October 24th – at Kansas State          Kansas State 20, Colorado 6

Colorado drove 71 yards on its first drive of the game against Kansas State, taking a 6-3 first quarter lead. The remainder of the game, however, the Buffs’ offense generated only 173 yards, turning the ball over four times in falling to the Wildcats, 20-6. The Buffs wasted an outstanding effort from their defense on the afternoon, as the Kansas State offense was held in check for most of the game. Mistakes and penalties, however, continued to plague the Buffs, with Colorado falling to 2-5 on the 2009 season.

The morning start (11:30 CT) seemed to favor the home team, as Kansas State took the opening kickoff and moved smartly down the field. After only five plays, the Wildcats had a first-and-ten at the Colorado 12-yard line. The Buffs’ defense stiffened, though, and Kansas State was forced to settle for a Josh Cherry 25-yard field goal. The Buffs responded in kind with their first drive, converting two third downs in pushing the ball to the Kansas State 23-yard line. From there, the drive chart went as follows:

Rodney Stewart, rush for three yards; second-and-seven at the KSU 20-yard line;

Rodney Stewart, rush for nine yards; first-and-ten at the KSU 11-yard line;

Rodney Stewart, rush for eight yards; second-and-two at the KSU three yard line;

Rodney Stewart, rush for one yard; third-and-one at the KSU two yard line;

Rodney Stewart, rush for two yards – touchdown, Colorado.

It appeared as if the Colorado offense had a great game plan for Kansas State, and that the Buffs’ offense, with a 13-play, 71-yard drive, was ready to build on the momentum of the Kansas game. Even after Aric Goodman missed his first extra point of the season, the Buffs and their fans had to be confident that their first road win in two years was within their grasp.

Then the next 50 minutes were played.

The teams traded punts, with Kansas State taking over at its 42-yard line near the end of the first quarter. This time, the Colorado defense offered no resistance. The Wildcats did not face a third down on the drive, with Daniel Thomas taking the ball in from the four yard line to give Kansas State a lead they would not relinquish. The new score was 10-6, Kansas State, with 13:19 to play in the first half. Little did the 42,019 in attendance for the KSU homecoming realize at the time that the Wildcat defense would not require any further assistance on the day.

Matters went from bad to worse for Colorado a few moments later. After a holding penalty pushed the Buffs back to their 15 yard line, quarterback Tyler Hansen fumbled, with the Wildcats recovering at the Colorado 13-yard line. An eight yard run gave Kansas State a second-and-two at the CU five yard line, and a touchdown seemed imminent. Still, the Buffs held. Defensive lineman Will Pericak caught KSU quarterback for a five yard loss on the next play, and, after an incompletion on third down, Kansas State was forced to settle for a field goal.

13-6, Kansas State, but the Buffs had remained within a touchdown after giving up a turnover in the red zone. There was still cause for hope in the Buff Nation.

That would last for only a few more minutes.

The Colorado defense forced a three-and-out by the KSU offense the next two possessions – and was not rewarded. On fourth-and-ten on the second possession, Kansas State punter kicked the ball to the Colorado 23 yard line, where Jason Espinoza fumbled. Set up at the Colorado 20-yard line, Kansas State needed only four plays to score. Assisted by an offsides penalty by defensive lineman Curtis Cunningham on third-and-two at the Colorado 12 which gave KSU a first down, quarterback Grant Gregory scored on a five yard run with 1:11 left before halftime.

Cody Hawkins, who had been replaced at quarterback by Tyler Hansen, and who did not play against Kansas, came in to run the two minute drill. Hawkins, though, was intercepted at the Kansas State 46 with eight seconds remaining before half.

In the second quarter, Kansas State had three first downs (one by penalty), went zero-for-three on third down attempts, and had one completion (for five yards) on five passing attempts …

… and out-scored Colorado, 17-0.

Halftime score: Kansas State 20, Colorado 6.

The Colorado offense, which spent most of the first half in neutral, went in reverse in the second half. The Buffs punted three times in the third quarter, after drives which culminated in fourth-and-16; fourth-and-11; and fourth-and-19.

