So much for hope... that's all gone for 2012. The Buffaloes have lost their second game of the 2012 season in a 30-28 defeat to FCS Sacramento State.
The game started off with a bang as true freshman fullback Christian Powell showed great balance and speed, especially for a young fullback, with a 64-yard touchdown scamper on the third play from scrimmage. After a quick five-play drive and successive punt, the Buffaloes again marched down the field for a touchdown with a healthy mix of Powell runs and passes to freshmen Vincent Hobbs, Nelson Spruce and Donta Abron.
With a 14-0 lead, the Buffaloes defense came apart. The Hornets scored on four-straight possessions, only interrupted by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Webb to Kyle Slavin to take a 24-21 lead into the half. The Buffs D couldn't stop the Hornets on the ground or through the air, allowing quarterback Garrett Saffron to rack up 167 yards and two touchdowns on 14 of 17 passing. Running back AJ Ellis rushed for 73 yards to continue Colorado's issues against the run.
For most of the first half the Buffaloes went with two linebackers with Derrick Webb and Jon Major on the field and Brady Daigh coming in for situational plays. Young cornerbacks Yuri Wright and Kenneth Crawley were allowing the Hornet receivers with plenty of room to work and Saffron has a talented arm that was able to pick apart the D.
In the third quarter, the Buffaloes got the Christian Powell show going again to a degree and managed to take a 28-24 lead thanks a 65-yard drive on their first possession of the half. The Hornets were shut out in the quarter, but tacked on a field goal to bring it within one shortly into the fourth. Colorado got chances to put up some more points in the final quarter, but penalties and dropped passes were a killer. On the final drive, Sacramento State marched down the field from their own 17-yard line, aided by two pass interference penalties before finally succumbing to the game winning field goal,
It's clear that this team still has a lot of growing up to do. Both lines are struggling immensely, against the weakest competition they'll see all year. The secondary needs work and time to grow, and doesn't have a whole lot of time to do so with the Pac-12 conference schedule quickly approaching. Ray Polk and Greg Henderson should return next week and provide a boost, but Fresno State on the road is no pushover. The defense's inability to create turnovers is going to haunt the Buffaloes every week until they get it corrected.
Finally, Jordan Webb is not the guy to lead this team going forward. He's seems to be a great kid and a hell of a worker, but this program needs a quarterback it can grow with. It needs someone that has talent and a high ceiling and can learn how to use it. We've already seen what this team can do with low-ceiling quarterbacks.
Christian Powell is going to be a monster. He finished with 154 yards on 28 carries and runs the ball hard and strong every single rush. Gerald Thomas, Nelson Spruce and tight end Vincent Hobbs all look to have a spark that the Buffaloes are missing without Paul Richardson. But at this point it doesn't matter. The Buffaloes have lost the two easiest games on the schedule, and it isn't going to get better from here.