EZ Mortgages

Washington State – “Did you hear?” – Coach Mac’s first win

// Sep 18 - 1982

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September 18th – at Spokane           Colorado 12, Washington State 0

Colorado shut out an opponent for the first time since 1977, and won on the road for the first time in two years, defeating Washington State 12-0 in Spokane.

It did not make up for the 14-10 “loss snatched from the jaws of victory” that the Buffs had endured the year before against Washington State, but it did give head coach Bill McCartney his first victory as a collegiate head coach, and squared his record as the Buffs’ coach at 1-1 (McCartney was not to reach the .500 mark again as a head coach for seven more years, until midway through the 1989 season).

The defense played inspired for their defensive-minded coach. Trailing 9-0 at half, the Cougars mounted a 16-play, 56-yard drive to the Buffs’ one yard line. There, Cougar fullback James Matthews was stuffed on a 4th-and-goal attempt at the one yard line by outside linebacker Dave Alderson and defensive tackle Mark Shoop. It proved to be the only Cougar scoring threat of the day.

Kicker Tom Field supplied all of the points in the game with his four field goals. For his efforts, Field was named the Big Eight Offensive Player of the Week. Field had been a freshman sensation in 1979, had a lapse as a sophomore in 1980, and then was beaten out of his job in 1981. For Field, the four field goal day was a bit of redemption. “When I didn’t kick last year, and I didn’t kick well the year before, I was kinda skeptical,” Field said after the game. “I didn’t have to prove anything this year, I guess. But I got a chance to kick again this year, and that was really nice. I’m a team man, so I wanted to do the best I can. I thought I worked pretty hard over the summer. My attitude was to come back and be as good as I could be.”

Colorado’s rushing game proved adequate, with Lee Rouson contributing 97 yards on 22 carries, with senior halfback Richard Johnson chipping in 72 yards on 20 carries. “I am used to straight-ahead stuff,” said Rouson. “We won this game and we played together. The line blocked and the backs ran. Our plan before the game was to run the ball.”

The rushing yards were necessary, though, as the passing game resumed pathetic status. With Cal starter Randy Essington nursing a sore are, sophomore Steve Vogel got the start. Vogel got the win, but did not contribute, passing for only 20 yards, completing just two of fifteen attempts. “I was more than ready to play,” said Vogel. “I felt last night we were going to win.” Was Vogel concerned about the lack of a passing attack? “No,” said Vogel. “That was the game plan – we talked about it all week. We wanted to give our line a chance to prove their worth. They made a great showing.”

While the offense was still a question mark, the Buffs, through their defense, had shown some life as a football team. On the day, the Colorado defense did not allow a Washington State drive of over 30 yards, forced two fumbles, and had an interception. “I feel really great, and really humble,” said Bill McCartney after his first victory. “Our defense was great. But I don’t want to take any of the credit.”

Colorado was now 1-1 on the 1982 season, collecting an improbable shutout win – on the road. Better yet, the Buffs were coming home to play five of their next six games at Folsom Field.

Once again, there appeared to be some hope on the horizon for the Colorado football program.

Did you hear?

Okay, I’ll admit it. I was not watching the Colorado/Washington State game on TV. Of course, very few actually were, as the Buffs were not exactly a hot ticket in the early 1980’s for even local TV stations (it was odd that the Washington State game was, in fact, being televised – by KWGN in Denver. It was the first live television coverage for the Buffs since 1978).

Nor was I listening to the game on the radio.

I found out about the results of the game from Kimbirly Orr, our floor’s Resident Advisor.

Resident Advisors, or RA’s, were the big brothers and sisters of the dorms, with one living on each floor. RA’s were responsible for coordinating activities, keeping the peace (and the stereos down), and for spotting and assisting those who needed help, be it someone who was homesick or in need of more serious counseling.

Kimbirly was more than an RA for 2nd East of Libby Hall. She was (and remains) a friend. She also can fairly be called a greater supporter of Colorado athletics than I. She has attended more games, including bowl games, than I have (commuting from California for many years), and has been more active in all that which is CU. It was Kimbirly Orr that talked me into – and was my sponsor for – the Colorado Alumni Association Board of Directors. Attend any Buff game, especially a bowl game, and look for a large gathering of Colorado fans. There you will find Kimbirly Orr.

In 1982, Kimbirly had more than a passing interest in the Colorado football program. She was dating one of the players. Through Kimbirly, we learned of the team’s opinions of Coach McCartney, none of whom had been recruited by Coach Mac. For the most part, other than the griping about the hard work, we heard favorable reports. The team had responded to the enthusiasm and inspiration of their new coach. The consensus was that anything was better than the lost ship that was the Colorado program under Chuck Fairbanks.

On this day, Kimbirly was watching the game. It was Kimbirly who tracked down fellow Buff sufferers throughout Saturday night with the news: “Did you hear? The Buffs won!!”

My initial reaction was one of “yeah, right”. We then heard the details of the shutout from Kimbirly. Our next act was to huddle around the rabbit-eared television that night, so that we could hear the details of the game on the local news. “How’s about that?” we thought. “A .500 team!”

We looked at the schedule. Colorado was 1-1, with Wyoming coming to town the following week. 2-1 would not be bad for a team with a total of four wins in the last two years. Even with ranked UCLA, Nebraska, and Oklahoma looming in the near future, there were some winnable games on the schedule. We began discussing a winning season and a new confidence in our new head coach.

None of us, even with our history of constant disappointment, anticipated at the time that we would have to wait until November for another win.

Game Notes –

– Prior to the win in Spokane, the most recent road win for Colorado had come against Kansas, a 31-17 win in Lawrence on November 17, 1979.

– Tom Field’s four field goals in a single game tied a school record. He missed out on setting a new school standard when he missed a 34-yard attempt late in the game.

– It had been five years since Colorado had shut out an opponent. You had to go back to November 19, 1977, when the Buffs blanked Kansas State, 23-0, to find the last time Colorado had held an opponent scoreless.

– Lee Rouson had 22 rushing attempts (for 72 yards) on the afternoon, a season-high for any Buff running back in 1982. The 58 total rushing attempts by the Buffs against Washington State, and the 241 total rushing yards, were team season highs.

– Punter Art Woods admitted to being nervous before the kickoff of the 1982 Washington State game. After all, it was two botched punt attempts in the 1981 Washington State game which turned a 10-0 Colorado fourth quarter lead into a 14-10 loss. Against the Cougars in 1982, Woods’ numbers were not spectacular (eight punts for a 36.6 yard average), but his efforts did help keep Washington State from mounting a comeback. “That’s probably the best punt-rush team we’re gonna face,” said Woods. “Today, I had to work kicking into a little wind. It was a little psychological because I felt it was going to go straight up. But I didn’t even worry about it after the first couple. But I knew they were close.”

– After an opening game victory over Idaho, Washington State, like Colorado, would have to wait until November of 1982 for another victory. The Cougars did tie Oregon State, then defeated Oregon on the road, before stunning the nation – and the entire state of Washington – by upsetting the 5th-ranked Washington Huskies, 24-20, to conclude a 3-7-1 season.

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