Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: Two! Two wins! Ah, ah ah!

Straight to the action on this Tuesday.

Today in the bag, I'm talking Saturday's win over Hawai'i, the upcoming football schedule, and some basketball recruiting.

Click below for the bag...

Colorado defense stands tall against Hawai'i - 

Under a cloudless September sky, the CU defense smothered the Rainbow Warriors, refusing to let their struggling offense shine through.  While Hawai'i would score on more possessions, they never found the endzone, which allowed the Buffs to coast home with a 21-12 win.
The fight song always sounds so much better when sung in victory. From: the BDC
It's a new experience for the team.  To date, the defense had been seen as the anchor keeping Colorado from taking off; on Saturday, it was a different story, with the group rightfully claiming ownership of the victory.  Besides just keeping the Warriors from scoring touchdowns, the defense also limited the opponent to under 300 yards of total offense, and under four yards per play.  Much of that success can be attributed to lockdown pass defending.  The quintuplet of Ken Crawley, Greg Henderson, Kenneth Olugbode, Chidobe Awuzie, and John Walker continually frustrated the Hawai'i passing game, breaking up nine combined passes, holding three different quarterbacks to a combined 37% passing, and allowing only 155 total yards through the air. Certainly, the under center quality, or lack thereof, from the other sideline helped, but the numbers speak for themselves.  It was awesome to watch.

That defensive effort was sorely needed on an afternoon when the usually reliable offense was stuck in neutral. Coming off a game against Arizona State where they looked downright prolific, the Colorado offense struggled to even cross midfield in the second half.  All told, the Buffs still put up 405 yards of offense, but 202 yards of that came on the three consecutive scoring drives from the first half, and the team was forced to punt nine times in addition to three turnovers (one on downs, two via interceptions).  Just a lot of ugly.
The CU defense picked up the slumping 'O'.  From: the BDC
The Hawai'i defense certainly had a lot to do with that, but much of the struggle (which is always real) seemed to come from Sefo Liufau, who appeared to be out-of-sync with his teammates.  I saw his head droop a lot, and there were more than a few major errors in judgement.  While the usually accurate sophomore still racked up over 64% passing in the game, he looked incapable, if not a little scared, of stretching the defense past 15 yards. Even the 71-yard bomb to Nelson Spruce was under-thrown - Spruce just made a play, ripping the ball from the defender, before racing, untouched, into the endzone.  Don't get me wrong, Liufau is still, by far, the best option to be leading the offense, it's just that efforts like Saturday's underscore how far he still has to go to become a dominant, consistent threat.

Still, a win is a win.   It's odd that the winning effort against the Warriors leaves me uncomfortable, while the losing effort against ASU had me fired up, but that's life.  Considering how scant happy weekends have been in recent years, who am I to argue?  2-2 is better than 1-3, after all.

The Bulle(i)t points:

  • Nelson Spruce only made the one touchdown grab, which tells me that the junior out of Westlake Village, CA is starting to rest on his laurels (just kidding).  Seriously, though, 13 catches for 172 yards and a man-sized 71-yard touchdown catch.  He keeps this up, we're going to have to start talking Biletnikoff consideration.
  • Spruce's contribution considered, the player of the game was Greg Henderson.  Six solo tackles, a sack-forced fumble-recover combo on the opening series, and four pass breakups made for another huge afternoon from the senior DB.
  • Hawai'i's quarterback situation was/is a mess.  Jeremy Higgins, who spelled the starter Woolsley, was particularly awful.  As good as the CU defense was, the QB disaster on the west sideline provides an asterisk.
  • The run defense held strong.  The Warriors made an odd habit out of running right at the Colorado defensive tackles, but I'll take 131 yards on 32 carries.  For the most part, Steve Lakalaka (123 yards) had little impact on the proceedings.
  • The battle of the punters was a draw on the strength of their kicks (both averaged 46 yards per, and each greatly helped their defense with field position), but Darragh O'Neill gets the nod, thanks to his 19 yard scamper on 4th down to keep the chains moving in the second half.  The dude can fly!
  • George Frazier, playing both fullback and defensive end, is my new favorite player on the team.

Upcoming schedule update - 

Cal 45 - Arizona 49 -

Poor, poor Cal.  The Golden Bears pulled a Dan Hawkins Saturday night in Tucson, squandering a 31-13 4th quarter lead to drop their conference opener to Arizona.  The Wildcats, who had looked dead in the water from the opening kickoff, suddenly went on a scoring flurry, tallying 36 points in the final frame to sling-shot into victory lane.  The comeback was capped off with a converted 47-yard Hail Mary strike to stop the hearts of Cal fans everywhere.  The whole thing proved, once again, that the Pac-12 is batshit insane.
What do you do with a ball in the air?  KNOCK IT DOWN!
A great game, certainly, but the key for Buff Nation is that Cal looks legit  They had played - and rolled through - their puff pastry non-conference schedule, and questions still lingered into the weekend over how good they've actually become.  Question no longer, as, even with the loss, they look to be a more than capable Pac-12 team.  Certainly, no longer the doormat they were a season ago.

