Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgghh! WT*?(*because right now, if I use the first letter, the rest are sure to follow.) Just when it seemed safe to watch a CU road game, we end up with the '09 Toledo game all over again, only with less CU points. Remember the 3 areas that usually determine a game's outcome? Let's review:
Special Teams - other than kickoff returns, these teams for CU were playing the wrong kind of special. A fair catch at the CU 6. A missed field goal. A net punt of 26 yards. Another net punt so bad, it was the equivalent of a turnover - CU's first punt of the game was a 38-yard punt with a 23-yard return allowed, for a net punt of 15 yards, which set up CAL at the CU 19. This produced Cal's first touchdown.
Turnover Ratio - For CU, 3 interceptions thrown and two fumbles lost. 2 of the 5 turnovers were returned for TDs. The 5 turnovers produced 31 California points. For CAL, 0 interceptions & 2 fumbles, both recovered, for a total of 0 turnovers, 0 Colorado points produced.
Penalties - Really? In the first half alone, CU committed 10 penalties. Really. Two of them were declined because one occurred when Tyler Hansen threw an incompletion on 3rd down, while the second one occurred when Hansen threw an interception on 3rd down. An astonishing seven of the ten came on 3rd down. Really, Buffs? Two of the seven were when CAL had 3rd down, and each time the infraction gave the Bears a first down. Two more came on the same drive when CU had 3rd & Goal. Here is the full sequence from 1st & Goal at the CAL3: Rush for -2, pass for +3, rush for -1, 15-yd penalty for illegal block, 5-yd penalty for false start, sack for -1, 42-yd field goal missed wide left. Really.
In all, including incompletions, sacks allowed, penalties, turnovers, rushes without positive yardage, etc., CU committed 36 mistakes in the first half alone.
And now, a pause for positivity...
1. CU avoids the shutout with a 3rd quarter touchdown.
2. Buffs Defense gets 7 tackles for losses.
3. Scotty McKnight extends his games-with-a-catch streak to 39, leading NCAA football.
1. CU will lose the rest of their games. To believe that would be to ignore two things: 1) CU hasn't played a home game yet, and 2) CU usually plays up to their competition at least once a season under Coach Hawkins, usually winning that game. CU will probably lose the rest of their road games based on past performance, but they have won half of their home games in the Hawkins era. Included in those were three upsets over ranked teams(Oklahoma, West Virginia & Kansas), and one near-upset over a Georgia team that will be coming to Folsom Field on October 2. As bad as it was last week, don't count the Buffs out so early.
2. Coach Hawkins is out of his league. Actually, Hawkins should feel right at home this week, as in Hawaii he faces a team from his old conference for the first time since he left the Western Athletic Conference. Hawkins might just feel like he's back in the league he dominated, and he may return to his winning ways against a Rainbow Warrior team he is quite familiar with. In the five years prior to Hawkins coming to Boulder, Boise State beat Hawaii every time.
3. CU can't come back from this kind of loss. Such short memories we all seem to have. Why, just last year, the Buffs rebounded twice from big road losses. CU came back from a road slaughter in Toledo to shutout Wyoming at home 24-0. And they came back from an inevitable 24-point overpowering by Texas in Austin to upset KU in Boulder 34-30. Your hearing a lot more noise out of players and coaches this year about not letting the CAL game stay with them. I remain hopeful that Colorado did not slip into the San Andreas Fault, never to be heard from again. Rather, the Buffs should come back with a vengeance and end Hawaii's mainland vacation with a resounding loss.
Since it's only the first home game coming up on Saturday, we'll avoid for now stating the obvious fix that most Buff fans would list as 1, 2 AND 3.
1. Let Youth Be Served. If there is any fear that the veterans who have suffered through any of the last four years may get a chronic case of deja vu, let the rookies be more visible this Saturday. They don't have any on-the-field nightmares to haunt them. Let freshmen defensive backs Deji Olatoye and Terrel Smith take turns at nickle back with Paul Vigo laying some wood on the Rainbow receivers. Focus on the "Transfer Trio" of swift wide receivers without forgetting about the tight ends including freshman stud DaVaughn Thornton. And above all, follow through on the promise to play JT Torres more. He should be in there at least every other play in the red zone.
2. Make Hawaii Try to Stop the Running Game. Take advantage of Hawaii's poor run defense; everybody else has. The best way to make the Buff O-Line gel is to let them team-build as they're stampeding over Hawaii's defense. If the Rainbows start to put eight or more in the box, do what sensible football teams do - start passing. If they start blitzing, throw to RBs & TEs, run quick crosses, throw screens and draws at them, try the shovel pass. Then go back to the run and don't give up on it against this team!
3. Let Tyler Rock and Roll. What's good for Steve Tyler is good for Tyler Hansen. As almost everybody else in town has suggested, set Tyler free. He's better rolling out than in the pocket, and it keeps the defense even more honest if they have to worry about him taking off with the ball. That also means you have to let him run when he wants to. If Hawaii already has trouble stopping the run, why not add another rusher to worry about on every play. So let Tyler carry the rock now and then, and let him roll out on most passing plays. Rock and roll means 1st and Goal!!! GO BUFFS!!! CELEBRATE ALFRED WILLIAMS DAY THE RIGHT WAY, WITH MULTIPLE SACKS AND A BIG VICTORY!!!