That was painful. On offense, we showed flashes (or more specifically, Paul Richardson showed flashes), and on defense, we limited last years NCAA passing leader to 178 yards through the air, and yet we got beat badly. The flashes paled in comparison to the mistakes and the bad penalties, and on defense, we over compensated for our weak secondary by leaving the middle of the field completely exposed. 34-17 Hawaii. Jon Embree and our Buffaloes begin the season 0-1, our 19th straight loss outside of the state of Colorado. Balls.
Follow the jump to see if I'm just as depressed by the end of the article!
It will take the rest of the season to prove me right, but I believe Hawaii will win the WAC. Not that losing to the best team in the WAC should make us feel better, but it's not like we lost to Montana State. I think the Hawaii defense will prove to be solid, and Moniz is one of the best QBs in the country. He's no Andrew Luck (did anyone else get shivers thinking about what Luck would have done with that much wide open field?), but he's a top-flight competitor and will (clearly) do what ever he can to win. OK, on to our Buffaloes:
When the offensive line didn't completely break down, I would say I was pleased with most of the plays that we ran. Our execution wasn't great (and the blocking was abysmal for the most part), but I though Bieniemy did a solid job opening up the field and forcing the defense to cover all of it. And for as bad as they were, there were also good things. Ryan Miller hasn't looked that agile out in space on pulls since he got to CU. Yes, he completely dropped the ball inside, but that's something. I do think that we need to pick one center and stick with him. The interior guys clearly need more snaps together. They were rarely on the same page. Whoever it may be, the starter needs to be earning as many practice reps as he can possibly get. And I can understand the occasional mistake by brand new starters like Jack Harris and Munyer/Handler, but not from Miller, Adkins or Bakhtiari (anyone know what happened to him?). And oh boy did Ryan Dannewitz have a tough night. If the offensive line doesn't pull it together soon, I'm going to start believe all those Cal fans that are saying that Steve Marshall has completely lost his touch.
Tyler Hansen looked solid when he was able (or chose) to step up in the pocket. His pocket presence was still a bit suspect, but he did make a few very nice passes to Ryan Deehan across the middle and to Paul Richardson (though one of those TDs was a lucky ball that could easily have been picked off). Also, I was pleased to see the coaching staff make an effort to get Stewart the ball on Screens and quick passes outside. Toney Clemons, however, was a big disappointment. I think Tyler McCulloch will be a very good Receiver for us, and he made some tough catches tonight, but Clemons has some wheels and I really want us to make use of them.
At times, our defensive line looked good. They were able to get pressure, but they also took their foot off the gas. And remember, this is a completely brand new offensive line. We should have been able to get significantly more pressure on Moniz. And I know it wasn't a part of the gameplan, but how do you let the QB rush for that many yards, that many times? I tried to say it nicely in my thoughts about the 3-4, but Josh Hartigan is a good pass-rusher, and not good at most of the other duties of the jack backer. He isn't great keeping his hips square to make an open space tackle, and he is really not good when backing up. He showed that on one of the long Moniz runs. The defensive line and the blitzing linebackers & DBs did a pretty good job at getting after the QB, though they can stand to improve even more. Clearly we'll need them again.
And we have all of these good athletes on defense, but they can't seem to consistently wrap up. Doug Rippy and Ray Polk came to mind tonight. I actually think Polk was in the right place much more than he ever has been, but he couldn't seem to wrap guys up. And Rippy actually played pretty well, but also missed some easy tackles. It was nice to see Parker Orms out there mixing it up and hitting guys, and Travis Sandersfeld and Greg Henderson weren't bad. It's interesting, our secondary might have been a strength in this game. Overall, there were some things to build on here.
On Special Teams
When was the last time we could say this was a bright spot? And it wasn't even entirely one. But Darragh O'Neill looked really good and Will Oliver looked solid on his field goal and made both extra points. There were some funky snaps, but Justin Gorman and O'Neill did a good job handling them. Our coverage units were leaky, but that should improve over the first couple of games.
I'm worried about the Cal game. We will have to play significantly better. I think it's well within our abilities to play better, but enough better? We'll see. I do think there were series and plays to build from and focus on, so we'll see how these guys respond at home.
I know it was painful, but hey, college football season is back!