Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: The Streak Ends in Corvallis

We'll get to the happy celebrations in a second, but first, do yourself a favor and check out this video from

Good job, good effort from friend of the blog Jake Shapiro, who took on Buffs Tory Miller and George King in some 1-on-1. Jake put up a few valiant attempts, but, in the end, no dice.  I have to give him credit, though, he probably performed better better job that my fat ass could.  Good stuff, buddy!


Today in the bag, I'm taking a victory lap on the Buffs' win in Corvallis, looking a head to the next few weeks in the football schedule, and XXXXXXX

Click below for the bag...

The Pac-12 Winless Streak is over! - 

Take a moment and breathe it in.  The Colorado Buffaloes - yes, those Colorado Buffaloes - won a Pac-12 game.  Won, as in didn't lose.  As in, after 14 attempts and nearly two full years of trying, that terrible in-conference schneid is finally over.  Throw a damn party!

Sure, their 17-13 win over fellow basement dweller Oregon State wasn't pretty, and beating OSU isn't going to set anyone's heart aflutter, but who can argue with the result?  At its most basic, a tic mark goes in the left column for the first time since Cal visited in 2013, and the Buffs avoid the ignominy of not even being able to beat the struggling Beavers. At a further level, by winning the game with their defense and by making winning plays in the 4th quarter, the team finally lived up to some of the promise trumpeted in August.

It all came down to the final drive of the game, with Colorado needing a defensive stop to seal the win, only up four points.  They had been milking that lead for almost the entirety of the final frame, having scored their last points of the action with 12:31 remaining on the clock, defended it with a goal line stand on the very next possession, and held serve ever since.  #TheScript would tell you they'd have fallen over themselves into failure.  It certainly looked that way after a pass interference call against defensive wrecking ball Chidobe Awuzie gave the Beavers new life on the Colorado half of the field. #TheScript, however, was wrong.  The Buffs didn't buckle under the pressure, forcing a desperate pass on the ensuing 4th-and-6 from the CU 40 yard line.  That pass was tipped, allowing Awuzie to redeem himself and come up with the deflected pass for a game-sealing interception.  *fist pump*
Chidobe had the plays of the game Saturday night.  From:
That sequence while seemingly out of the norm for the wayward Buffs defense, was anything but on Saturday.  Throughout the action in the 4th they had stood tall against an admittedly weak OSU passing attack, butting the Beavers behind the 8-ball.  All told over the four drives in the quarter, the unit had forced the Beavers to deal with 5-16 passing for 36 yards, a sack, and an interception.  They damn near traumatized poor freshman QB Nick Mitchell, who was in for normal starter Seth Collins, dialing up pressure and active coverage schemes on nearly every down.  When the final tipped pass fell into the waiting arms of Awuzie, it was more fair acomplii than luck or happenstance.  The defense earned that win, making life hell for a beleaguered offense that they should've made life hell for.

The 'D' had to have the 4th they did, because the offense sure as hell wasn't giving them any help. While they did manage to eek out the lead with a solid 85-yard scoring drive (nearly a quarter of their production on the night), the 'O' had put the team's collective back up against the wall by going nowhere quickly the rest of the way, only getting 17 yards on three consecutive three-and-outs after that quarter-opening score. The shop had been closed up, as it had in so many games prior, with Brian Lindgren and his offense content to sit on what they had already put on the table, rather than risk it with a more aggressive strategy. That left poor Jim Leavitt's tired, battered defense to win the game on their own.  Luckily, they were up to the task.
Could've used more Sefo in the 4th.  From:
The grumbles come easy, certainly in the direction of Lindgren and his play calling, but it must be said that this was a team win.  The game had played out the way so many others had previously; the Buffs started slow, got back into it late in the first half, watched as the opponent made a second half offensive adjustment, and sluggish second half output from the CU offense left the door wide open for the opponent to steal back a victory that should've been Colorado's.  Instead of following that stupid script, however, the team played mistake free with the game on the line, capitalizing on an opportunity the way they didn't against Arizona or Oregon.  It's easy to attribute that to the Beavers' abysmal offense, but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

When the final whistle blew, I was more than happy, and those 20-or-so fellow band geeks at the Mandalay Bay sports book watching the action with me sure seemed pretty damn happy as well (as did the bartender when he cashed in $250 worth of victory shots).  The watching of sports is about joy, and if you couldn't find any this weekend watching those Buffs finally break through in Pac-12 play, even while acknowledging the situation and circumstance, then I highly suggest you find something else to do with your Saturdays.  The road ahead is brutal, and one win over a lame-duck opponent doesn't really change anything, but, for one Saturday evening, the Buffs were the best team on the field.  That's good enough for me.

