Standing to the right of head coach Karl Dorrell in the Colorado locker room on Saturday night was running back Jarek Broussard.
The junior proudly helped lead his teammates in a spirited rendition of the CU fight song – something the Buffaloes haven’t done much this year.
“Me personally, I just want to win,” he told me after the 37-34 double-overtime win against Oregon State at Folsom Field.
This hasn’t been an easy season for the Buffaloes or Broussard, but Saturday was a satisfying night all around. Not only did the Buffs win, but Broussard played a significant role, rushing for a season-high 151 yards. He also had a season-high 24 carries, with nine of those coming in the final 5 minutes, 37 seconds of regulation and overtime.
I asked Broussard if this game was big for him mentally.
“Mentally it’s nothing to me because I put in the work,” he said. “This is the type of (stuff) I expect. It’s just a matter of the guys up top calling it, getting it in my hands and we getting the show on the road.”
In this edition of the Rewind, we look at Broussard’s game against Oregon State and his season to this point, as well as …
- Setting up OSU’s 60-yard FG
- Buffs of the Week
- Notes and quotes
LEADING OFF: Broussard dominates
CU’s 2020 season didn’t last long, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the Buffs to only six games, five of those in the regular season. But, Broussard was remarkable in those games. He rushed for 813 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season and was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the year. He added 82 yards and two touchdowns in the Alamo Bowl (CU doesn’t include bowl statistics in season or career totals).
His season included a 301-yard performance at Arizona on Dec. 5, 2020 – capping a string of four consecutive 100-yard games to start his career. The last FBS player to do that? Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, in 2004.
While Sam Noyer, La’Vontae Shenault, Dimitri Stanley, Brenden Rice played well, the Buffs’ offense went as Broussard went in 2020. Only one player in the country averaged more rushing attempts than Broussard’s 26.0 last year.
Broussard doesn’t entertain talk about his 2020 season, though.
“I’m not really one to dwell off my stats or last year,” he said.
This has been a dramatically different season for Broussard, who at times has seemed like a forgotten man in the CU offense. He’s averaging 12.7 carries per game and didn’t top the 500-yard for the season until his 9-yard run on the second play of overtime on Saturday.
“I feel healthy, I look healthy,” he said Saturday night. “It’s just a matter of getting the ball to me.”
Broussard, however, doesn’t believe he needs all the carries. Last year, Alex Fontenot and Deion Smith were both injured. This year, they are healthy and contributing.
“You can look at that and that’s something that’s good about our offense,” Broussard said. “We have so many guys that could do so many dynamic things with the ball. And we all feed off each other, but I just feel like it’s just a matter of getting it to those guys.”
What has been difficult for Broussard is not getting the ball while the Buffs go down in defeat. He five carries in a 30-0 loss to Minnesota; he had 14 touches (11 carries, three catches) for 58 yards in the first 24 minutes of a 26-3 loss at Cal, but inexplicably didn’t touch the ball in the final 36 minutes; and he had just six carries in a 52-29 loss at Oregon.
“When we go out there and I touch the ball 12 times and we lose, it’s like, ‘(Crap), what could I have done better?’ Then you think again, it’s like, ‘Well, (shoot), I didn’t really get the ball as much as I used to,’” he said. “But you know, you can’t really look at (stuff) like that. All you can do is just grind harder, work harder and seize the moment when it comes.”
He seized his moment against Oregon State, reaching the 100-yard mark for the first time since that 301-yard game at Arizona. Many of his carries were impactful, too:
- A 15-yard run on the opening drive to set up a field goal.
- Three consecutive carries, covering 33 yards, on a third quarter touchdown drive.
- A 49-yard run – CU’s longest of the season – to spark the go-ahead TD drive late in the fourth.
- A 9-yard run in overtime to set up Brendon Lewis’ TD run.
- Three straight carries in the second overtime to position Cole Becker for the game-winning field goal.
“Throughout the season, having my carries cut and stuff like that, it kind of sucked,” he said. “I’m not really one to dwell on stats, but you know it was just good to show the coaches, show the fans I’m still the same guy I was. I don’t really pay attention to the social media crap, but when you scroll and you come across tweets like, ‘Is Jarek Broussard the same guy? Is Jarek Broussard playing injured?,’ it kind of gets in your head a little bit.“I just stick to the script and every time they gave me the ball, I was like, ‘I’ve gotta bust it.’”
