When we checked out CU's 2010 schedule before the season, October looked daunting. A home loss to Georgia looked likely, and who really believed we had a chance against Mizzou or OU on the road? At least the back-to-back home games against Baylor & T.Tech looked highly winnable. When the not-so-dry leaves settled, Colorado had gone 1-4 for the month, which was only one more loss than might have reasonably been expected.
Looking at November's schedule, as much now as then it reveals an easier slate that should produce a 3-1 record . Both Kansas teams and Iowa State have struggled for the most part, and you never know what's going to happen in a CU-NU game. All is not lost, as the Buffs can still play for a bowl game, but they must first play to get out of the Big XII North cellar, stepping on the Jayhawks to climb out.
Anytime your team gets only two more 1st downs than points in a 43-10 loss, you know there were few highlights:
1. Strong Defense... for One Quarter - The Buffs D held OU to 1 of 4 on 3rd down conversions and 3 points in the first quarter. Even the first 17 points OU scored in the second quarter didn't end the game in the first half, but the safety and ensuing TD by the Sooners did.
2. Speedy's rushing average... but no 100 yards - Rodney Stewart had a strong 4.5 yards/carry average for the game; it might have produced a lot of yards, but he only carried 19 times. Of his 10 carries in the first half, 6 of them went for 1 yard or less. CU's running backs produced only 90 yards rushing for the game.
3. Good Kicking Game... except for 11 seconds in the 2nd quarter - Both kick and punt coverage was excellent for the Buffs, as they only allowed a total of 51 yards. Grossnickle had a good 42.3-yard average, and Goodman got all three of his kickoffs into the endzone. All of that good work was nullified by a blocked rugby-style kick for a safety, followed by a 44-yard kickoff that, combined with a penalty, set OU up on CU's 48-yard line. Nine points later, the game was virtually over.
(More Quickness after the jump.)
Let's move on to this Saturday's game already.
1. CU has lost their running game - With 104 yards on the ground combined in the last two games, it looks like CU has no running game. The reality is if you don't commit to it, you wont have it. Stewart's average last week porves that it's more about number of carries per game, and the timing of those carries, that makes the difference. The Buffs may have lost their dual-threat QB, but they still have all of their offensive linemen, and they still have Stewart. They have their running game, they just need to find it and use it.
2. CU can't win a road game - With a 3-year losing streak on the road, it may seem impossible for the Buffs to win on the road, but the Jayhawks may be the answer that Colorado has been searching for away from Folsom Field. The Buffs lead the Jayhawks in almost every statistical category, and they have a significant advantage in turnover margin. CU is the better team, and if they can believe that going in, they can come out with a win.
3. CU hasn't learned from its mistakes - After seeing another kick blocked after another rugby-style kick, it would seem nothing has been learned. Actually, the Buffaloes have learned to limit most other mistakes, as they received only five penalties in each of the last two games, and they committed no turnovers in either game. More freshmen are playing now than at any point this year, yet mistakes appear to be down. That bodes well for the future.
1. Improve on 1st Down - All to often, first down has been a wasted down for Colorado. With the exception of a 60-yard pass for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter of the Texas Tech game, a significant gain on first down, either by air or ground, has been rare. When a running play was tried, it usually resulted in a 1-yard gain or worse. If it was a pass play, it was usually incomplete. Whether it is unimaginative plays or lack of readiness or execution, they haven't been working. Improvement on first down will lead to more success on third-down. If nothing else, consider reducing the number of first down pass plays so that such plays catch the defense more offguard when they happen.
2. Always be the Aggressor - Whether on Offense, Defense or Special Teams, be aggressive and make them play your game. Don't ever stand back and wait for the Jayhawks to do something. Take the play to them. This requires constant mental toughness and confidence. It doesn't mean go out of your assignments, it just means execute those assignments actively and aggressively every time. And on special teams, go for it with a fake at least once in the game if under appropriate circumstances.
3. Thrive on being the Enemy - When you're on the road, you have to enjoy the role of villain. Circle the wagons and carry a chip on your shoulder, but don't just do that, because it always puts one in a defensive posture. Do it in an aggressive way. You have to be the invaders, there to sack, destroy and terrorize, and then steal and bring back the victory. You're the Buffaloes, in town to trample and pillage! GO BUFFS! ROCK THE CHALKIN' JAYHAWKS!! START OFF NOVEMBER RIGHT AND SEND KU TO THE CELLAR TO STAY!!!