Recapping Colorado Buffaloes Football and Pac-12 News, Links, and Stories
Jon Embree had it planned like this all along, but exercising the plan took a couple of weeks longer than expected. "We’ve talked about belief, vision, trust, family...everything," Embree began.
"There’s no doubt from the day I was hired on Dec. 6 that we’ve become a family – that we like each other, that we know each other. We’ve talked about heritage and tradition..."
"When you walk by those bricks, they will talk to you. They’ll tell you a story. It ain’t about just that game...they talk about the struggles, the special things that happened in that game, in that season, the people, the sacrifice of putting that brick up in the wall."
After Thursday afternoon’s practice, with their teammates crowded in the hallway around them, CU’s captains – seniors Tyler Hansen, Ryan Miller, Anthony Perkins and junior Jon Major – ripped off brown paper that had been taped over the approximately 8’ x 19’ wall. Featured on it were 53 bricks, 51 of them gold with black lettering and bearing scores of significant wins, one black one with gold lettering – the 2011 CU-CSU game – and one gold brick asking "WHO’S NEXT?" in bold, black letters.
If you think yesterday means nothing to today’s players, you’re wrong. Bringing back the "big-game bricks" was well conceived and unbelievably well received – and when they’re earned, the wall has plenty of room for more.
The screen pass only seems like it's new to Colorado's football arsenal. And it seems that way because new coach Jon Embree is in love with it and his offensive staff - given its largely NFL pedigree - knows how to utilize it.
Oh, yes, having a sure-handed, blink-and-he's-by-you tailback like Rodney "Speedy" Stewart helps a bit, too. The screen pass, with "Speedy" on the business end, has been among the Buffaloes' most effective plays in their first three games - and Stewart's stats prove it. Last season, he made 29 receptions for 290 yards; in this season's first month, he's tied for a team-high 18 catches for 277 yards - first in the nation among running backs.
CU's playbook doesn't rival a Home Depot inventory sheet for total number of screens, but there are plenty. Marshall counts "six or seven different types" and says while there are wrinkles for each, "From a conceptual standpoint they're all very similar with a few little exceptions. One rep adds to another rep - and we set them up good.
Want to see more of Ohio State's self-hate of their non-quarterback-quarterbacks? Jump!
The Big 12 has found new leadership in Boulder. Chuck Neinas, the former Big Eight Commissioner and longtime Boulder resident, was unanimously voted by the Big 12 presidents as the conference's new interim commissioner on Thursday night. "It all happened very fast," Neinas said.
"It took a lot of maturing for me to realize I had all these tools and really needed to put them to work," Rippy said during fall camp. "I talked to Alfred Williams and he told me, 'You listen to coach Cabral, and he'll get you there.'
"At first, I didn't know why coach Cabral was always yelling at me. But when he stops talking to you, that's when I get nervous. He's always on me because he knows the type of player I can be. That's what he wants out of all of us is to be the best player we can be."
Here's an idea that might put an end to the Colorado football team's trend of slow starts in the 2011 season. Make the players run on the field in front of Ralphie instead of behind her? Unfortunately, that would only address the issue for home games, and this week the Buffs are on the road at Ohio State, one of the toughest places to earn a road victory in college football.
Colorado flew 4,100 miles to Hawaii to fall to 0-1. It's flying 1,300 miles to play Ohio State on Saturday, where pundits believe the Buffaloes will fall to 1-3. The Buffs will play 13 games in 2011.They will not have a week off. They will play a nine-game Pac-12 schedule after already having played a bonus matchup with California...
"It gets harder and harder each week," Embree said. "But that's OK. It is what it is. We can't change it." But coaches know they often have to remake a poke in eye into a wonderful teachable moment. Here's how Embree spins what's probably the nation's toughest schedule. "In a way as a coach, it kind of makes it a little bit easier," he said. "Because of the nature of our schedule, there's always something to be excited about from a players standpoint."
It's hard to know what to expect from Ohio State, which dropped out of the national polls this week for the first time since 2004. Ohio State is still Ohio State -- loaded with talent -- but it's looked bad in its last two games: a close win over Toledo and a 24-6 loss at Miami. It should be mad and motivated in front of a typically raucous crowd in the Horseshoe, but you never know. There's a lot of distractions in Columbus, and the Buckeyes might be buckling.
