EUGENE, Ore. – This hasn’t exactly been the type of season Laviska Shenault was hoping for, but the junior receiver was at least happy to be back on the field.
On Friday night, the Colorado star returned to the lineup after missing most of the last two games with a core muscle strain. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, that didn’t spark a big night for the offense.
Shenault caught four passes for a team-high 70 yards in the Buffs’ 45-3 loss to Oregon at Autzen Stadium.
Although unhappy with the loss, Shenault was pleased to play. Injured after one catch in the first quarter at Arizona State on Sept. 21, he missed the rest of that game and all of last weeks’ 35-30 loss to Arizona.
“It’s definitely frustrating not being able to do what I love to do and just my history and going through what I’ve been going through but it’s a part of the game so I just gotta help the team in any way I can,” he said after Friday’s loss.
Shenault has 21 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns at the mid-point of the season – nowhere near the type of the numbers he had last year and the type of numbers expected of him this year. After earning several preseason All-American honors, Shenault has not only been banged up, but the target of double teams when he has been healthy.
On Friday night, Ducks defenders blanketed him and were physical with him all night. On one play in the second half, the Ducks were flagged for pass interference, but fans were upset the call didn’t go against Shenault, who shoved the Oregon defender in frustration.
After the game, Shenault brushed aside the notion of the game being more physical than usual.
“They gotta find a way (to cover),” Shenault said. “It’s normal. That’s football. I just got to figure out how to maneuver my way through it.”
On the bright side, Shenault was able to play most of the game.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I had to shut it down (in the fourth quarter); I got a little sore at the end, but I feel good. It was better to sit out.”
While Shenault returned, defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson missed his second consecutive game with a high ankle sprain and two other defensive lineman were injured during the game. Janaz Jordan (groin) and Jalen Sami (knee) both left the game with injuries.
During the third quarter, CU tight end Jalen Harris was given a penalty for a personal foul after he appeared throw a couple of punches at an Oregon defender.
“The official came to me and told me that he threw a punch and I told him I thought that I saw that and I told him I thought it was a good call,” CU head coach Mel Tucker said. “I talked to Jalen about it and Jalen just came up to me in the locker room and said, ‘That was my fault, I made a mistake.’ If you can own up to it, and not lie to yourself, then there’s a pretty good chance that won’t happen again.”
Harris’ penalty was one of 14 on the night for CU, many of them the result of undisciplined play.
“I hate the undisciplined penalties,” Tucker said. “So whatever I’ve got to do to get to eliminate those and get those cleaned up, I will get that done, because I can’t stand undisciplined penalties.”
Two CU players came into the game with impressive streaks and extended them early in the game before seeing them come to a close.
Kicker James Stefanou hit a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter. That made him 10-for-10 on the season and tied the CU record for most consecutive field goals made, at 10 (Mason Crosby made 10 in a row from 2004-05).
In the fourth quarter, Stefanou had a chance to break the record, but his 33-yard attempt hit the upright.
Quarterback Steven Montez, came into the night with 97 consecutive passes without and interception and then extended that to 115 – the sixth longest streak in CU history. He then threw four interceptions in his next nine throws.
Throughout CU history, quarterbacks have put together 10 streaks of 100 or more passes without an interception. Montez now has two of them, including the record of 172 (in 2017). … This was the first game of the year that CU did not force a turnover. … Tight end Beau Bisharat and linebacker Akil Jones made their first career starts. … True freshman tailback Joe Davis made his CU debut, rushing twice for 4 yards. … Shenault moved into 13th on CU’s career list for catches (114) and 14th on the list for receiving yards (1,475). … Montez was the first CU quarterback to throw four interceptions in a game since Nick Hirschman against Utah on Nov. 23, 2012.