BOULDER—All week the Buffs’ defense prepared themselves for the monumental task of slowing down explosive Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey. In the end they did slow down Carey, but instead of wilting without the usual production from their number one offensive weapon, the Wildcats simply found other ways to move the ball against an overwhelmed CU defense.
“We stopped Carey pretty good,” said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “Just disappointed we didn’t do a better job against (quarterback, B.J.) Denker. He did a good job. He threw the ball better than I’ve ever seen him throw in every game I’ve ever watched him play. So he really came through.”
Last year Carey rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards against CU and the talk all week centered around avoiding a repeat of such a performance. And in that aspect the Buffs defense played a whale of a game in limiting the running back to his season-low in rushing yardage. But, for all Carey couldn’t accomplish, Denker more than made up for both on the ground and through the air. Denker rushed for 192 yards and threw for 265 more in what may have been finest performance of his career.
“I think we’ve improved from the film I watched last year,” said MacIntyre. “(Denker) made us miss tonight. I’ve seen him make people miss before. It’s just very frustrating for our kids.”
Despite the impressive performance put on by Denker and the Arizona offense, it took the Wildcats nearly three quarters to pull away from a feisty Buffaloes team that nearly matched their opponents step for step. CU stayed within seven points until midway through the third quarter but they never could get that key defensive stop that might’ve given the offense the kind of opening it needed.
“There was probably 200 yards of offense off of missed tackles on the quarterback,” said MacIntyre. “We played our hearts out; we’ve got to play better.”
The performance, which also included two forced Arizona turnovers, did have its occasional bright spots but when the night was over MacIntyre and his staff was left with many more questions than answers.
“We just need to keep working on it,” he said. “We’ve made personnel changes there. We just have to keep working, keep fighting, keep pushing and find ways to keep trying to help them. I thought we did a few things tonight and they (Arizona) just made more plays than we did.”
The task only gets tougher in the coming weeks as the team prepares for road trips to UCLA and Washington, teams loaded with the same kind of offensive talent that has given the Buffs fits all season.
“It’s very disconcerting,” said MacIntyre. “We keep improving we just got continue to do that. They’re battling out there. We need to do a better job of coaching them because there are great offenses in this league.”