Despite memorable opener, CU Buffs know they can be better – The Denver Post

Colorado football players danced in the locker room and celebrated following Saturday’s thriller in Fort Worth, Texas.

Buff Nation had plenty of reasons to party after a 45-42 upset of No. 17 TCU in the debut game for first-year head coach Deion Sanders.

Not only did the Buffs kick off the Coach Prime era in style, but they quieted some doubters, and they weren’t shy about enjoying that aspect of the day.

“Nobody believed is us,” said sophomore cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter. “The only people that believe us are the people in the facility.”

Yet, even as the Buffs talked about the receipts they’ve kept, Sanders knew the game was far from perfect. It was a memorable day, but the Buffs (1-0) have a lot of work ahead as they prepare to face long-time rival Nebraska (0-1) on Saturday at Folsom Field (10 a.m., Fox).

“I’m not gonna say it was fun,” Sanders said of Saturday’s win. “It was satisfying in the end. You’ve got to understand, the second time ticks off the clock, I’m ready for the next. I’m thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got to fix this, fix that, fix that,’ because we’ve got to be much more dominant next week in all phases, not just one phase.”

Sanders has coached for a long time and realizes the formula that worked against TCU may not work against someone else.

The Buffaloes were dominant on offense, racking up 565 yards and 45 points. It was the most yards gained by CU since the 2018 season opener (596) against Colorado State.

Even so, the Buffs felt they left plays on the field. They punted three times, had a missed field goal and a fumble, and didn’t get much traction in the run game.

“It was cool, but it wasn’t up to speed,” said quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who threw for school-record 510 yards. “It’s crazy that we put up those numbers and we wasn’t even at our best. I missed two deep balls early. Silly penalties. But it’s our first time really growing with each other, trusting each other, understanding each other in a game, like a real environment.”

Defensively, the Buffs had a very different day. They made a few key plays, but had a rough performance overall.

“Defense, we’ve got to fix some things,” coach Sanders said.

The Buffs gave up 541 yards and 42 points and at one point, TCU scored touchdowns on five of six possessions.

TCU racked up 262 yards on the ground, averaging 7.1 yards per rush and gaining 190 of those yards after halftime. The Buffs also didn’t get much pressure on TCU quarterback Chandler Morris, who wasn’t sacked, and completed timely passes to sting the Buffs.

“We just needed to stop them,” Sanders said. “They kept running those darn crossing routes and they was picking them it. We weren’t communicating; the guy comes free when he gets across the hash and that just got on our last nerve because coaches did a great job of calling the right defenses. We just didn’t execute. We want to fix that.”

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On the plus side for the defense, they came up with two massive interceptions — by Hunter and Trevor Woods – in the red zone. And, in the final moments delivered a game-clinching stop, as safety Myles Slusher tackled TCU’s Jared Wiley two yards shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-nine with 55 seconds remaining.

“That’s all we were preaching, man,” Sanders said. “We were just preaching one stop. Just one stop. Just one darn stop. … Defensively, we had some letdowns but the guys came and made the plays when they needed.”

Sanders also referred to the special teams as “horrendous” on a day when the Buffs had a field goal blocked and gave up an 86-yard kickoff return (a great play by safety Rodrick Ward prevented that from being a touchdown).

It was a game that left plenty for Sanders and the staff to correct, but they were able to snag a big victory despite those mistakes and that made Saturday a day to remember.

“We went out there and still made some week one mistakes,” Hunter said. “We’ve got a lot to change. We’ve got to go back into practice tomorrow, watch film, try to fix everything that we messed up on, but we knew what we had to do and came out and executed to the best of our ability.”

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