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CU@Game CU At The Game: A Different Mindset

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    A Different Mindset

    Last Tuesday night, ESPN aired its 30-for-30 program entitled “The Gospel According to Mac”. The program took the viewer from the hiring of Bill McCartney as CU’s head coach in June of 1982 through to his retirement in 1994.

    (If you haven’t watched it yet, you owe it to yourself to do so. You are reading an essay about a team heading for a tenth straight losing season. This video will help you get through the next three weeks … and yet another long off-season):

    The 2015 Colorado football team watched the video Tuesday night, and came away inspired. The players voted to ditch the black-and-silver “Raider look” uniforms they had selected for the Stanford game, opting instead to go with the traditional black-and-gold.

    The look was similar to the 1989 and 1990 Buff teams which played for the national championship … but the mindset of the players wearing the black-and-goal 25 years ago was completely different than the mindset of the players on this year’s team.

    How clear is the difference? Compare:

    Here are quotes from CU quarterback Sefo Liufau from the past two weeks:

    Before the UCLA game: “We’re really confident with the game plan given that we can go out there and put up a good showing, and even win the game. No one really believes us — that’s OK, we believe in ourselves.”

    Before the Stanford game: “You just take the next game that is up, and you just go out there and win it or do your best to win the game”.

    Now compare those quotes to some of the quotes from “The Gospel According to Mac”:

    – Alfred Williams, on taking on No. 8 Illinois : “They had no idea we were going to unleash holy hell on them that day” … No. 8 Colorado 38, No. 10 Illinois 7 (Sept. 16, 1989);

    – Kanavis McGhee, Mike Pritchard, and Charles Johnson, on playing No. 21 Washington … McGhee: “The feeling was – I’ve got a job to do, and you’re in the way” … Pritchard: “Washington had no chance that day. I don’t think they knew what hit them” … Johnson: “We went out and beat Washington like they were a JV team, and they were one of the top teams in the country” … No. 5 Colorado 45, No. 21 Washington 28 (Sept. 30, 1989);

    – Alfred Williams, on taking on No. 2 Nebraska: “I talked to the team, man, and I told them that we had to have it. We HAD TO HAVE THAT GAME” … No. 9 Colorado 27, No. 2 Nebraska 12 (Nov. 3, 1990).

    See any difference?

    Yes, the 1989 and 1990 Colorado teams were ranked, and were expected to win most of their games. But compare the emotion and confidence in the quotes from those teams with the “we can go out there and put up a good showing” and “just go out there to win it or do your best” quotes from Sefo Liufau, one of the 2015 team captains.

    And it’s not just Liufau.

    I was also struck by a quote from senior captain Nelson Spruce after the UCLA game. Spruce was talking about the Buff comeback against the Bruins, which started when Donovan Lee scored on a 1-yard run, followed by defensive tackle Samson Kafovalu scoring on a 33-yard fumble return to pull the Buffs within 28-23 early in the fourth quarter.

    “I was like, ‘Man, stuff like that never happens to us,’ ” Spruce said of the fumble return for a touchdown.

    I don’t take issue with Spruce’s comment. I, along with many others in the Buff Nation would concur. A fumble return for a touchdown, on the road, against a ranked opponent, giving the Buffs the chance at an upset win?

    Stuff like that never happens to us.

    Stuff like that usually happens to us … that is present day mindset of the team and its fans.

    More often, Buffs and their fans have to endure plays like those which took place in their 42-10 loss to No. 9 Stanford.

    The Buffs played even with the Cardinal in the first quarter, answering a long touchdown drive by Stanford with one of their own. Then, in the second quarter, there were a series of plays which put the Buffs – and their fans – into “here we go again” mode:

    – The Buffs played man-to-man defense with Stanford facing a third-and-18. The result? A 43-yard touchdown pass, making it a 14-7 game;

    – The CU offense then responded with a ten-play drive of its own, only to miss a 37-yard field goal attempt;

    – The defense then forced a third-and-one, a third-and-five, and another third-and-five from the Stanford offense, but could not close the deal. On a fourth-and-two at the six, Stanford quarterback hit Dalton Schultz with a lob pass and a 21-7 lead;

    – With just under two minutes to play, and the chance to get back in the game, Sefo Liufau overthrew a wide open Nelson Spruce by a good ten yards, with the ball intercepted;

    – A pass interference penalty on Kenneth Crawley, who had just been burned on the 43-yard touchdown pass a few minutes earlier, set the Cardinal up for a last second score. At the one yard line, where a stop would have left Stanford without any points, Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan waltzed in with one second left before the break.

    A 7-7 game, and, just like that, it was a 28-7 halftime score.

    Game over. Thanks to the 40,142 for coming in for the early kickoff. Drive carefully on the way home.

    After the blowout win, Stanford head coach David Shaw was unusually effusive in praising Mike MacIntyre, the coach of the team who fell to 2-22 in Pac-12 play:

    “First of all, I have to say this: not enough credit is given to Mike MacIntyre and the job he’s done here at Colorado”, said Shaw. “They’re fighting everybody, they’re really close. You can see it by the way we played offense today. They made a lot of things very difficult. The score doesn’t look like it, but we had to come with reverses and trick plays because we thought they were very sound, fought very hard, and were very physical. They have a tough offense to stop with a running quarterback, a really tough (running) back, and a receiver that makes all kinds of plays. The score is what it is, but I think coach MacIntyre has done a phenomenal job here”.

    The debate about Mike MacIntyre’s success is not a new one, and will continue over the winter. Colorado is certainly more competitive than it was three years ago, but shouldn’t more progress be seen by now?

    – Shouldn’t Sefo Liufau be getting better, not worse?

    – Shouldn’t the play calling be getting more creative as the season goes on?

    – Why are the Buffs running Patrick Carr inside the five yard line, when any number of choices – Christian Powell, Donovan Lee, Phillip Lindsay … hell, even Sefo Liufau – would have made more sense?

    – Will the Buffs ever be able to master the red zone offense?

    The Buffs are 4-5, with three more games to play. First, there is a USC team, which is undefeated since the firing of Steve Sarkisian. Next comes Washington State, which has already taken down Oregon, Arizona, and Arizona State. The finale is against Utah, which could be in the top ten by the time the Buffs hit Salt Lake City.

    Three more games. Three more chances at an upset which will legitimize the Buffs as a team on its way up, a team which can not only compete in the Pac-12, but win games in the Pac-12.

    Senior safety Tedric Thompson perhaps best summarized the state of the Colorado program:

    “It’s demoralizing,” Thompson said of the loss. “Every team we’ve lost to doesn’t have any more talent than we do on their team. They aren’t doing anything we aren’t preparing for, I’m not sure what it is but it hurts to keep losing these games. I’m tired of hearing people say that we’re this close and if we had made this play or that play it would be different. It’s happening week after week and we need to come together as men and really figure it out. It’s out of the coaches hands at this point. They are doing everything right, making the right calls and preparing us. We just need to buckle down as men and accomplish our goals and then we can turn things around.”

    Put another way, the Buffs need a different mindset.

    And it’s going to take more than just a change of jerseys to accomplish that feat.


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