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A Close Shave at Gillette

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    By Stuart

    [h=2]A Close Shave at Gillette Stadium[/h]–
    My working title for the essay of the Colorado game*against Massachusetts,*walking into the New England Patriots’*Gillette Stadium,*had two possible*options – “Boston Strong” or “Boston Weak”.
    Guess which title was in the lead midway through the third quarter?
    Down 31-20 against a team the Buffs were favored to beat by 17 points, there was little to console the Buff Nation. Sure, the Colorado offense had posted 20 first-half points (but against a team with two victories in two seasons as an FBS team), but had already surrendered 31 (to a team which managed all of seven points against Boston College the week before – and a total of 14 points in three games against FBS competition in 2013).
    Now, my attitude may have been skewed somewhat by the fact that had only gotten into Boston at 5:30 the morning of the game, and was still without my luggage (a more complete timeline of my odyssey in getting to the game is recounted below). I was tired and dispirited walking into the game to start with, and the play of the Buffs did little to dispel my fears that Colorado was regressing, not progressing.
    Colorado opened the game with a scoring drive (yea!), but had to settle for another field goal once the offense reached the opponent’s red zone (boo!). After falling behind 7-3, the Buffs rallied to take a 10-7 lead, but then again blew the chance to take control of the game. After Darragh O’Neill had pinned the Minutemen down at their four yard line with a punt, and the CU defense had forced a three-and-out, the Buffs took over at the UMass 45-yard line. Instead of asserting itself as the dominant team, Colorado settled for a field goal (on a drive which featured only one rushing play), taking a 13-7 lead.
    With new found resolve, UMass scored next, taking a 14-13 advantage. The game was a seesaw affair thereafter, with Colorado showing no inclination to remind the Minutemen that they were the more talented team.
    If, down the road this season,*Colorado has such a scoring battle against say an Arizona or an Oregon State, Buff fans will take it.
    Colorado needs to show that it can keep up with the rest of the Pac-12, if only to show the gap between the Buffs and the rest of the league had been narrowed.
    But don’t count on it – Colorado will not be scoring 41 points on Pac-12 defenses, but will easily give up 38 points (or more) to its conference rivals.
    It turned out to be*a good thing that the game was not easy to watch on television.
    Why? Because, well, it wasn’t easy to watch.
    Colorado was supposed to take a step forward in 2014, with a full season under the coaching staff, plus a full off-season.
    Two games into 2014, though, it’s hard to say the Buffs have taken a step forward.
    If anything, Colorado has taken a step back.
    Nagging concerns:
    - Can the Colorado defense stop anybody?
    In the last 13 months, UMass has played four other FBS schools. Against those four other schools – Wisconsin, Kansas State, Vanderbilt and Boston College – the Minutemen scored zero, 7, 7, and 7 points. That’s a total of 21 points in four games. UMass had 21 points against Colorado … in the first half. Until proven otherwise, there is no reason to believe that Colorado will be able to stop any Pac-12 offenses from score 40 or more points per game. With the Buff offense unlikely to be able to match the output of their Pac-12 counterparts, a long conference season seems all but assured.
    - What is with the Colorado play-calling/mindset late in the second quarter/early third quarter?
    Swallows returning*to Capistrano have nothing on the Buffs.
    With alarming regularity, Colorado fades late in the first half, and comes out flat early in the second half, and the same maddening trend continued against UMass. The Buffs were out-scored, 17-0, in the five minute span covering the last 2:30 of the first half, and the first 2:30 of the second half. Colorado had a 20-14 lead – and the ball – with 1:11 left to play before halftime. Three incompletions – and 23 seconds – later, UMass had the ball back. With only 48 seconds to work with, and 70 yards to cover, the Minutemen were in no position to plan on a score … but the CU secondary unbelievably gave up a 36 yard completion on the first play. A touchdown resulted, giving UMass a 21-20 halftime advantage.
    Okay, the Minutemen were close to Boston College in the first half (down 6-0), but were put in their place in the second half, being outscored 24-7. Surely Colorado would put UMass in its place coming out of the break – right? Instead, the Buffs (also out-scored 24-7 in the second half of Week One), inexplicably came out flat. A field goal drive by the UMass offense*was met with an interception from the CU offense, resulting in*a one-play, two-yard drive for a score. In less than five minutes of game clock, the score had gone from 20-14, Colorado, to 31-20, Massachusetts.
    No way the Buffs play this poorly the rest of the season and come away with “W’s”.
    - Half my kingdom for a kickoff to the endzone!
    Where have you gone, Diego Gonzalez? The transfer from Mexico – reportedly – was a star last fall during practices, routinely kicking the ball out of the end zone. Eligible this season, Gonzalez has been a non-factor, with Will Oliver keeping his job as the kickoff specialist.
    The problem is that Oliver cannot consistently find the end zone, with the result being that the Buffs are consistently putting their (porous) defense on the field at a disadvantage.
    Here are the starting positions after kickoffs for UMass: the 17-yard line; the 45; the 30; the 39; the 46; the 30; and the 49. One effective kickoff the entire game. The remainder were a combination of poor (or poorly planned) kicks which continuously gave the opposition great starting position.
    - Over 100 yards in penalties
    Colorado had 12 penalties for 124 yards, a nearly fatal total against Massachusetts … and a recipe for disaster for a team which is likely to be favored in only one more game (Hawai’i) the remainder of the season.
    “Our problem mainly concerns the new rules,” explained coach MacIntyre after the game. “The new rules on defensive backs and roughing the passers. We have some younger guys and they will learn. We aren’t worried about having more penalties because everybody has more penalties right now.”
    Fortunately for Colorado, the UMass players are just as young and*uneducated as the Colorado players. In what proved to be the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, the Buffs needed three defensive penalties including an offside call on third-and-four and a pass interference call on third-and-21, just to maintain possession.
    Anyone thinking Colorado will be so fortunate when the calendar turns from September to October?

