Stanford Humbles Colorado

Colorado’s loss to Stanford is humiliating for Prime and his squad.  We all expected that Colorado would fall to Oregon and USC.  We didn’t expect the 1 – 4 Stanford Cardinal to come in, and out physical and out scheme the Colorado Buffaloes.  This isn’t Jim Harbaugh’s team…but it felt like we were watching a Harbaugh special in the second half.  In fact, most of us probably stopped watching the game at halftime when Colorado was up 29 -0.  I didn’t.  I had a sneaking suspicion that Stanford would rebound in the second half.  I went back and looked at their games this year and they almost beat Arizona who gave USC fits last week.  I knew the second half would be tough…but I didn’t expect them to overcome a 29-point deficit.

Colorado’s issues stem from the trenches.  They lack depth and talent on the offensive and defensive line.  Couple that with the fact that Shedeur Sanders seems to always look for the big play, and a recipe for disaster is brewing.  The offensive line lacks push in the run game and pass protection is virtually not existent.  The only remedy for these issues in the moment is to execute a quick passing game and a multiple run game.  When the chips are down, Colorado has failed to adjust.  Their playbook lacks the depth and breadth needed to counter new plans that hit them in game.

Troy Taylor is rebuilding the Stanford Cardinal.  The sprouts of his work started to bud during the second half of last night’s game.  Unlike the Buffaloes, the Cardinal has some talent in the trenches.  They also have several parameter players that will slash and batter your defense.  The problem with Stanford is that they have been playing three different quarterbacks this year.  It appears this game has solidified who their starter will be.

Stanford started their comeback during Colorado’s first offensive possession of the second half.  On a fourth and two, Lance Keneley burst thru the line of scrimmage, and tracked Sanders down for a 12-yard sack.  The emergence of wide receiver Elic Ayomanor started four plays later when he caught an 18-yard pass from Ashton Daniels, placing the Cardinal on the Colorado nine-yard line.  Three plays later, Bryce Farrell pounds the rock in for the Cardinal’s first touchdown of the game.

Stanford forced Colorado to punt on their next possession.  Colorado thought they were in good shape because the Cardinal was starting their offensive possession on their own three-yard line.  Ashton Daniels lined up in shotgun, and Ayomanor lined up to his right.  At the snap, Daniels hits Ayomanor on a quick slant, who turns it up field.  Shiloh Sanders failed to react quick enough and dived at Ayomanor’s feet, but Ayomanor jinked to the right and stiff-armed Sanders as he gathered speed on his way to a 97-yard house call.  One play.  97 yards.  Touchdown!  Still, Colorado had hope as they stuffed a two point try.

Stanford’s pass coverage stiffened, and they forced a three and out.  Two plays later, Daniels finds Ayomanor on a back shoulder go route.  Ayomanor caught the ball and brushed past the defender for a 60-yard touchdown.

Elic Ayomanor stole the show last night.  He finished the night with 13 receptions 294 yards and three touchdowns.  All his touchdowns are high-light reel material, however his last one is reminiscent of Randy Moss.  During the first over time, Colorado scored and Stanford has the ball.  They started their drive with a false start.  On the next play, Travis Hunter lined up head-to-head against Elic Ayomanor.  The play was a simple go route.  At the snap, Ayomanor takes off and Ashton Daniels throws up the ball.  Ayomanor turned his 6’3 frame around and caught the ball off the top of Hunter’s helmet as they tumbled into the endzone for a thirty-yard touchdown reception.  Hunter got Moss’ed.

Stanford wide receiver Elic Ayomanor, right, catches a pass for a touchdown over Colorado cornerback Travis Hunter in overtime of an NCAA college football game early Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

All Ayomanor’s touchdowns were off explosive plays.  He isn’t just a flashy player though,  He did the dirty work.  He blocked, and he caught short and intermediate passes.  Ayomanor showed he is a complete receiver and that not even the great Travis Hunter could stop him.

Elic Ayomanor was great.  However, the true heroes of the game were the Cardinal offensive and defensive linemen.  The offensive linemen gave Ashton Daniels time to throw for 396 yards and four touchdowns, while the defensive line harried Shedeur Sanders, taking him down for four sacks.  Two of those sacks came in the second half on fourth down.  The Cardinal pressure even forced an interception.  That interception effectively ended the game in the second overtime.

Statistically, Shedeur Sanders had a great night.  Colorado had a chance to stone the Cardinal advance, but they lost their composure and their discipline.  During the Cardinal fourth scoring drive, Colorado had forced a 4th and 22.  During the next play, Travis Hunter broke out into a fight against a Cardinal receiver.  He was flagged for unnecessary roughness and the Cardinal had a first down.  Colorado had a chance to win on fourth down.  In fact, they did, but Hunter’s lack of composure allowed Stanford to continue their drive in which they eventually scored.

Colorado’s loss of composure and lack of discipline contributed to their loss.  They have the talent to compete and win.  However, they failed to finish the game last night.  While this was a harsh and humbling lesson for the Buffaloes, Stanford will use this game as a projection of their future as they continue to build themselves to be competitive again.




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