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A Brick Too Far

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    By Stuart

    A Brick Too Far
    Colorado head coach Jon Embree went “all in” in his debut as Colorado head coach. From the time of his hiring in December, 2010, he pointed toward the Hawai’i game as a game of emphasis.
    Rather than shy away from the Buffs’ 18-game road losing streak, Embree embraced it. Embree could have said that the losing streak was the previous administration’s problem, and that his Buffs were unbeaten on the road. Instead, Embree used every interview to acknowledge that, not*only was he not*displeased with the schedule which forced him to take to the road to face a 10-win team in his first game, but that he was glad that the schedule had worked out that way. “Sept. 3 is the first opportunity. People talk about the schedule (being tough). You know what? I love the schedule,’ said Embree. “I love that we open up on the road so we get a chance to get that off the books and bring the bricks back.”
    Embree very publicly made the Hawai’i game a “brick” game, the opportunity to add a brick to the Dal Ward Center wall of great Colorado victories.
    The Buff Nation, starved for something positive to cling to, bought in. Colorado, despite a seven game road schedule which some ranked as the toughest in the nation, was going to rise above the mediocrity of the Dan Hawkins’ era. Over 4,500 new season tickets were purchased, the third-highest bump in school history (with the two off-seasons with higher jumps coming after top 5 finishes in the polls the year before).
    After waiting for the rest of the nation to get their first tastes of the 2011 college football season, Colorado finally got underway at 8:15 p.m. mountain time Saturday night.
    The Buffs were ready to play. The Buff fans were ready for something special.
    Thud.
    While the Buffs looked good in their 1990-era road uniforms, it is clear that these are not the Buffs of twenty years ago.
    The Colorado offense sputtered for most of the game, failing to create any rhythm, much less any “smash mouth” dominance. Rodney Stewart showed flashes of brilliance, but was limited to 52 yards on 18 carries. Throw in Tyler Hansen’s negative 45 yards rushing due to seven sacks, and Colorado’s signature rushing game produced a grand total of 17 yards rushing. Only Stewart and Hansen every carried the ball, once again demonstrating how heavily the Colorado coaching staff is relying upon Stewart this season (or, to put it another way, demonstrating that there is a significant drop off in talent between Stewart and his backups).*”We were off in the first half” said Jon Embree. “I don’t know what that was. I mean, you fumble the snap on the first play of the game. We’ll figure it out. We don’t have any other choice.”
    The passing game produced 223 yards and two touchdowns. Respectable numbers – if they had been combined with over 200 yards rushing. Hansen was sacked seven times (the school record is 11, set by Nebraska against the Buffs in 1979), and it did not appear that the Colorado offensive line was being beaten by blitzes and stunts. On most of the sacks, the entire pocket collapsed, with Hansen surrounded by Warriors. True, Hawai’i does have talented defensive players, but this is hardly the best defense Colorado will face this season.
    When Hansen did have time to throw the ball, another weakness in the Colorado lineup was exposed. Unless Hansen chooses to dump the ball off to a back, or throw a short pass to a tight end, the Colorado passing game appears to be “Richardson or nothing”. Richardson had three catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns, but either Hansen has no confidence in any other receivers deep, or they just never got open. Again, Buff coaches can count on future opponents taking note – stop Richardson, and you stop the Colorado passing game.
    The Buffs’ defense also had its moments, but also showed its weaknesses. Just as it appeared that the coaching staff went “all in” on the running game against Hawai’i – and lost the bet – the game plan against the Hawai’i offense looked to be “stop the deep pass by throwing every possible stunt*and blitz”*at Warrior quarterback Bryant Moniz. For the most part, the strategy worked. Moniz was held to 178 yards passing – almost half of what he produced in an average game in 2010 – with only two completions going for over 20 yards. Moniz had only one touchdown pass, and was sacked five times.
    Mission accomplished?
    Hardly.
    In selling out to stop the deep pass (and to protect two new starting cornerbacks), the Colorado defense did not account for Moniz and his ability to run with the football. Moniz, who had 102 total rushing yards in all of 2010, had career-highs in both rushing yards (121) and touchdowns (three). The remainder of the Hawai’i running game netted only 44 yards rushing. “I thought the defense played well,” said Embree. “We held them in check throwing the ball, but (Moniz) beat us with his legs.”
    Was there anything promising coming out of the 2011 season opener?
    Yes, and from an unlikely source.
    Colorado, for the first time in school history, started two freshmen at the kicking positions. Punter Darragh O’Neill was forced into seven punting situations, and he fared quite well, coming up with a 44.9 yard average, with four of his punts pinning the Warriors inside their own 20-yard line (last season Zach Grossnickle, in 60 punts, had only 11 kicks finish inside the opponents’ 20-yard line). Kicker Will Oliver was only called upon once during the game for a field goal attempt, but, in a pressure situation (the Buffs down ten in the first minute of the fourth quarter), Oliver delivered on a 34-yard attempt. While the Colorado return game still needs work, there is at least some comfort that Colorado fans can watch special teams play in the near and distant future with some degree of confidence.
    Colorado has now lost 19 straight games on the road, with the next two road games – at Ohio State and at Stanford – coming against ranked teams. The streak is likely to continue. The lead-in for the network announcers for each game will continue to focus on the road losing streak.
    What matters most, though, is that in a season with difficult games, Colorado fans hoping for a bowl berth come the end of November were counting on the Hawai’i game as a must-win.*Instead, after nine months of hoping things had changed, the Buff Nation was treated to more of the same.
    ‘There is no bright side. I’m not a moral victory kind of guy”, said Embree. “We did not win. That was our goal. We’ve got to end this losing streak on the road. That is the goal right now. We didn’t do that.”
    The Colorado coaching staff is laying a foundation with this team. It will be built with character. It will be built with toughness. It will be built on a foundation of players willing to compete.
    The building of this team will take time.*The foundation is being*built brick by brick.
    Against Hawai’i, however, the Buffs failed to bring the brick home.



    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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  2. Burrito Palazzo

    Burrito Palazzo huff my smug Club Member

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    It is however, the team of 25 years ago. This will take time.
     
  3. Mick Ronson

    Mick Ronson Well-Known Member

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    we've been pretty one-dimensional as a throwing team for a long time. aka Scotty McKnight...that PRich is the new lock-on WR is no surprise.

    we rushed 28 times for 17 net yards. with -44 yards in sacks. that's crap for a team newly dedicated to running it and play action. Hawaii has a nice front 7 but they aren't LSU or USC.

    Moniz beats us with a run game we don't see on film, OK. but, lot of us have been saying we need to score 30 to win games. 17 points and 17 yards rushing ain't going to work on this schedule.
     

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