Colorado is coming off its first home shutout loss in almost a decade, a 30-0 blowout in Boulder that embarrassed the Buffs. However, a few players match up well against a struggling Sun Devil squad. Here are three players that could put Colorado back on track against ASU.
Senior Linebacker — Nate Landman
Defense is the identity of this 2021 Colorado team, and Nate Landman is the captain of it all. Landman leads all Colorado tacklers by a landslide with 27, including five for loss. He also excels in coverage, ranking second on the team in pass breakups with two.
The three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week is taking advantage of his extra year of eligibility, and most likely will be an NFL draft pick next spring. Expect him to be schemed at the first level in an effort to thwart the ASU running attack.
Junior Cornerback — Mekhi Blackmon
Whattya say. Two defensive players appear in this week’s “Players to Watch” piece, the first time that has happened all season. For a team that scored one touchdown in the last two games combined, there is not much of a choice.
In reality, Mekhi Blackmon is a great player, and teams are starting to find out. Last year, he averaged 1.2 pass breakups per game, which ranked fifth in the conference. So far this season, quarterbacks are targeting him a lot less. He has one interception, two pass breakups, and five tackles on the season. Only one of those tackles was solo, which likely is because receivers simply do not get the ball in his area. He should have little trouble against Sun Devil receivers that struggle to get separation.
Freshman Quarterback — Brendon Lewis
Colorado is in the middle of a transition at quarterback, with a lot of young talent. Brendon Lewis received the nod to be under the center in 2021, and so far, he has held his ground. By no means has Lewis shown complete control over the Colorado offense, but his skill set mirrors that of BYU quarterback Jaren Hall, who used his arm and legs to beat ASU last Saturday.
He is second on the team with 93 yards rushing (139 before his -27 yard showing against Minnesota), and added a throwing score against Northern Colorado. ASU defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce will have to game plan better for a dual-threat quarterback in Lewis, more so than he did for Hall.