Embree brings a pro-style system from the NFL, and unlike other NFL-to-college transitions, this one seems to be working. The Buffs are averaging 5.7 yards per play, over half a yard more than they did last season. Small sample size demands that we view the improvement with caution, but it's clear that the new Colorado offense possesses some spark. Hansen's QB Score has jumped from -402 a year ago to positive 454, an almost 900-point swing, which places him among the best quarterbacks Ohio State will face this season.
Opponent Watch: OSU v. Miami: Offensive Analysis - Along The Olentangy
It does not take a second review to state that OSU's offensive performance was inadequate to win against Miami. The second viewing did, however, demonstrate that OSU could have won this football game and simply left opportunities on the field. OSU came out with an odd game plan, fell behind quickly, and simply shot themselves in the foot too many times with a non-existent passing game. Frankly, it leaves one wondering if Jim Tressel's stubbornness as an offensive play caller that drove so many crazy would have been precisely what was called for on Saturday.
Ohio State 30, Colorado 17: My hunch is the Buckeyes are going to come out highly motivated in front of the Horseshoe crowd to show folks they are still relevant after falling out of the top-25 for the first time since 2004. And, well, the Buffs haven't won outside the state in 19 games.
Hot: A dual-threat Buffalo. Colorado RB Rodney Stewart had 98 yards rushing and 93 yards receiving against Colorado State. Not: Colorado's kickoff returns. The Buffs rank 120th -- last -- in the nation in kickoff returns (14.67 per return).
1. Before the season began, Oregon State coach Mike Riley worried aloud that flanker James Rodgers, recovering from a severe knee injury, might be better off if he redshirted and applied for a sixth season of eligibility. Rodgers is healthy enough that doctors have cleared him to play Saturday against UCLA. How much -- and how quickly -- he will resemble the James Rodgers of 2008-10 is a coldhearted question given the long rehabilitation. It will be interesting to see Rodgers answer it nonetheless.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly recently groused about how hard it is to get elite teams to sign a home-and-home series with his Ducks. While money, as it often is in college football, is an issue, the biggest reason is teams don't want to get their butts kicked. Kelly's crew has won 18 in a row at home, last losing to Boise State on Sept. 20, 2008. So when you ask Kelly about what he's learned about his team during a pair of home blowouts after it lost to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, he doesn't make any sweeping pronouncements of newfound skill, confidence or maturity. "We're a good team at home," he said. "What we've got to learn now is how do we play on the road?"
A day after conference expansion Armageddon was avoided with the Pac-12 taking a pass on Oklahoma and Texas, commissioner Larry Scott was in good cheer. And why not? Scott's conference still has the richest TV deal and is the most unified and stable in the nation. "We could have expanded, but the deal didn't make any sense at the end of the day for us, especially given the position that we are in," Scott said. "There is a very high bar. It's hard to imagine very many scenarios for our conference to expand because the bar is so high."
So Colorado is being paid $1.4 million to go to Columbus and lose. But will it? Ohio State is not exactly strong this season, and the Buffs are showing signs of semi-competency. -- Dan, Washington D.C.
It's certainly not a "guarantee" game, but the Buckeyes are still 15-point favorites. Ohio State lost at Miami because the Hurricanes had comparable talent but far more experience, a problem the Buckeyes are going to run into several more times over the course of the season. Colorado, on the other hand, is experienced but nowhere near as talented. I don't expect Joe Bauserman to turn around from last week's two-completion game and throw for 300 yards, but I do expect the Buckeyes to perform better at home.
And they'd better, because the Buffs and Indiana may be the only true gimmees left on Ohio State's schedule.
Before the University of Colorado could begin to think about shaking away from the gritty Kansas Jayhawks, it first had to shake free of...itself. If the Buffs were to stay on track for their stated goal of a berth in the Big 12 title game, they could not be derailed in the Big 12 Conference opener by the Jayhawks, who had earlier in the week given CU the distinction of being merely a "decent" football team.
Adjustments were needed. Colorado trailed 13-10 at the half when two eventual game-changing decisions were made. First, the running game was channeled into more north-south directions; second, tight end Daniel Graham finally touched the ball. The result was two fourth quarter touchdowns in a CU rally to take a sloppy 27-16 win Saturday afternoon before 47,495 at Folsom Field.
Colorado heads to Corvallis, Ore., to take on Oregon State for its first game in the new Pac-12 Conference. CU is coming off of a strong week after breaking its four game losing streak with a tie and win against No. 22 Auburn and Cal State Bakersfield, respectively.