Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Swing low, sweet chariot...

Another football Saturday wedding, another bride walking down the aisle to the chorus of a Buff collapse.  That's now two marriages I will forever associate with losing.  Ladies of BuffNation, let this be a lesson to you: don't schedule a wedding on a game day.


This is about as low as it can get.  We're living it right now.

If there's any doubt, let me assure you that this is worse than '06.  At least in that year, BuffNation could comfort itself with the knowledge that it was the first year of a new regime, and that improvement, microscopic as it came to be, was assured.  Nope, this is the Buffs4Life crew's second year at the helm.  Disasters of this proportion shouldn't be possible.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but how much deeper can this rabbit hole go?

Today in the bag, I'll get through this as quickly as possible so I can get back to daydreaming about basketball season.  I'll also talk about some football notes from teams/programs who know what they're doing.  60 days...

Click below for the bag...

You've got to be kidding me - 

It happened again. CU lost to another damn Big Sky also-ran.  That the Buffs had a lead late is immaterial, this was a losing effort from the second Hornet possession.  The coup-de-grace of a last-second chip-shot field goal was a very deserved end to the football game.  Final score: 30-28, Sacramento State.  Thank you and good night.
Seriously, what the fuck?  From: the BDC
For about 10 minutes, BuffNation was allowed to exhale.  The team came out with freshman bruiser Christian Powell at tailback, and he responded with two TD runs to give the Buffs a quick 14-0 lead.  His first score, a moonshot 64-yard scamper through the right side, was reminiscent of honored running backs of yore, and had the crowd thinking happy thoughts.  That good mood was to be short lived.
CP was the only bright spot from Saturday.  From: the BDC
Down two scores, and staring a rout in the face, Sacramento State settled in, made some adjustments, and began to push the once proud Buffs program around. It all started with a seemingly innocuous conversion on  3rd-and-long, but, before anyone could react, a middle-of-the-road FCS school was on their way to demonstrably out-playing their exalted FBS opponent.  This wasn't a case of a lower-league team holding ground and getting lucky in the final minute.  No, the Hornets simply manhandled CU.

At every level CU wasn't good enough.  So embarrassing was the effort that it drove Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel to note: 
On offense, Hornet QB Garret Safron stood comfortably in the pocket, and completed 67% of his passes for 312 yards and two scores.  Behind him, a pair of running backs (AJ Ellis and Ezekiel Graham) combined with the sophomore QB for 179 rushing yards on 33 carries (5.4 yards per rush).  Throughout it all, the CU defense never managed to force a turnover, and only sacked the QB twice.  The Hornets finished with 466 total offensive yards (6.5 per play).
Safron had a field day against the collapsing CU defense.  From: the BDC
Defensively, despite the explosion of Christian Powell from the backfield, the CU offense was mostly stunted.  Beyond Powell, who finished the day with 154 yards on 28 carries and three scores, no other running back saw more than two carries, leaving the bruising freshman worn out in the second half.  Under center, failed-Jayhawk starter Jordan Webb was befuddled by the Hornet D, over throwing wide-open receivers when not misreading opportunities.  Webb (why is he the starter again?) would finish the day with a very pedestrian 160 yards on 50% passing.  In total, CU could only muster 366 yards against a defense which gave up over 460 last week to a bad New Mexico State team (The Aggies, for the record, only found 206 yards this week against Ohio).

Complete and total failure.  It's a miracle the Buffs were even close, let alone leading, in the final quarter.

No excuses - 

"I'm sorry."

That's the money quote from Coach Embree that has been oft repeated over the weekend.  So disinterested in apologies was Buff Nation that Coach was forced to shut down his twitter account, @JEBuffs.  While I played no part in the twitter barrage that forced the closure of the account, and shake my head disapprovingly at those who took part in the mostly sophomoric display of taunts and sarcasm, I'm certainly sympathetic to the frustration.

It's not a good situation, and one that shouldn't be possible in the second year of a coaching staff's tenure.  Right on cue, articles have begun to be written obliquely referencing the struggles of the early 80s, and how the losing parable of Coach Fairbanks and the early struggles of Coach Mac eventually turned into ultimate success.  Outside of the Twitter hook, it's beginning to sound a lot like the apologist crap written by Neil Woelk at the beginning of the Hawk era.  The more I hear that tale, the more I realize that it's just a fantastical justification for struggles from lesser coaches.

Nope, this is inexcusable.  The team has completely regressed over the offseason.  Any momentum that late season wins over Arizona and Utah might have carried over from last year has been fumbled out of the gate.  There has to be some explanation.  The one I'm leaning towards now is that the young Buffs4Life coaching staff, who were completely devoid of experience at the jobs for which they were hired, is out of their depth. 

The problem is, the situation is not solvable in the immediacy.  A mid-season firing of the staff, repeatedly called for over the weekend, isn't going to create an environment of positive change.  The group is barely over a year into their tenure, and a second program shift, not even two years after the last one, will only further dismantle the program, possibly permanently.  At most, BuffNation should be asking for/expecting a smaller change to the coaching staff, perhaps a reassessment of O-Line coach Steve Marshall's position...

If there is any solace, it should be that this is as low as we can go.  Even should this team lose out, and go 0-12 for the season, at least now it's expected.  Buff Nation won't have to go through a months long struggle with the search for the cellar floor.  We've found it.

Around the nation of football - 


Pittsburgh @ Denver -

The rumors of Peyton's demise were greatly exaggerated.  Once unshackled from the constraints of the huddle, PFM revved the engine to the tune of 6.1 yards per play, threw his 400th TD, and clinched a 31-19 win in his first non-Colt professional game. The hype machine may now build unabated.
Oh, so that's what a real QB looks like...
Indianapolis @ Chicago - 

My Bears got off to a similarly strong start, making Andrew Luck look like the rookie he is en route to a 41-21 victory.  *turning on Superfans voice* The Lombardi trophy is all but ours, my friends.


NDSU @ CSU, Nebraska @ UCLA - 

Sweet, sweet shadenfreude.  I needed your warm embrace in a bad way Saturday night, and you delivered on cue.  CSU lost to their own FCS opponent (See, it's not McElwain, CU just sucks ass!) and Nebraska lost in their only trip to the Rose Bowl this year.  If the Buffs are going to be terrible, I at least want to wallow in the pain of others.
C'mon Bo, give me a tear...
BTW, Mountain West teams went 1-7 this weekend.  I found that funny. 

Louisiana-Monroe @ Arkansas - 

The Warhawks stunned the #8 Razorbacks 34-31 in OT after racking up 550 yards of total offense.  Maybe the SEC isn't as perfect as many would have you believe...

Happy Monday!


Aaron Jordan said...

There are two things that have been bugging me about the Buffs.

1) It seems like every year, we come out in the first 4-5 games and nobody seems to know what is going on. It's like we are behind in our gameplan, and we didn't spend enough time just developing and learning the system. Players confused about play calls, substitutions, and just a lack of organization. I keep wondering when it's going to stop, but it seems to happen every year.

2) In Embree's post game quotes, he talked a lot about their run game, but it seemed to me that the Sac State pass game (which consisted of only slant routes) is what was really killing us. That is what they kept using to convert 3rd downs, and that was their go to pretty much all game.

It's just frustrating to be a Buff right now, mostly because I don't know what we can do about the situation without an absurd amount of money.

RumblinBuff said...

Great points. It seems like we're always behind the 8-ball. Reacting instead of dictating.