A win is always a great way to start the home set of a season's games. However, an 80-yard play allowed and two turnovers is not the best way to start a half. Pitching a shutout is a great way to finish a baseball game, but not the best way for an offense to finish a half of football, especially at home. Fortunately, the Folsom Field crowd got to witness one of the best halfs of football played by the Colorado Buffaloes since maybe the '07 upset of OU 27-24. Not only did the Buffs outscore the Warriors 31-3 in the 2nd half, but they did it while producing two 100+ yard rushing performances and the longest pass play of the Hawkins era. And the defense did Alfred Williams proud on his "Day", not only with multiple sacks and a safety just as Alfred did in the 4th game of the 1990 season against Texas, but with two shutouts of Hawaii in the red zone to start the game. Is this the shape of things to come, or just a tease against an inferior opponent. We will have had to wait two weeks to find out, but find out we will when the Buffs take on the SEC's Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday evening. See HITS, MYTHS(Uga a great mascot? 1990 CU Team the best CU Team?) & FIXES after the jump.
1. Offense Finally Runs Downhill to 252 yards. Though the offense began the game with fits and starts peppered by penalties and fumbles, it became clear that CU was committed to running the ball. Once they began to eliminate the mistakes early in the second half, the Buff tailbacks began to rumble. Excepting the drive that ran out the clock at the end of the game, every drive but one featured at least two rushing plays in a row, and every drive except that one resulted in a CU TD. If one doesn't count the 18-yard loss that resulted from a snap that dribbled between Tyler Hansen's legs as an attempted rush, the Buffaloes ran for 270 yards for the game. This is what CU fans have been waiting for, since, historically, the Buffs' best teams have achieved success through a solid ground game. Rodney Stewart and Brian Lockridge proved interchangeable behind a stampeding offensive line that seemed to get stronger as the game wore on. It was a blast to watch!
2. Offense Finally Throws Downfield to Toney C. Late in the third quarter, Hawaii began to slow down the Buffs' ground game. After the first 3-&-out for CU in the 2nd half, the Buff's defense stopped the Rainbows and the Buff offense got the ball back. When three of the four rush attempts in that drive got only 1 or 2 yards, CU decided it was time to air it out for only the second time in the game. As Hansen rolled out of the pocket to avoid pressure, he saw his favorite target, Scotty McKnight, open downfield. To Scotty's surprise, the ball sailed over his head to a waiting Toney Clemons, who Hansen had seen was just as wide open but 10 yards further down the field. Clemons caught a perfect pass in stride and outraced every defender into the end zone. CU fans were able to behold a site they've been dying to see since Clemons transferred to CU two springs ago. It's been a long wait since the last 70+ yard pass play, and now that it's happened, I'm betting it wont be so long until the next one.
3. There's A Fire Goin' On - Seniors (and Coaches) Finally Throw Down! After yet another underachieving (and) offensive performance in the first half of a game, the players on offense heard some choice words from their position coaches at halftime. Believe it or not, they seemed to be taking their cue from Coach Hawkins. Every time a Buff committed a penalty or turnover in the first half, he was taken out of the game to receive an earful of "advice" from Hawkins instead of the usual pat on some part of the uniform. And yet, on the 5th play of the second half, a CU offensive lineman received a false-start penalty. As it turns out, this was the first such penalty of the game for an offensive lineman, as the first three offensive penalties were committed by receivers( 2 TEs, 1 WR). Nevertheless, after four of the first five fruitless CU possessions were marred by penalties, fumbles or both, a couple of seniors had seen enough. Hansen smacked the offending lineman in the helmet, and the lineman responded by getting in Hansen's face. Nate Solder - all 6'9" and 315 lbs of him - stepped between the two and let his fellow lineman know that Hansen was in the right. The result was 11 error-free plays in a 14-play drive that culminated in Colorado's first points of the game. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! The kind of passion and fire that the defense displayed the whole game! It is about time!
1. CU Has Reached the Turning Point. One would like to think that the Colorado football program has finally turned the corner based on last week's turnaround. I suggest that they have only started that turn. The Buffs will have completed that turn when they a) cut the number of penalties per game in half, b) consistently play good football on special teams, with no more 27-yard net punts like the last one in the first half and no more fumbled punt receptions, and c) play like they did on Saturday for both halfs.
