Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: "They’re basically starving."

I continue to be impressed with #TheRise.  Through two weeks the Colorado football team looks good... honestly, legitimately good.  They're making plays, executing, and getting the most out of every snap on both sides of the ball.  Head Coach Mike MacIntyre, after the game Saturday, chalked this up to the players entering the season 'starving' for success.  They certainly look it.  It's to the point that I'm expecting a quality performance this week in Michigan, despite the fact that they were installed as 20-point underdogs to the #4 team in the country.  Maybe the Buffs won't win, maybe they can't win, but I at least know they're going to show up.  I believe: Colorado is going to head east, give it their best, and prove to the nation that CU belongs on the same field as one of the heavies in the sport.  It's a confidence I haven't had in recent years, but have now. Damn, this kool-aid tastes good.

Go get 'em, Buffs.  Shock the world!


Today in the bag, I'm talking a first round TKO of the Idaho State Bengals, some big recruiting news from Tad Boyle's basketball kingdom, and a roundup of the week's action in Pac-12 football.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs cruise to big win over Idaho State - 

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Boulder, under a crystal clear sky and fading summer sun, the Colorado Buffaloes took another step towards relevance with their performance against the Idaho State Bengals. They came into the game heavy favorites, yet still played with confidence, precision, and purpose to put away their FCS opponent early.  So complete and total was their victory that the backups were in prior to halftime, and the final frames were reduced to nothing more than a glorified scrimmage between second and third units.  In the end, the 56-7 scoreline in the 2016 Colorado home opener checked all the boxes, sending the team to Ann Arbor on a high note.
Sefo capped a solid half of football.  From:
This is the mark of a good team -- that they don't toy with the lighter fare, and move on to the next one healthy and rested.  We've seen in years past how dangerous and embarrassing fixtures against lower sub-division squads can be, and P5 teams like Washington State and Northwestern have already proved this fall that you can't take any name on the schedule lightly.  Colorado was not playing around on Saturday, however; they were putting in the work.  From kickoff to the 4:21 mark of the second half, when QB Sefo Liufau scampered into the endzone and out of the game to make it 42-0, the Buffs imposed their will.  They consistently moved the ball on offense, and gave up next to nothing on 'D.'  It was a boat-race, complete and total, even more so than the week prior.  No signs of a step back or a lack of focus, it was a 100% day from CU.

Really, the only complaints I have involve a few dropped interceptions from the defense, another fumble in the run game, and a few missed throws from Sefo, but those are superficial notes.  Sure, those plays need to be made against competition with a pulse, but it's hard, as a fan, to focus on them right now.  After 120 minutes of play, the Buffaloes have beaten their competition, such as it is, by a combined line of 100-14.  They've been rolling, and deserve a few nods from the god of benefit-of-the-doubt.
No worries here.  From: the Daily Herald.
Of course, we're going to see moments of struggle this fall.  This season will not continue to be easy, and, as Tad Boyle would say, 'the price of poker is about to go up.'  But, if for only a few weekends in September, Colorado has been playing like one of the best football teams in the country, and I'm lapping it up.  These have been more than just wins over indifferent competition, the Buffs have taken care of business, with extended emphasis.  It's one thing to win as expected, it's another to look good while doing it, and CU has been doing just that.  Now, all that's left is to do it against quality opponents and the Pac-12.  The next two weeks, featuring games on the road against top-25 competition, will tell us a lot, and I'm expecting the instruction to be positive.  Until then, just look at the box score and breathe comfortably.

