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William Whelan: CU @ California Recap

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by absinthe, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. absinthe

    absinthe Ambitious but rubbish. Club Member Junta Member

    Dec 1, 2006
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    BOULDER, Colo. – Under the sun in Berkeley on this past Saturday as the Colorado Buffaloes took the revamped Bear Raid offense into overtime, one thing became more clear than the fogless Bay Area blue sky.

    Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau was not going to surpass former Buff Tyler Hansen’s 474 passing yards against Cal in 2011 when the Bears celebrated an overtime win in Boulder.

    At least, that’s the approach that some less optimistic fans will take as Mike MacIntyre’s team fell 59-56 in double-overtime this weekend. It’s less than a less enlightened point of view. It’s less than cynical. It’s blind.

    We could discuss the missed go-route toss to Nelson Spruce—which would have added yet another chapter to his growing epic—or the forced interception Liufau misguidedly threw late in the fourth quarter. The three missed field goals? Yes, indeed, those proved deadly. Even the defense, which played one of its more aggressive game plans to date under the guidance of Kent Baer, was ineffective without its unsung hero, sophomore Tedric Thompson.

    However justified, true or worthwhile any of those discussions would be, it over shadows the most important lesson that anyone watching the game on the Pac-12 Networks learned: Mike MacIntyre has a combination of coaching cojones and emotional wherewithal that so many were hoping was present in the Jon Embree era.

    Okay, perhaps that’s a bit overdramatic. Half of the people watching MacIntyre parade up and down the sideline throwing his arms over his head after Colorado was stopped on 4th and goal thought to themselves, “Man, this guy really cares. Finally!” The other half, “Get your headset back on and coach the damn game.”

    Whichever point of view you happen to identify with, there three undeniable truths:

    1.) Sefo Liufau, for all of his faults and shortcomings as a talent, is the toughest “SOB” Colorado has had at quarterback since…well, since 90% of current Colorado recruiting prospects we alive. He missed throws. He’s made bad reads. But my, if he doesn’t get right up after any one of the brutal hits he’s taken over the last two seasons and go on to the next play with a clear head. His throw to Bryce Bobo, hell the entire final game tying drive, was beautiful. There was no feeling that he was overwhelmed by the moment, by the stakes of the game, a game in which he had already tossed five touchdowns. No one truly knows whether Liufau will finish his career at Colorado as the starting quarterback. What is certain, is that his poise and ability to trust himself and the weapons around him was the only reason Colorado even had a shot of a remarkable road win last weekend.

    2.) Colorado was more prepared for the opening kick off on Saturday than I’ve seen them in three years. This is said with full awareness of their win over Colorado State a year ago and their dismantling of Cal on Folsom Field later that season. This time, on the road and facing a team that had every reason to come out angry (though to be fair, equally as many reasons to come out flat) Colorado showed that it could compete. Outside of three missed field goals and an eye roll inducing goal line series in the final overtime, CU’s offense looked like one that so many in the fan base have clamored for, for years. They made big plays, converted simple third down conversions and spread the ball around, forcing the defense to defend every inch of the turf underneath their cleats.

    3.) As dynamic as the offense looked, the defense continues to look lost, missing the trees for the forest. A simple dump off pass to a running back—one that followed an inexcusable offsides penalty with Cal pinned on their own goal line—can not, and I repeat cannot, go for a 95-yard touchdown. In one play, we saw what has plagued the CU defense all season. A lack of speed and discipline by Addison Gillam, the former freshman All-American. A lack of fundamentals from Greg Henderson, who has taken a firm and surprising step back as a senior, at times. A lack of playmaking from Kenneth Olugbode. All contributed to the most preventable play of the afternoon, and all showed why this defense has struggled through five games.

    What comes of the loss and its effect on the team as they prepare for Oregon State, one of the more winnable games remaining on the schedule, remains to be seen. But the most contentious point among fans this season, whether there is progress being made or not, can lie dormant for at least this week. The display of heart, competitiveness, offensive execution and resiliency that Colorado showed in Berkeley was beyond awe inspiring. It was simply refreshing. This team knew they would win the game, and when they didn’t, there was no strolling to the sideline as if it was just another Saturday devoid of execution and fight.

    Head coach Mike MacIntyre finally has the first brick of his foundation laid and put to rest. It isn’t a brick to be enshrined among the many others in the Dal Ward, but it could, should, and hopefully will be placed in the most important place of all: his team’s sense of confidence.

    Colorado is progressing.
  2. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

    Mar 20, 2009
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    Nice write-up, Will.
  3. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

    Feb 1, 2008
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    Last three words, couldn't agree more. :nod: thanks Will.

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