Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: *fist-pump, nod* Onto the Next One

You've probably already heard, but CSU's mascot, CAM 24, died Saturday morning.  I do not bring this up to be humorful.  Certainly this kind of behavior is inexcusable, and reeks of Husker-dom (C'mon, don't be that guy) -- I know how I would feel if either living Ralphie had died Saturday (God forbid).  I'm just honestly concerned for our state's foremost aggie school, and how they can't seem to keep their mascots alive.

See, Rambouillet Sheep (CAM's breed) generally live about 6-8 years.  I've heard more, but we'll go with the conservative estimates for the sake of argument. #24 had lived to be six, which is still on the young-ish side for the breed, but what about numbers 1-23?  The CAM program was instituted in 1947, meaning the 24 CAMs have reigned for an average of about 2.8 years per; some have held the title for much shorter tenures.  There's some overlap here, as one sheep dies/retires and another ascends well into their life-span, but what are they doing to these guys that they are only lasting a few years?  Doesn't that seem a little weird to anyone else?  I don't know, but maybe feed the next one a few fewer Doritos...


Today in the bag, I'm talking the win over little brother, a look at the upcoming schedule, and a check-in with the soccer and volleyball teams.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs get back on track with win in Denver - 

It wasn't excessively pretty, and at times it seemed highly improbable, but the Buffs scratched and clawed their way to a 27-24 overtime victory in the 87th Rocky Mountain Showdown on Saturday.
DIEGO!!!!!!! From: BSNDenver
While I absolutely cannot stand this series, even I have to admit it rarely lacks for drama.  Saturday's game was yet another in a line of tense, wacky affairs that kept everyone guessing throughout. CSU jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but, much like Colorado last year, proved incapable of slamming the door on a weakened opponent, and left themselves open for a counter punch.  That counter came in the form of, believe it or not, downfield passing from Sefo Liufau and the CU offense, who used a 65-yard touchdown strike to Shay Fields to inch closer before half and flip momentum.  A second long scoring strike, this time of the 24-yard variety from Sefo to Devin Ross, completed the comeback, and threw the whole game into tilt.  From then on, it was a roller-coaster ride to the finish, one filled with special teams mistakes, critical defensive stands, and redemption stories.  When Diego Gonzalez chipped in his 32-yard winning field goal in the first overtime, my reaction was one of satisfactory relief, both for the victory, and the fact that the craziness was finally over.  A football *sigh*, but without the usual negative connotations.
Wheeeeeeeeeee! From: @RunRalphieRun
The story lines seemed to come out of nowhere.  With the corps of CU running backs bruised and battered, you had Sefo finally taking a stand, and taking advantage of one-on-one coverage on the edge.  You had Ken Crawley, tired of being picked on, making play after play against the good group of CSU receivers (moment of silence, please, for Joe Hansley). You had the Colorado defense come up with a series of brilliant stops to keep the team in the game, and even, for a brief moment, melt the south stands with this pick-six of reeling Ram QB Nick Stevens.  Finally, you had the damn Colorado special teams unit make the play of the year in blocking CSU's field goal try in overtime to pave the way for Gonzalez to clinch it on the ensuing possession.  At every turn I expected the Buffs to crumble against a strong, willful bunch that wanted nothing more than to humiliate them, but, instead, they rose to the occasion, and made their own destiny.
More of this, please!
In that light, I'm going to have to change my way of thinking.  I've been conditioned, by a decade of losing football, to expect the absolute worst if things aren't going CU's way -- as evidenced by this tweet from early in the first quarter.  The 2015 Colorado Buffaloes, however, through sheer force of will and a constant eagerness to fight back from the precipice of oblivion, are changing the old narrative.  No, these aren't the 'Same Old Buffs' as I whined after the Hawai'i loss; there's something different, something respectable.  Hell, even in that Hawai'i game they fought to the finish, only finally stalled by zebra buffoonery.  This team has heart and desire to go along with their improving quality.  Sure, they still need to prove they can beat Pac-12 opponents (and pass the Momma Rumblin' test), but they've earned the benefit of the doubt through three games.  As a result, I promise to stay cautiously optimistic for the foreseeable future...

Luckily for me, that shouldn't be too hard this week as a woeful Nicholls State squad comes to town! Ha ha!

The Bulle(i)t points -
  • No sacks or turnovers from the offense for a second week in a row.  In a game decided by a razor-thin margin, that's massive.  For all we complain about Sefo, he sure knows how to protect the football.
  • Another two turnovers generated by the defense, one for a score.  CU is now in the top-25 nationally in turnover margin.  Guh-wha-huh?
  • CSU put up 500 yards of offense, and out-gained the Buffs by 150 yards, but the defense used a bend but don't break mentality to their advantage. A big part of the problem was missed tackles and yards after contact allowed by the front-seven.  That is only a recipe for disaster against Pac-12 opponents.
  • Shay Fields only had 14 more yards in addition to his 65-yard thunderbolt, but could've had much more.  Colorado needs to keep their focus down field when Shay is going long.
  • Punting! Freshman Alex Kinney came alive after two weeks of miserable inconsistency by knocking seven attempts for a respectable average of 39 yards per.  Nothing all-world, but more than adequate, and miles ahead of where he had been.  Two and a half more months of that, and I'll be very happy.
  • The running game took a step backwards, only putting up 125 yards on 3.9 per carry.  But, please note that Michael Adkins left the game early with a knock.  I expect better returns this week and beyond.

