Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wishlist for the 2013 football season

It's August, which means that the Rocky Mountain Showdown is less than one month away.  While I mostly use football as a way to distract myself till November, I will admit to being... intrigued by the oncoming season.  The dumpster fire that is Colorado Football has been an unwatchable mess the last few years, but, with a new coach and new athletic director, it can't get any worse... can it?  (Wait, don't answer that.)

A few weekends back, while packing up boxes for my move into Boulder, a friend asked me what I would consider a 'successful' season.  After much consideration, I now present six achievable items that would signal a positive step forward for the program.  Knock off all six, and I'll call 2013 a success. Fail to get any, and... well... have I mentioned recently that we're a basketball school?

1) A win over CSU and Central Arkansas - 

Last season, close losses to CSU and FCS juggernaut Sacramento St set the stage for humiliating blowouts later in the year, and only an epic fail from Washington State kept those stumbles from ensuring a 0-12 campaign.  A reversal of fortunes to start 2013 is the easiest, and most personally calming path to getting the Mike MacIntyre era off to a positive start.
Christian Powell's opening TD scamper against Sacramento St in 2012
It's at least within reason that CU - which, the Pac-12 assures me, continues to be considered a 'BCS' program - can squeak by an exceedingly mediocre Mountain West squad before flexing a little muscle against a lower-division foe.  As bad as the Buffs were last year, they did almost win those two games in 2012...

Unfortunately, I wouldn't put it past the Buffs to drop either game (or, God forbid, both).  The RMS carries with it the game-cum-super-bowl caveat, and the program has made an unfortunate habit of struggling against 1-AA minnows over the past decade, let alone ones expected to compete for a FCS title.  Neither can be approached lightly, and the abused psyche of BuffNation would do well to remain cautious.

2) A third win from any of the other 10 games -

But, it's August, so I'll try to stay optimistic.  If, after beating the Rams and Bears, the Buffs find themselves off to a 2-0 start, the only other thing I can ask for from a scoreboard standpoint is any other win.

The problem is, after the opening pair of weeks, it's hard to see where another win would come from, with the most likely result a 10-loss slog to the finish.  Pac-12 competition, from top-to-bottom, is still miles ahead of CU, and the remaining non-conference game, against Fresno St, is only to be considered winnable if you took a 'Castaway' holiday during week three last year.
Could the Buffs sneak another win out of Salt Lake City?  From: the Post
However, wonders never cease, and even Coach Embree managed to find a 3rd check in the win column during his first year at the helm. If pressed, I'd call games like Cal and @Utah as theoretically winnable. Yeah, let's go with that.

3) A palatable sense of pride on defense  - 

An easy way to facilitate wishes one and two would be for the defense to get up off the mat.  As a unit, the 2012 defense was qualitatively the worst in the FBS, finishing in the bottom-five of every major statistical category, including giving up a worst-in-the-nation 46 points per game.  It didn't help that they were running up against some of the best collegiate offenses every Saturday, but the fact remains that they were helpless to stop anyone and anything.
The defense never recovered from what Fresno St did to them.
Even a flicker of life on 'D' in 2013 would buoy what could be a sneaky-decent offense.  A big key would be the development of the secondary, which looked lost throughout 2012.  Wounds licked, the young DB corps needs to start making positive contributions.  They have the talent to do so, now it's all about putting it onto the field.

4) A performance from Paul Richardson that gets him selected in the top three rounds of the NFL draft -

This is not meant to excuse Coach Embree, but the absence of Paul Richardson did him no favors last year.  The talismanic wideout is, far and away, CU's best athletic talent, and not having him on the field allowed opposing defenses to crowd the box against the downtrodden Colorado offense.  I don't think it's a stretch to say that a healthy P-Rich would've been worth an additional win or two (CSU and Sacramento State), which might have been enough to secure a third season for the former head coach.
A healthy Paul Ricahrdson needs to shine in 2013.
Whatever success CU has on offense this season, it will, presumably, be achieved through the speedy WR.  Hopefully, it'll be enough to get him noticed by NFL scouts, and keep CU in the opening few days of the NFL draft.

5) A series of donations that lead to breaking ground on the Folsom upgrades -

This, by all rights, could be number one on this list, but I'm too lazy to go back and change the order now. While games will be played in 2013, this year is all about the future, and any progress made on the stalled facilities project will be the deciding factor on how rosy that future will end up becoming.
Phase One needs to start.  Soon.
Former AD Mike Bohn was rumored to have been fired for trying to move the ball on fundraising in the face of continuing debt, leaving the leeway current AD Rick George will have in doing the same a complete mystery. What is known is that construction needs to be started sooner than later if CU will have a hope in hell of competing in the second half of this decade.

6) A lack of QB sneaks on 1st-and-10

I mean... what?  How does this happen?
This is pretty self explanatory.  The firing of Coach Embree was meant to, in part, erase silly, neophyte mistakes like FORGETTING WHAT FUCKING DOWN IT IS.  But my point goes more toward the overall preparedness and attentiveness of the coaching staff, and how good of a hire Mike MacIntyre ends up becoming.

At least the early reviews have been positive. Chris Dufresne of the LA Times called Mac2.0 the best hire of the offseason, and I have yet to hear a single person pan the move.  Most cite his success in turning the perpetually hapless San Jose State program from 1-12 to 11-2 in only three years, and quickly move to extrapolate that success in Boulder. If MacIntyre can live up to even half of the glowing praise, the raging fire in the dumpster that is the Colorado Buffaloes may finally be allowed to peter out. 

But, for now, I'll just take keeping down-and-distance straight in the heat of battle.  Baby steps.


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