The injuries at running back and quarterback have placed the Buffs into a tough predicament. Offensively, Colorado has struggled in every game this season but after Owen McCown’s injury against Cal, J.T. Shrout played and led well in relief of McCown.
Shrout struggled last weekend against Oregon State who was the latest opponent to get out in front of the Buffs early and put a stranglehold on Colorado.
It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for both the Sun Devils and the Buffs this week in a matchup of two teams who could be playing for their last win of the season.
Colorado’s interim offensive coordinator, Clay Patterson spoke about the offense and the troubles they’ve had throughout the season and his approach to improvement.
“The way I view it is when we as coaches make mistakes, we own up to that to let them know when we have failures, and how we’re going to grow from it,” Patterson said. “[We want] to teach them how to fail and how to grow.”
The Buffs’ wide receivers struggled to catch the football last week and it’s been a reoccurring issue for them this year.
Drops have been one of the many contributing factors that have ranked Colorado toward the bottom of the FBS in multiple offensive statistics this year and 2021.
“When you’re the worst offense in the country for two years, they don’t have a lot of confidence,” Patterson said. “So we’re trying to get that out of them.”
Under interim head coach Mike Sanford’s lead, the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the program has seen a noticeable increase and their approach to handling mistakes has been encouraging players to keep moving forward.
That being said, Montana Lemonious-Craig set the standard for Colorado’s receiving corps in the win over Cal.
“If we can get three guys to play like Montana did against Cal, we’re going to be in really good shape,” Patterson said.
Sanford spoke highly of R.J. Sneed on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Patterson voiced his support for the graduate transfer.
“I have a lot of confidence in R.J. but it’s our job to get him the ball and get him where he needs to be,” Patterson said. “He, unfortunately, got hurt and it does take time to come back from that foot injury but I feel good about where he’s at right now.”
Sneed’s numbers have been disappointing this year with only 12 receptions and 89 yards in six games played. But against Oregon State, Sneed had three receptions for the first time since the UCLA game. Judging from coaches’ comments this week, Sneed should be more involved against Arizona State.
Patterson also spoke about the challenges in game planning with the injuries Colorado has faced in all offensive position rooms this year.
“Game planning is difficult when you’re trying to figure out who’s going to make plays,” Patterson said. “If we can get multiple guys to be consistent in games, we’re going to be in good shape, we’re going to get them the ball.”
Injuries at running back and quarterback have made things challenging for Colorado’s play-caller but graduate transfer and right guard, Tommy Brown, talked about how the inconsistency in the backfield does not matter to him.
“I usually find out who’s behind me when I hear them calling for the snap,” Brown said. “It’s not something I worry about. I know all our running backs and quarterbacks can do their jobs. It’s just playing ball.”
Brown transferred to Colorado after spending four seasons buried on Alabama’s depth chart. The Crimson Tide only lost five times in Brown’s time at Tuscaloosa and despite Colorado struggling to win this year, Brown is happy with his decision.
“It has been a different season for me, but I just wanted to come here to get film and try to help a program and I feel like I’m doing both of those things,” Brown said. “I’m happy with my decision and the past is the past. Let’s just try to keep winning games.”
Brown has solidified himself at right guard and coach Sanford is confident that they have found Colorado’s best combination along the offensive line. From left to right, Colorado started Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, Casey Roddick, Van Wells, Tommy Brown and Jake Wiley against Oregon State.
Colorado only allowed one sack last week against the Beavers but could be without their starting center, Van Wells, who was rolled up on during a run play in the 42-9 loss.
Both Colorado and Arizona State find themselves at the bottom of a greatly improved PAC-12 conference. Both programs are facing similar issues from top to bottom but both feel like they can win this weekend.
Saturday’s kickoff will be at 5:30 pm at Folsom Field to cap off Colorado’s homecoming week. ESPNU will nationally broadcast the game.