For one half last night, Colorado Buff fans enjoyed themselves mightily. Dreams of a big upset danced in everyone's head and to get a taste of that in what has been a tumultuous season so far was a welcomed feeling, even if the second half was brutal. As I stated last night, the defense played exceptionally well, holding the number one scoring offense to only 17 points and less than 50 yards rushing.
On the flipside, the Buffs' offense gave the defense zero help. Without the defense turning over Texas QB Colt McCoy twice deep in Longhorn territory, the offensive performance would have been even more putrid. The Colorado offense only totaled 127 yards, completed only 9 of 23 passes and averaged a measley 1.2 yards/rush. The fact that the Buffs had a chance to go up 21 - 17 late in the third quarter showed you how strong the defense played.
Kent Riddle, the special teams and tight end coach, should once again begin to catch some fire. A week after the Colorado Buffaloes missed three field goals in a tight contest the Buffs only lost by 11 points against West Virginia, the special teams' play reared its ugly head. Last year, the special teams performance was downright awful and the trend is continuing this year. Against Texas, in crucial times during the game, the Buffs gave up a kickoff return to Jordan Shipley and a blocked punt both resulting in touchdowns for the Longhorns. Texas continually came close to blocking punts all night long and the Buffs failed to make the necessary adjustments.
You won't win many games against the second ranked team giving up 21 points on non-offensive plays. The Buffs aren't good enough to give up 21 points on non offensive plays to any team remaining on their schedule and expect to win. The Buffs have to be more disciplined in this aspect.
This team also needs to start capitalizing on the oppositions' mistakes and limit the mental mishaps of their own. Last week, Colorado had its opportunities when West Virginia turned the ball over four times and let the Buffs hang around. Against Texas, the Buffs defense played well but mental breakdowns on offense (20 penalties and a red zone interception for a touchdown after an Colt McCoy interception) and on special teams cost this team a victory. Call it youth, call it poor coaching, call it whatever you want, we can all agree that these are the plays and mistakes Colorado needs to fix if they want to be a good team. You have to win ball games when the opposition turns the ball over four times and you have to be sound in the special teams game and not turn the ball over in big situations.
Buff links and Tyler Hansen talk after the jump...
Hansen revealed Saturday night that offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau asked him to stay late after a quarterback meeting one day last week to talk. Hansen said that’s when he knew something was up. "He said, ‘Close the door,’" Hansen said. "He said, ‘You know what I’m going to tell you.’ Once he sat me down, I knew. Once he gave me that look, it was pretty much the exact same thing (former offensive coordinator Mark) Helfrich had last year. "I guess I’m getting kind of used to burning this redshirt, you know?"
Hansen said coaches gave him a couple of days to decide if he was willing to do it again, as he did in the sixth game of 2008 when he was a true freshman. He discussed it with parents and high school coaches. "It pretty much came down to I could get in an accident tomorrow and never have an opportunity to play another game, so if you have the opportunity to play, especially at the college level in this kind of atmosphere, so you take it," he said. "It came down to that. I’m happy with it. Now I have to roll with it."
The quarterback position may be more important in the college game than in either the high school level or the NFL. With Hansen at the controls now, Colorado has made a decision to go in a new direction. Hansen burned his redshirt in the sixth game last year and in Game 5 this time. No regrets, the Californian said. "I think I am able to handle it better than last year," Hansen said. "I'm going to try to get this thing rolling."
Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said the decision to anoint Hansen the permanent starter was made as soon as he went into the game. Last year, Hansen started two games but didn't play much in the final two. "The thing that I wanted to make sure (to Hansen) was that, if and when we do this, like we did tonight, it would be worth his while," Kiesau said.
Coaches inserted sophomore Tyler Hansen, who played the rest of the game, but was unable to lead the Buffs to more points or a comeback. It is the second consecutive season Hansen`s redshirt has been burned midway through the year. This time around, coaches say they will stick with him for the rest of the year barring injury or completely ineffective play. "I don`t want to get into the back and forth, back and forth or having packages," offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said. "I want to have a guy. I want the team to see that, and right now, today, Tyler is our guy."
The special teams errors glared brightest. CU led 14-10 in the third quarter when Texas’ Marquise Goodwin blocked CU’s punt and Ben Wells scooped it up and went three yards for the score. In the fourth, Texas’ Jordan Shipley ran through CU’s rattled punt cover team on a 74-yard touchdown return that put the Longhorns ahead 31-14.
"They cost us the game," special teams coach Kent Riddle said. "Unacceptable performance. That’s a little bit the nature of special teams. It only takes one play to kill you. We let that play happen to us. "It shouldn’t have ever happened. We’re going to make damn sure it doesn’t happen again." Dan Hawkins might appreciate that. "We let (Texas) off the hook," he said. "I’m proud of (his players). Nobody batted an eye. We weren’t shocked when we were ahead or when things went bad. We saw glimpses of what we can be down the stretch. We have to put all three phases together and we’ll have a chance to do some things."
Paige: Hawkins benching tough for dad, son - The Denver
Woody Paige of the Denver Post talked about the difficult decision the coach and the father had to make last night, pulling his quarterback and son for Tyler Hansen.
When I asked the elder Hawkins about his decision, he replied: "Do you mean about Cody? . . . He's got to make that throw . . . in the red zone." He obviously was answering as a coach and as a father. Then the coach said of Hansen: "He's really a trouper. He has paid his dues. . . . He will start next week" against Kansas. Last year Hansen was put in against Kansas State, and the Buffs won 14-13. He started the following Saturday at Missouri, and the Buffs lost 58-0. Cody started three more games, Hansen one more. Eric Kiesau, CU's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, said the Buffs will not be "wishy-washy" about the starting quarterback the rest of the season. "You can't go back and forth. . . . Tyler is our quarterback."
CU linebacker Doug Rippy suffered a knee sprain in the second quarter. He did not return. Receiver Jason Espinoza (broken thumb) was again limited to fielding punts, which he did without a fumble. He did not play on offense for the second game in a row. CU reported no other injuries.
Another reason the Buffs felt the need to make a switch at quarterback is Texas showed that if you take away Scotty McKnight, Colorado's passing game turned to very ineffective:
EXTRA POINTS: Receiver Scotty McKnight extended his streak of catches to 29 straight games. He finished with one grab, and it came late in the fourth quarter
Center Mike Iltis was medically cleared from a concussion late in the week, but because he did not practice, he did not play against the Longhorns. Junior walk-on Keenan Stevens started for the second consecutive week in place of Iltis.
KU defense needs to get better in a hurry
The Buffs next opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks, gave up a lot of yards to Iowa State this past week. Tyler Hansen should have a good opportunity to show some stuff next week in his 2009 debut.
The Cyclones finished with 512 yards of offense, snapped the ball 84 times and totaled 26 first downs.
The Buffs were called for a school-record 20 penalties, eclipsing the 18 they had on Sept. 30, 1950 against Kansas State. The 140 penalty yards were the second-most behind the 153 accrued on Oct. 11, 1958 against Arizona.