I didn't see that one coming yesterday...just like Hawkins' fumble on the first possession of the game, I got blindsided. I guess I was sipping the Kool-Aid, I guess we all kind of were except a few of you brave souls that picked Florida State on The Ralphie Report to win the game. I remember asking the question, "how does anyone possibly think the Florida State Seminoles will score 20 points on the Colorado Buffaloes this weekend." I got blindside. The 'Noles actually scored 39 points in a way that I didn't see coming because, once again, I was sipping the Kool-Aid. All the signs were there. All three phases of the game were disappointing yesterday. The offense left points on the field and continually let opportunities slip away or should I say " over throw" away. Special teams gave up big play after big play while missing field goals and dropping kickoffs that led to 12 points for FSU. And the defense, although probably won't get a lot of the blame because the two first phases did nothing to help them, really disappointed me from a game plan standpoint. The Buffs let Florida State run for 259 yards! 259 yards when all we wanted FSU to do was throw the ball with Christian Ponder who still showed his sub par ability going 10 - 22. Even the refs "played" bad for the Buffs, missing three reviewable calls and what I believe/know/blatantly saw was a holding on LB Michael Sipili on the 60 yard touchdown run by FSU RB Antone Smith. The point is nothing went the Buffs way, better said; the Buffs didn't get out of their own way. This game was a missed opportunity that the Buffs let slip away. This Florida State team was not better than the Buffs, the Buffs did not capitalize while FSU made enough plays to win the game.
Hopefully you have read the Neil Woelk article in the Daily Camera this morning. It is an excellent piece and if I wasn't washing my sorrows away, it is exactly what I am feeling. I really like Woelk's approach. He is honest unlike the other writers at the Camera who sugar-coat their articles so they don't offend Colorado.
Yesterday, someone commented yesterday during our live game thread (which was great yesterday...thanks to all of those who came out) that "if you said the Buffs would be 3 - 1 after four games, we would have all been happy." But Woelk feels the same way I do right now and probably the same way you do:
First, the realistic look: Nobody expected anything better than 3-1 after Colorado's first four games this year.
The general consensus was that CU would win the first two and hope for a split in the West Virginia-Florida State stretch.
That's exactly what happened.
Now the bottom line: Never has a realistic perspective looked so sour.
Sour...more like fortunate to be 3 - 1. Yesterday I deemed "the answer game" because all of our questions were supposed to be answered. None of my questions were answered and I have somehow compiled a couple more questions...more poignant and direct to this team's success. Now that we have a loss, Buffs fans can now look back and be honest with themselves. I find myself wondering if we have the play makers on offense to get it done? Let me rephrase that: Do the Buffs have the ability to make plays when they have the opportunity? Do we have the talent yet to get it done? The Buffs looked slow yesterday, looked less physical and looked a little timid. The writing on the wall was there; the Buffs escaped with wins the previous two weeks against teams they shouldn't have struggled with in Eastern Washington and West Virginia. The Buffs got beat yesterday by a FSU team that is in disarray and will struggle in the ACC. The worst part is that they should have beaten FSU. Neil Woelk hits it on the head again:
Saturday, the Buffs walked away knowing they should have beaten Florida State. This was a squandered opportunity that will haunt the Buffaloes for the rest of the season-- if not longer.
Once again, not trying to disrespect an opponent but FSU fans can still not feel great about their team after yesterday.
Now to the question on everyone's mind: what to do with Cody Hawkins. You really couldn't play a much worse game at quarterback than Hawkins did yesterday except if your an FSU quarterback against Wake Forest but the Buffs defense did force them to throw which was frustrating in its own right.
Truth is, Hawkins has not had a good year. The youngster who showed plenty of promise down the stretch last year has struggled this season. Until Saturday, the Buffs had managed to overcome those struggles.
Their luck ran out Saturday. Three different times, Hawkins missed open receivers on plays that would have either put the Buffs in scoring position or put them in the end zone. Any one of those plays would have given CU the lead, put the Seminoles on their heels and changed the complexion of the entire game.
Those three passes were inexcusable. Make even one of those plays and this is a different game. I will tell what the problem is: confidence. If you are confident as a quarterback, you deliver the ball with a purpose. The three passes that Cody missed on and the floater to Smith on the 5 yard line that got knocked away had one distinct similar characteristic: a ball thrown will the hope of getting there not like a confident quarterback would thrown it. Arm strength, smarm strength. Deliver the ball like you mean it Cody, not like a shot put trying to guide it in there. I know Cody Hawkins can make those throws but in crunch time that is a different question.
As for the calls to get Cody out. I have a very strong opinion about this one. Absolutely not. If we had a viable quarterback in the waiting, I would be the first to stand up and say put him in. But we don't. Calling for the back-up quarterback is the easiest thing to do but their is a reason he is a back-up quarterback. I have been to a lot of practices and scrimmages; enough to know that I don't believe Matt Ballenger or Nick Nelson will ever take a meaningful snap in their Division 1 football careers. I think the Freshman Tyler Hansen might be a player but he is too green. The Buffs are getting a "Tim Tebow like" player in Clark Evans and a true pocket passing quarterback in Jordan Wynn as 2009 commits. Once again they are probably two years away from playing. That being said, Cody Hawkins will be the Buffs starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
All the blame shouldn't fall on the quarterback either as Woelk says. The special teams were horrendous yesterday. Missing field goals, dropping balls, missing tackles, giving up touchdowns. Sloppy sloppy sloppy.
So where do we go from here Buffs fans. It really hurts that OT Ryan Miller is out 4 - 6 weeks (I think it will be more...I don't know how you return from a broken ankle and be ready to play in 4 - 6 weeks without conditioning while carrying 300+ lbs on a 6'7" frame). The depleted depth on the offensive line will not make the Big 12 schedule easy and will probably cost the Buffs a win before it is all said and done. I thought the offensive line played relatively well yesterday, picking up big blitzes and only making one really bad play which was the Everette Brown sack and fumble on the third play of the game. The sad thing about yesterday for as bad as the Buffs played, you can circle 3 plays (two overthrows and a kickoff return for a TD) and say if the Buffs make them (not hard plays to make), they win this game even with the poor officiating. Still doesn't make me feel any better about next week against Texas because I don't know if the special teams will improve or if we can count on Cody Hawkins to be the confident quarterback we need him to be. The good is that CU returns to Folsom, the bad is UT is rolling right now. The good is that FSU is probably the best defense CU plays all year (anyone else not that impressed with FSU on defense...I wasn't particularly) but FSU will have the worst offense we face all year.
The great thing about college football is their is always next week. The game film will be painful to watch for this team. A lot of players will have to answer the call. The question that will need to be answered next week is do they have the ability to make the play when needed. All I know is Cody needs to make us all forget about "those three passes" or else that is what we will remember for a long time.