CU Buffs look to get back on track against No. 16 Oregon State
The 28-16 loss to UCLA was Colorado’s second in a row and fourth in five games, but Sanders never hesitated in his response.
“I’m not going through a tough time,” he said. “What about me looks like it’s a tough time? Does it look like a tough time to you all?”
Well, on the surface, yes, but in looking at the big picture, Sanders has a point.
A Pro Football Hall of Famer and the only man to ever play in a Super Bowl and a World Series, Sanders has won a lot in his life. As a coach, he’s only known winning, in youth football, the high school ranks and his three seasons at Jackson State. He went 27-6 at JSU, including 23-3 the last two seasons.
After a 3-0 start this year, Sanders’ Buffaloes have been humbled a bit by the Pac-12 slate, but they have another opportunity at a big win on Saturday when No. 16 Oregon State comes to Boulder.
“First of all, I believe in everyone that’s inside this locker room and on this staff,” he said. “This is the way I look at it: It’s been one game that we’ve truly got our butts kicked. I mean
when we looked up there, so Oregon did their thing. Every other game we’ve been in. We’ve had a chance to win those games.”
The Buffs rallied late and lost by just a touchdown to then-No. 8 USC (now ranked No. 24). They dominated early but collapsed late in a three-point loss to Stanford. And, they were within one score, 14-9, going into the fourth quarter at the Rose Bowl.
“That’s promising for not only the kids that play for us, the coaching staff, the fan base,” Sanders said. “It’s promising because we had an opportunity to win those games. We just gotta learn how to win and we’re gonna be OK.”
The dramatic roster overhaul in the offseason was unlike anything college football has seen. The hype surrounding the Buffs in September was remarkable. Yet, ultimately, Sanders and the Buffs are like just about every other losing program that goes through a coaching change. They have to learn how to win.
Even through the adversity, the players maintain their confidence.
“I don’t ever go out there thinking anyone is as good or even close to being as good as our team, our defense, because that’s just the mindset you gotta have,” safety Shilo Sanders said. “As y’all can see, none of these games are just so far out of reach. It’s not like, ‘Oh, man, you guys are just horrible.’ Every game is winnable that we play, but I feel like just as the game goes on, we just lose attention to detail. That’s what the game of football is all about: who messed up the most? If we just limit those little mistakes, we’re gonna be a great team.”
Asked this week if this season has been a success, safety Trevor Woods, one of the few players left from last year, said, “Obviously everyone knows it’s better than last year, but I don’t know if I’d say successful. You go in every game expecting to win. …It’s an upgrade, but it’s not where we want to be. So I guess not.”
Coach Prime would agree, but he also believes they are laying the foundation.
“We love the direction that we’re headed,” he said. “It could be tremendously the other way (where CU is getting blown out), but when you have an opportunity to beat ranked teams that’s tremendous for us. We just got to do it.”