September 7th – Boulder           Colorado 23, Colorado State 10

In only the second meeting between the in-state rivals in 25 years, 40,665 looked on as Colorado and the wishbone offense made a successful debut in Boulder, defeating Colorado State, 23-10.

Senior quarterback Craig Keenan was out with back problems, so sophomore Mark Hatcher made his starting debut for Colorado, leading the Buffs to 404 yards of total offense, 358 yards coming on the ground. Halfback Ron Brown rushed for 104 yards, with fullback Anthony Weatherspoon contributing 95 yards. For his part, Hatcher ran for 62 yards and the Buffs two touchdowns, and passed for an additional 46 yards on three completions.

When the wishbone is successful, the offense controls the ball. Colorado kept the ball for 35:23, limiting the Rams to 24:27 of possession time and only ten points. Colorado held the ball for over ten plays on almost every scoring drive, with the lone exception being a six-play drive leading to a field goal at the end of the first half.

The most impressive series came after Colorado State had cut the Colorado lead to 16-10 in the third quarter.

After the Rams’ lone touchdown of the game, the Buffs turned the ball back over to the Rams at the Colorado 35-yard line. “Here we go again” was the lament in the stands. But this was 1985, not 1984. The defense held, forcing a Ram punt. Starting on their own 12-yard line, Colorado stayed entirely on the ground. Fifteen plays, 88 yards, and 7:38 off of the clock later, Hatcher scored on a one yard run to put the Buffs on top 23-10.

For the Buffs, even the kicking game contributed for a change.

Kicker Larry Eckel, who had started the 1984 campaign 0-for-4 in field goal attempts before being replaced by Dave DeLine, was 3-for-3 against Colorado State. Sophomore Barry Helton chipped in a net punting average against the Rams of 43.0 yards, a significant improvement over the 32.5 yard net punting average of Allan Braun in 1984.

Head coach Bill McCartney was ecstatic after the game: “It feels good to win, I’ll promise you that. It’s been a long time.”

With his first win in a season opener under his belt, McCartney could afford to feel good – at least for a week.

Game Notes –

– Senior kicker Larry Eckel’s three field goals, the first of his career, were all 32 yards in length. Eckel had been replaced in 1984 by Dave DeLine, but DeLine was suspended for all of the 1985 campaign for violating team rules.

– While well short of the team record for rushing attempts in a game (83, v. Air Force in 1970), the 73 rushing attempts against Colorado State set the tone for what the wishbone attack was to bring to the Buffs’ offense. The 73 rushing attempts were a 1985 season high, as were the 26 first downs.

– The season-opening win was the first for Colorado since 1981, a 45-27 win over Texas Tech.

– The starting offensive line in the opener consisted of: Sophomore Pat Ryan, left tackle; senior Junior Ili, left guard; junior Eric Coyle, center; sophomore Chris Symington, right guard; and senior James Webb, right tackle. The tandem would go on to start every game together in 1985, contributing significantly to the changes in fortune for the Buffs’ offense.

– For its part, Colorado State would go on to post a 5-7 record in 1985, 4-4 in Western Athletic Conference play.


One Reply to “Colorado State – Off on the right foot”

  1. I smiled seeing this one pop up as the featured game Stuart for this was my first game as a CU student. The game against CSU was the opener for the Buffs my freshman year. If memory serves correctly, it took the student section about a quarter or so to get into chanting “Spoon” every time the PA announcer announced that our big bruising fullback had been the ball carrier on the play. The wishbone proved to be a big success and ultimately paved the way for first Sal Aunese and then Darian Hagan to find their way to Boulder….

    ….in my mind’s eye, this particular September Saturday seems to have happened about a million years ago.

    RIP Spoon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *