No, it's not November, yet, but the first practices will start to be held around the nation this very week. In fact, as the Daily Camera's Brian Howell pointed out, the assembled media will cover hardwood action at the CEC before the next football game. So, yes, this week hoops does come first.
We're still some 32 days from November itself, and over 45 days away from opening night, but the start of practices is an important mile post on the close of the offseason. We're getting there, BasketBuffs, we're getting there...
Today in the bag, I'm talking the offensive showcase in Berkeley, CU's Biletnikoff candidate, and the upcoming football schedule.
Click below for the bag...
Fans of lock-down defense: avert your eyes now -
I called for a Saturday afternoon shootout between Colorado and Cal, and that's exactly what I got. With no defenses worth mentioning taking the field in Berkeley, a pair of high flying passing attacks were free to air it out to the point of exhaustion. For those impartials tuning in, I'm sure it made for enticing television. For those in the opposing fanbases, however, it made for nerve-wracking viewing. CU had plenty of opportunities to claim a vital road win against an opponent gaining a lot of regional recognition. Instead, after forcing the game into overtime, they proved incapable of executing their offense at the goal line, and were unceremoniously booted out of NorCal with a 59-56 loss.
|Defense, apparently, need not apply|
Neither defense seemed capable of putting their foot down, which is probably why each program is where they are today. Looking at the numbers, there are a few turnovers caused, and a grand total of six QB hurries recorded, but those are pitiful when compared to the total number of plays run. Given that many opportunities to make an impact, you would've thought either of the defenses could luck into a big play. But, nope, the scoreboards kept rattling off numbers like a bingo caller.
|The botched goal line play was the symptom, not the cause.|
Imagine if this team could complete games. Imagine if they had held their lead over CSU, finished the desperate comeback against ASU, and converted in overtime against the Golden Bears. CU would be sitting here, about to enter October at 5-0 (or at least 4-1), and there'd be no ejaculate left in the entirety of BuffNation. Instead, they're at 2-3, and a team that seems qualitatively capable of earning a bowl berth is on track to miss the post-season for the 7th consecutive year, if just barely. The old adage that defense wins remains true to form (somewhere, Tad Boyle nods).
|The prolific offense is entertaining, but Sefo et al. need some defensive help.|
The Bulle(i)t points:
- Spruce, Nelson - (See below)
- When CU needs to get a yard or two on the ground, they aren't able to get it, at the moment. It would be nice to see the offensive line get a better push in short-yardage situations. Until then, I would much rather see the ball in Sefo Liufau's hands on the goal line.
- Speaking of Sefo, he threw at a 69% clip for 455 yards and seven scores against only one interception. It took him 67 throws to get there, but damn is that a nice line. His 75-yard two-minute drill, culminating in a 30-yard strike for the game-tying touchdown, was a thing of beauty.
- Darragh O'Neill had his first shaky day of the season, scuffing a few, and only averaging 37 yards a kick. Possibly, given the fireworks, he was simply stunned that he had to take the field, at all.
- Will Oliver didn't exactly cover himself in glory, either, shanking all three of his attempts from the field. Generally, another shaky day from the special teams unit.
On Nelson Spruce -
It has come to the point that THE Nelson Spruce deserves his own section. I pondered recently what it would take for him to get serious Biletnikoff Award consideration. At this point, I think we're about to find out.
At some point, the rest of the football world is going to notice. The junior from Westlake is putting up numbers too gaudy not to draw attention. After five games, however, I wonder if it's going to matter. The big test will be against the USC Trojans in a few weeks. They've yet to allow a touchdown pass this season, and may be the last line of defense between Spruce and a dark horse award campaign.
Upcoming schedule update -
USC 35 - Oregon State 10 -
In a matchup of CU's next two opponents, the Trojans got the better of the Beavers, thanks to a stifling defensive performance that seems so out-of-place when compared to what the Buffs engaged in over the weekend. In total, USC only allowed 181 total yards on the day, a clip of only 3.2 per play. To put that in perspective, Colorado had that by the end of the first quarter in Berkeley.
|Mannion struggled to break free from the clutches of the Trojans.|
Of course, the reason for his struggles was the USC defense. As mentioned, the group has yet to allow a passing touchdown this year, and are 6th nationally in pass efficiency defense. CU's passing game will face a stern test in a few weeks when they visit the Coliseum.
UCLA 62 - ASU - 27 -
Across the City of Angels, Westwood is buzzing about the thrashing the Bruins unleashed on Arizona State. From the opening minute of the second quarter through the 8:27 mark of the third, UCLA went on a 42-3 run, blitzing the shell-shocked Sun Devils, who had been leading 17-6 prior. The result was a statement win for the Bruins in the Pac-12 South, and ensures that the road to the conference title game goes through the Rose Bowl.
|Ishmael Adams and the Bruins ran away from ASU|
As someone who looks at Arizona State with continuous contempt and disdain, I couldn't have been happier to see touchdown after touchdown leveled against Todd Graham's team. Everything went wrong for them in a game played without star QB Taylor Kelly. Their season isn't done after only their first loss, but you can see serious cracks in the foundation.