Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders made significant changes this week in response to several losses. To capitalize on his star quarterback son’s potential, Sanders restructured his coaching staff and assigned play-calling responsibilities to a former NFL head coach.
Despite their efforts, the Buffaloes’ performance could have improved. They fared even worse against No. 19 Oregon State on Saturday. However, towards the end of the game, they scored their only two touchdowns before ultimately falling short with a 26-19 defeat.
Shedeur Sanders, the Colorado quarterback, required an additional painkiller injection to complete the game. Unfortunately, the Buffs’ record this season stands at 4-5 after initially gaining national recognition with a strong 3-0 start.
Deion Sanders expressed his difficulty with the situation, acknowledging his potential for improvement in multiple areas: playing, performing, calling games, and coaching.
Despite having enough resources to achieve success, falling short is frustrating and painful for himself, the team, the coaches, and the fans.
During the game, a coaching mistake just before halftime proved to be the deciding factor. Deion Sanders took responsibility for the error.
However, the Buffs faced difficulties shielding their quarterback for three quarters until he left the field to receive a painkiller injection. Following this, he expressed his anger and almost led his team to recovery from a significant 23-5 fourth-quarter deficit, captivating the sold-out homecoming crowd at Folsom Field (52,725).
What else did Deion Sanders say?
Former New York Giants and Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur was promoted by explaining why he was chosen to call plays on offence instead of offensive coordinator Sean Lewis.
Shurmur used to work behind the scenes as an analyst at Colorado, earning an annual salary of $50,000.
However, with this significant change, he is now one of the team’s ten full-time assistant coaches and holds the title of co-offensive coordinator alongside Lewis. Lewis, who previously served as head coach at Kent State, opted to take on the role of running the offence at Colorado for a salary of $850,000 this year.
Deion Sanders addressed the decision to make Shurmur the play-caller instead of Lewis by stating that they did not intend to demean Lewis. He mentioned that they recognized the need for a change at the time and decided to try something different.
Sanders expressed his confidence in Lewis as a good play-caller and emphasized that the play-calling system is still a collaborative effort involving both Lewis and Shurmur, as they are both talented individuals.
He further mentioned that there is more to the situation than is commonly known and does not harbour any regrets or second-guessing regarding the decision.
According to the quarterback, the team’s performance cannot be attributed to one individual’s success or failure.
Before Saturday, the Buffs held the unenviable second-place ranking in the country for the most sacks allowed, tallying a discouraging 42. This alarming statistic comes after a season in which they only allowed 23 sacks and had a 1-11 record. Moreover, their rushing offence ranked third-worst in the nation, averaging a mere 78.6 yards per game.
On Saturday, Shedeur Sanders experienced an additional four sacks, while the team regrettably accumulated a loss of 7 rushing yards on 19 carries.
What happened in the game?
The coaching staff changed, yet the on-field offensive linemen displayed consistency, resulting in inadequate protection for Shedeur Sanders. Before halftime, when trailing 14-3, the Buffs managed a mere 52 yards of total offence on 30 plays.
Furthermore, they punted five times in their initial seven possessions, lost possession due to a fumble, and scored just a 32-yard field goal. The latter was only achieved because Colorado safety Shilo Sanders forced a fumble, granting the Buffs’ offence possession on the Oregon State 19-yard line.
Shedeur Sanders seemed to be walking with a limp as the team entered the locker room at halftime. Additionally, Deion Sanders took responsibility for a strategic mistake that resulted in a touchdown by Oregon State just before the end of the second quarter. Deion Sanders stated to ESPN during halftime,
“That’s on me.”
What was the mistake?
With just 49 seconds remaining before halftime and trailing 7-3, Colorado took possession of the ball at their 4-yard line. The alternative approach would have been to run the ball and consume the remaining time, resulting in a 7-3 score at halftime.
However, Shedeur Sanders chose to position himself as if he intended to drive the length of the field and score. On first and second downs, he attempted two incomplete passes, followed by a non-gaining rush on third down. This forced the Beavers to utilize one of their two remaining timeouts with 36 seconds left.
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith acknowledged the significance of the play, stating that it had a significant impact. Deion Sanders also recognized its importance, expressing his astonishment at their ability to score and the negative effect it had. In the second half, Oregon State carried their momentum as they drove 85 yards on 12 plays.
What happened at the end of the game?
Shedeur Sanders received a painkiller injection in the locker room during the third quarter, ensuring he did not miss any action on the field. He then led his team on touchdown drives on the Buffs’ final two possessions of the game. The first touchdown was a 15-yard pass from Shedeur Sanders to Travis Hunter, a versatile player.
This play helped reduce Oregon State’s lead to 23-12 with 10:41 left.
Colorado’s first touchdown came in their 11th possession of the game, following seven punts and a lost fumble. Shedeur Sanders expressed frustration, stating that he never considered leaving the game despite the physical pain because being there for his team was more important.
On his next possession, he successfully led the Buffs to score in nine plays, resulting in a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Anthony Hankerson with 1:42 left.
Sanders mentioned that he didn’t want to emphasize the change in play-callers but liked the overall experience. The Beavers outgained the Buffs in yardage, with Colorado only gaining 238 total yards, 160 of which came in the fourth quarter. Uiagalelei, on the other hand, completed 12 of 24 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown.
What’s next for Deion Sanders and Colorado?
Deion Sanders acknowledges that his team is currently lacking the same level of “passion” they had at the beginning of the season.
However, as they approach the final three games of the regular season, starting with the home finale against Arizona next week, there is a silver lining. Winning two games would make them eligible for a postseason bowl game.
Sanders expresses pride in the team’s determination and refusal to quit, as they demonstrated tremendous effort until the end of the recent game. They hope to maintain that level of perseverance throughout the entire game.
While there may be changes in play-calling, the offensive line remains the same. Shedeur takes the reins as the team’s quarterback. He has consistently showcased his ability to carry the team as long as he can physically endure the challenges.
Reflecting on his son’s toughness, Sanders affirms the absence of excuses, both in the game and life. Neither he nor Shedeur believes in making excuses as they strive to overcome obstacles.
What else did Deion Sanders do to his staff?
To accommodate Shurmur on a limited coaching staff of 10, NCAA rules dictated that Sanders remove a current assistant coach and relegate them to the role of an analyst.
Tight ends coach Tim Brewster from Colorado is making this transition, although Sanders perceives it as something other than a demotion since everyone is receiving the same compensation. Brewster, who formerly served as head coach at Minnesota, is earning $400,000 this year at Colorado.
Considering Colorado only utilized one tight end, transferring Brewster to an analyst position seemed logical.