    I have been disconsolate before. Eight years after the fact, I still hear about the 2006 loss to Montana State, Falling to Sacramento State was another embarrassment, and giving up 56 points in the first half against Oregon two years ago was pitiful.
    But, even with*a school record eight straight losing seasons,*I never got*to the point where I was ready to throw in the towel on the Buffs.
    My diploma was not going to change; CU is my school for life.
    Still, having gotten into Boston eight hours late, with my head finally hitting the pillow at 5:30 a.m. (and my luggage in Chicago), it was fair – down 31-20 to a terrible team which had about 4,000 fans on hand for a home game – to question whether it was all worth it. The travel, the expense, the emotional cost of following a team which gives so little in return.
    The Buffs rallied from the 11-point deficit, and I rallied along with them (a text from my wife in the fourth quarter: “The luggage is here!”, helped), and Colorado is now 1-1 on the 2014 season.
    College football is an emotional game. The Buffs can use the victory over the Minutemen to gain confidence and pride. Colorado could well use the 41-38 victory as a springboard to a decent season.
    But I’m not counting on it.
    P.S. Just for “fun”, here is how Friday before the CU game against UMass unfolded for Lee and I:
    - We left Bozeman on time for Chicago, with the flight leaving just after noon. Somewhere over the Dakotas, our day began to fall apart. The pilot told us there were thunderstorms over Chicago, and we were going to be about 15 minutes late getting into O’Hare (so far, so good – we had a layover of about an hour before our flight to Boston). Then the pilot can on, saying we were going to be flying in circles over Chicago, waiting for our turn to land. Next, the message was that we were diverting to Madison to get more fuel – so we could fly in circles some more.
    After sitting on the tarmac in Madison, we finally took off and got to Chicago. Our flight to Boston – naturally – was delayed. Instead of leaving at 6:00 p.m., we were leaving at 9:21 p.m., getting into Boston at 12:43 a.m. Saturday. Not great, but with the line at the United customer service center stretching for about a quarter mile, we considered ourselves lucky.
    That was until 9:00 p.m., when our 9:21 flight to Boston*was cancelled. Now on standby for the 11:30 flight, we were the last couple to get on the plane. An hour sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare was followed by the 2 1/2 hour flight into Boston, getting in at 3:30 a.m., eastern time.
    But we’re not finished.
    Of course, our luggage didn’t make the trip, which meant another hour at United baggage claim (you can imagine that the one person working there, at 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, was not from the “A-list”*of employees). A shuttle ride out to the car rental place ensued, with my name not on the board. In front of us in line at the Hertz counter was*a gentleman whose English, I must confess, is slightly better than my Mandarin – but not by much. He wanted to change his already processed charge on his Visa to his Discover card, a task outside the ability of the clerk (another “A-list” employee). We finally got to the hotel, with our heads hitting the pillow, at 5:39 a.m. (okay, fine. It was only 3:39 a.m., Mountain time).
    And for all of this, the Buffs gave me a 31-20 third quarter deficit …
    … tell me again why I’m doing this???

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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