Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Ah, I remember this feeling!

I'm fighting the urge to go back to dismissing the football team after this weekend's result.  They're still exceeding expectations on the season, even though they missed a good opportunity to make a statement.  Next weekend isn't going to be much better, but I remain hopeful that CU can creep up on a team or two once the calendar slips past the first weekend of October.

Apropos, the first basketball practice of the season started at 7am this morning.  Tad and the boys are back in business... #IsItNovemberYet?


Today in the bag, I'm recapping the rough afternoon in Corvallis, celebrating the volleyball upset over UCLA, and saying goodbye to Lane Kiffin.

Click below for the bag...

Rude awakening in Corvallis - 

In case you were wondering, the days of lopsided Pac-12 defeats are not yet over.

Impotent offense, head-scratching penalties, and leaky special teams play were all evident throughout Colorado's 44-17 loss at Oregon St, leading many in BuffNation to hit the eject button and run from visions of train wrecks past.

Certainly, there was a lot of horror to hide from.  The offense was completely out of sync.  Lead by shaken QB Connor Wood, they looked lost and inept for much of the game, only coming on in the final minutes to regain some confidence and respectability.  They went 2-15 on third down, only gained 106 yards before the start of the 4th quarter (2.2 yards per play), and couldn't seem to get the ball into the hands of their best play maker, Paul Richardson.  Against a Beaver defense that came in as one of the worst in the nation, it was both inexcusable and concerning.
The Beaver 'D' swarmed the Buffs.
The defense held early, in spite of their offensive counterparts seeming inability to do anything right, but, eventually, the time-of-possession anchor caught up with them, and cracks began to show.  The vaunted Beaver passing attack showed why it's so good by racking up 420 yards through the air.  OSU QB Sean Mannion only completed 52% of his passes, but enough of them were to the incredible Brandin Cooks to gash the reeling Buffs.  Cooks, who should begin to receive some Heisman consideration, hauled in 9 catches for 168 yards and two scores.  CU just didn't have an answer for him.
Cooks is beyond dynamic.  From: The Oregonian
Add to it the smoldering disaster that is the special teams unit, and the performance had the taint of 2012 about it.

The rebuilding process was never going to be easy.  While the Buffs are clearly better than they were last season, days like Saturday were bound to still happen.  I do take comfort in a few things in spite of the defeat.  Freshman running back Michael Adkins had a very strong game, notching 98 net rushing yards on only 14 carries, and the defense continues to make plays with Greg Henderson picking up a tipped interception that set up CU's only score before the 4th quarter, and Chidera Uzo-Diribe causing another sack-fumble.  But, outside of those few bright spots, it was a mostly forgettable afternoon in Corvallis.

Next week doesn't look much brighter, with #2 Oregon coming to town.  Hopefully, CU can get that 12th game rescheduled, because this season will quickly jump off the rails without some victorious respite.

Volleyball upset over UCLA - 

In happier news, the CU women's volleyball team pulled off a Friday night shocker by beating the #11 UCLA Bruins in five sets.  It's the first head-to-head win over UCLA that CU has posted in any sport since the start of the Pac-12 era.
Victory over the Bruins!
In front of a nice home crowd of nearly 3,000, the ladies managed to beat a ranked opponent for the first time since they beat the hated Corn in 2008. The star of the night was Taylor Simpson.  The 6-3 junior recorded a team high 15 kills in victory, including the game-clinching point in the deciding 5th set.  Also chipping in big performances were Nikki Lindow and Neira Ortiz Ruiz.  Lindow was particularly effective, notching 14 kills and 12 blocks against only one error.

After the game, Lindow had this to say:
“What’s even better is that we showed some serious teamwork tonight. It was the most calm feeling I have ever had on the court. We had confidence in our eyes and no question on how to handle this game even in the fourth set. It was the greatest feeling I have ever felt while being a part of this team.” (-link)
It was also the first real moment of triumph of the Liz Kritza coaching era, and couldn't come soon enough for a program that had seen far too few victories in recent years.  This is the kind of win that the team can build on. It'll now be up to the team to prove that it wasn't a fluke, and continue to make headway in the difficult waters of the Pac-12.

Lane Kiffin fired by USC - 

As almost a sigh of relief for the USC Trojans and their fanbase, embattled head coach Lane Kiffin was fired late Saturday evening.  Shame, I was hoping he'd last until CU had their shot at embarrassing the Trojans.
Trojan AD Pat Hayden dropped the axe by calling Kiffin off of the team bus on the tarmac at LAX.  Hayden had made the decision midway through a 28-0 3rd quarter scoring avalanche from ASU that essentially sealed their 62-41 win over USC, and couldn't wait till the bus got back to campus.

Only last season, the Trojans started the year as the #1 team in nation, but Kiffin proved incapable of turning undeniable talent into wins for a ravenous fanbase.  Now the reins get turned over to Ed Orgeron in the interim, with a national search to follow.  The Trojans will become the latest Pac-12 school to look for a big-name, big-money head coach.  The cash bonanza in the new conference continues to cost coaches their jobs.

I can't help but believe that this will end the run of inexplicable coaching offers for the former head Trojan.  Despite continued faith in his limited capabilities, Coach Kiffin was never up to the jobs afforded him.  He was continually thrown into the deep end of high pressure football, despite never having proved he deserved the trust.  The truth is, his best successes came in the offices and board rooms of the people he tricked into giving him both responsibility and money.

I don't mean to kick the man when he's down, but, hopefully, the GMs and ADs of the nation of football have learned their lesson, and will let Kiffin exit stage left, never to be seen again.

Happy Monday!

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