I was supposed to be free of this team. I left my position as staff writer to focus on school — just podcasts and editing — but I’m back to write about a team that has decided to be actively hostile to its supporters. Where to begin?
1. This Buffs offense is irreparably broken
Ralphie Report is built on watching terrible teams through rose-colored glasses, but there was nothing positive to take away from that offensive showing. They finished 63 yards of offense and more than half of those came in the final drive in garbage time. Everyone was bad — the offensive line is a revolving door, the receivers aren’t getting open and have fumble issues on their rare touches, and as good as these running backs are, they can’t do anything with a bad OL against a stacked box. It would also help if Darrin Chiaverini changed up his play-calling patterns to be less predictable.
It starts with coaching and QB play. Brendon Lewis is not a confident passer and he’s clearly uncomfortable throwing from inside the pocket. Those are serious deficiencies, but he’s still talented and can create chunk plays on the ground. Maybe, just maybe, the coaches could tailor the offense to his strengths and run something centered around the read option. We shouldn’t be afraid to go full Bernard Jackson. If that’s not possible this season, we should probably get a good look at Drew Carter instead and try again with Lewis next offseason. Carter might not be ready, but neither is Lewis.
2. The defense looked good despite the circumstances, all for nothing
The Buffs sure did give up 277 rushing yards, but they were on the field for over 40 minutes of game time and were up against one of the biggest and most experience offensive lines in the country. It’s okay that they were worn down in this terrible game.
Nate Landman is still a godsend. It makes sense that he returned to rehabilitate his draft stock after his Achilles injury, but he deserves better than playing for free on this doomed team. Guy Thomas and Na’im Rodman also looked solid and made some big plays while there was still a chance of winning the game. Carson Wells has been quiet, but he’s going to pick it up at some point, maybe when the defensive line is fortified by Mustafa Johnson and opposing teams focus less on him.
I’m not sure if he counts as a defensive player or the front-runner for Offensive MVP, but Josh Watts has been a revelation in his first year punting. He averaged 52 yards on 8 punts against Minnesota, following another impressive showing against Texas A&M. He has nothing on Darragh O’Neill, but we’re getting 90% of that experience every Saturday.
3. Bowl eligibility is a pipe dream
The Pac-12 South is a burning pile of garbage and Arizona might be the worst team in the Power 5. There are a few winnable games left on the schedule, namely Arizona and Oregon State at home and Cal on the road. That’s really it unless things get weird and even then, the Buffs could be underdogs in two of those games. However you look at it, the Buffs aren’t going to get close to six wins. They don’t even look capable of surpassing their 3.5-win preseason over/under set by Vegas.
This was always going to be a transition season, especially once Lewis became the de facto starting QB. But it can’t be like this. The Buffs don’t look like a cohesive football team and they have no momentum on the recruiting trails. If things keep going this way with Chiaverini running the offense, the questions will come back on Karl Dorrell.