Photo by Ron Chenoy
Oregon Football

Colorado Buffaloes: Five Offensive Players to Know

October 7, 2019
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The Colorado Buffaloes come to town for a Friday night game boasting a well-balanced offensive attack. They average 34.6 points per game, which puts them one spot in front of Oregon in the national rankings. They also are 23rd in the FBS with 300.2 passing yards per game.

While the Buffs' offense has found success at times, it hasn’t always been able to score in pressure situations. Still, it probably is the best offense Oregon has faced since Auburn.

Steven Montez (12), Quarterback

The 6-5, 230-pound senior is a player Oregon fans are all too familiar with.

In 2016, he lead the Buffaloes to a 41-38 win over the Ducks at Autzen Stadium. In that game, he threw for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns. This is the first time the teams have played since that game, and Oregon would love to even the score.

On the season, Montez is completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,463 yards. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns to go along with 2 interceptions.

So far, Montez has looked pretty solid to my eyes. He’s not particularly accurate deep, but he has talented receivers and he gives them a chance to make a play.

The offensive line also has been great in pass protection – giving up only 5 sacks in five games -- but it hasn’t yet faced a defensive line that’s even close to the level of Oregon’s. I expect we’ll see a lot of A-gap blitzes to try to force Montez to scramble out of the pocket and make plays on the run.

With the talent the Buffaloes have at wide receiver, if you can’t get pressure on Montez he is smart enough to find the open man downfield.

Alex Fontenot (8), Running Back

The 6-0, 195-pound sophomore has been the Buffaloes primary running threat. He has 88 rushes for 392 yards, which comes out to 4.5 yards per carry. He also has 4 rushing touchdowns.

Fontenot has just 13 catches for 74 yards, so he’s not a massive part of the passing attack. He is a workhorse back who’s able to get some tough yards. While he’s not the biggest running back, he has enough size to take it up the middle.

The Buffaloes' run blocking isn’t fantastic, but it’s been good enough to allow Fontenot to find holes from time to time. He doesn’t have huge big play potential, but he can hurt you over the course of four quarters.

Laviska Shenault Jr. (2), Wide Receiver

The 6-2, 220-pound junior is a special player. Some mock drafts before the season had him pegged as a mid- to low NFL first-rounder. Yet so far this season, he has only 17 catches for 226 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Shenault missed last week's game with an undisclosed injury. He was able to participate in warm-ups, but ended up returning to the sideline after in street clothes; he’s considered questionable for Friday’s game. Should he not be able to go or isn't 100%, it could be an absolute game-changer.

Shenault is quick, strong and has fantastic ball skills; he regularly beats cornerbacks on 50-50 balls. He has fantastic body control and seems to have a highlight reel catch every game. In addition, he's a dynamic runner out of the wildcat formation.

Tony Brown (18), Wide Receiver

With Shenault limited, the 6-1, 195-pound senior has led Colorado pass catchers in every category. He has 29 grabs for 442 yards and 4 touchdowns.

While Shenault is the big-name receiver everybody knows, Brown has worked hard to become Montez's security blanket. If Shenault is out, I would expect Oregon’s defense to concentrate on Brown.

Brown offers big-play potential and he can take the top off of a defense. But he’s also a reliable target underneath.

K.D. Nixon (3), Wide Receiver

The 5-8, 185-pound junior has 18 catches for 302 yards and 1 touchdown. He demonstrated what a dangerous weapon he has become with a monster 96-yard touchdown that keyed a successful comeback against Nebraska.

Nixon obviously doesn’t have ideal size, but he doesn’t need it with the way he plays. He’s makes his yards off screen plays and short underneath routes, where he's a major threat to turn the ball upfield for a big gain. He’s really shifty and a great third option in the Colorado passing attack.

If defenses don’t blanket Nixon, he’s quick enough to turn a short-yardage catch into a big gain. Oregon linebackers must keep Nixon in front of them and under control.

 
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