The Bulle(i)t points -
  • The first half stat discrepancy is damn near pornographic.  CU out-gained ISU 410-48 over that first 30 minutes of play, punting just once compared to the Bengals eight.  The Buffs were also 7-9 on third down (backing one of those two misses with a fourth down conversion) before turning things over to the second string.  In total, Colorado is now 80-0 entering halftime this season, really the only 60 minutes of play that I've really felt they've been trying full-bore.  Just dominating.
  • The first string offense had a great day.  Sefo Liufau finished with 258 total yards and three combined scores in just 26 minutes of action.  Phil Lindsay added two more touchdowns of his own on just eight carries.  The receiving duo of Shay Fields and Jay MacIntyre combined for 154 yards, while Devin Ross added another touchdown grab.  All-in, these subdued numbers produced in limited action aren't going to help anyone in Boulder win the Heisman, but we got to see some good, quality execution while they were out there.
  • Defensively, the team continues to look the terror.  Playing with what I felt was a vanilla attack, the first string limited the Bengals to almost nothing.  Hell, even with the backups in, the only score against came thanks to a fumble from freshman running back Beau Bisharat giving CU a short field to defend.  In total, ISU was held to under 100 yards of total offense -- I'll call that a win.
  • With those numbers in the book, Colorado is now the #1 defense in the country, allowing just 160.5 yards per contest in the early going.  Note: that's 'in the country,' not just Pac-12.  Yo.
  • The second half practice session allowed us an extended look at QB-of-the-future Steve Montez.  He went 6-10 for 151 total yards and two passing touchdowns.  His first scoring throw, to fellow freshman Kabion Ento, was a thing of beauty.  Pressured into a rollout, Montez found the breaking receiver open with a sweet little throw.  While I didn't see anything that would make me comfortable if Sefo went down this fall, I am looking forward to seeing more of the kid in 2017.
  • Through two weeks, the number of *sighs* uttered by yours truly: 0.  I'll take that.

Tad Boyle closes on two 4-star recruits for 2017, earns his coffee for the fall - 

As the old marketing slogan goes, 'basketball never sleeps.'  While most in BuffNation were snoozing through the late morning on a football Saturday, Coach Tad Boyle was putting in work, hosting a trio of four-star recruits on official visits.  Those visits bore immediate fruit, as a pair of those recruits announced commitments to the Black and Gold before I had even finished my breakfast. If 'coffee's for closers,' than Coach Boyle deserves a big-ass gift card to Starbucks.

Up first was wing Tyler Bey, who committed to Colorado over regional recruiting rivals San Diego State and Arizona State. A 6-7 small forward from LA (originally Las Vegas), Bey becomes the first marquee SoCal recruit to become Boulder-bound since Xavier Johnson (with all apologies to Bryce Peters).  He's known as an elite-level defender and rebounder with a lot of versatility to range all over the court from the 2 to the 4.  Phrase variations like 'long arms,' 'high level athleticism,' and 'unselfish play' also usually feature on Tyler's scouting reports, along with notes regarding a developing three point shot.  He's an exciting prospect that is considered a fringe top-100 talent by most services; lots of upside here, particularly on the defensive end.
Bey was the first to commit on Saturday.  From: Scout
Right on his heels, word leaked that local product D'Shawn Schwartz was also pledging to be a Buff.  A 6-6, 220 lbs leaper from Colorado Springs, he looks to continue the El Paso County pipeline that has sent heavies like Josh Scott and Wes Gordon northward up I-25.  Another wing with good rebounding talent, Schwartz has been getting a lot of good local and national reviews on the AAU circuit. A unanimous 4-star, some sites have him in the top-70 nationally, and his stock could continue to rise over the winter.  I like his jumper a lot more than I do Bey's, and, accordingly, see D'Shawn as more of an offensive piece, compared to Tyler's defensive.  Good vision, good passing skills, as well.  He chose CU over Butler, Memphis, and UNLV.

I will say that neither commitment was that big of a surprise.  Colorado had been in on the in-state Schwartz for some time now, and had also been a favorite for Bey for the last few months. Additionally, if you look at who will be graduating this year, you can clearly see that Coach Boyle was looking to fill need.  With Xavier Johnson and Wes Gordon stepping out of the program after this season, there's a big hole open in the roster for athletic, versatile forwards.  Bey looks great as a future Wes (slightly undersized '4' with high athleticism and good defensive skills), while Schwartz should slip nicely in the XJ role (good three-point stroke, strong weakside rebounding, tough matchup).  I love these two fits!

