1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Grasping at Straws

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
    Likes Received:
    By Stuart

    [h=3]Grasping at Straws[/h]At a time when the University of Colorado football program is looking squarely into the eyes of a seventh consecutive losing season, a depth never before reached in the 123-year history of the program, it’s hard to stay focused on what Buff fans believe (hope?) to be better days ahead. A 42-14 home loss to UCLA leaves the Buffs at 1-4 on the season, with a gauntlet of better teams lying in wait to take their turn at*upgrading their school record books.
    Is there any reason for hope for this season? Or, in fact, for the foreseeable future?
    Two days before the Colorado/UCLA game, the first annual “Parade of Buffs” took place. Numerous Buff heroes from years past were introduced. The band played, the cheer team cheered, and current Buff teams were introduced and applauded. It was a glorified pep rally, designed to help pump up the players and fans for the first Pac-12 conference home game of the season.
    Foremer head coach Bill McCartney was on hand, again giving his stump speech about how it took three long years of suffering before he and his coaching staff were able to turn the Buffs around. Coach Mac again reminded us that he only won seven games in his first three seasons, but was nonetheless awarded a contract extension. After a pitiful 1-10 season in 1984, we all remember, the Buffs never again had a losing season under McCartney, with the Buffs*twice playing for the national championship just a few short years after McCartney’s slow start.
    It happened before, the*mantra goes*… so it can happen again (with or without a shift to the wishbone?).
    Grasping at straws …**
    We all know the meaning of the term – trying to find any reason to feel hopeful in a desperate situation -*but I have always been interested in the derivation of terms. “Grasping at straws” dates back at least to the 18th century, found in an old English proverb that a “drowning man will grasp at any straw”, with the “straw” translating into*any reed by the side of the river by which one might hold onto in order to save themselves from drowning.
    Does the CU football program have any reeds left to grasp?
    – Well, the Buffs did not get blown out right away by UCLA. The score was 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, much better than the 35-0 deficit faced against Fresno State, and an improvement upon the 21-0 deficit the Buffs faced in the Rose Bowl a year ago against these same Bruins.
    But … the Buffs did fall behind 21-7 by halftime, not much of an improvement over the 21-6 score against UCLA at half last fall. And the final score, 42-14, was only marginally better than the 45-6 final of a year ago.
    – The defense held the nation’s fourth leading rusher, Johnathan Franklin,*more than*30 yards below his season average, and kept Brett Hundley, who had three 300-yard games in his first four outings, from a fourth 300-yard game.
    But … Franklin still went off for 111 yards, and added another 48 yards receiving. And Hundley, in only*the second road game of his career, was never phased by the Folsom Field crowd, and was held to 281 yards not by the Buffs, but by the score. Had Hundley needed 300 yards, he would have got them.
    – New players saw time on offense, giving hope for the future. Freshman tight end Vincent Hobbs saw his first real action, catching two passes for 37 yards. Fellow true freshman Donta Abron saw his first real playing time, carrying the ball four times in the Buffs’ second touchdown drive.
    But … Vincent Hobbs had the longest play of the afternoon for Colorado, a 31-yard gain … at the end of which he fumbled. Donta Abron’s carries were all*in garbage time. Josh Ford looked great in garbage time against Fresno State two weeks ago, but hasn’t been heard from since.
    Really, there isn’t much there for Colorado fans to grasp onto. The “straws” are looking thinner, and even further away, than they were last week, when there was a glimmer of hope after a 21-point fourth quarter in Pullman gave the Buffs an unlikely comeback victory against Washington State.
    Back to square one …
    Another phrase we are familiar with – starting over; returning to basics in hopes of erasing the recent past with a fresh start.
    The derivation, though, is interesting. In the early days of BBC radio, sports commentators adopted an experimental system for soccer broadcasts. The field was divided into eight theoretical squares and listeners were shown these on a diagram in newspapers. The commentator would indicate the position of the ball and the players by the square in which they happened to be in, at any point of time.
    So, where is square one for the Colorado Buffaloes?
    Freshman cornerback Kenneth Crawley led the team in tackles against UCLA, with eight, all solo. Safety Terrel Smith was second, with seven – again, all solo. Colorado, be it by design or necessity, has adopted a “bend but don’t break” philosophy when it comes to playing defense. Rather than choosing to be burned by long pass plays, the Buffs try to keep everything in front of them, hoping that if the opposition’s drives are drawn out, that the opponent’s offense will make a mistake along the way.
    Decent theory, especially when your secondary is made up mostly of true freshmen … but it hasn’t proven itself out in practice. Colorado went into the UCLA game 96th in the nation in red zone defense. So, even after allowing teams to march down the field unimpeded, the Buffs*have still been*unable to defend a short field.
    Against UCLA, the Colorado defense rose up to the challenge only on a few occasions. In the Bruins’ first touchdown drive, the UCLA offense had not one, not two, but three second-and-one opportunities. In the game, UCLA had four drives into the CU red zone. The result? Four-for-four, with four touchdowns.
    Failed tackles made short gains into long gains. Missed assignments made it easy for a red-shirt quarterback to complete two-thirds of his pass attempts.
    And the defense isn’t even the Buffs’ biggest obstacle to success.
    The Colorado offense is the real problem.
    Playing at home, against a defense ranked 80th or worse in rushing defense, pass defense, and total defense, the Colorado offense went three-and-out nine times.
    Let’s try that one again … Colorado had 15 total possessions, and in nine of those possessions gave the ball back after running only three plays – against a team which is in the bottom third of the Pac-12 conference in most defensive categories.
    “I don’t (have an answer to why the Colorado offense doesn’t work), I wish I did,” said Jon Embree after the game. “That will be something that over this bye week period we will have to address and see what we can do, and get done within our system, and get better starts. For whatever reason, we have not played well. We have 8-10 plays that we know we’e going to start with and we practice it against the looks we are going to get, but for whatever reason we’e just not able to do anything.”
    Quarterback Jordan Webb*was equally at a loss to explain why the offense*isn’t working. “I*don’ know. We have been working really hard at it, and we will continue to work hard at it and I expect us to get better. I feel like our offensive line handled themselves really well tonight when I was in the pocket, but we have got to get better in all facets of the game.”
    Sounds like a team heading back to square one …
    A fiasco …
    We might have to hold off on the use of “a fiasco” for upcoming*weeks.
    Colorado, after a beat down by a mediocre UCLA team, will have a weekend off to contemplate an October which includes trips to the Coliseum to face USC, and to Autzen Stadium to play Oregon.
    A fiasco, a complete and ignominious failure, actually has its origins in Italian bottle-making. Glass blowers, always seeking perfection in their creations, would occasionally produce a bottle with a flaw. Such bottles were not discarded, but were made into flasks for workers. A fiasco, literally, is a “failure to make a bottle”.
    Unless the Buffs can “get back to square one” in a hurry, and produce a game plan which can succeed against defenses of the Pac-12, it would be “grasping at straws” to see another victory in the 2012 season.
    Which will have Buff fans reaching for their flasks*earlier and earlier with each passing week …

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
    Click here to vie

Share This Page