Never has a game between two out of conference teams, in a season opener nonetheless, given Colorado Buffalo fans more optimism going into the season. Maybe optimism isn't exactly the right word...hope is probably a better one. Certainly, CU fans got a good laugh at watching the Oregon Ducks last night. No team has been in the forefront of our discussions this offseason more than the Oregon Ducks. From recruiting, courting current offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau, hiring former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, battling for recruits (with the team from Eugene winning at a very high rate) and the Diante Jackson saga.
Frankly, Buff fans have become sick, envious, angered by Oregon. Well, last night Colorado fans couldn't have scripted it any better. In 60 minutes plus the three minutes after the game that will live on for a while, Oregon's play and extracurriculars were an absolute spectacle. It was like watching a train wreck and you couldn't take your eyes off of it. Oregon, in its first game under new coach Chip Kelly, managed just 14 yards in the first half and didn't record a first down until the third quarter. That isn't a typo; zero points, zero first downs in the first thirty minutes of play. Boise State outgained Oregon 361 to 152, accounting for 22 first downs to the Ducks' six. This from an Oregon team that returned its quarterback off the 7th ranked offense from a year ago.
I quote these stats because the offensive coordinator who led the Buffs to the 95th, 72nd and 102nd ranked offense the last three years has assumed the position at Oregon. That is where the hope comes from. Of course, it has been well documented that the "offensive guru" in Chip Kelly was going to be calling the shots, not Mark Helfrich, but the optimism really comes from the fact that the spread offense is out of Boulder. After watching last nights's game, it served as reminder to last year's issues and thank heaven its gone.
If you happened to tune in, you saw that "soft" style of football so familiar and I know you chuckled. Two plays is all I needed to be glad the spread is dead. First, on its own three yard line, Oregon, like the Buffs last year, found it difficult to actually take a snap under center in a situation that no one should be handing the ball two yards deep in the end zone at a standstill. You know what proceeded; a safety. All too familiar in situations where the Buffs needed to pound the ball, finesse prevailed and so did a negative play.
And the best play of the night for me had to be the 4th and one that, once again, showed why having some semblance of a power running game is important. You know the story; a shotgun give to a stagnant running back which resulted in a negative play. Boise ball.
After 152 yards and six first downs, I think every Buff fan will now agree, "hey, this change at offensive coordinator was probably a good thing." Eric Kiesau, we are ready for you to take us to the new heights!
And then we get to what everyone will be talking about today. The punch, teammates fighting, words exchanged with Boise fans...pure drama after a poorly played game on the field. Luckily for Oregon, former Nebraska Cornhuskers football player and now wide receivers coach, Scott Frost, was able to stop starting running back LeGarrette Blount from becoming mentioned in the same sentence as Ron Artest, as Blount attempted to tango with a few Boise fans who took exception to the running back's pregame statement: "We are going to give Boise State an a** whoopin." Blount still made good on his statement when he punched Boise State's Byron Hout. If you have not seen the footage because you went to bed with 10 seconds left, do yourself a favor and go to YouTube. I guarantee you will watch it 10 times like I did.
I think the Buffs have a little recruiting help now.
Finally, as I was searching for Mark Helfrich quotes (none worth mentioning, at least none with any personality), I found this article written on September 2, 2009 by Jonh Hunt of the Oregonian - "Oregon-Boise State gameday preview: Can Ducks keep their cool?" Talk about the perfect title and foreshadowing the events of last night.