Bust it, he did, proving he’s still capable of being the game-breaker he was a year ago.
“I was just happy the O-line opened some holes and I just made the most of it,” he said. “That’s what we plan on doing week after week.”
LAST MINUTE: Giving ’em a chance
Fortunately for the Buffs, they survived in double overtime, but the game only got there because the final 32 seconds of regulation didn’t play out the way CU had hoped.
Seconds after Oregon State’s Everett Hayes pushed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide left, I tweeted, “CU will hang on and win.” Oops. My mistake for thinking the Buffs would run out the final 32 seconds and end the game in victory formation.
Oregon State had all three timeouts left and used them after each time that Broussard ran up the middle. OSU loaded the box to stop the run and held Broussard to 2, 1 and 0 yards on those carries. CU couldn’t get a first down, which would have won the game.
“We’ll talk about that tonight and tomorrow,” Dorrell said after the game. “We need to have a better plan. … What we’re trying to do is we want to burn their timeouts, which we did. It would have been nice to get a first down and really finish the game by taking a knee, which we failed to do in that opportunity. But that’s something we’ll learn from as coaches and we’ll try to have a better plan in the future, going into that type of situation.
“We did do the right thing by running the football and burn their timeouts, but unfortunately that gave them an opportunity to tie the game which they did.”
CU’s three runs melted just 14 seconds off the clock, so the Buffs punted with 18 seconds to go. Josh Watts rushed the punt to avoid a block and it wound up being his shortest of the night, at 41 yards. OSU’s Anthony Gould avoided a few tacklers and returned it 26 yards to the Beavers’ 49-yard line.
“I think that was a coaching error,” Dorrell said. “I’m sharing that blame, too. But given where we were, and we’re punting the football, we should have … either directionally punted it right or left towards the sideline; potentially for it to go out of bounds because obviously that return gave them almost a midfield position to start their series to get in field goal position. If we just angle punted right or left and get the ball out of bounds and they’re starting that drive at the 25, instead of at the (49), then it’s a little more challenging to get in field goal position.”
Gould’s return was huge for the Beavers, who then had 5 seconds left on the clock. A quick, 9-yard pass to Gould took 4 seconds. And, with 1 second to go, Hayes drilled a 60-yard field goal to send the game in overtime.
It’s not often that a kicker is going to make a 60-yarder to tie a game, so it was somewhat of a miracle. The way CU played those 32 seconds would have worked most of the time, but it could have been better execution to avoid the miracle.
“That’s something that we’ve learned in the process and evaluating the tape,” Dorrell said.
That series by OSU was the latest in what has been a recent ugly trend for the Buffs’ two-minute defense. Other recent scores in those moments:
- Oct. 23 at Cal: Cal took over at its 17-yard line with 58 seconds to go in the first half after a CU punt. The Bears covered 50 yards in 5 plays, spiked the ball with 2 seconds left and kicked a 51-yard field goal to take a 23-3 lead into halftime.
- Oct. 30 at Oregon: CU pulled within 28-14 and the Ducks took over at their 25 with 2:06 to go in the first half. They went 66 yards in14 plays, including a pair of spikes, to set up a 27-yard field goal on the last play, extending the lead to 31-14 at the break.
- Last Saturday vs. OSU: The Buffs kicked a field goal 39 seconds before halftime to go up 13-7. OSU needed just four plays, including passes of 26 and 19 yards, to get to the CU 26. The Beavers called timeout with 2 seconds to go in the half and kicked a 45-yard field goal to cut the Buffs lead to 13-10 at the break.
BEST OF THE BUFFS
Here’s my take on the best of the Buffs against Oregon State:
LB Robert Barnes: Arguably his best game of the season, as he recorded seven tackles, a QB hurry and three third-down stops.
PK Cole Becker: Had a miss early in the game but went 3-for-4 on field goals, including the game-winner in overtime.
RB Jarek Broussard: Finally had his breakout game of 2021, with 24 carries for 151 yards.
CB Christian Gonzalez: Another strong game in coverage, including a great pass breakup in overtime.
DL Mustafa Johnson: He was active all night and finished with four tackles, a tackle for loss and three QB hurries.
