a learning experience and move on and focus on next week.”