West Ranch alumnus Ryan Staub was ready for his moment on Saturday. The true freshman quarterback got the nod that he’d be starting in Colorado’s regular-season finale on Sunday, marking his first collegiate start.
Staub had a full week of practice as the Buffaloes’ top quarterback and led Colorado in their final game of the 2023 season, a 23-17 loss to the hosting Utah Utes.
The Buffaloes quarterback went 17-for-24, with 195 passing yards and one touchdown. Staub was under duress going against one of the best defenses in the PAC-12 at home.
“Obviously, it was my first start, so I was nervous, I was excited, but credit to my coaches, we prepared really hard this week,” Staub said in his televised postgame interview. “I put in a lot of work in the film room and in practice, so we were ready to go.”
The Utes rank third in sacks and lowest allowed yardage per game in the conference, and were able to bring down the Colorado quarterback twice, including one strip sack.
Staub’s first collegiate touchdown was the final score of the game. He found two-way star Travis Hunter for an 18-yard passing TD midway through the fourth quarter. He also got the hockey assist after his backward pass to Jimmy Horn Jr. was heaved to Dylan Edwards for a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Hunter and Staub connected eight times for 107 yards. The two nearly took the lead in the second quarter after the former Wildcat threw a dart to Hunter in the end zone for six. However, the original call of a touchdown on the field was overturned after review.
“An insane amount of confidence,” Staub said on how much confidence Hunter gives him. “He’s the best player in college football right now. He’s a safety net but he’s also a weapon at the same time. Having a guy like him in my first start is huge. He played great.”
Staub got the go after Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders didn’t dress for Saturday’s game and missed his first start of the season. Sanders was forced to exit the previous week’s game against Washington State with a shoulder injury, where Staub also stepped in.
Saturday also marked the first start for redshirt senior Utes quarterback Luke Bottari. The quarterback was yet to take a snap in the NCAA but led Utah with two rushing touchdowns, the team’s only TDs on the day.
Colorado head coach Deion “Prime” Sanders was proud of Staub’s performance and noted his quarterback’s playing career is far from over.
“I don’t think it’s Staub’s dream to be a No. 2 quarterback,” Sanders said. “I don’t think it’s a man’s dream to be No. 2 at nothing unless that’s the jersey number. After his performance today, he wants to play somewhere. Whether that’s here or somewhere else he wants to play. He proved that he could play. I’m proud of him. I’m really proud of him.”
Colorado fell just short of a shot at a bowl game but the team remains optimistic for the future ahead.
Shedeur will become eligible for the NFL draft but may stick around for what could be the breakout year in 2024 alongside young stars like Staub and Hunter who are set to return to Boulder.