Upcoming schedule update - 

The Colonels head to Boulder off of a 10-point loss to the UIW Cardinals.  They had a shot at the win, with a 93-yard interception return in the final minutes looking like it could hand them victory, but the refs called it back for an illegal block, and UIW would eventually score the clincher with just 1:18 remaining on the clock. That flag was one of 11 thrown against Nicholls, and proved definitive.
Nicholls still winless over the last two years.
As ugly as all of that sounds, consider that Nicholls' 10-7 halftime lead was only the second time in 15 tries that Nicholls headed into the break ahead of their opponent.  Still, Saturday's defeat marks their 20th-straight overall loss.  (And you thought we had problems. Yo.)  That's abysmal.

The Ducks bounced back from their rough trip to East Lansing, thanks to a visit from the recently promoted Georgia State Panthers.  The stat-sheet looks about how you would expect, with UO posting 539 total yards, including a full 311 on the ground.  Ho-hum in the land of Nike-U.
Lighter schedule fare made the adjustment to backup QB Jeff Lockie palpable in Eugene.
The degree of difficulty for Oregon will ratchet back up this weekend, however, as the Utah Utes will be paying them a visit.  Starting QB Vernon Adams should be back under center for the Ducks, after taking the weekend off, making this one of the matchups of the year in the Pac-12 conference.  Check it out: 5:30p on Saturday, FOX.

It took a while, but the Sun Devils finally got on track against a listless New Mexico side.  The key was the passing game, where QB Mike Bercovici threw for threw for 317 yards, and accounted for all four ASU touchdowns (three throwing, one rushing).
Sparky doing Sparky things.
The poor Lobos haven't won in this series since the post-war era, so the result is not exactly a shock. The real take-away here is that the Sun Devils have yet to play a strong game through the first three weeks.  Now done with their non-conference slate, performances like theirs against Cal Poly and UNM will only bring them losses against the mighty Pac-12 South.  First up: a visit from the shaken USC Trojans.  That one could be very interesting...

Soccer and Volleyball wrap-up non-conference play - 

It's been a slightly inconsistent fall for the volleyball and soccer squads, but they both produced strong performances over the weekend, setting up an energetic entrance into conference play.

Over in the CEC, the volleyball team wrapped up perfect 4-0 run through the Omni Invitational thanks to dominating victories over Montana State, Weber State, George Mason, and Air Force.  Tournament MVP Gabby Simpson posted an astonishing 66 kills in the four games over the weekend, only extending the Simpson legacy at CU.  
Gabby doin work on the hardwood.  From:
The Buffs had been struggling over the past month, dropping high profile games to Illinois, Penn State and Rice, but these four wins served as some much-needed home cooking for the ladies. Liz Kritza's crew may be back out of the top-25 (in the 'others receiving votes' category), but they still stand as one of the toughest sides in the country, and should, once again, prove a nightmare for visiting foes in the brutal Pac-12.  They'll stat their conference run tomorrow night in Salt Lake City against the Utes, coverage on Pac-12 Mountain from 6pm.

Out on the pitch, the soccer team rebounded from a tough overtime loss to Northwestern with a dominating 3-0 win over Villanova.  Scoring dynamo Brie Hooks started off the action in the 6th minute as her second-effort strike on the Wildcats' goal slipped home.  Danica Evans and Brittney Stark made sure that goal would stand with a pair of goals in the second half to seal the points.  Goalie Kate Scheele recorded her third shutout of the season, having only been called upon to make two saves.
Fun times at Prentup.  From:
The win helped CU to improve to 5-1 at home, 6-2-1 overall.  They've been a little shaky, at times, but generally seem to be a capable bunch.  I'm interested to see how they take to a true Pac-12 road trip.  #13 Cal visits this weekend (kickoff at 1pm on Sunday) - sure to be a brutal test - but, after that, they make a two game swing to the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon schools.  They'll need to take a fair share of points over those first three games to remain competitive in the league this fall.

Happy Tuesday!


Aaron Jordan said...

How would your thoughts change on the RMS if CSU was in a P-5 conference? Would it make it less of a lose-lose for CU because a win against P-5 looks good, and a loss against P-5 doesn't look as bad?

RumblinBuff said...

That's like asking a theoretical question about my reaction to the Cubs winning a World Series. Never gonna happen.