WR Montana Lemonious-Craig: Caught two passes for 22 yards, including a go-ahead 16-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He also continues to block well.
QB Brendon Lewis: Threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns, and added a 9-yard TD run in overtime.
S Isaiah Lewis: Finished with nine tackles and also picked off a pass for the second game in a row.
TE Matt Lynch: Converted on a key short-yardage run, blocked well and did a nice job as the older for Becker’s three field goals.
LB Quinn Perry: Posted a career-high 11 tackles, including a tackle for loss and three tackles for zero yards.
C Colby Pursell: Anchored a really good performance by the offensive line and continues to be a good leader for that group.
RG Casey Roddick: He’s been playing well during the second half of the season and that continued with a solid performance against the Beavers.
OLB Carson Wells: He had a season-high nine tackles, including a sack and five third-down stops.
NOTES AND STATS
- There has been much written about Brendon Lewis playing well in the last two weeks, but he’s had a pretty interesting season overall. Saturday was the fifth time in nine games that his QB rating was 145.8 or higher, including four of the last five games. In the other four, however, his rating was 78.0 or lower. Here’s a look at the good and the bad versions of Lewis:
- Combined stats for UNC, USC, Arizona, Oregon, OSU: 72-of-108 (66.7%), 906 yards, 10 TDs and 1 INT, combined rating of 165.83.
- Combined stats for A&M, Minnesota, ASU, Cal: 37-of-75 (49.3%) for 280 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT and a rating of 75.36.
- The injury to linebacker Nate Landman might wind up preventing him from becoming the first player in CU history to lead the team in tackles four times. Landman, who has missed the last two games, leads the team with 71 tackles, but safeties Isaiah Lewis and Mark Perry and linebacker Quinn Perry are quickly approaching. Lewis has 63 tackles, Mark Perry has 58 and Quinn Perry has 57.
- Receiver Brenden Rice has touched the ball 38 times this season, racking up 740 yards (19.5 per touch). Rice has 18 catches for 285 yards, 14 kickoff returns for 401 yards and six rushing attempts for 54 yards.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Head coach Karl Dorrell on the offensive line: “They have responded very well. They wiped the slate clean in a way and moved forward with the new process of how we’re doing things and they’re much more communicative right now. They’re doing a lot of stuff that they haven’t done the first six or seven games of the season. They’re giving us a lot of feedback with what’s going on out there.”
RB Jarek Broussard on what the win means for the team: “I mean, as a team to come into this game and slug it out for four quarters, it just shows a lot. The past few weeks haven’t been going as well and we came out here and fought hard for four quarters and we pulled it off. It kind of just brings a lot of hope to a lot of guys to just keep believing and keep trusting the process.”
QB Brendon Lewis on the team maturing: “I feel like we’ve done a great job maturing. The past couple weeks hasn’t gone the way we want it, but I feel like we’ve done a great job not letting that get to us, not giving up each and every week. We go back to practice and work harder; harder than last week. So I feel like we’ve really matured doing that. Nobody has wanted to quit or boohoo. I thought we did a good job of keeping our head up and just keep grinding every week.”
LB Quinn Perry on the linebackers stepping up without Nate Landman: “Last week (at Oregon) we left plays on the table, so we knew that if we tighten up our game scheme that we could fit the gaps properly. And we had to fix the game plan a little bit to free us up in the gaps and let the safeties rotate a little more. We know what we’re capable of doing so just really focus up and take opportunities that present themselves.”
S Isaiah Lewis on his interception against the Beavers: “It felt good. It was man coverage and I know the matchup that they’re looking for and that’s the matchup that I want. Making a read and making the plays is what it came down to. I was looking forward so I didn’t get tackled, but obviously I wanted to score. I was running as fast as I could to get a little cut back and it didn’t go. I was definitely trying to score.”
OLB Carson Wells on the atmosphere at Folsom Field last week: “It’s amazing. The environment there is one of a kind. Fans are awesome and the students section goes crazy every week. So that was awesome.”
WR Daniel Arias on scoring his first touchdown since Week 2 at Stanford in 2020: “Oh, it’s been a while. It’s been a long time, but it felt really good to finally be in the zone today. I’ve been working hard, you know; been going through adversity. Been just going through a lot of stuff, so it just feels good to finally get in there today. I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
On to L.A.! The Buffs visit UCLA on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.