Upon Second Viewing: Colorado vs. California

I know, Will Pericak. You were given absolutely no help on Saturday. It's why this photo is so representative of the game against the Cal Bears

 

So I didn't actually watch this game again. I couldn't. I think most people could tell you on first viewing (which was more than enough) that we did very few good things. But I did reflect on the game quite a bit, so follow the jump for my analysis-by-memory and some thoughts on the game.

 

We were bad. On Offense, we were absolutely miserable. Our best player was Rodney Stewart, but he was given terrible blocking and had very little room to run. Our Tight Ends have struggled with their in-line blocking thus far this season. It was true against CSU, and it was extremely evident against Cal. On a team that opens holes for him, Stewart could be averaging 150 yards a game instead of 70 yards per game (hmmm, isn't that about what he averaged last year...?).

My biggest problem with our Offense, however, was a single aspect of the play calling. I'm not upset by the balance of running to passing plays. It was this: Anyone else notice how Hansen's rhythm was thrown off right from the start? The bad field position and all? Now I'm no Offensive Coordinator, but isn't there an effective and easy way to nullify defensive pressure, give your QB space to operate and a chance to develop a rhythm with his Receivers? Am I wrong, or don't most teams achieve this by rolling the pocket to one side or the other? Do you think this would have helped Tyler Hansen out? Hansen, who couldn't hit any of his Receivers from inside the pocket? Hansen who has always been better at passing while on the run? The fact that they didn't change anything on Offense is yet another sign that the coaches haven't learned anything since last year. I thought they had, but they proved me wrong against California.

I will be interested to see the statistics that the Buffs will release sometime on Monday. It looked to me like Mike Iltis had the best game of all the CU Offensive Linemen. Interesting, because he was the new starter. The stats may show something different, but I don't remember him getting abused nearly as badly as Nate Solder or Keenan Stevens did. Overall, our Offensive Line did not have a good game. Again, I give David Bakhtiari a bit of a pass for his early False Start, because that was the first road game of his career. Those other guys should all know better.

I joked in the Game Thread that Ron Collins & the Defense must have done something to Eric Kiseau and the Offense that angered them, because the Offense kept putting the Defense in terrible situations. Add Kent Riddle and the Special Teams into the game-week shenanigans. They did not play very well either. Grossnickle was solid when he wasn't kicking from the back of his endzone. But his first two punts were with less than ideal space for the snap and kick. He wasn't great when he had space, but that wasn't the problem.

MENTAL ERRORS: I don't care if we blow out Hawaii next week, games like the one against Cal are completely unacceptable, yet they keep happening. It wasn't the occasional mistake or faux pas, it was at least one almost every time we took the field on Offense or Special Teams. This team was not prepared. Not even a little bit. I credit the Defense, though they faltered down the line as well. We played against an extremely talented Offense so they were going to score points against us. But we made it FAR too easy for them, and difficult for our Defense. Cal had scoring drives of 19 and 31 yards in the first quarter, and then a 7 yard scoring drive in the second. That is ridiculous. Even a bad offense would've been up early on us, let alone a team with the weapons that Cal has.

Our Defense was OK considering. Like I said, we were going to give up some points against Cal because they have a lot of talent. The Offense was directly responsible for 14 of the 52 points, and those short drives accounted for 17 points (That is still on the Defense, I know. But Cal's excellent field position had a big part of those points, and that part was NOT on the Defense). That leaves 21 points that I give the Defense 100% of the credit for. That would have been just fine with me. Now the Defense could have held the Bears to field goals on the other two of those short drives, but they didn't. I'm not saying the Defense had a great day, but they aren't responsible for 100% of the 52 points that Cal put up against us.

Overall, I just can't believe this. Another absolutely miserable showing on the road. And yet, our Coach can still say this:

On playing on the road: 
"I don't know so much it was necessarily the road. I think it was just us and the way Cal played. I don't think [we] were intimidated or any of that type of thing."

Are you sure? Because your record on the road while at CU is now 2-20. That's bad. That's absolutely unacceptable. If your road record was anywhere near your record at home (12-12), we wouldn't be talking about this (I mean, we might, but that's neither here nor there). Not to say your home record is all that good either, but you are clearly not as good on the road. We're not imagining it. If this wasn't the status quo, your statement would be absolutely correct. But the Buffs inability to win on the road since you've been here is a pattern. A pattern that you haven't fixed.

That's the key. You haven't fixed the problem, and there is definitely a problem. I can appreciate your insistence on keeping a level head all of the time, Coach Hawk. Only it isn't working. At some point, you need to change something. I'll go to one of the many cliches that I could bring out here: The definition of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting the results to change. Hawkins, you haven't been able to win on the road, and you still can't. Maybe you should think about exploring the possibility of doing something just a little different. Please. Please please PLEASE!

