Dave WilsonESPN Staff Writer September 2, 2023, 8:40pm ET5 minutes read
“Do you believe now?!” Coach Prime fiery after Colorado’s surprising win
Deion Sanders is excited after Colorado’s upset win over TCU and asks a reporter if he believes in the Buffaloes now.
FORT WORTH, Texas – On the first weekend of the 2023 season, the hype gave way to history.
Deion Sanders came to Texas with 86 new Colorado players – an unprecedented transformation – and defeated No. 17 TCU 45-42 in the Horned Frogs’ first game since their appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Buffaloes were a 21-point underdog, giving Coach Prime the first win by a 20-plus point underdog in his full-time FBS coaching debut since the 1978 FBS/FCS split.
“We are constantly being questioned for doing things that have never been done before,” said Deion Sanders. “We are doing things that have never been done before and that makes people uncomfortable.”
The cornerstones of Sanders’ transfer team – Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter, who both came with him from Jackson State – definitely made the Horned Frogs uncomfortable. Along the way, they erased years of futility for Colorado in just one game:
• Shedeur Sanders completed 38 of 47 passes for 510 yards, the most passing yards by a player in his FBS debut in the last 25 years, while also becoming the first Colorado quarterback ever to eclipse the 500-yard mark. He threw more touchdowns Saturday (4) than Colorado did in six road games last season (3). Colorado was one of three Power 5 teams without a 300-yard passer in the last three years.
• Hunter played 129 snaps and became the first Division I player in the last 20 seasons to have 100 receiving yards (he finished the game with 119 on 11 catches) and an interception in the same game. He also had three tackles and a pass breakup.
“We had some guys that stood out with their play and their ability to play,” Deion Sanders said. “A lot of guys you doubted — one of them from an HBCU — I think he had 510 yards passing in a Power 5 football game. And he happens to be my son, and I’m incredibly proud of him.”
Hunter, the former five-star recruit who was one of the first to embrace Sanders’ vision at Jackson State, wore a T-shirt with a montage of images from his coach’s Hall of Fame playing career. Like Sanders, he took the opportunity to say that none of this was unexpected.
“Football is football, no matter who plays. “You have to go out there and dominate whoever gets in your way,” Hunter said. “I went out there and dominated. A lot of people doubted me because I ranked myself No. 1 on the Heisman watch list. Now people praise me. They didn’t know what I could do. They finally saw what.” I saw my vision and the coaches’ vision for me.
Deion Sanders agreed and said he believes he needs to develop his players.
“We had a few guys who should be a leading candidate for the Heisman right now,” he said. “Who did this? Who did what they did today?”
All quarterback Shedeur Sanders managed in his debut was set a Colorado record for passing yards in a game. Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
Take Dylan Edwards, one of the gems of Sanders’ first recruiting class in Colorado.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound freshman from Derby, Kansas, finished the game with 177 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, becoming the first FBS freshman in the last 20 seasons with three receiving TDs and one rushing TD his college debut.
Sanders said he coached Edwards in youth football when the freshman was 7 years old, which led to the four-star recruit choosing Colorado over offers from schools like Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Oregon. In fact, he left Notre Dame to sign with Colorado.
“Don’t let the size fool you,” Sanders said. “Dylan looks like ‘Shallow Hal’ in the mirror.” When he looks in the mirror, he sees a 215-pound man who is probably about 6 feet tall. That’s how Dylan deals with life.”
The Buffaloes also had four 100-yard receivers, a first in school history. Hunter and Edwards were two. The other two, Jimmy Horn Jr. (11 catches, 117 yards and a touchdown) and Xavier Weaver (6 catches, 118 yards), are transfers from South Florida.
It wasn’t all so magical. The Buffaloes gave up 541 yards, missed an 86-yard kickoff return and blocked a field goal. Shedeur Sanders missed two deep balls to Hunter by inches, and Hunter narrowly missed what could have been another interception.
The grand experiment appeared to be the shot in the arm that Deion Sanders had promised when he was hired, as he endured a 27-game road sweep of top-20 opponents in front of 53,294 spectators, the largest crowd in TCU history. The hype is gone. The Coach Prime era has already changed fortunes in Colorado.
“Those young men in there believe it,” he said. “In the past, not everyone believed. But now they came one by one, two by two, and said, ‘Coach, we believe.’ Now they believe. Now Boulder believes, the people in the front office, the people in the building, the fans, the students, now everyone wants to believe. I agree with that. We have space.”