BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Deion Sanders delivered some hard truth to his team this week while tuning out his detractors.
To his team, the Colorado coach preached that knowing the truth behind why they were dismantled 42-6 by No. 9 Oregon last weekend — and watching the cringe-worthy film over and over — “shall set you free.”
To his detractors, he made sure they knew his first defeat at Colorado hasn’t diminished his swagger. Not in any way.
In truth, it’s only emboldened him and his Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) as they get ready to host No. 8 Southern California (4-0, 2-0) this weekend in another sellout at Folsom Field.
Go ahead, Sanders shrugged, keep doubting. He doesn’t care.
“When I came out of the womb, I was booed,” Sanders cracked at his weekly news conference Tuesday. “I don’t take my time to respond and to defend myself. Why would I do that? I’m giving you a microphone if I’m doing it. I’m giving you solace that you’re in my life. I don’t care. I really don’t.
“I’m not new to this, I’m true to this and I keep going.”
He takes pride in the fact the Buffaloes have raced out to three wins — the preseason projections had them at 3 1/2 — and have emerged as the epicenter of college football. Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” will show up in Boulder on Saturday for a third time this season.
“To be 3-1 and not satisfied — don’t that say a lot about this program?” said Sanders, whose team is a 21 1/2-point underdog to the Trojans. “You’re 3-1 and you’re not satisfied and you know you can do better. So I’m happy with that understanding and that change of the thought process of this program. I love where we’re headed.”
Sanders had a heart-to-heart with his team, where they settled on the mantra for the week: “The truth shall set you free.”
In plain truth, the loss was ugly, with Oregon’s offense outgaining Colorado by a 522-199 margin. The Ducks had a stretch where they scored TDs on six of seven drives. Meanwhile, Shedeur Sanders and the offense had a streak where they punted on eight straight drives (not counting the kneel-down before halftime).
It was part of an ugly weekend of football in the Centennial State (though Air Force and Colorado State both won). The Denver Broncos were trounced 70-20 in Miami and only coach Mike McDaniel’s decision not to tack on a chip-shot field goal in the final minute kept the Dolphins from breaking the 72-point regular-season record set by Washington in 1966.
Just don’t pile on Payton — not in front of Sanders, anyway.
“Leave my guy alone,” Sanders said. “He’s going to get it right.”
The film made it all too obvious where it went sideways for the Buffaloes. It also showed how it can be fixed before they face a Trojans team led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.
“The film don’t lie,” linebacker Juwan Mitchell said. “You’ve got to be able to be a man and accept what you put on film and go in and correct it.”
On defense, it’s all about stopping Williams, who’s thrown 15 touchdown passes with no interceptions so far. That’s a task made all the more difficult with two-way star Travis Hunter sidelined with a lacerated liver. Sanders actually read a text to his team sent from Hunter: “I need to play this week. … I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Sanders, though, shut that down with a text of his own: “No, you ain’t ready and I care about you more than I care about this game. You’re going to change the game of football one day when you’re healthy and ready. Your future is brighter than mine ever will be and was.”
Compounding Hunter’s absence is the uncertain status of safety Shilo Sanders, who made a hospital visit to get checked out following the game.
“He’s doing much better,” Sanders said. “I’m praying that he can play as a father as well as a coach.”
On offense, it’s all about protecting Shedeur Sanders, who’s been sacked 22 times and hit many more. The Buffaloes are also averaging an FBS-low 1.91 yards rushing per attempt.
Any thoughts of more commitment to the run game?
“That’s just like asking your wife, ’Are you committed to a good meal every night,’ if she can’t cook,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to be able to cook the running game before we commit to it.”
For that analogy, he gave himself props: “That was good,” he said. “That was spontaneous, too.”
Just like his detractors piling on after his first loss.
“It’s about us. It’s not about them,” Sanders said. “Everywhere we go, even in your darn families, you’re going to have detractors. You will have naysayers. You’re gonna have doubters.
“It’s up to you to keep going. I don’t stop. I keep going. I don’t have stop in me.”
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll