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Football notes: CU Buffs slow Michael Penix Jr., but not Washington ground game

Washington running back Cameron Davis tries to get past Colorado defensive back Kaylin Moore during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Washington running back Cameron Davis tries to get past Colorado defensive back Kaylin Moore during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
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SEATTLE – Colorado went into Saturday night hoping to minimize the threat of Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

In that regard, the Buffaloes were successful. Well, sort of.

Penix, the national leader in passing yards, didn’t shred the Buffs the way he’s done to other teams, but the Huskies still found a way to dominate in a 54-7 rout.

“The game plan that I wanted for us coming in was to try to keep No. 9 (Penix) off the field as much as humanly possible and we wanted to run the football – just kind of play to where we’re healthy as an offense, and then stop the run, obviously,” CU interim head coach Mike Sanford said.

It was a good plan, but it didn’t work out as hoped. Washington controlled the clock, CU ran for just 79 yards and the Buffs certainly didn’t stop the run.

They did minimize Penix, however. The junior threw for a season-low 229 yards (his previous low was 298) and his only touchdown came on a trick play, a double-reverse flea-flicker. Even then, it was receiver Jalen McMillan’s talent after the catch that turned the play into a 27-yard score.

Sanford credited the Buffs’ coverage for limiting Penix, but said, “Sometimes you do rob Peter to pay Paul, in a sense. We obviously know that these guys like Bo Nix, Caleb Williams and Michael Penix, in back-to-back-to-back weeks, if you let them just pick apart your man coverage, or if you’re playing zone coverage with really only seven out in coverage, and you’re not getting (to the passer) against some these really good offensive lines it’s gonna be a long day. But obviously, that’s the adjustment they make.”

The adjustment made by Washington was to run the ball. The Huskies haven’t been a strong running team this year, but racked up a season-high 280 yards on the ground against the Buffs.

“We wanted to win this game in the trenches,” Sanford said. “I still believe in the growth that we have in our fronts, in particular. Seeing some positives in the offensive line group that we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks. But hats off to Washington.

“That was the intent of coming out in the game and wanting to run the football, wanting to establish the run, but they were good upfront, to be honest. They moved their front a lot. They were very active and ultimately that led to us not capitalizing on the opportunities that we need to.”

Breaking through

Colorado quarterback JT Shrout has always been known for his arm talent. And, receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig has often flashed his ability.

On Saturday, the two of them finally connected on a big play, a 69-yard touchdown pass.

It was CU’s second-longest play of the season on offense and was 31 yards better than Lemonious-Craig’s previous long.

“It was a cover zero look,” Lemonious-Craig said. “That’s what we’re looking for – a double move and JT threw me a good ball, and I executed the route and scored.

“I felt great, man. I hope to keep doing it. (Shrout) is a great guy, man. He’s a great quarterback. We’ve just got to be able to execute the play on all positions. And once we’re able to do that, we’ll be able to hit a lot more.”

Overall, Shrout was 6-of-18 for 120 yards and an interception. Lemonious-Craig’s touchdown was his only catch.

Fontenot strong again

Coming off of his first 100-yard game in three years a week ago at USC, running back Alex Fontenot had another impressive game. He just didn’t have the touches to put up big numbers.

The senior averaged 6.5 yards against the Huskies, getting 71 yards on 11 carries.

“I like the way he’s played,” Sanford said. “That was the game plan going in to really try to feed him the ball.”

The game result didn’t allow the Buffs to continue feeding Fontenot, though. They got behind and had to try passing the ball more. CU also had only 55 snaps on offense.

Fontenot became the 30th player in CU to top 1,500 career rushing yards. He moved into 29th place on CU’s career rushing list, with 1,546 yards.

Notable

CU was 0-for-4 on fourth down attempts, while Washington was 2-for-3. … Washington leads the all-time series, 13-7-1. … This is the first time since 2013 that CU has allowed 50-plus points in consecutive games. … Linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, a transfer from West Virginia, had his first interception as a Buff. It was the fourth of his career.

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