2. A 1-3 Georgia Team is Weak Sauce. The Bulldogs are struggling this year so far, but don't think for a minute that they are going to come in here and shake hands, roll over and play dead on command. A) They are from the SEC, B) they just got their best player, wide receiver A.J. Green, back from a suspension, and C) they just lost to a team they had not lost to in 36 years and will be loaded for buffalo. It will take four quarters of solid football to beat Georgia, even at home.
3A. UGA is One of the Top Mascots in College Football. Every time there is a vote on the best mascot in college football, Uga, the Georgia Bulldog, is in the top three. Now I know that there have been a long and directly-descended line of Ugas, seven to be exact. A lot of people think bulldogs are cute, and people occasionally get to pet Uga. I have nothing against Uga. But come on now, one of the best mascots in college football? How inspiring would it be to run behind a bulldog into a stadium? The football team doesn't, because the dog pretty much just sits there. Does the crowd get fired up when the PA announcer yells, "THERE... SITS... UGAAAAA!" Currently, Ralphie the Buffalo deservedly sits at the top of the rankings as the #1 college football mascot, but here have been years when he was outvoted by Uga supporters. I can think of nine other mascots that make Uga seem pretty ordinary - LSU's bengal tiger, Texas' Bevo the longhorn, the Air Force falcon, Texas Tech's Red Raider w/black stallion, USC's Trojan with horse, Florida's alligator, Rice's horned owl, the Baylor black bear, and, yes, even Cam the bighorn ram of CSU. In fact, there are 38 other American universities that have a bulldog as their mascot, including the team that Georgia just lost to, Mississippi State. How would that be to see the exact same breed of animal on the other teams sideline? There is only one live buffalo mascot in college football. The name is Ralphie, and that buffalo charging around Folsom Field for every home game is and will always be the best mascot in all of sports.
3B. The 1990 Colorado Buffaloes Were Not The Best Team in CU's Football History. I was listening to a sports talk radio show today where the hosts were debating whether the 1990 National Champion Colorado Buffalo football team was the best CU team ever. It disturbed me a little that the two hosts disagreed, especially considering that they are both CU football alums. I agree that the 1994 team with Stewart, Salaam, Hudson, Westbrook and the rest of the soon-to-be NFL players had the most talented team ever assembled to play for CU. I also agree that the 1989 team was the best CU team to go undefeated through the regular season. But the 1990 team did two things that each of those two teams only did one of: 1) beat Nebraska and, 2) win their bowl game. And they did it playing the toughest schedule in college football that year, something that no other national champion has done. While other teams may have featured a superior collection of individuals, the 1990 Colorado Buffaloes were the best team to ever play for the University of Colorado. There is no better evidence than the fact that in the 1991 Orange Bowl, the Buffs' offense lost their starting QB(Hagan), and the defense lost a starting DE/OLB(McGhee) in the first half, yet the replacements(C.J. & Paul Rose) raised their game to a high level and helped bring victory and a national championship to the university. End of discussion.
1. Stop the #@&%*!% Penalties!!! Again with the 9 or more penalties in a game. How does an offense get a false start penalty in their own stadium? Can we please have some focus and line up in the right place, don't move until the ball is snapped. and don't hold unless you absolutely have to. When CU gets down to 5 or less penalties a game, then they will have matured. It's time to grow up, starting this Saturday.
2. Haze the Freshman QB! Both quarterbacks who have played for Georgia this year are freshmen. As good as they may be someday, they have struggled like freshman do. The Buffs must stop the run and force the young QB to make plays through the air. Even with Green out there to throw to, the ball still has to get to him. Make sure, between pressure and coverage, that it seldom does.
3. PLEASE Start Strong! Enough of the weak starts already. The key to this game is that the Buffalo offense needs to score touchdowns in the 1st and 3rd quarters. That will force the Bulldogs out of their game plan in both halves, allowing the Buff offense to wear them down with the running game and allowing the Buff defense to tee off on the passing game and force mistakes. This is easy enough to say, as the strength of Georgia is their defense in general and their run defense in particular. That means CU has to do three things: 1) get good field position through improved special teams play, 2) force mistakes and turnovers out of the Bulldog offense, and 3) don't be afraid to use the passing game, and especially the long ball, on occasion to open up the running game. If they can do those things, they will upset a good Georgia team and be full of much-needed confidence heading into their last Big XII schedule. GO BUFFS! SEND THE BULLDOGS HOME WITH THEIR TAILS BETWEEN THEIR LEGS AND MAKE THE BIG XII PROUD.