"Hey Guys... I'm not hurt!" (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Recapping Colorado Buffaloes Football and Pac-12 News, Links, and Stories
Jon Embree believes he has a remedy for Colorado's ragged and ineffective special teams play, but he concedes the fix might come at a high price. Terming CU's special teams work last weekend in Columbus "obviously pathetic," Embree acknowledged the risk of exposing starters to injury by using them on special teams. But in light of the Buffs' poor showing in those areas against the Buckeyes and with nine league games looming, "It's damned if you do, damned if you don't," he said.
"We're at the point if we have to play 30 guys, we'll play 30 guys the whole game. That's where we are." Embree said he went into the season's first month realizing his team's lack of overall depth, "So you try to protect some guys . . . for example, how many special teams do you put (freshman) Greg Henderson on? He's your only starting corner. You risk an injury to him. We have that at a few positions where there's not depth behind a starter and you want to be leery of exposing them on those plays and limit the chance of injury.
"You play a team with (Ohio State's) kind of speed and size . . . that's the reason for a lot of those penalties. We had guys who couldn't get in position, so they hold. That's what happens on special teams when you get outrun 30 or 40 yards down the field and you're trying to get a guy - you end up grabbing him because you can't run with him. So the starters are just going to have to go . . . You just hope you can stay injury free."
The Buffs haven't used the same five starters for any two games this season. They lost starting right tackle Jack Harris for the season to a broken ankle and have used a total of nine offensive linemen. "It's played a role," Embree said.
"It has, but we got to go. You know what I mean? We have to keep working on it and keep improving. The good thing is it's providing some playing time for some guys who will be players for us in the future. So that is the positive out of it."
The first four games with Embree at the helm of the program and Bieniemy calling the shots on offense has produced nothing close to their ultimate vision. In fact, when the Buffs have been at their best this season, it has been when quarterback Tyler Hansen has had time to throw to Paul Richardson, Toney Clemons, tight end Ryan Deehan or running back Rodney Stewart coming out of the backfield.
Running game? The truth is the Buffs just don't have much of one.
Looking at the numbers from a week of offensive collapses (Texas A&M, Central Florida), ridiculous rushing success (Trent Richardson, LaMichael James, Jonas Gray and the entire Florida roster) and some ball hogs (Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma State).
1: Tackles for loss managed by the Nebraska defense against Wyoming. The Huskers won, 38-14, powered by Rex Burkhead (170 yards in 15 carries) and an offense that gained 490 yards, but in three games versus FBS competition (Fresno State, Washington and Wyoming), they have managed just four tackles for loss. And now they have to go to Madison and try not to get pushed around by the Wisconsin front five in their Big Ten debut.
50: Length, in yards, of Ohio State's longest scoring drive in their 37-17 win over Colorado. Braxton Miller completed just five of 13 passes and averaged just 3.9 per pass attempt (including sacks), but the Buckeyes destroyed the Buffs with field position advantage; their scoring drives traveled five (touchdown), 10 (field goal), 11 (field goal), 43 (touchdown), 46 (touchdown, 50 (field goal) and 50 (yards). Colorado hasn't won a road game since approximately 1990, and spotting opponents half the field and 12.1 turnover points really isn't the best way to end that streak.
Too much to take? Don't worry, there's more Pacific Takes LOL-Captions after the jump...
With revenue inequality and historical bickering still around, the Big 12 is just about as dysfunctional as any conference has ever been. Last night, which entailed a round of press conferences following the resignation of commissioner Dan Beebe, did not assuage much of the uncertainty in the air. This is a shame, because it is distracting from the fact that the Big 12 is as deep now as it has ever been.
Pac-12 Photostories: Where Oregon Warps Past Arizona - Pacific Takes - Funny pictures with funnier captions, so long as they're not about us...
Washington State (2-1, 0-0) at Colorado (1-3, 0-0) 3:30 p.m., FCS: The first "official" Pac-12 game inside Folsom Field (the visit from California didn't count in the conference standings). Both teams probably feel like they need to win this game to have hopes for bowl eligibility. They haven't played since 2004, a 20-12 Buffaloes win.
It's not lonely at the bottom. At least not yet. Maybe that's a consolation.
Colorado Diagnosis: New coaches. New systems. Questionable talent that is accustomed to losing. Some key injuries, including the starting center quitting. A team that has a road-phobia playing in two tough road environments. A flaccid running game. It would have been nice if the Jon Embree Era could have started with a couple of directional schools in Folsom Field, with a bye perhaps thrown in around week five or six, but that's not how things worked out.
Is there hope? You'll know Saturday when Washington State comes to town. Because of a 13-game schedule, the Buffs need seven wins to earn bowl eligibility. You'd have to assume that one of them must be at home against the Cougars. Lose, and it's hard to imagine this team winning five games.
On Rodney Stewart’s shoulder – "He was out here today. I think he’s okay – but we didn’t hit. He’s a tough kid, so we’ll see."
On Stewart’s backups – "Tony Jones is doing well. We’ll get him going some more, too. The question now is the number three guy, as we continue on. This is only our fourth game, and we’re going to need a third guy at some point, guaranteed. We’ve got to keep developing that, see who that is." Not Josh Ford? – "We did (have Ford as the number three), but he’s not contributing on (special) teams. I’m not going to just bring a guy (on the road) as a ‘just in case guy’. I’m not going to travel guys just to travel guys, you know. You’ve got to contribute. (Ford) and a few other guys had their chances on special teams the last three games. I’m not saying it’s his fault, but we see what the results are on special teams, so we’ve got to move on …".
In addition to Greg Henderson, who started the season opener, the last three cornerbacks CU has to work with this week are Ayodeji Olatoye, who played a lot at Ohio State, Josh Moten, who has played sparingly on defense, and Jason Espinoza, who recently moved back to defense from wide receiver.
"It's like that at a few positions and it is what it is so we just got to go with it," Embree said.
Yikes...Go (and get healthy) Buffs