Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: The deed is done.

CU did what they had to Saturday afternoon.  They absorbed CSU's 1st drive haymaker, and dug in for a ugly game.  The first win of the season behind the Buffs, the focus is now on the toughest CU non-con roadtrip since Tallahassee in 2003.

But first, I'll take a look back at the RMS, the mixed bag of results, a look around the national football scene, and more conference realignment mishegas.

Click below for the bag...

RMS wrap - Gifted a scoring opportunity before the end of the first half, CU found themselves near the CSU redzone with a 3rd-10 and only 16 seconds left before the break. The resulting play was a thing of beauty:  Hansen rolled-out right and lofted a strike into the hands of a diving Kyle Cefalo for a shocking TD.   With 2:37 left on the 1st half clock, the Buffs had still been down 7-0.  Now, as the Buffs headed into the tunnel, they could look up at the scoreboard at a 14-7 lead seemingly afforded to them gift-wrapped by the shell-shocked CSU Rams.
I love the look of shock on #7's face.  From: the BDC
From there, it took a now routine solid second half performance, but the wind had gone from CSU's sails, and the Buffs slogged out a 28-14 win.  Jon Embree grabbed his first career victory as a head coach, and yet another CSU "season" ended on a sour note.

A mixed bag - This was not a perfect performance by any stretch.  In fact, outside of the defense holding ground through most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters, it was substandard compared to what I expected coming out of the Cal game. 

Penalties continued to plague CU to the tune of 10 for 114 yards.  Special teams also proved inconsistent as yet another decent day from Darragh O'Neil was spoiled by a block (although it turned into gold thanks to CSU bungling), punt return yardage is still non-existent, and, for the 3rd straight game, CU inexplicably booted a kick-off out of bounds.  Additionally, there was another slow 1st quarter start to groan through as CSU blitzed by the CU defense on the opening drive, while CU could only muster 31 yards of offense in the 1st quarter.
Pete Thomas and CSU had momentum early, but couldn't sustain.  From: the BDC
But, there was improvement to go along with the bad.  While the 1st quarter was a mess, the Buffs closed out the 1st half with two nice looking touchdown drives for the first opening half touchdowns of the year.  The running game also improved dramatically, plowing behind a dominating O-line for 145 yards and the first two rushing touchdowns of the season (albeit both were from Tyler on goal-line plays). 

Above all, however, I was most encouraged by the teams ability to put the hammer down, and kill off an opponent when provided with the opportunity.  A win is, afterall, a win; at this point Buff Nation needs to take what it can get.
A win is a win.  The team sung the fight song, and the band played 'rejoice;' I'll take it.  From: the BDC

4th quarter drive - That opponent was killed off with a titanic 16 play, 85 yard drive that consumed just over 10 minutes of the 4th quarter clock.  Hanging onto a 7-point lead, the Buffs used an efficient, if not explosive, running attack, bolstered by a strong performance by the O-line, to push their way down the field.  On the drive, the Buffs were 4-4 on 3rd down, and twice came back from holding induced 1st-20 setbacks before Tyler plunged over the goal-line for the game's final points.
It was a drive the Offensive Coordinator could be proud of.  From: the BDC
It was a drive the team needed, and it was the type of drive that this coaching staff promised would be the result of a return to the punishing running ways of old.  The Buffs delivered on that promise, and it won the game for them.  As the seconds melted away from the scoreboard, you could see CSU deflate, and, even had CU failed to score on the drive, the Rams would've had no answer to that demonstration of power.

Rodney Stewart - near 100/100 day - In my preview last week, I called for Speedy to have a bust-out day against the depleted CSU defense.  He answered the bell Saturday, and nearly had a 100 yards receiving and rushing day to boot.  All told, Speedy combined for an even 200 all-purpose yards, including 98 on the ground, and was the leading receiver with 7 receptions for 93 yards.  While he didn't end up with a touchdown on the afternoon, Speedy got back to basics, and was key to the CU offensive attack all day long.
Speedy has had better days statistically, but he earned each of his 200 yards Saturday.  From: the BDC
Just a fantastic performance by the heart and soul of the Buffalo attack.