This is more like it:

Scotty McKnight, WR
On California's defense: -"Defensively, [we saw] a lot of what we expected and what we saw on film. I think they ran a little more cover three and brought a little more heat; zone blitzes and stuff like that. Nothing we weren't prepared for. We practiced against it. We just played terrible."

"There were a couple times I could have had some big plays, and I think that could go for every receiver. We felt like we had a mismatch at the wide receiver position and we couldn't get the ball out.... We didn't have time."

On Colorado's offense: -"I can control what I can control. I play wide receiver, I'm not going to act like I know everything about offensive line play or quarterback play. All I need to focus on is keep getting separation and keep getting open and as a receiver unit, that's what we need to work on. We need to do better on offense. We were killing our defense today. You might take a look up at the scoreboard and see we gave up so many points, but as an offense we killed them. Whether it's turning the ball over or not creating any field position for ourselves, we were killing those guys. We need to come together as an entire team and hit it on all cylinders or its going to look like that again. We have a ton of work to do."

On the game: -"This is the most embarrassing game of my life. I don't even know how to handle it. We did not show up to play today. We have the players. We have talented guys, but we just executed terribly today in all phases of the game. We didn't all show up today. We need to. Cal is a good football team. They've got some great players.... That doesn't say that we don't match up against them though. We have some great players as well. We beat ourselves most of the day. We didn't give them a chance to beat us. We continuously got penalties and turned the ball over. That's stuff we can control and we didn't. That's why the score looks like that."

Scotty McKnight understands. He talks about how many times our talented Wide Receivers (and they ARE talented) were open. He talks about being embarrassed. He talks about not showing up as a team. I think the Wide Receivers showed up. They got open quite a bit. But Hansen was incredibly inaccurate against the Bears. Of his 17 first half passes, I only saw two that were on target. He was behind or under-threw almost every receiver he tried to hit. It was bad.

Now, I looked at everything again, and I think we can beat Hawaii this week. Coming home will help (yes, Hawkins, it will. Don't pretend it won't). They will score points on us, but they don't have nearly the athletes that Cal does on either side of the ball (though I don't believe athleticism was quite the problem that the coaches and players were quoted as claiming after the game).

Greater Reprecussions:

The Athletic Department and the Administration can't have any confidence in Hawkins anymore. I know we, the fans, don't. I feel terrible for every single one of the Buff fans who showed up to the game in Berkeley. All the fans have been failed over and over again, but this showing was one for the ages. I'm certain we haven't had that many fans at a road game since Hawkins came to CU. The coaches and players finally talk the team up this off-season to generate the best fan support we've had at a road game, and that's all the Buffs can give them?

This can't go on. Now, I do believe that this season isn't over. There are still ten games to play, and six of those are home games (phew, right?). But this game proved that the Buffs haven't gotten any better in five years. That is an incredibly long time of not improving, and it cannot continue. And the worst part of all of this, is that the "Sack-Hawk" talk will now hang over the teams head all year.

And of course, with talk of firing the Coach beginning already, we will be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to recruiting. Hawkins has done a sub-par job of recruiting when he has job security. How can he get anyone when he has zero job security? Or a consistently bad record? Or a fanbase that will undoubtedly let their displeasure show in the attendance numbers?

You keep asking us to show up and support the team. Every single one of us supports the team, Coach. But it is getting increasingly difficult to spend money to see a product that consistently disappoints. What have you shown us that would make us think this year will be any different. Do you think we will have more than 35,000 fans at the home game against Hawaii? It's too bad too, because we are honoring Alfred Williams at the game next week. I'll be there, but I don't blame people who don't want to spend their Saturday in the presence of this team.

For reference, here are the games from this week with more lopsided scores than our game against Cal:

Maryland beat Morgan State 62-3. Morgan State is from the MEAC.

UCONN beat Texas Southern 62-3. Texas Southern is from the SWAC.

TCU beat Tennessee Tech 62-7. TTU is from the Ohio Valley Conference.

All three of those games pitted a FBS team against an FCS team. Our game was an FBS team against an FBS team. That is pathetic.

And we get to see just how bad CSU is this year next week, when Cal faces the team that beat them this week, Nevada. Remember, we beat CSU 24-3. Nevada beat them 51-6. If Cal beats Nevada as badly as I think they will, it will only make us look that much worse.

But remember. There are still ten games left to play. That could be a good thing, or a very bad thing. I guess we'll find out soon enough...

(Above quotes from Dan Hawkins and Scotty McKnight both came from the complete game book CU published on CUBuffs.com. Click on "Final Game Book")

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