As you can imagine, being in the stands today at Folsom Field was quite a roller coaster. In the first half, I couldn't fathom what I was seeing; the Buffs had hit rock bottom, with 8 minutes left and Iowa State up two scores, I felt the Buffs were done, with less than 10 seconds, I thought the comeback and offensive explosion was all for not. At halftime I wanted to walk over to the student section and tell the recruits who were watching "sorry for wasting their time." But I should have known better. This was reminiscent of Eastern Washington. The Buffs were supposed to win and got down early. A few quick strikes in the fourth quarter, a late defensive stand and the Buffs come out victorious. Unbelievable. I saw some things today I thought I would never see. Most of it on special teams but an Iowa State option on the one yard line. That put a smile on my face. Either way you look at it, this Buffs team is not for the faint of hearts. I am going to stay as positive as possible in this post because all wins, especially for this Buffs team, should be celebrated and Penn State lost today. Hey, at least CU isn't Tennessee! Yeah, that SEC is really tough with those bruiser programs like Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia. Don't burn me SEC fan!
I will lead off with the negative and something I will definitely touch on again later in the week. I hate calling out coaches and players but the special teams play is not acceptable and immediate action needs to occur. Yes, a coach can't control missed field goals directly or roughing the punter but you when poor play becomes a habit, it is on the coach. How many points have the Buffs left on the field this year in missed opportunities in the special teams game? It has to be in the 50's probably the 60's or 70's. Look at the laundry list today that should have cost the Buffs the game today:
-2 missed chip shot field goals in the first half
-1 blocked extra point that was a looming problem when looking at the scoreboard for most of the game
-2 consecutive roughing the punter penalties
-1 kickoff out of bounds in the fourth quarter
-2 kickoff returns to the 35 yard line +, especially the one on Iowa State's last drive that gave them a short field.
That is some sort of laundry list that has become a habit of this Buffs team. I don't know what the problem is but I have reached my breaking point as I am sure most CU fans have. High school kids do a better job than this. Special team's is about preparation and execution. Youth, injuries...all of the Hawkins excuses doesn't mean anything on special teams. It's knowing your assignment and executing. Special teams is a "want to" part of the game and the Buffs are embarrassingly bad here. Blow up the unit, recruit a kicker, freaking get Ron Prince here, let him coach the offense and special teams. That guy makes special teams a priority at least. I'm done with it. How do you let bad teams hang around? Mess up special teams. The Buffs aren't good enough not to be discipline on special teams. I'll try to be more positive from here on out.
Offensive and defensive reviews after the jump....
So, you see what a true hurry up offense can do now? If you turned the game off at halftime, you didn't see it but in the fourth quarter, the Buffs were running a true hurry up offense and it gassed the Iowa State defensive linemen, allowing Hawkins to get comfortable in the pocket. It was a thing of beauty. It was how you imagined it; altitude, opposing team sucking wind and the Buffs moving the ball at will in the fourth quarter. And given the opportunity with time in the back field to throw, Hawkins looked like the quarterback we thought we had coming into the year and the quarterback that we saw flashes of last year. I have been whining for a quick pass game all year and the Buffs finally did it today with Patrick Williams, Scotty McKnight and Cody Crawford excelling at the wide receiver position. Cody delivered the ball with timing. Iowa State was continually off the wideouts 8 - 10 yards and it was pick and choose passing at its finest. The Buffs scoring drives were 9 plays 63 yards, 9 plays 84 yards, 8 plays 80 yards and 11 plays 81 yards. Those are sustained and efficient drives, all of which were in the second half. Freshman QB Tyler Hansen in the first half struggled as Iowa State was shifting their linebackers a lot, mixing up the offensive line and keeping Hansen moving around. Hansen began giving up on passing plays early and showing happy feet in the pocket. He had a few good runs but overall, he never got the timing offense going like Hawkins did. The ball was out of Hawkins hands quick and into the wide receivers hands to make plays. Darrell Scott got his start and carries to get in a rhythm. He still needs work but I love to watch him run out there. The Buffs, with those long and sustained drives, wore down an already slow and mediocre defense. Iowa State was extremely slow which was the reason they were giving the Buffs' "less than speedy receivers" a 10 yard cushion.
As for the defense, CB Jimmy Smith showed why we get so excited about his potential. The guy was inspired today and he dominated in pass coverage. Smith had 9 tackles and three breakups. He probably should have had 1 or 2 picks but that is why he plays corner. All the corner backs played pretty well regardless of the 200+ yard passing game by Iowa State. I wasn't very impressed with the CU linebackers today. The unit gave up easy yards and allowed Iowa State to out physical them at the point of contact. I was a little disappointed today in Ryan Walters. He had 16 tackles so the stat sheet will look good but he missed a ton of tackles in the hole on the first drive of the game that allowed Iowa State to get points and the last drive he whiffed on the option play that went for 27. I hold him to a high standard and the Buffs need him to make those plays that doesn't allow the offense to get big chunks of yards. The defense had its moments of fine play and then they had their moments when they couldn't get a stop when they needed it. Of course the special teams had a part in that, giving the Iowa State offense a short field. But the defense got their big stop on the goal line in what was one of the most baffling play calls I have ever seen. Iowa State ran an option on the one yard line that got stopped. Thank the man upstairs for coaches like Bill Stewart and Gene Chizik who have poor clock management and play calling. Iowa State wasted a time out with 40 seconds left after the 27 yard option run that got them down to the 14 yard line and stopped the clock on a first down. Then Iowa State kept running the ball with one time out left. Then with 4 seconds left, instead of running the ball straight at CU which they did at will or taking your 6'3" 220 lb quarterback on a sneak, the Cyclones ran a wide option with a lone wide receiver trying to seal the corner. Thanks for the win coach Chizik!
At times it was ugly. At times it looked like a well oiled machine. It's just a crazy year and a crazy team. It went from the worst half of college football I have seen this year to visions of the offense I thought we would see every week. It was a good win with all the recruits in the stadium because Folsom Field was excited and the Buff players were emotional. Yes, it was a very bad Iowa State team but coming back to win was definitely something the recruits had to enjoy watching. And for the current players, it gives them two chances to get bowl eligible and it may spark them for an upset in the next two weeks. Who knows, I wouldn't hold my breath but college football is a crazy game.