BOZEMAN, Montana — The University of Colorado offense was fourth at the Montana state 1-yard line. Graduate quarterback Dylan McCaffrey faked a handoff and threw a pass that ended up in the hands of a Montana State player. It was the cherry on the top, if one can call it a lackluster game.
UNC (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) dropped their first conference road match at Montana State (4-1, 2-0 Big Sky) on Saturday, 40-7.
It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in the game. The offense made some good individual plays but was unable to consistently move things along. The performance of the special teams was average. Again, the defense—which has been the most consistent part of the squad—wasn’t strong enough to fend off the dominant Montana state offense through all four quarters.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue was aggressive inconsistency. Going into the game, UNC’s stats on defense and special teams were comparable, leaving the teams somewhat on par, but the offense had to be spectacular in order to compete with the Bobcats. It was not. Most viewers probably didn’t think it was even average.
“It was a tough game overall. I know with the bat, I have to play much better, so I will put all that on me,” McFrey said after the game. “It is a tough team we are playing with. We are a team that wants to compete against tough teams. We will assess some things and do better.”
McCaffrey made just 14 of the 24 passes for 99 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions he threw throughout the year. He ran for a net of two yards.
The transfer QB started the day with a 25-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Ty Arrington and dropped some bombs on receiver Cassidy Woods. McCaffrey’s connection to Woods gave the Bears the only touchdown of the game.
Additionally, the offense showed few glimpses of strong walking abilities. Graduate running back True Wilson ran for 60 yards, passing 42 yards he combined in the last four games. Freshman running back Gene Sledge Jr contributed 36 yards and became the top pick for the handoff.
“Despite the scoreboard, there were individuals who played well today. True is one of them,” said UNC coach Ed McCaffrey. “He played like a warrior, didn’t care about the scoreboard, just hustled. He is always well prepared, he knows everything we have to do on every play, and we can trust him. His number was dialed today, and I thought he had taken advantage of it.”
Wilson said he just wanted to make the most of the opportunity to play and that a game could turn the pace in a game. He wanted to be the guy to help make this happen.
Despite the positive efforts made by the individuals, they could not outrun the bears from the cats.
Montana State finished with more than twice the offensive yardage than UNC at 552. Bear covered 233 yards. In fact, the Bobcats had 276 yards of running alone.
MSU kills it in the red zone, even with the Bears’ superior defense. When he crossed the UNC 20-yard-line, the Bobcats went 7-of-7 each time he scored points by a field goal or touchdown.
After a strong defensive effort against northern Arizona, UNC didn’t look like itself at all. It still recorded 63 tackles, but it was far less impressive than last week’s 94 tackles. Northern Colorado also didn’t fill a sack and ended up with just one tackle for a loss against the Bobcats, both things the team has done well.
Overall, the team is taking many lessons from the game and wants to continue to get better. There is still time to be in its best season since 2016.
“Just let it humble us, let it inspire us, let us learn from it,” Wilson said. “(We) will get on the film and improvise this week of practice.”