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The Buffs were in this one for two and a half quarters. What happened? And when will we get it fixed?
This game was one that the Buffaloes weren't going to be able to win. But it shouldn't have been quite as bad as it was. The loss of Christian Powell sometime in the first half (apparently) definitely hurt our offense's ability to sustain drives, but the wheels didn't come off until the Vincent Hobbs fumble. One of the things that happens to young teams is the phenomenon we saw after that fumble and early in the Fresno State: games spiraling out of control when something goes wrong. The game was still within reach at that point. Colorado was only down 21-7 and the defense had come out strong in the second half. That catch and run put the Buffs deep into Bruins territory. At best, that drive might've ended with Colorado getting to within a touchdown of UCLA. There's a solid chance that we would've at least made a Field goal to pull within 11. The Buffs had battled to that point. The offense was having issues (the previous possession had ended when we couldn't convert on 4th & 1), but the defense was keeping one of the most explosive offenses in the nation within reach.
But then, a promising drive ended with that fumble and the subsequent UCLA drive concluded with a touchdown. 28-7. Next CU drive? Interception by Jordan Webb, followed by a UCLA TD drive. 35-7. 3 & out by the Buffaloes, UCLA TD Drive. 42-7.
That's the definition of the wheels falling off (as opposed to the Fresno State game, where the wheels were never on).
I've seen some CU fans describe UCLA as mediocre in their recaps of this game. I disagree. Their only loss so far was to an exciting Oregon State team that was due to bounce back from some bad years. The Bruins are talented, and it seems like they finally have a pretty good coaching staff. Still, we were in this game well into the 3rd quarter.
I was feeling much worse about this game in the immediate aftermath than I am now. The loss wasn't as bad as it could've been, and young teams are prone to fall apart like we did. There are things you can improve on and things you can't. Youth is one of the things you can't improve, but our defense was playing much better through 2 1/2 quarters of football. That's a positive, especially if we can get some pieces back after the bye week. I think having Ray Polk back will improve this defense, and Doug Rippy coming back should help as well. Jordan Webb is clearly hurting, and is reportedly still feeling the effects of the beating he took against CSU. A healthy Webb (or Wood, or whoever lines up at quarterback for us) and Christian Powell will improve our fortunes a good bit.
After the bye, we face a really tough stretch of games that we probably don't have a chance of winning, but we if we can play all of them tough, I'll be a happy (or at least not so depressed) camper.
Show me that this team can hang tough with more talented squads and I'll feel okay about where we are headed. And if we can steal one...