The continued degradation of the "rivalry" -  The 2011 RMS was just another bullet-point in the argument for the cessation of the series in Denver.  Colorado School of Mines played a home game against New Mexico Highlands while the RMS was going down, and I bet the Orediggers enjoyed a much better environment for football than the subdued, corporate feel that Sports Authority Field had to offer Saturday.
CU celebrated in front of a half-empty Mile High.  From: the BDC
Once again, the attendance set a new low for the Denver portion of the series, and I saw more than a fair share of yawns from a largely disinterested crowd.  Additionally, the CSU fanbase was almost non-existent; surprising since they were the ones entering with an un-blemished record.  I knew the Ram crowd would be small, but I didn't realize their turnout would be that pathetic.  Whole sections of their side of the stadium were left completely empty, turning an already subdued atmosphere in something akin to funereal.

I think Woody Paige of the Denver Post summed it up best when he wrote yesterday,
"This game, unfortunately, doesn't belong in Denver. It is badly promoted and poorly attended. Colorado State alumni talk a good game, but they don't show up at games. And people in Denver who didn't go to either school have little interest. Nobody could even work up a good "Tee-Bow" chant Saturday.

CU athletic director Mike Bohn said afterward he wouldn't have signed a long-term deal for the game in Denver "if I had known we were going to the Pac-12."

The game wasn't an intrastate rivalry experience. Fairchild said he didn't turn to examine the audience, but liked the "atmosphere" and the "opportunity" for the players. According to Embree, "I don't think it was as intense as it needed to be."
Fairchild is just avoiding the fact that his fanbase has abandoned himself and his team.  The prime point is that this series has lost almost any non-biased interest from the state at large.  With that being the case, what's the continued justification for its tenure in Denver?

I wonder how many of those state politicians, who essentially extorted this game out of CU, deigned the event to be worthy of their attendance over the weekend?  Kudos to the AD's and the Denver Sports Commission for boxing college football in Colorado into a dying event that defeats any purpose in its current state. 

Notes from around the nation -

College Football

Oklahoma @ Florida St - The Sooners all but booked their National Championship ticket Saturday night with a 23-13 win over #5 FSU.  OU's defense looks scary.  I mean it, I was literally frightened by their ability to dismantle the Seminoles. 

Oklahoma St @ Tulsa - It wasn't until 15min after midnight CT that this game finally got started.  They played on until after 3, long after I went to bed.  At that point, the game should've been canceled, I feel bad for everyone involved; teams, refs, staff, and, especially, the bands.

Navy @ South Carolina - Never doubt the ability of a flexbone team to fuck with a much better opponent.  Oh, they won't win, but they'll fuck with their heads before bowing out gracefully.

Kansas @ Georgia Tech - After watching GT gash the Jayhawks to the tune of 768 yards of offense, I can't help but regret that KU no longer graces our yearly schedule.  I'd love to get revenge for last season's Hawk-fueled disaster with a home clobbering of this pathetic KU squad.


Raiders @ Bills - Huh, whaddya know, the best game of the day came from Oakland @ Buffalo.  Great finish, and I'm glad Fitzy and the Bills came back from a 18-point deficit to win a thriller.

Bengals @ Broncos - Tebow played WR?  At least he had a great on-field look at QB Kyle Orton willing his anemic offense to a victory.

Packers @ Panthers - The Cam Newton show continues to set records in Carolina.  Just another ho-hum 432 yards passing from the Heisman holder.

The game of conference musical chairs continues - The horizon continues to darken in the conference alignment meltdown.  The ACC is gobbling up the Big East, seemingly allowing the Pac-12 to expand without fear of being blamed for firing the first shot.  Get ready for the Pac-16, 'cause it's coming Sooner or later (pun definitely intended). 

If CU can at least salvage a pod system, with a biennial trip to the LA recruiting grounds, out of this mess, then we can call it a draw.  Still, not looking for renewed trips to Norman (blech), Stillwater (blech), Lubbock (blech), and Austin (meh).  I could've gone the rest of my live avoiding the Red River valley without batting an eye.

Happy Monday!


Aaron Jordan said...

From what I gathered from the pod system, we would be in a pod with Utah, Arizona and Arizona State.

The other pods would be:
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech

Stanford, USC, UCLA, Cal

Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State

However I also heard that it would be a 9 game schedule. I think that means that we would play our 3 pod teams every year, and then 2 teams from the other 3 pods in a home-away series, and then the other 2 teams. So essentially you wouldn't go more than 2 years without playing any team.

If that's the case, and the pods are distributed like that, then we would get our annual trip to recruit in Cal.

RumblinBuff said...

I have much less of a problem with that version of the pod system (or the one that has us placed with Cal and Stanford) than any version of separate 8-team divisions.

Still though, would prefer the 12-Pac stays as it is.