Both teams had different opponents lined up for this week until COVID-19 outbreaks caused each team’s opponent to back out of the matchup. As luck would have it, the Aztecs and Buffaloes were able to work out some last-minute scheduling to make the game happen.
Coach Brady Hoke mentioned that not knowing the opponent for most of the week wasn’t a massive setback. The team was able to work on their fundamentals while awaiting an opponent. The Aztecs were without Lucas Johnson and Greg Bell, two fundamental elements of the offense. Johnson has been dealing with a hamstring injury and Bell with an ankle injury.
With Johnson sidelined, Carson Baker started the game at quarterback. Baker had lost the starting role to Johnson earlier in the season after some poor performances and had an opportunity to prove himself today. He played for most of the first quarter, completing 4-of-9 pass attempts for a total of 26 yards. Nearing the end of the half, Jordan Brookshire replaced for the rest of the game and potentially as the backup to Johnson.
Brookshire looked lost between wanting to be a pocket QB or one that poses a rushing threat. He did finish the game with 50 yards from the air over 19 attempts. seven of his passing attempts were completed, but his arm never looked great. He had the time and a receiver open at times but simply couldn’t make a good throw. On the ground, he also finished with 50 yards, this time over 13 attempts. Some of those attempts came when he had to scramble away from danger.
Chance Bell was the obvious option to replace Greg Bell at running back. All season C Bell has been a great backup to G Bell and was expected to cleanly slide in. He is a good symbol of how the offense played today. Simply put, no place to go. He managed only four yards over five rushing attempts today. Eventually, Kaegun Williams started to get more snaps, and he failed to find much success. Over six carries, he managed 18 yards, which unfortunately is an improvement over C Bell.
The injured starters didn’t account for how poorly the offense performed. A big factor was the Colorado defense lead by linebacker Nate Landman. Landman seemed to read the offense like a book and perfectly exploit their weaknesses. He finished the game with 11 total tackles, three sacks, and 3.5 of the tackles were for a loss. The defense held the Aztecs to just 155 total yards on offense.
The Aztec defense, to their credit, were a strong point on the team. They held to the passing game to 138 yards and the rushing game to 124 yards. Like the Buffaloes, they had a star that could shut down the offense in the name of Cameron Thomas. This was a breakout game for him in which he recorded 14 total tackles, a sack, and three of the tackles were for a loss. Another hero on the defense was Darren Hall. He scored the Aztecs’ lone touchdown went he had a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown.
For the Aztecs’ defense, they performed better than many would have expected. Colorado’s previous low in yardage was 432 yards, this game, they were held to 272 yards. Their previous low in points was 35 compared to today’s 20. While two touchdowns and two field goals were enough for the win, it showed the rest of the league that their offense has weaknesses.
On the other hand, the offense looked a bit lost. They will look to improve and be healthy when they take on Colorado State on December 5th.