BOULDER — Colorado’s Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders said Tuesday that he held a “private, personal meeting” with the entire Buffaloes offensive line after last Saturday’s 28-16 loss to UCLA.

CU’s line has struggled for much of the year protecting Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who has been sacked 41 times in eight games — the most of any quarterback in the nation. The Buffs gave up seven sacks against the Bruins and Sanders was knocked down an additional 13 times in the game.

But the troubles up front have led to more than just issues with protecting the quarterback. The Buffs (4-4 overall, 1-4 Pac-12) are averaging just 78.6 yards per game on the ground,  the lowest number among Power Five schools and 128th in the FBS.

After the UCLA game, Sanders made it clear he was not happy with the offensive line’s performance. But after he met with the group, he said he expects a much better effort Saturday when Colorado plays host to No. 16 Oregon State (6-2, 3-2) in an 8 p.m. game at Folsom Field (ESPN).

“You’re going to see a more cohesive, more aggressive, more physical, more prepared group than ever before this weekend,” Coach Prime said. “I really do believe that.”

The Buffs have been hampered by injuries up front, with just one linemen — guard Jack Bailey — starting every game this season. The Buffs also tried a new starter at left tackle last weekend, inserting Isaiah Jatta into the lineup in place of Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan.

But Sanders also said his offensive staff is working on tweaking CU’s attack to better protect Sanders.

“I believe in the staff that we have on hand,” Sanders said. “I believe they can do it. And I have the utmost faith in them.”

Colorado’s quarterback took a beating in the loss to the Bruins. He was given an injection at halftime to deal with the pain and was limping noticeably by game’s end. Coach Prime said his son didn’t practice Tuesday and may take another day off Wednesday.

“He’s good,” Coach Prime said. “I think I’m going to give him another day or so off so he can heal properly and so he could be at his best. We want his best and he’s doing well mentally, physically as well as psychologically.”

BUFFS ROBBED: A number of players and CU staff members had valuables taken from their lockers at the Rose Bowl during Saturday’s game. CU officials reported the theft to Pasadena police, and Sanders said it was his understanding that the UCLA locker room was also robbed.

“I think that’s a travesty,” Sanders said. “I would expect the NCAA to do something about that. These are college kids. I’m pretty sure they don’t think about insurance … All that stuff should be replaced. This is the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all, right? I’m sure granddaddy has the money.”

Items missing included jewelry and at least one staff member had a “significant amount” of cash stolen.

“They may not be able to get the items back but we should be able to reimburse them,” Sanders said. “That was unbelievable. I hope we could do something about that. NCAA, you do something about everything else,  do something about that when it comes to kids.”

McCASKILL TO REDSHIRT: Sanders said running back Alton McCaskill, who has seen limited action this year, has asked to be redshirted.

Sanders said he will grant the request.

McCaskill was CU’s leading rusher against UCLA with 14 yards on two carries. It was his fourth appearance of the year and players who appear in four or fewer games can be granted a redshirt.

McCaskill, who had a terrific freshman season at Houston, missed all of last year with an injury and transferred to Colorado. He has shown bursts this year but has not regained the form that allowed him to rush for 961 yards at Houston.

“He does understand that it’s been a while since he has had his full strength and full potential and ability to move and cut and explosion,” Sanders said. “He understands that so he wants to train and work his butt off and get into shape and come back in the spring and earn that number one spot. That’s what he echoed to me. And I love it.”

SUBJECTIVE CALL: Buffs safety Shilo Sanders, who was ejected in the first half of the UCLA game on a targeting call, said he spent some time researching such calls and has come to the conclusion that the decisions are clearly subjective.

“What I came up with is it’s really just up to the refs in those situations,” he said. “Even in the NFL they don’t always call things like that. I’ve seen some hits that were worse than that but they didn’t call it.  I just think it’s up to the ref.”

Sanders received plenty of online support defending the hit from former NFL players such as Rob Gronkowski and Richard Sherman.

“Just seeing guys like that give their opinions I feel like if I’m good with them, I’m good,” Sanders said. “It was really cool seeing Gronk comment on that.”

Sanders has quickly become one of Colorado’s most physical defenders and he said he won’t change his style — although he did say he might try to “go a little lower” with some of his hits to make sure he doesn’t get another targeting call.

GETTING READY FOR OSU: The Beavers are one of the more physical teams in the Pac-12. Oregon State has a power run game and also has big, physical players in the trenches.

Coach Prime said the Buffs are adjusting their practices this week to be ready for OSU’s style.

“You incorporate more tackling drills to compensate for the physicality,” Sanders said. “You pad ’em up maybe a little more, maybe allow a lot more contact  because of the physicality. You may elongate some periods that involve physicality in it that you want to make sure your team is ready and on point.”

FIRST LOOK OREGON STATE: Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith is in his fifth year as the head coach in Corvallis and has made the Beavers into a Pac-12 contender.

OSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren held the same title at Colorado under Mike MacIntyre from 2013-17 and OSU cornerbacks coach Anthony Perkins played for Colorado from 2007 to 2011.

The Beavers are balanced on both sides of the ball. OSU is averaging 187 yards per game on the ground and 252 in the air while scoring more than 36 points per game. Defensively, Oregon State is giving up just 21 points and 346 yards per game.

Running back Damien Martinez leads OSU in rushing with 763 yards on 119 carries while quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has thrown for 1,791 yards and 17 touchdowns and also rushed for five scores. Three different Beavers have at least 20 catches, led by Silas Bolden with 37 receptions for 522 yards and four scores.

Defensively, the Beavers have recorded 26 quarterback sacks and forced 13 turnovers (eight interceptions, five fumble recoveries). Linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold leads the Beavers with 74 tackles and he also has two interceptions and two sacks. Defensive lineman Joe Golden has 3.5 sacks.


Story by Neill Woelk, Contributing Editor for Content courtesy of the University of Colorado at Boulder.