BOULDER — Without being pretty or particularly sharp, Joel Klatt got the job done Saturday.
According to the Colorado Buffaloes, this should no longer be a surprise.
Although his offense needed a spark from the CU special teams to cripple the Kansas Jayhawks, the Buffs quarterback put his
team ahead early and delivered the knockout blow in a 44-13 win that kept CU atop the Big 12 North standings along with surging Missouri.
In addition to the win, Klatt etched his name further in the Colorado record books. His four touchdowns gave him 42 for his career, breaking Koy Detmer’s school record of
40. His 193 yards put him within 175 of surpassing Kordell Stewart for CU’s all-time passing record.
In the three years since the former walk-on took over the CU offense, praise has come reluctantly due to what critics consider limited skills. His coaches, however, say it’s about time the public realizes his value to the team.
“We would not be 5-2 without Joel Klatt,” Buffs coach Gary Barnett said after Saturday’s win. “We would not have been 8-5 a year ago without Joel Klatt.
“You don’t get a quarterback like that very often.”
Klatt, who has refused to cry for respect, said the most valuable statistic coming out of Saturday was his team’s win-loss record, and he was quick to deflect recognition of his accomplishments.
“I’ve always said that those types of records take longevity and a little bit of luck,” he said. “It feels really good to be considered in the same class as all of the great quarterbacks before me.
“But what was most important was the win. Tonight was a great example of responding well to what the coaches said at halftime.”
Klatt’s play Saturday didn’t need any inspirational speeches, however. Although the Buffs failed to move the ball consistently, due in part to the team’s inability to establish a running game against KU’s stout front seven, Klatt delivered three big plays that were exactly the kind missing in its loss to Texas the week before.
The first was a 20-yard pass to senior tight end Quinn Sypniewski, who found a lane in Kansas’ zone defense in the first quarter. Klatt recognized the play quickly and made an accurate throw with enough on it so that the Jayhawks did not have time to adjust.
The second was a 40-yard pass to his other senior tight end, Joe Klopfenstein, who had two touchdown catches Saturday, giving him the most of any tight end in school history.
Although the play will likely be remembered by the two tackles Klopenstein broke to reach the end zone, Klatt’s patience in the pocket and strong throw made it work.
The third was a 62-yard pass to sophomore receiver Dusty Sprague in the fourth quarter that removed any doubt from the game. The play was significant because it represented the first time all season the Buffs were able to successfully hit a receiver on a home-run route.
Klatt took advantage of good protection, waited for Sprague to come open across the KU secondary and hit him in stride, giving CU its longest pass play of the year.
After the game, however, Klatt was more interested in discussing his team’s challenge against Kansas State next week and taking good-natured shots at his roommate Nick Holz, whose 21-yard run on a fake field goal set up his record-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Even though he hasn’t exactly been showered with praise throughout his career, he’s a pro at deflecting it.
Ligon, Harrison status unknown: Because it is CU’s policy to not discuss injuries the week before a Kansas State game, the health of defensive end Alex Ligon and guard Edwin Harrison was not clear Sunday night.
Ligon injured his kneecap and Harrison suffered a leg injury Saturday against Kansas. Although sources close to the team indicated that neither player would likely be available for next week’s game against the Wildcats, the Buffs were still awaiting test results after the game.