As the regular season winds down, and the playoff bracket and bowl schedule grows closer, the Colorado Buffaloes are crashing and burning like no other team in college football. They are the sore thumb of the Pac-12 conference and have done nothing but disappoint, going from 5-0 to four straight cringeworthy losses to last place Oregon State and Arizona.
Before their loss to USC, they were atop the Pac-12 south and ranked 19th in the nation. Some may wonder what happened, which makes sense, as something must have gone wrong amid their deterioration.
The answer is Laviska Shenault Jr’s absence. During the USC game, a lingering toe injury was reaggravated after being tackled out of bounds. Thereafter, he was placed on the injured reserve for three consecutive weeks. It would be an understatement to say that the Buffalo’s offense is not the same without him. Before his injury, Shenault had 780 receiving yards averaging 13 yards per carry. To put this into perspective, one of the Heisman candidates, Ronald Moore of Purdue had 728 yards going into week seven, while Shenault had already been out for two games. Shenault accounted for almost 60% of Colorado’s total offense through week five.
Shenault’s previous domination showed especially formidable against Arizona State when he scored all four touchdowns for the Buffaloes in a prime time televised game. “His versatility sticks out to me most because it allows for a wider offense in the red zone when he is in Wildcat formation,” says Otto Jones, a senior and Colorado Buffalo enthusiast.
While the season is ending and the chances to become bowl eligible decrease, there is still hope for the boys in Boulder. “Shenault makes or breaks the Buffs, they need him,” Jones said. If the Buffalo’s signature player is not on the field, the offense is stagnant and one-dimensional.