Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It is SO GOOD to be 1) enjoying the arrival of football again, 2) sitting in a stadium watching the Buffaloes play again, 3) watching the promise of young talent come to fruition, and 4) seeing CU start a season off with a WIN again, especially against the bothersome Ram-A-Lambs. A ding-dong or two claimed the game was boring - they must have been CSU alums, tipsy from their usual pre-game warm-up. Yes, a close game would have been more exciting, but just because somebody didn't hold up their end doesn't mean the Rocky Mountain Showdown wasn't full of thrills and spills for CU fans.
By the numbers: 101 all-purpose yards by Rodney Stewart ; only 49 yards rushing allowed by the defense; 21 CU players making their first appearance; 8 tackles by first-time starter Jon Major; 8 tackles for loss by the defense(3 by B.J Beatty); 5 catches and 1 TD by CU's new transfer receivers in their first starts(Clemons, Patterson, Richardson); 5 rushes for 5.2 yards per by true freshman RB Justin "J.T." Torres; 3 total TD's by "new" starter Tyler Hansen; 3 interceptions(Sandersfeld, Perkins, Jalil Brown); 3 sacks(Rippy, Goree, Beatty); 3 trouble-free kicks through the uprights by Aric Goodman; 3 booming touchbacks by the same Mr. Goodman; 1 blocked field goal by Will Pericak(by the way, it's pronounced Pre-Check, & by now you should know you wouldn't want to upset him); 1 first down allowed by the Buff D in 14 3rd- & 4th-down tries; 1 all-time CU record set for most receptions in a career by Scotty McKnight (& done while scoring a touchdown, to boot).
2 out of 3 aint bad: the three areas that usually determine the outcome of football games, and in which CU needed to get marked improvement, are special teams, turnover "ratio", and penalties. Special teams made a complete turnaround, performing well in every aspect except the direction of the "rugby" punts, which were first-time-ever attempts by an excellent freshman kicker in Zach Grossnickle. CU won the turnover battle with three interceptions to CSU's one, and no lost fumbles. Penalties were another story, or rather 10 chapters in the same sad story. The resulting 10 gassers in the next practice hopefully served as a reminder that more focus on start count and finding the line of scrimmage can do wonders.
Local fans don't support the Rocky Mountain Showdown - Almost all I heard on the radio about the game was that hardly anybody showed. I wouldn't consider 60,000+ tickets sold as a disappointment, even if it's true that only 45,000 or so showed. 30-35,000 CU fans showing up on a Labor Day weekend is a good show of support for a neutral site game. The truth is that the lowest attendance so far for the Showdown has more to do with the past than the present. When two teams that were 3-9 last year meet, you get an early 12 noon kickoff, you get joint custody of Saturday instead of Sunday almost all to yourself, and you get the Mountain as sole provider of coverage(although that is mostly because this was CSU's home game, so they and the Mountain West Conference called the shots). Projected weather in the 90's, a down economy, and a well-publicized crackdown on massive quantities of alcohol consumption did the rest. If you look back at past attendance in Denver, there's a strong correlation between the previous year's records and the number of fans that show up.
The running game isn't working - 115 rushing yards and a 3.3 yds/carry average doesn't sound like the running game is working. Take away the two sacks and you get 144 yards on 33 carries for a 4.4 average. That's a more accurate picture, and it's a good total considering that CU's offense only had about 60 plays in the game compared to the usual 70+ plays. The best take-aways from this game about the Buffs rushing attack are 1) Coach Hawkins showed he is committed to it by pulling the reins from Coach Kiesau in CU"s first possession in the 2nd quarter and calling 5 straight running plays producing 33 yards to set up CU's 2nd TD, 2) CU figured out that JT Torres is the answer to how to run out the clock when your in the lead at the end of the game, and 3) Tyler Hansen will be involved in the running game whether they call his number or not.
TODAY - COLORADO Golden Buffaloes vs. CALIFORNIA Golden Bears
Forget the PAC 12 Preview, Just Show You Can Win on the Road - The only important PAC12 preview will be going on in the stands, not on the field. The projected 7000 CU fans showing up in a stadium not known for its decibel level will not only show everyone that CU's move is in the right direction, but it will give the team a much-needed boost. With only 2 true road wins in the last four years, it's time to get that monkey off their backs against a young Cal team.
Replace Emotion with Mental Acuity and Focus - Last week, the Buffs had something to prove, and they were able to atone for an atrocious loss last year at Folsom. Now they can take down the photos of CSU fans stomping on Ralphie and focus on showing those Californians that they, too, have superior talent, much of it coming from the Golden State itself. Focus is needed to eliminate the penalties and miscues and let their true talent shine. The Bears showed last week they have some studs on offense, while the Buffs showed last week they are wide and deep with talent on defense, and can more than match up with Cal. On offense, Colorado has the horsepower and the torque to run over the Bears. Let's Go Buffaloes, show the Bears what the "Old" Big XII is all about!!!