Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Grab Bag: 66 days until basketball season

While the Buffs were repeatedly shooting themselves in the collective foot Saturday afternoon, I was at a wedding, desperately trying to listen to streamed coverage through a discretely placed earpiece. The bride was literally walking down the aisle as the the crux of the 4th quarter was underway.  Vows, prayers, pronouncements, first kisses were all accompanied by a soundtrack of Buff failure.

Needless to say, once the reception started, I began to hit to booze... hard.  It took me the better part of the weekend to recover.  After recovery, both from the pain of the loss, and the pain in my head from the hangover, one fact continues to dominate my thoughts: basketball season starts in 66 days.


Today in the post-holiday bag I'll be discussing the loss, where Buff Nation goes from here, some positive notes to help back everyone off the ledge, and stories from the rest of the football-playing world.

Click below for the bag...

Settling accounts -  

Alright... now to the morbid task of breaking down this mess...

The Buffs managed to lose to the local safety school 22-17 Saturday afternoon.  Through a combination of poorly timed turnovers, some shockingly bad O-line play, and a thorough abandonment of the offensive principles the team purportedly adheres to, they found a way to throw away a 14-3 first half lead.

CU had the win in sight, up 11 points after QB Jordan Webb used a pair of excellent passes to find his young starting wide-outs for scores.  The defense was also playing well, holding CSU without a 3rd down conversion through the first half, and the whole team looked capable of a solid win.  The Buffs, however, couldn't get out of victory's way.  In the midst of driving for an 18-point lead, two late first half fumbles gave CSU just enough chances to counter before the break.  The resulting touchdown cut the deficit to five, and momentum was turned on its head.  CSU would score again early in the 3rd quarter to take a lead.
Things started well enough, but McCullough and Spruce disappeared in the second half. (From the BDC)
Late in the 3rd quarter, after a CSU fumble gifted the ball inside the Ram redzone, the Buffs looked poised for a game-altering touchdown.  CU, however, found a way to turn certain points into a big goose-egg.  After a near-vomit inducing 99-yard fumble recovery for six was overturned, CU had the ball spotted at the CSU goal-line.  The resulting play-call, which Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy wishes he could have back, was for a cheeky rollout pass.  Instead of running the ball (as men do), the Buffs played scared, and tried to be cute.  The pass was incomplete, the lead remained in CSU's hands, and the young team's sails obviously sagged.

The Buffs would have additional chances in the final quarter, even taking a 1-point lead early in the final frame, but it was not to be.
*sigh*  From: the BDC
The top line numbers are pretty frustrating, as you would expect in a 22-17 loss to a team you expect to beat.  The offense failed to crack 250 yards, only 91 of which came in the 2nd half.  Hell, the unit only managed 3.5 yards per play.  The defense played more than well enough to win, but offensive and special teams struggles put them in difficult positions far too many times.

The offensive line, which was thought to be the veteran strength of the offense, looked abysmal, and caused the majority of the problems.  Time and time again Buff linemen were beaten at the point of attack, and forced an early breakdown of the play.  The running attack, which the coaching staff still swears is the focus of the offense, was nearly nonexistent as CU struggled to a total of 58 yards on 29 attempts.  Throw in five sacks allowed (and a ton of QB hurries), and I don't think they could've played any worse.
The running game was near nonexistent.  From: the BDC
Salting the wound, injuries to Ray Polk (CSU started moving the ball only after he went out...) and Greg Henderson will leave the defensive backfield depleted for next week.  I'm having a hard time finding much of anything redeemable from Saturday's debacle.

Where to program goes from here - 

It's not pretty.  With the loss to CSU, there's really no believable route to a bowl game, leaving the team's stated goal out of sight after only 60 minutes of play.  Additionally, the CU offense has been exposed as potentially futile.  With P-Rich gone for the year, there's no deep threat, leaving the box stacked against the struggling CU O-line.  It shouldn't matter against Sacramento State this weekend, but it's beginning to look like another rough year at the Foot of the Flatirons.

Consequently, the natives are getting restless.  I saw more than a few calls for various heads of the program to get the axe.  Bohn, Embree, Bieniemy... you name it, some drunk wanted them fired over the weekend (not all that different from the past few years, to be honest).  Damn, BuffNation can turn quickly.  Over the course of a sunny Saturday afternoon, the staff completely lost any remaining goodwill.  I even saw a post on the members only section of Allbuffs which questioned whether he had already lost the team.

Sure, there's plenty of negatives from Saturday, but is it all that surprising that an inexperienced team played like they were inexperienced?  What do you want to do, guys?  If you want to burn this mother-fucker down, then let's do it (NSFW audio):

Or maybe we should all just suck it up, and go to White Castle.

On the plus side - 

Things outside of the football program are going quite well.

Because Tad Boyle is awesome, he spent the weekend locking down the commitment of 4-star PG recruit Jaron Hopkins.  He attended the RMS in Denver, but was not dissuaded by the football team's struggles.  (Almost mockingly, Hopkins' father said of the loss to CSU "CU is going to be known as a basketball school pretty soon, so it won't matter.")  Plucked out of Arizona, and considered by some to be one of the top-100 players in the 2013 class, Hopkins said of CU "[It's] the place to be."   Tad Boyle continues to deliver when the football program is at its worst.  God bless that man.
Welcome aboard, Jaron!
The Buffs had identified Hopkins early on as a player to target, stayed with him, and managed to fight off other Pac-12 programs like Arizona, Oregon St, and Washington St for his services.  At 6-5, Hopkins becomes the latest in a string of larger-sized point guards to jump into the program.  Coach Boyle loves taller guards, and if his Buffs ever run out of the tunnel with a starting PG less than 6-4 again, I'll be shocked.

Other programs are rolling as well.  The soccer program is off to its best start ever, the volleyball team, despite a pair of tough losses over the weekend, is pretty solid, and the banana stand has finally begun their defense of their dueling Pac-12 titles.

See, it's not all bad!  OPTIMISM!

Around the nation of college football - 

Alabama vs Michigan - 

Remember all that talk about how Alabama might struggle out of the gate this season with all the new starters on defense?  Tell that to Michigan, who got blitzed 41-14.
The Tide hasn't missed a beat.

Ohio @ Penn St - 

If you think the CU program is in dire straights, just take a look at Penn St.  They suffered through a 24-14 home loss to Ohio (coaching home of Frank Solich) in their first game post sanctions.

Boise St @ Michigan St - 

The Broncos couldn't stop punishing Spartan running back Le'Veon Bell, who literally jumped over them for 210 yards and two scores.
*lame Chris Berman "whooop" sound*

Savannah St @ Oklahoma St - 

Bettors had the Cowbows installed as the largest point favorite in history.  OSU lived up to billing by easily thrashing the Tigers 84-0.  Hope the check was large.

Happy Tuesday!

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