Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: That winning feeling

This weekend marked the first full football weekend of 2013.  Between a normal slate of college action and the NFL's opening week, there was absolutely no reason to leave your couch.  I'm sure I'll be sick of it, and ready for basketball by the end of the month, but, for now at least, it's good to have football back in my life.


Today in the bag, I'm talking a perfect 2-0 start in football, continued success in soccer and volleyball, and my weekly trip around the world of football.

Click below for the bag...

Still perfect - 

Through a play-making defense and the customary offensive explosion from Paul Richardson, the Buffs earned a satisfying 38-24 win over Central Arkansas Saturday night at Folsom Field.  Yes, it was against an FCS squad, and no, the team hasn't even begun to play the hardest teams on their schedule, but there can be no doubt that this team is no longer the dog that it was last season.

Early in the fourth, after a 1-yard TD plunge from UCA QB Wynrick Smothers, and a seemingly back-breaking interception from CU QB Connor Wood, the Buffs looked down and out.  The Bears were driving to balloon their lead to two scores, and the small assemblage of BuffNation were visibly nervous.

But, where the 2012 team would've collapsed like a house-of-cards, the 2013 Buffs, once again, dug deep, and turned to their defense to flip the script.  First, CU DB Jered Bell collected a tipped interception from Smothers, and returned it 79-yards for a game-tying touchdown.  The Buffalo defense would then force a turnover on the ensuing UCA possession, which the offense immediately turned into a 30-yard Paul Richardson TD reception.  After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Buffs sealed the win with a 10-play, 73-yard march to victory.  It took only six minutes of play, but through a total team effort the Buffs put up 21 unanswered points, and turned a sure-loss into another notch in the win column.
Jered Bell's pick-six ignited the comeback.  From: the BDC
The win marks CU's first in Folsom since November of 2011, and the 2-0 record is the first such start since 2008 (they started 3-0 that season).  It may not have been the prettiest pair of victories in school history, but the results are as welcome as any.

The emerging story of this season is explosive play making ability.  All five of CU's touchdowns from Saturday came from at least 30-yards out - pass plays of 55, 39, and 30-yards, and a pair of interception returns from 79 and 46-yards out.  The Buffs now have eight such plays on the season, including an astonishing three scores on defense.

On offense, the explosions are mostly coming from Paul Richardson, who has re-emerged as a highlight reel receiver.  The lightning-fast junior inexplicably continues to find himself open on seemingly every drive.  He got loose twice on Saturday for scores, and put up his second-consecutive 200-yard receiving day.  His 417 yards are not only good for the nation's best through two weeks, he leads his next closest competitor (Buffalo's Alex Neutz) by 122 yards.
It's Paul Richardson's world, we just live in it.  From: the BDC
On defense, it appears that the nightmare sieve of last season has been shelved.  The usually efficient UCA offense was held to a respectable 340 yards (4.2 yards per play), but it was four turnovers caused by Colorado that saved the day.  The unit now has created six on the young season, on pace to shatter last season's total of 15.

If anything, this team has proven that they won't give up, that the players want to be there, and that they can make big plays when needed.  Indeed, 'IT AINT THE SAME!'

I could get used to this...

Soccer and Volleyball teams keep pace - 

The winning ways continued elsewhere in the CU athletic department, as both the soccer and volleyball teams extended their strong starts to the season.

In soccer, the women stayed perfect with a pair of wins over Alabama and UT-Martin at the DU Invitational in Denver.  On Friday, the Buffs were saved in overtime by yet another goal from freshman Brie Hooks, her 5th of the campaign.  Hooks' poaching skills weren't required Sunday, however, as senior Anne Stuller powered home a hat trick to help CU overcome their first allowed goal of 2013.

Now 6-0 on the season, the soccer team is officially off to the best start in program history.  That streak will be put to the test this Sunday when the ladies take on the rival DU Pioneers with state bragging rights on the line.  It'll be their strongest test of the season so far, and a win could set the Buffs up for a perfect run through non-conference play.

The volleyball team was just as successful this weekend, sweeping all four games of the Candlewood Suites Invite in Syracuse, NY to move to 5-1 on the season.  The Buffs only dropped one set during the tournament, and thoroughly dominated competition.  Though she only played in two games, junior Taylor Simpson was named tournament MVP.  Up next for the ladies is a trip deep into the heart of Texas, where they'll take part in the Baylor Invitational next weekend.

Way to go Buffs!

Around the world of football - 

College Football

Michigan 41 - Notre Dame 30

While I doubt it's the last ever Michigan-ND game in Ann Arbor, the rivals said goodbye-for-now to the Michigan Stadium portion of their series with a big-name clash Saturday evening.  The Wolverines got the best of the Irish behind a stellar day from QB Devin Gardner.  He accounted for 376 yards and five scores in victory.
Gardner (#98) stole the show in Ann Arbor.  From: Yahoo
BYU 40 - Texas 21

Behind QB Taysom Hill, the Cougars put up 550 rushing yards on the Longhorns (nearly 350 in the first half alone).  Evan as bad as the Buffs were last season, it never got that bad.  Unsurprisingly, UT fired their DC on Sunday, replacing him with Greg Robinson.  Could Mack Brown be next?

Washington St 10 - USC 7

Speaking of coaches on the hotseat, how long before USC's Lane Kiffin is looking for a new job?  After a ugly loss to the Cougars, in which the Trojans could only muster 193 yards of offense at home (remember, CU's Paul Richardson alone had over 200 this week), a pink slip for Kiffykins can't be that far down the pipe.  Here's to the disarray in University Park lasting till CU plays them in November!


Chicago 24 - Cincinnati 21

It took a comeback, but the Bears got the Marc Trestman era off to a flying start with their win over the Bengals.  In a battle of two of the league's best wide-outs, Cincy's AJ Green put up more yards (162) than Chicago's Brandon Marshall (104), but the YAC gets the season-opening win.
Marshall got the last laugh.
San Francisco 34 - Green Bay 28

The Packers just can't seem to shake their issues with the 49ers.  Their 2012 campaign both began and ended with losses to the defending NFC champs, and 2013 was started in similar fashion as '9ers QB Colin Kaepernick racked up 434 yards of offense to muscle home the win.

Happy Monday!

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