San Diego State 7 - Oregon State 28 -

Nothing fancy in Corvallis, where the Beavers allowed the Aztecs to score on their opening drive before notching the final 28 points of the ballgame. As a result, Oregon State improves to 3-0 before heading to Los Angeles for their conference opener against USC.
The Beavers had it going on the ground.
Sean Mannion was up to his typical tricks, throwing for 275 yards on 77% passing, but it was tailbacks Terron Ward and Storm Woods who did the scoring.  The pair only combined for 105 yards, but used their nose for the goal line to convert all four of OSU's redzone opportunities.

USC - bye week  -

The Trojans were on the bye this week, still licking their wounds suffered up on Chestnut Hill in Boston. Over a week later, that 37-31 loss to the lowly BC Eagles still reads like a comedy script.  The Trojans gave up 506 yards of offense (*cue laugh track*), 452 yards rushing (*cue laugh track*), and punted on eight-straight possessions (*cue laugh track*)!  It's a CBS classic in the making (*laugh track breaks*)!
(*cue laugh track*)
Seriously, though, that was a long-ass trip for USC, coming on the heels of a very physical, emotional win over Stanford the week prior.  It's embarrassing, but not entirely out of left field.  I actually like them to rebound and beat the Beavers this week.

Dorsey visits Boulder - 

In case you didn't hear, Colorado Basketball hosted a major visitor this weekend.  That's right, pessimism need not apply, as 5-star prospect Tyler Dorsey did make his scheduled visit to Boulder.  Probably the most enticing recruiting target to grace the Buffs with a coveted on-campus dalliance in the modern era, I spent my weekend with visions of sugar plums and recruiting coups dancing through my head.

This was a big, big weekend for the coaching staff.  They'd been striking out left and right with recruits for the 2015 cycle, and some of the natives (myself included) in BuffNation were beginning to grow restless. The interest from Dorsey, a summer de-commit from Arizona, was a shot of recruiting sunshine from seemingly out of nowhere, and just the idea of his commitment has revitalized discussion surrounding the class. Colorado projects to only have one scholarship to spend this cycle, and a commitment by one of the top-20 players in the country would be one hell of a way to spend it.  While this weekend wasn't do-or-die for 2015, it carried a lot of weight.
Dorsey spent the weekend in Boulder.  From CBS Sports
It certainly couldn't have set-up any better.  The weekend was Chamber of Commerce perfect, with cloudless sunshine, warm temps, and CU victories featuring throughout.  Contrary to some panicky rumors, Dorsey did complete the trip, and stayed through at least the first half ($) before getting the full pitch from the coaching staff.  In fact, from everything reported by the Rivals crew, it all sounded rather typical, even with the weight of the recruiting class resting on the weekend.  (Feel free to include the #sources rejoinder at your leisure.)

Picturesque weekend in Boulder aside, Dorsey is still expected to make his scheduled visit to Kansas, which is not a surprise.  You don't schedule a trip to Lawrence for Midnight Madness only to cancel, so don't expect news, good or bad, to fall prior to Oct 10th.  That Dorsey kept the trip to Boulder at all, after a recent in-home with Bill Self and staff, is the news here.

Even if Dorsey signs elsewhere, all is not lost. Colorado doesn't need to add a player in 2015 to make an immediate impact, it's only an add of want (really, really, REALLY want).  Transfer Josh Fortune projects to add the shooting spice needed once Askia Booker graduates, and the crux of the 2012 recruiting bonanza looks to ride out their senior year in style.  Long-term, CU needs to put a piece in place, but I'll worry about that in 2016.  For now, it's about the present and a Hail Mary strike for recruiting gold.

Happy MondayTuesday!


Anonymous said...

Here's the thing about dorsey from my mind. He decommitted from az because they got someone better (I forget who at this point) which signaled to me that he didnt think he was going to get any playing time at "point guard U" so he decided to go someplace where he will get some playing time.

I know kansas is kansas, but they are already pretty loaded at the 2, so I'm not sure how that would help him get more playing time by going to KU.

- wyobuff.

RumblinBuff said...

I understand the logic, and agree with it to a point, but winning a legit recruiting battle with KU is something else. Also, I got the feeling that Arizona wanted him to play off the ball, rather than just plain PT concerns.