We have officially waited two whole days to let the season settle before we started breaking it down. Today, we are kicking off our best and worst moments of 2008. Yes, as you can tell from the 10th best moment of 2008, the negatives of 2008 were much easier to come up with than the positives. But there were some positives to 2008, you just have to look much harder.
Next year, if I am acknowledging a victory over CSU as the 10th best moment of 2008, we can expect a huge change in the program. The win over Colorado State next year better be out of the top 20. But in 2008 season, August 31st was still a good day. It was the first game that The Ralphie Report was around for so it was also monumental in that sense. We were immediately validated as yours truly picked the correct final score of the game 38 - 17! The Colorado State game also gave us some false hope. The Buffs scored 38 points, the most of the season. They also had 367 yards, good for third most on the season. Josh Smith showed us a preview of what was to come this year: a prolific 93 yard kick off return and a muffed kick. Seriously, though, Josh Smith averaged 53.3 yards/return that game and 160 yards total. Early in the year, Smith was unstoppable and probably was the difference in the first three games of the year with big returns against CSU and Eastern Washington & the touchdown grab against West Virginia in the 17 - 14 win.
Freshman RB Darrell Scott also got us excited. 11 carries, 54 yards and a touchdown. He gave us a glimpse, like I said in the post game review: "We will always remember the 14 yard run with multiple broke tackles as the day we knew he was going to be special." I don't think anyone is ready to crown Scott after this year but he also had some spectacular runs against Eastern Washington, Texas A&M and Iowa State. Consistency and health will fix a lot of problems for the Buffs next year.
Even Cody Hawkins looked good in the first game of the year. He had his usual one tipped pass that went for an interception but Hawkins still threw a touchdown on 20 - 29 passing for 214 yards.
The story of the game was the defense. In 2007 and years before, Rams TE Kory Sperry was dominant against the Buffs, scoring three touchdowns in the '07 game. In 2008, the Buffs' defense made sure that Sperry wasn't going to beat them. He was visibly frustrated and ended the game with an unimpressive 2 receptions for 11 yards The Colorado defense also picked off two Billy Farris passes on their way to victory. The most impressive part of the performance was the defense technically didn't allow any long touchdown drives. The only touchdown allowed was after the tipped screen pass/interception that gave the Rams the ball deep inside the Buffs territory. The other was a kickoff return for a touchdown immediately after Josh Smith did his thing. Colorado also got to Farris six times which was their high sack total for the year.
But, in my post game review titled Love the No Huddle? Not So Much, I pointed out a few things that I wanted to see improved. At that time, I attributed the offensive no huddle issues to the first game of the year and how things would improve as the team got through Eastern Washington. About three months later and 2 - 4 injured offensive players, it looks like the Buffs regressed. In fact, we all would sign up for the offensive performance of week one over week 8 or 10. Here is what I said the Buffs needed to improve on after the Colorado State game:
The Buffs had 367 yards of offense 153 of which were on the ground. So you are asking what is wrong with that? Nothing, but our rushing game consisted of two plays last night, dive right, dive left or Cody fumbled snap. The Buffs fumbled or mishandled snaps 4 times last night that really sputtered the offense. The times when the Buffs were deep in their own territory, they didn't have a power set that allowed them to get tough yards. Maybe they were trying to be vanilla in the first game but we have to get better at a few things.
First off, plain and simple, Cody needs to be able to get under center and let Scott or Sumler or Stewart running student body left with pulling guards to keep the defense honest. It is a must. They have to add that hybrid because sitting back and running the option running game with a non-running option quarterback doesn't open a lot of things up and against a good, strong defensive line. Second, I know it is a no huddle but the Buffs need to slow it down. Remember it is not a true no huddle, it is a contained no huddle with reads and formation changes at the line. A lot of times, Cody snapped the ball before players were ready or set resulting in penalties. Third and this is probably something that will come over time, but there was not a strong rhythm to the offense. There wasn't that one dominating drive without any penalties or miss snaps that got you feeling great about the offense. There was glimpses though.
A lot of those issues applied against Nebraska.
Still, that hot day August 31st was a good day for Buffs fans. They properly escorted the Rams out of Denver with a loss, the offense showed promise, the defensive scheme was strong, Aric Goodman made all 5 of his extra point attempts & a field goal, we saw a little something from Darrell Scott and Josh Smith & Scotty McKnight looked like a dangerous combination. It was a good way to start the season.
The Worst of 2008 #10 is coming up next...