MINNEAPOLIS – It keeps getting worse for the Colorado football team.
During back-to-back blowout losses to open the season, the Buffaloes were at least competitive for three quarters.
On Saturday, the Buffs were cooked by the end of the first quarter.
Minnesota cruised to an easy 49-7 victory at Huntington Bank Stadium, handing the Buffaloes their worst loss in head coach Karl Dorrell’s three-year tenure.
Prior to the season, Dorrell expressed a great deal of confidence that his team would be better than projected. To this point, the Buffaloes (0-3) have been significantly worse than expected.
“It’s surprising,” he said. “A part of it is we have to continue as coaches to stress the fundamentals, the factors that are important for us to be successful. Sometimes it takes a little longer than my expectations and evidently that is the case right now, but we’ve got to continue to work, continue to coach them well to get them to improve and play better football.
“I feel good about our attitude about playing the game. We’re just not very good at really playing it effectively and proficiently.”
The Buffs certainly weren’t very good on Saturday, as they were embarrassed for the third week in a row. It was CU’s widest margin of defeat since a 45-3 loss at Oregon on Oct. 11, 2019. And, for the first time in the 132-year history of the program, the Buffs (0-3) have opened a season with three consecutive losses by 25-plus points.
“Difficult game. Difficult game,” Dorrell said in opening his postgame press conference. “Wasn’t expecting that type of performance given the week we had last week.
“We have a lot of extremely hard work to do, both mentally, physically – everything. We have to really try to figure out what’s going to be the best things to do both offensively and defensively as we move forward. It was challenging the whole day.”
The Gophers (3-0) steamrolled the Buffs behind star running back Mohamed Ibrahim and sixth-year senior quarterback Tanner Morgan. Ibrahim rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of work. Morgan completed 11-of-16 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
Coming in as 28-point underdogs, the Buffs didn’t put up much of a fight.
Minnesota opened the game with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Ibrahim’s 5-yard touchdown run.
On CU’s first offensive snap, quarterback JT Shrout was sacked and fumbled. The Gophers recovered at the Buffs’ 11-yard line and Ibrahim scored two plays later to make it 14-0 just 6 minutes, 16 seconds into the game.
“Poor start, again,” said Dorrell, whose team lost a fumble on the second play of the game a week earlier in a 41-10 loss to Air Force. “We’re just not doing those things in a positive way early for us to be as good as we can be. And it’s unfortunate and it’s frustrating. (Players) are frustrated, (coaches) are frustrated.”
CU didn’t have a lot of positives early or for most of the day Saturday, although it did finally show some life on offense when the game was already decided.
Minnesota led 35-0 at halftime and had a 349-39 advantage in total yards at that point. The Gophers extended the lead to 49-0 early in the fourth quarter.
CU finally got on the board with 8:55 to play, when Shrout threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Austin Smith, who made a nice play to stretch the ball across the line. That capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive, but it about the only spark of the day for the Buffs, who now have only four offensive touchdowns in their last 22 quarters.
Running back Deion Smith, who finished with 70 yards on 10 carries, said the offense simply hasn’t found rhythm.
“Honestly, pretty much because I feel like we all just sit down and watch Saturday football … you see these offenses going down the field and scoring and moving the ball and getting the rhythm,” he said. “I feel like the biggest thing for us is we have all these good plays, we have all of this … sometimes we might get into rhythm, but I feel like it’s super hard just to get going.
“It’s the second week in a row for us just starting off with a negative play on offense and it’s really hurting us. We’ve just got to kind of figure out what it is, what it’s gonna take to overcome this because I mean, we can and we have the scheme and we also have the players to overcome this. But for some reason, coming out here on Saturdays, it doesn’t click all the time.”
There’s not much clicking on either side of the ball for the Buffs, who gave up 500 yards to the Gophers, including 334 on the ground.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Dorrell said. “We do. Just got a ton of work to do.”
That’s been evident after each of the Buffs’ first three games, but to this point, they have yet to find a way to stay in games, let alone win one.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words right now,” Deion Smith said. “I don’t really know how to digest this or kind of process this because … we were just focusing on doing the small things right to make those big improvements. But the frustration comes in whenever we get out here on game day and it doesn’t quite happen the way we want it to.”
Minnesota 49, Colorado 7
Play of the game: For the Buffs, the play of the game was their only touchdown, a 4-yard pass from JT Shrout to tight end Austin Smith. A freshman, Smith made a nice effort to reach the ball over the goal line to get the score.
Turning point: Minnesota already led 7-0 when CU’s offense took the field for the first time. On the first play, JT Shrout was sacked and fumbled. Minnesota recovered and then scored two plays later to go up 14-0. CU never threatened from that point.
Top 3 Buffs of the game
1. S Isaiah Lewis: Finished with a team-high eight tackles and picked off a Minnesota pass.
2. OLB Guy Thomas: Posted six tackles, including two tackles for loss.
3. RB Deion Smith: Ran for 70 yards on 10 carries, averaging a solid 7.0 yards per attempt.
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