The Bulle(i)t Points - 

  • Anyone else uncomfortable with QB Sefo Liufau's 18 carries, most of them designed, against the Beavers?  He's been getting banged up all fall, repeatedly under pressure thanks to an inconsistent offensive line, so opening him up to almost a score of additional hits seems foolish to me.
  • In spite of those hits, Sefo put up another strong game, though.  He was the team's leading rusher, scoring his fifth rushing touchdown of the year on one of those 18 attempts, and didn't commit a turnover.  He's not going to win you a ballgame, but he's starting to make me believe he won't lose you one, either.
  • How about Chidobe Awuzie?  He didn't have a massive tackle haul (only six on the night), but came up with the winning interception, broke up two other passes, and tallied a sack against OSU.  Not too shabby.
  • You could tell the absence of Shay Fields - out with a high ankle sprain - hurt the Buffs.  His downfield presence is needed to stretch the field, and CU gets very myopic without him.  In total, Colorado only had one catch of over 20 yards on Saturday with Fields rehabbing.

A look ahead - 

UCLA 40 - Cal 24 -

In a game that featured the Pac-12's #1 QB, Cal's Jared Goff, it was the other QB in the game, UCLA's freshman Josh Rosen, that stole the show.  The young slinger completed 34 of 47 for just shy of 400 yards and three scores to lead the Bruins to a big Thursday night win.
Way to flip the narrative, Rosen.  From:
While CU was able to rely on their defense last Saturday, that won't be the case this weekend, as the Bruins can be a typically effusive Pac-12 offensive force.  With the Pac-12 South up for grabs, thanks to Utah's loss in Los Angeles (more on that in a bit), they'll be hungry, too.  I guess what I'm saying is that the Colorado offense better come up with something better than what they showed in Corvallis, or this one could be ugly.

Stanford 31 - Washington 14 -

The Cardinal is starting to roll.  Their 17 point win over the weekend was in typical Stanford fashion, featuring 48 rushing attempts and a +20 minute advantage in the time of possession war.  Now a full game and a half ahead of the North's second place team - Washington State, who they visit this weekend - they control their own destiny in the race for the conference's championship game.
McCaffrey is coming into his own.  From:
As if the Cardinal's sixth-straight win wasn't enough, the Christian McCaffrey hype-train continues unabated. He put up 300 total yards on 31 touches, including two touchdowns.  If he wasn't on your Heisman watch list, he should be now.

USC 42 - Utah 24 -  

Oh, Utah.  Not like this. Not by imploding around shaky QB play on the road (Travis Wilson threw four interceptions). Not by getting rolled by the schizo USC Trojans.  You were supposed to be immune to such trivialities.  This was supposed to be your year!  C'est la vie, I guess.
*pssst* Travis, that dude ain't on your team.  From:
For those Trojans, they seem to be enjoying life under interim head coach Clay Helton.  With their defense getting frisky (Cameron Smith had three of those four picks, including one for a touchdown return), Cody Kessler getting hot, and the rest of their offense still boasting some of the best talent in the country (JuJu Smith-Schuster, yo.), they may not be out of this PAc-12 South race just yet...

Basketball notes - 

The Fightin' Tads held their annual media day last week, and basketball notes flowed almost up to kickoff of the OSU game, as a result. Most of what was discussed will show up in my forthcoming Massive Preview, but here are a few quick highlights:

  • It was leaked that the team fared well in their preseason scrimmage against Boise State.  I wouldn't take that too seriously, as those things are always crap-shoots, with weird substitution and timing rules, but a win is, as ever, a win.  I did raise an eyebrow in the direction of the note that Xavier Talton out-played Dom Collier.  I wouldn't have expected anything like that after XT's junior campaign.  Maybe a senior year switch has been flipped...
  • Tad showed a little leg on defense.  After a year of defensive regression, much of the talk was on a new way forward for the Buffs in their return to 'TadBall,' i.e. a return to focus on shot-percentage defense and rebounding.  Coach Boyle even teased a soft press, and mused on the way a shorter shot clock could help. One of the most eye-popping notes, however, was about perimeter defense; apparently the Buffs aren't going to halfheartedly hedge on the arc any more.  Very much welcome.
  • More importantly, Coach Boyle seems much more aggressive on challenging his charges in practice. After a season where poor attitudes and heedlessly cavalier play doomed the team to a sub-.500 record, and seemingly went unchallenged from the coaching staff, His Tadness has been saying all the right things, promising "I’m not going to make that mistake this year."
  • Taking that almost on cue, Josh Scott has vowed to be more vocal, as well. He's the undisputed leader on the roster now, so that makes since.
  • Finally, the tickets for the season ticket holders are (finally) getting a much-needed face lift.  They've been drab and lifeless the last few years, so any attempt at redesign is welcome, especially when it comes from the exceptional Emily Simpson.  Look for those in your mailboxes in the coming weeks.

Much more to come as the season approaches.  The countdown on the sidewall is ticking under 17 days, and I can barely stand the wait.  Basketball is almost back!

Happy Tuesday!

No comments: