Gold: It wasn't pretty, but for Coach Prime, a win is a win, especially when it's personal
It’s easy to forget, given the flash and the dancing and the nicknames — and the diamond studs and the rap videos and the non-stop braggadocio — that Deion Sanders was once a terrific tackler in addition to the all-world all-around talent that he was as a collegiate and professional football player.
For a guy we associate too much with speed — and for good reason — Primetime was more than just interceptions and touchdown returns.
He was incredibly tough and fundamentally sound as well.
So should we be surprised that on a day that demanded substance over style, his Colorado Buffaloes buckled down and held strong against a hard-charging Nebraska squad that wanted to shove all the hype straight down Colorado’s throats?
A week after stunning the college football world with its speed and flash, the man now known as Coach Prime watched as his Buffaloes moved to 2-0 with a 35-16 win that was equal parts ugly and gritty, opportunistic and tough.
Forget on notice.
Now the college football world is on its heels.
Sometimes it’s not about having the fastest draw in the west if the other guy is more than happy to shoot himself in the foot. And Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims indeed took a howitzer to the Cornhuskers’ chances on Saturday morning.
You can’t exactly blame the Folsom Field crowd, though it was indeed frenzied, because this just might be who Sims is.
He looked uncomfortable in just about every way a quarterback could look uncomfortable. Sims botched snaps leading to multiple fumbles, threw an awful untimely interception that set up Colorado’s first score, and even simply dropped the ball for another fumble.
Already labeled as turnover-prone, this was particularly sad. You felt bad for the kid.
Problem was, Colorado’s offense wasn’t going anywhere, either. Coming off a thrilling 510-yard, 4-touchdown, 0-interception performance in Week 1, Shedeur Sanders was directly in Nebraska’s crosshairs, and with the Buffaloes’ ground game stuck in the mud, the Huskers teed off. They had 6 pressures and 2 sacks on Sanders’ first 14 dropbacks and finished with 4 sacks in the first half and 8 for the game.
So of course, just when Colorado needed a little speed, it turned to, who, electric multi-tool Travis Hunter or lightning-quick freshman running back Dylan Edwards or even the speedy Sanders himself?
No. Jordan Domenick.
Playing against his former Georgia Tech quarterback in Sims, the senior linebacker recovered a Sims fumble and blew up Nebraska running back Gabe Ervin Jr. for a 2-yard loss on the following drive; 1 play later — after yet another delay of game — Sims threw a horrendous pass for an interception that set Colorado up at the 30-yard line.
One play after that, Sanders found Alton Dawson for a 30-yard touchdown and Colorado had a 10-0 lead.
It was never really a game after that.
It’s hard to believe that the standard is so high after just 2 games that an almost 400-yard, 2-touchdown performance from Sanders is considered ho-hum, but that’s where we are.
The offense was flawed, the passing game wasn’t as sharp, but Sanders still completed 31-of-42 passes for 393 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown. Even harder to believe, he didn’t sound too upset.
“Just getting back to the basics,” Shedeur Sanders said. “They played Minnesota last week, it was just straight run the ball the whole game formation. It was hard to study the tape to get intimate and know their tells and what they’re going to do. But I truly appreciate going through this game, going though this with our team, so we know how to respond when adversity hits. Last week was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, but this week the defense stepped up when the offense was slacking.”
Just as surprising as last week’s earth-shattering bravado that the Buffaloes displayed during and after their 3-point win over TCU was the humility and almost aww-shucks attitude that Coach Prime and Co. put off after easily dismissing the Huskers.
Moving gingerly off the field following the game, Prime was noticeably quieter and more toned down after this blowout.
That’s a good thing.
Colorado expects big things out of itself. No backing down.
“Overall, it was a win,” Prime said. “But to just think that we played like we played and we won by that margin — that’s a pretty good feeling for any coach.”
The Buffaloes and Huskers have a long history dating back to the Big 8, so there was bound to be some juice in this one.
But with a packed house for his Colorado debut, Coach Prime went into the week preaching a singular theme: It’s personal. The message landed, and now the Buffaloes are just 1 easy win over in-state patsy Colorado State from being undefeated entering league play.
Who saw that coming, aside from Prime himself?
“We didn’t just want to win, we wanted to dominate,” Prime said. “In the first half, we weren’t dominant. In the second half, we got together and we began to dominate. We really wanted to impose our will. The whole theme of the week was “It’s personal.’”
“One of the funniest moments in the darn game is when Shedeur took his helmet off after he made the tremendous scramble, it was like a Heisman-type play, and I went over to say you cannot do that. You cannot take your helmet off he said, ‘Dad, it’s personal.’ I just bent over and laughed my butt off. … They really took that to heart.”
Shedeur Sanders on beating Matt Rhule's Nebraska team.
"It was extremely personal."
"The coach said a lot of things about my Pops, about the program- but now he wanna act nice. I don't respect that."pic.twitter.com/vDn0XOOgfp
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 9, 2023