The heart and soul of Colorado’s defense will make the trip to Eugene, Ore., this weekend, but is not likely to play.
Inside linebacker Nate Landman suffered what head coach Karl Dorrell referred to as a “soft tissue” injury in last Saturday’s 26-3 loss at California. Landman went down in the second quarter and appeared to reach for his left ankle, but returned and played most of the second half before sitting out the final minutes.
On Wednesday, Dorrell said Landman isn’t expected to play when the Buffs (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) visit No. 7 Oregon (6-1, 3-1) on Saturday in Eugene (1:35 p.m. MT, TV: Fox).
“He’s likely out because he’s pretty sore,” Dorrell said. “He’s out right now, so we’re hopeful he’ll get a chance to bounce back, but he’s not gonna be able to play this week.”
Dorrell said that CU will probably bring Landman on the trip because he is one of the team’s best leaders.
Landman, an All-American candidate, leads the team with 71 tackles this season. He has six tackles for loss and four pass breakups. The senior has led the Buffs in tackles in each of the last three years and last week became just the sixth player in CU history to reach 400 career tackles. He’s currently at 409.
Quinn Perry has been a starter next to Landman most of the season, but the Buffs will call upon others to step up, as well. Robert Barnes played a season-high 31 snaps at Cal and the Buffs could also lean on Marvin Ham, Jack Lamb, Mister Williams or Jonathan Van Diest.
Running back Ashaad Clayton, a four-star prospect in CU’s 2020 recruiting class, could potentially be done for the season in order to preserve his redshirt season.
Per NCAA rules, players can compete in up to four games and maintain their redshirt season. Clayton played in each of CU’s first four games, rushing for 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. If he plays one more snap, he’ll use up a year of eligibility.
Clayton has missed the last three games with an injury and Dorrell said it might be best for him to focus on next season.
“I haven’t talked to him specifically about it, but that’s kind of what I’m thinking anyway,” Dorrell said of redshirting Clayton. “He had the minor procedure (on his knee), so he’s on the way back from that.”
CU has Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot as the top two running backs, and Deion Smith has emerged, as well. With three good options and CU struggling this season as a team, running backs coach Darian Hagan said it might be best to keep Clayton out.
“It’s above my pay grade,” Hagan said of that choice. “I roll with the punches, but I think at this point in time, it would probably be wise to shut him down and let him get healthy and get ready for spring ball. I think that’s a really, really good decision.”
Clayton, who had seven carries for 31 yards and two touchdowns in 2020, has yet to exhaust a year of eligibility, despite being at CU for nearly two seasons. So, if he chooses to sit out the rest of this season, he would still have four seasons to play after this year.
Hagan said Clayton, who is from New Orleans, is over the homesickness that he felt last year and that Clayton is doing well mentally and in school.
Starting quarterback Brendon Lewis, who was sacked six times last week, is “a little bit beat up,” like most players at this stage of the season, Dorrell said. But, he added Lewis is “working through it. He’s gonna be OK.” … Receiver Dimitri Stanley did not play against Cal because of an undisclosed injury and it’s unclear if he’ll play at Oregon. “He’s making progress, but he’s still not 100%. So it’ll be a game-time decision.”