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CU Buffs football notes: Laviska Shenault’s playing time limited vs. UCLA

Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (2) tries to break free from UCLA Bruins defensive back Elijah Gates (12) during the second half of a NCAA football game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Saturday November 2, 2019. UCLA Bruins defeated the Colorado Buffaloes 31-14. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)
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PASADENA, Calif. – Last week, Colorado star receiver Laviska Shenault said he was feeling nearly 100 percent healthy.

During the Buffaloes’ 31-14 loss to UCLA on Saturday, however, the junior spent chunks of the evening standing on the sidelines watching the offense sputter.

“He’s been banged up a little bit all season,” head coach Mel Tucker said. “He’s working through it. He gives us what he’s got. He’s playing hard when he’s in there and he’s giving us what he’s got and he’s going to continue to do that.”

CU’s best player and top NFL prospect, Shenault had a season-high 172 yards on nine catches a week earlier against Southern California. Against the Bruins, he caught three passes for 16 yards and ran the ball once for 15 yards.

Tough task vs. Kelley

For much of the night, the CU defense did an admirable job against the Pac-12’s leading rusher, but he wound up with a big night anyway.

UCLA’s Joshua Kelley finished with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He eclipsed the century mark with a 35-yard touchdown run on his final carry of the night.

The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Kelley was never tackled for a loss.

“Kelley’s a good running back,” CU nose tackle Jalen Sami said. “He’s a versatile running back, quick guy with speed. He likes to go vertical, he likes to penetrate the ball and get yards. And so our focus was to stop him as much as we can and to really make the quarterback throw the ball.”

Kelley came into the game averaging a Pac-12-best 105.0 yards per game.

Big plays for Landman

Linebacker Nate Landman is starting to rack up tackles for loss, and on Saturday, he recorded his first two sacks of the season.

“Definitely I love being a versatile linebacker,” he said. “Whether it’s me on the edge and eating up blocks so someone else can make a play or me making a play directly, I love being a dynamic player and helping the team out any way I can. And I appreciate the opportunity when they call my number.”

Landman did not have any tackles for loss in the first four games, but he has six in the last five.

Streak continues

Kelley’s 35-yard touchdown, with 4 minutes, 14 seconds to play, extended a dubious streak for the Colorado defense.

CU has allowed at least 30 points in 14 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Montez ties record

Just 103 seconds before Kelley’s big run, the Buffs scored on a 27-yard pass from Steven Montez to Tony Brown.

That touchdown pass was the 60th of Montez’s career, tying the school record.

Cody Hawkins set the record with his 60th touchdown pass in 2010. Sefo Liufau then tied the mark with his 60th touchdown pass in 2016.

Montez hit a couple other milestone in the loss. With 195 passing yards against UCLA, he now has 9,083 – joining Liufau (9,568) as the only CU quarterbacks with at least 9,000 yards.

Montez also made his 36th career start, breaking a tie with Darian Hagan for the second-most by a quarterback in CU history. Liufau started 40 games.

Notable

CU finished with a season-low 88 rushing yards. Its previous low was 89 in Week 2 against Nebraska. Freshman Jaren Mangham had a solid night, with 77 yards on 17 carries, but the Buffs’ total also included four sacks of Montez totaling 21 yards lost. The four sacks were the most allowed by CU this season. … Mangham and cornerback Tarik Luckett made their first career starts for the Buffs. CU has had five true freshmen make at least one start this season. … Mangham’s second quarter fumble (which the Buffs recovered) was the first by a CU running back this season. The Buffs’ running backs had 266 touches this season before their first fumble. … Linebacker Quinn Perry and tight end Luke Stillwell both made their CU debuts (on special teams).