Looking Back at CSU and Looking Forward to CAU

So, so proud - phil

"You got your CSU review in my Central Arkansas preview." "You got your preview in my review." Two great tastes that taste great together!

It sure feels great to get a win. I don't know about you, but I feel like I've come out a of a long football coma. Last year's win felt like more of a relief than actual joy, but I can honestly say that watching that first Wood to Richardson pass brought a genuine tear to my eye. But let's not get carried away. There were things that I liked and things that I didn't. We'll start with the things that I didn't so hopefully you forget about them by the end.

  • Special Teams. Eesh. Our coverage units were short bus special, and there's no two ways about it. Even when tackles were made, it was usually Will Oliver. That's all well and good, but not exactly ideal. The adjustments made seemed to work (coaching?), but I'm not looking forward to conceding field position because our guys are constantly out of position or missing tackles.
  • Connor Wood throwing deep balls. For the most part, I didn't love his decision making or touch throwing down the field. I saw several times when he chose to through into coverage deep when he had receivers running free underneath. And he seemed to be trying to place the ball rather than throwing it with authority. Even the first TD to Richardson floated and forced the receiver to come back for the ball. With the short passing game working so well, it made sense to just take what was given.
  • The running game. Aside from one nice pick up on a reverse for DD Goodson, the running game was largely ineffective. The line couldn't open any holes, and subsequently we didn't average even 3 yards a carry. That's not going to cut it.
  • The new targeting rule. Honestly, did anyone think that play on which we got the benefit was a bad hit? It seemed like a pretty clean play to me. I'm calling the over/ under on ejections for Orms at 3, and it would be higher if he wasn't likely to get disqualified for the next game as well.
  • Those gold pants. Really all of the gold. The pants, sleeves, and helmets were all different shades of gold. Seriously, we can't afford some decent color safe detergent?
And now the things that I did like:
  • The kickers. Aside from the coverage, both Darragh O'Neil and Will Oliver were very good. Oliver is already halfway to his total attempts from last year, and 2/3 of his conversions. It would be nice to turn those into touchdowns, but just getting points was crucial. O'Neil pinned one punt at the half inch line and even converted a left footed rugby punt! Did you know that he can kick with either foot? Probably not, as it is never, ever mentioned during game broadcasts.
  • Paul Richardson. I mean, duh, right? But this isn't really about the two long touchdowns. It's about the other 8 catches for 50 some yards that he had. Just the threat of him helped get the secondary receivers loose, and that's going to be huge going forward. Nelson Spruce had perhaps the quietest 100 yard game in CU history. Richardson doesn't have to go for 200 yards a game (although he is certainly welcome to!), he just needs to make the opposing defense treat him as though he is capable of it every time out.
  • The coaching. Honestly, I didn't quite know what to expect out there. At times I was apt to roll my eyes when I heard MacIntyre talk about changing the culture and caring about your teammates. We've heard it so many times before. But the change was palpable. The players were genuinely excited to be out there, and genuinely excited for their teammates. That was noticeably absent last year, and absolutely a joy to see return. They didn't quit for the first time in two years. That's coaching, and that's a culture change.
  • The tackling. Boy was it night and day from last year. Kenneth Crawley in particular is light years ahead of where he was last year. Jered Bell, who I've never thought was a particularly eager tackler, actually got flagged for being too aggressive, and everyone was swarming to the ball. Speaking of tackling...
  • Addison Gillam. Oh baby, the kid can play. 11 tackles in the first half, he was absolute nails. He tailed off in the second half when CSU made adjustments, but he forced those adjustments by being all over the field. What more can you ask of a true freshman?
  • Finally, I really really like that picture above. That blonde kid in the top right? That's my brother at his first CU game as a student. The picture doesn't do justice, because he was losing his mind jumping up and down and chanting. Really, that's what makes college sports so special, the ability to hand down shared experiences; whether it's a favorite sandwich shop or acting the fool in the stands. I'm just really pleased that he started his sports career off on a positive note.
So here we are, one win down, and hopefully many more to go. Let's be honest, this wasn't a perfect performance against what's likely to be a poor opponent. We can and will improve, and we'll need to to compete with the vastly superior competition that awaits us in the conference slate. But there's something quite comforting about knowing you didn't play your best game and still got the win (hint- it's the win. The something is the win). So now it's time to move on to...

The Directional Hillbilly University Sugar Bears! Frankly, I know nothing about Central Arkansas. I know they play on this horrible sensory abomination of a field:

Ucaturf1_medium

I know their quarterback is called Wynrick Smothers, which sounds like a character from Willow, or Harry Potter. Or a Hobbit. Really any popular fantasy franchise. Also, they laid a beating on something called The University of the Incarnate Word, which might very possibly be a seminary. Finally, I'm guessing that their mascot is either this guy or this guy, both of whom would seem to be most intimidating via diabetes, which is truly terrifying indeed. Analysis! But honestly, this game terrifies me, mostly because I've seem too many years of Colorado football crap the bed. We're favored by 16, which really should not be a thing. But I've got faith, for the first time in a long while, that our coaching staff will have the team prepared to play, and hopefully the crowd will respond in kind. Let's go out and double our win total, you guys. What do you think? Let us know, in the comments!

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