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CU Buffs notes: OLB Joshka Gustav out for season

Receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig also unlikely return after injury against UCLA

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BOULDER, CO - Oct. 15, 2021:University ...
University of Colorado, Boulder’s Joshka Gustav tackles Arizona’s Jalen John during the NCAA football game on October 16, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

A key member of the rotation on Colorado’s defense is done for the year. A top receiver might be done, too.

On Monday, CU head coach Karl Dorrell didn’t give specifics but said third-year freshman outside linebacker Joshka Gustav suffered a season-ending injury in Saturday’s 44-20 loss at UCLA.

Receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig suffered a less serious injury, but he is “likely done for the year as well,” Dorrell said.

The Buffs (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) have just two games remaining, and on a positive note, they could get senior inside linebacker Nate Landman back this week when they host Washington (4-6, 3-4) at Folsom Field on Saturday (1:10 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Network).

“There’s a possibility, yes,” Dorrell said of Landman playing against the Huskies.

Gustav has started each of the past three games in place of junior Guy Thomas, who has been out with an injury. Gustav finishes his season with 13 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups in 190 snaps played.

Lemonious-Craig has not been a starter, but the second-year freshman has been a regular in the receiver rotation. He has caught 10 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He has played the third-most snaps among receivers, behind Brenden Rice and Daniel Arias.

Landman, meanwhile, is hoping to return after missing the past three games with a shoulder injury. An All-American candidate and Butkus Award semifinalist, Landman leads the Buffs with 71 tackles and ranks fifth in CU history with 409 tackles.

Dorrell also said Thomas and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon “have a shot” to play this week. Thomas has missed three consecutive games, while Blackmon has missed two.

Freshman safety Trevor Woods could also return this week. He missed the UCLA game with a sore shoulder. “We didn’t want to put him in the game, so he should be ready to go (this week),” Dorrell said.

Regaining health?

Throughout the offseason, Dorrell and other staff members often praised second-year freshman Jayle Stacks. The biggest of CU’s backs, at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Stacks has been used at times as a fullback, but he’s also caught some passes and run the ball in scrimmages.

In recent games, the Buffs have used the fullback more, but it’s been tight end Brady Russell and not Stacks in the game.

Stacks played in the first six games but has not played since. He missed the Oct. 30 game at Oregon with an illness and Dorrell said that has lingered.

“It’s not really any slight on Jayle,” he said of Russell playing fullback. “(Stacks) was sick for about two weeks. He missed a week and a half for practice, just with flu symptoms and things and strep throat. For some reason, when he got sick most of the other guys took two or three days to come back and he was down about 10 days. So he lost a lot of weight.

“Now he’s back practicing. He’s gradually kind of getting his strength back and his weight back. Now that he’s healthy again there’s a chance, a good chance, where you’ll get a chance to see him in some of those situations these last couple games.”

Good start

All season, the Buffs have relied on talented junior Carson Wells to lead the outside linebackers. But with Thomas and Gustav out this past week, second-year freshman Devin Grant played for the first time as a Buff on defense.

Grant, who played in two games last year on special teams, recorded five tackles, including a tackle for loss, in 26 snaps against UCLA. He also got beat on some option plays.

“I felt pretty good about his performance,” Dorrell said. “Did he make a few mistakes early? Yes, where he attacked and get sucked down on some of the exchanges from the quarterback and the back, but then he did make some really good plays and settled in.

“It’s going to do a world of greatness for him to get those reps in the game and get a chance to make a few plays. He’ll build on that this week. Obviously, we lost Joshka, so his role is going to be more. He’s excited about it.”

Notes

Washington will be led this week by interim head coach Bob Gregory. The Huskies’ defensive coordinator took the interim role on Sunday when head coach Jimmy Lake was fired. … The Buffs have won two in a row at Folsom Field and they are 3-2 at home this season. Washington is 2-2 on the road.

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