The result on Saturday night was all too familiar for the 2022 Colorado football team.
For some of the Buffaloes, however, it felt different.
A 42-9 loss to Oregon State at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., was every bit as ugly on the scoreboard as the five losses CU had to start its season. It just didn’t feel as hopeless to some of the Buffs.
CU (1-6, 1-3 Pac-12) was routed for the sixth time this season, with the first five coming under the direction of former head coach Karl Dorrell, who was fired on Oct. 2 and replaced by interim head coach Mike Sanford.
Sparked by Sanford, the Buffs created a “culture of joy” that contributed to a 20-13 overtime win against California at Folsom Field on Oct. 15. Sanford’s second game wasn’t as joyous, but Buffs players insist the buy-in is still there.
“Of course, of course,” linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said. “Looking at a loss like this, we know exactly what it is. Before, it was a lot of different fingers pointing different ways. A lot of different things went wrong, but we can point, ‘OK, we didn’t do X, Y and Z correct; how can we get these better?’
“What players can we put in better situations? How can we, as players, get in the film room more? What can we do better with our coaches to make them more comfortable to call certain calls? Now really the onus is just on us.”
Given how ugly the first five games were – all of them losses by 23-plus points – it wasn’t expected that Sanford could do a complete 180 on the fly. Adversity was sure to hit again. It hit hard on Saturday, but Sanford isn’t deterred in his goal to finish the season as strong as possible.
“We’ve got to learn from these,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a locker room that’s looking at this and saying, ‘Hey, same old, same old.’ I think there’s a lot of fight and a lot of belief. We’ve just got to get healthy in the course of a couple days. We’re not extremely banged up, but a little fatigued and I think those guys will be returning to play against Arizona State.”
The Buffs host ASU (2-5, 1-3) on Saturday at Folsom Field (5:30 p.m. MT, ESPNU) and they hope the fight they showed at times against Oregon State is a good sign they’ll be ready.
Despite the game getting away from them early in the third quarter, CU found some rhythm offensively late in the game, scoring a touchdown and driving to the OSU 10-yard line on another drive. And, Chandler-Semedo came up with back-to-back tackles, including one on fourth-and-1 to stuff an OSU drive.
“We’re definitely a resilient team,” Chandler-Semedo said. “Like I said a couple of weeks ago, anybody in our situation would probably pack it in. But that just goes to show the resilience. It’s not really just me. … (The fourth down stop) was a total team effort right there and it just shows the resilience.”
It was a small consolation prize in an otherwise ugly night, but with five games to play, it’s those little victories that CU is clinging to as it aims to get on track.
“Even some of the drives down the stretch offensively and the defensive stop there, there was a good feel of fighting and resolve on the sideline and on the field,” Sanford said. “But it wasn’t enough.
“But that’s what we’re going to do as coaches – as the adults and the grownups and the paid professionals – we’re going to go back to work. We’re going to put the best product on the field against Arizona State and we’re gonna to make sure that we bring the same energy, a great game plan, get back to work and put on what we believe is gonna be a great Saturday of football at Folsom Field.”
Per BetOnline.ag, CU opened Sunday as a 13-point underdog against the Sun Devils. … Receiver Chase Penry has battled some injuries this season, playing only three games. He has been a healthy scratch the last two games, however, not even suiting up. Because he’s played less than five games, Penry could redshirt and Sanford that is a possibility. “I want to make sure when he does play, he’s at his best,” Sanford said. “We’ll continue to have that discussion (about redshirting) and we can revisit that as I sit down and talk with his family and whatnot.” … The Buffs have scored less than 21 points in 10 consecutive games and in 15 of 19 games since the start of the 2021 season.