BOULDER-After allowing Arizona to run right through them the previous week, the Colorado Buffaloes defense responded with a strong performance on Saturday against Washington, at least for nearly three quarters. However, this time it was the offense that was idle.
With an offense that had trouble moving the ball once again at home, the 'D' helped the Buffs get out of a couple tough situations in the first half and only be down 7-0 at halftime. But the lack of ball movement continued in the second half and the Colorado defense couldn't sustain the success they had of containing UW quarterback Keith Price, who threw four of his five touchdown passes in the final 30 minutes to lead Washington to the 38-3 win at Folsom Field.
The Buffaloes sit at 1-10, 1-7 in the Pac-12 with one game left while the Huskies improve to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
"I thought our defense played well," Colorado coach Jon Embree said. "They really kept us in it, we just couldn't capitalize."
The game remained close throughout the first half and it wasn't until a 3-yard pass from Price to Cody Bruns with 1:02 before halftime did the Huskies find the end zone.
On Washington's previous four possessions, Colorado forced the Huskies to punt, fumble, miss a field goal and lose it on downs.
The fumble came on a 2nd-and-1 on the CU 9-yard line in which Husky tailback Bishop Sankey went up the middle but was stripped by senior linebacker Doug Rippy. With the ball bouncing at the goal line, fellow senior linebacker Jon Major scooped up the ball and found a way to keep his body out of the end zone to avoid the safety.
But only five plays later, quarterback Connor Wood - who was making his first career start - threw his first second interception to put the CU defense with their 'backs against the wall.'
Once again, the Buffs D was up to the challenge as UW went three-and-out (with some penalties thrown in there as well) and almost fumbled the punt but kicker Travis Coons was able to regain his composure and boot it away.
Jordan Webb replaced Wood the next series but the offense continued to stall with the Buffs not being able to get the ball across midfield in the final two series of the half.
"I told the defense to keep doing what they have been doing," Embree said of what he told his team at halftime. "Offensively, we have to help the defense out and keep them off the field and find a way to get first downs."
That did not happen in the second half.
After another solid three-and-out to begin the third quarter, it was a special teams blunder that once again changed any momentum Colorado might have picked up from the first half. The 44-yard punt by Coons bounded off Nelson Spruce and looked to be headed out of bounds, but a Washington defender got enough of it along the sidelines to flip it back in. With the ball flying through the air where the Huskies would recover.
"That is just how it has been," Embree said, referring to some of the other special teams blunders the Buffs have had to deal with this season."
Three plays later, Price found Kasen Williams for a 17-yard touchdown to make it a 14-0 game.
From that point until time ran out on Washington's final drive, each of the Huskies' possessions ended in a score (three touchdowns and a field goal).
After the game, Embree said that eventually the defense got tired in the second half with UW dominating the time of possession, 18:08 to 11:52 in the final two periods.
"That is what happens to your defense if you continually have to come back there, you get worn down," Embree said.
"I felt like our defense did a good job out there today and when you are doing that every play, eventually you will get tired. A few of our guys have been hurt so we don't have that depth. Because we don't have depth, when they got tired it showed."
Offensively, Colorado's only threat to score came in the third quarter after freshman Marques Mosley returned a kickoff 59 yards (CU's longest of the season) to the Washington 40-yard line. The Buffaloes moved the ball to the UW 9 on the subsequent plays and scored momentarily on a pass from Webb to wide receiver Nelson Spruce on third down, but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
The following snap resulted in an incomplete pass to tight end Nick Kasa, forcing Will Oliver to kick the 37-yard field, which he made - tying his season-high.
Webb finished 6-of-16 passing for 33 yards in a backup role to the starter Wood, who completed three of his six passes for 11 yards while also throwing two interceptions.
"I was right mentally," Wood said. "I was just not happy with the way I played obviously. Going into the game, I felt like the guys were behind me and I was feeling good about myself."
Redshirt freshman John Schrock also saw some game action for the second time of this career as he engineered the Buffs' final drive. Schrock only threw one pass - for 7 yards - but moved the ball down to the Washington 27-yard line before CU fumbled the ball for the third time in the game.
Tailback Christian Powell finished the game with 66 yards rushing and moved into second for rushing yards by a CU freshman with 691. He is 139 yards shy of the record of 830 yards, set by Lamont Warren in 1991.
Colorado will close out its season on Friday as it hosts the Utah Utes in the 2012 finale at Folsom Field. It will be the final college game for tight end Nick Kasa and CU's other seven seniors.
"What I have been telling the guys is 'I don't even want you to play for me, I don't want you to play for the seniors. Play for yourselves,'" Kasa said. "We can't be that team that has never won at home. That is just embarrassing to me and this team and I think everybody knows that. We are going to go out and get this win."