Opinion: Colorado needs to right some wrongs on offense Saturday

The Washington Huskies look to tackle Colorado quarterback Steven Montez from behind during the third quarter at Folsom Field. Sept. 23, 2017 (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

Last Saturday, the Colorado Buffaloes came up just short in a valiant effort against the Josh Rosen-led UCLA Bruins. The Bruins’ junior quarterback is predicted to be either the first or second quarterback taken in the upcoming draft and he showed his NFL potential by fitting passes into tight windows to his receivers against the Buffs this past weekend.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Steven Montez and the Buffaloes had moments where they looked like a quality football team and a cohesive unit out on the field in that game. But missed opportunities, including a botched fake field goal attempt with 58 seconds left in the first half, doomed Colorado, as UCLA left the Rose Bowl with a 27-23 win.

That game was a chance for the Buffaloes to rack up some points against one of the worst defenses in the country. Colorado struggled to complete this task as mishaps and Montez’s struggle to stand in the pocket and go through his progressions contributed heavily to the loss.

Those issues have plagued the team this season. Frequently, the Buffaloes get some rhythm going on offense, only to stall in the redzone. Making mistakes and not capping drives with a touchdown is becoming a trend.

Against Washington, the Buffs routinely drove the ball into Husky territory and failed to accomplish much after doing so. Colorado had a total of five drives that stalled in Washington territory, resulting in just three points.

Versus UCLA, the Buffaloes improved in their ability to score points. However, their stalled drives resulted in three separate 33-yard field goals. The field goals played a big part in costing CU the win.

So, why is it that the offense is struggling so much? Is it the offensive line that is responsible for Montez taking so many sacks?

If I am going to be honest with Buffs fans, I have to say that the offensive struggles are largely on the shoulders of Montez. Against UCLA, Montez was 17-of-36.

One could argue that Montez had 243 yards passing to go along with 108 yards rushing on the ground. Montez’s 72.7 Quarterback Rating was higher than Rosen’s 71.4. Additionally, he was the victim of two dropped passes by his wideouts. One by Bryce Bobo and the other from Juwann Winfree; both passes could have been huge for CU if caught.

Acknowledging the fact that other aspects of the offense are to blame for Colorado’s losses is important. However, Montez is still the leader of this offense. He has to find a way to get the Buffaloes to convert in critical moments. A stat that is indicative of Montez’s struggles is Colorado’s third-down efficiency.

The Buffs were 4-of-16 on third downs against UCLA. A lot of that inefficiency has to do with Montez not standing in the pocket, rolling out and trying to throw on the run. Montez prematurely scrambled out of the pocket several times against UCLA. Montez is young. But he needs to learn to stand in the pocket longer, step up and throw strikes to his receivers downfield.

On a more positive note, the read-option that the Buffaloes are running with Montez is a weapon that needs to be utilized as Colorado progresses through the season. With senior tailback Phillip Lindsay running for 86 yards and Montez using him as a decoy, the offense has a real opportunity to gash defenses for huge yardage. Against UCLA and Washington, Montez repeatedly faked out defenses with Lindsay on the read-option.

Montez needs to stop getting anxious in the pocket. He needs to convert on third downs to keep drives moving if the Buffaloes are going to win against Arizona. Last week, the Wildcats’ quarterback Brandon Dawkins threw three interceptions in the loss to Utah. Arizona only lost to the undefeated and No. 20 Utah Utes by a score of 30-24.

Montez needs to be a consistent passer from the pocket and lead the team to convert on third downs. Otherwise, all of the pressure is going to fall on Colorado’s defense. If this happens the Buffs could be in for a rude awakening this weekend. The Buffaloes need to wake up on offense. The tools are there, but execution is lacking.

Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Yama Radtke at yama.radtke@colorado.edu.

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