Looking forward, along with preferred walk-on/designated future scholarship forward Alexander Strating, Colorado has used three of their four available 2017 scholarships.  So, barring any additional attrition (wouldn't surprise me), that leaves just one open slot. To that end, you'll notice that my lede here mentioned three visitors last weekend.  Well, the other was wide-bodied 6-7, 280 lbs SoCal center Evan Battey.  The kid has a laundry list of other offers from mid majors and second tier powers like Miami and Purdue (who he will also be visiting this month), and is another exciting prospect.  Battey would be a nice cap to this class, coming in as an anchor that the program can build around; luckily for us in BuffNation, then, that he seemed to really enjoy his trip to Boulder.  As much as I like Evan, though, I do have a preference for a point guard to round out the class.  There are already a pair of true centers on roster for the 2017 season, along with a number of power forward options, and it might be better, down the road, if another true lead guard was in-system, developing.
Tad: victorious.  From: Ralphie Report.
Regardless as to how that final scholarship is spent, however, this is already a statement on the recruiting trail from Coach Boyle.  For some time, watchers of the program, myself included, had been throwing shade in the direction of the program's recruiting efforts, in most cases just desperate for a splashy, home run signees to trumpet.  Well, look no further, as Tad knocked a pair of bombs out of the park this weekend; the result of which has Colorado in with the current 17th best recruiting class, according to Scout.  Long story short, the future continues to look bright for Colorado Basketball.  As always, Roll Tad.

Around the world of Pac-12 football -

- Arizona State 68 - Texas Tech 55 - 

I think this is a good result for Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils.  Tubby Smith left the cupboard in Lubbock with some interesting pieces, and Chris Beard could sneak his squad into the Tournament when all is said and done...  Wait, this is a football score?  Hell, I thought this was some line from a wayyyyyy too early non-conference basketball fixture played overseas. Holy 'defense optional, Batman!'
Would somebody please stop somebody!  From
As an affront to the football gods, these two teams allowed each other to combine for 1,254 yards of offense, and one-time Colorado recruiting fixation Kalen Ballage scored eight touchdowns on just 15 touches of the ball..  There must have been some mistake, and both teams only thought they could legally put nine out there on defense.  Seriously, both defensive coordinators deserve to be lead out into the street for public humiliation.  Possibly tarred and feathered, I don't know.

- Utah 20 - BYU 19 - 

Kudos to hated rival Utah for their dispatching of in-state nemesis BYU over the weekend.  The 97th edition of the 'Holy War' came down to the final seconds, as newly minted Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake eschewed a tying extra point attempt in favor of a bold try at the two point conversion.  The BYU offensive line, however, wasn't up to the challenge, allowing a jailbreak at the point of attack to swarm what may or may not have been a QB draw attempt.  As a result, Utah, somehow, overcame six turnovers to survive in SLC.  BYU hasn't won in this series since 2009.

- Arizona 31 - Grambling St 21 -
Speaking of abject humiliation, how did Arizona find themselves down 21-3 to fucking Grambling at halftime this past Saturday.  They knew Grambling was a SWAC school, right?  Like, how does that even happen?  I guess, with Colorado suddenly looking competent, our conference brethren decided that they needed to pick up the slack on the 'total garbage' front.
Arizona was lucky to slip past Grambling.  From:
Luckily, for the sake of Pac-12 pride, the Wildcats recovered, thanks in part to six second half turnovers from the Tigers.  You can't like how this looks going forward, though.  I think we have found our new Pac-12 South cellar dweller candidate.

- Oregon 44 - Virginia 26 - 

If you don't mind looking past Michigan, into Week 4 against Oregon, it's important to note this game.  The Cavaliers, who lost at home last week to FCS Richmond, looked to be on semi-competitive footing against the Ducks for whole stretches, only reinforcing my perception that this version of UO is still not Oregon, the death bringer.  Ducks gonna Duck, though, and Oregon powered through some inconsistency to put up 632 yards of offense.  Up in Seattle, though, the hope is starting to brew that their 13-year drought in the UO-UW rivalry might, finally, have a chance to end.

Happy Tuesday! 

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