Only the play of the Colorado defense kept the game from becoming a rout. Between the two offenses, there were four first downs in the quarter, with 17 rushes netting a total of minus-one yard. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen was sacked four times; Kansas State quarterback was sacked twice.

The fourth quarter saw a little more offense, but still no further points. Kansas State twice drove inside the Colorado 40-yard line, but came away without a score. The Buffs gave the Wildcats a gift opportunity to score midway through the quarter, when punter Matt DiLallo was stopped at the Colorado 17 yard line on a fake punt. Cody Hawkins had three incompletions before DiLallo ran for eight yards on fourth-and-ten. Given the ball inside the Colorado red zone, Kansas State drove to the Colorado four yard line before quarterback Grant Gregory fumbled, with the ball recovered by senior linebacker Jeff Smart.

Down two scores with 6:37 to play, the Buffs took off of their longest drive of the season. Starting at the four, Colorado, with Cody Hawkins in for his third drive of the game, engineered a 16-play, 94-yard drive – and still didn’t score. Converting two third-and-10’s along the way, the Buffs got as far as the Kansas State two yard line, where Hawkins, on fourth-and-goal, threw an interception in the end zone.

Final Score: Kansas State 20, Colorado 6.

On the day, the Colorado offense was only able to generate 244 yards of total offense. That number, as bad as it sounds, was actually much worse. Take away the first and last drives of the game, and you have an offensive “attack” which generated …. wait for it …. 79 yards. 11 drives; 79 yards. None of the intermediate drives generated as many as 20 yards of offense; four ended with negative yardage. Three ended in turnovers; one on downs. None of the drives lasted more than six plays.

All that kept the loss from being an embarrassing rout was the play of the defense. The Buffs held the Wildcat offense – which scored 62 against Texas A&M the week before – to 284 yards of total offense. None of the Kansas State drives went ten plays. After the two scoring drives which gave Kansas State a 10-6 lead, the Wildcats were shut down. No drive gained even 40 yards; seven of the 11 drives gained 15 yards or less.

Here’s how the second half drive chart went for Kansas State: punt; punt; punt; punt; fumble; end of game.

Had the Buffs shown even a modicum of offense, the 20-6 loss could easily have been a victory.

It seems pretty clear that the Colorado offense, ranked as one of the worst in the nation coming into the game, continues to regress. Ranked 108th in the nation in rushing offense, at 94 yards/game, the Buffs posted 60 yards on 31 carries (including four sacks). Ranked 103rd in the nation in total offense, at 311.5 yards/game, the Buffs totaled 244.

Surely the head coach knows that its time for drastic measures.

Nope.

“Games can come down to four or five plays you have to make,” said Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. “We never really got into any rhythm until the very last drive (which, in case you forgot, was led by Cody). K-State was very good in special teams and it helps when we turn it over.”

Four or five plays? The Buffs ran 68 plays, and put up 244 yards, less than four yards per play. Colorado ran for less than two yards a carry, and completed less than 50% of its passes. Rodney Stewart, the Buffs’ only real play-maker, ran the ball five straight times in the first drive, culminating in a touchdown. The remainder of the game, despite Colorado never being more than two scores down, Stewart had only 11 more touches.

Four or five plays? – Maybe twenty-four or twenty-five …

As to the question of the starting quarterback, Dan Hawkins once again demonstrated that he just doesn’t get it. After giving Tyler Hansen all of six quarters to prove himself (after Cody Hawkins had two-and-a-half seasons), Hawkins was non-committal about who would be the starter against Missouri. “We’ll see,” said Hawkins, all but guaranteeing himself another full week of second-guessing. “Guys, I’ve told you before. We’re going to do what it takes to win football games. How that all plays out, we’ll see.”

Hawkins was equally defensive about the lack of a demonstrated running game. “You would love to run the ball more, certainly,” said Hawkins. “I think had we hit a few more throws and done a few more things that way, it certainly would have opened up a little bit and that would have helped us.” So, the 60 yards on 31 carries is a result of not being able to “hit a few more throws”? Tyler Hansen was 7-for-14 for 89 yards; Cody Hawkins was 10-for-23 for 95 yards (79 of which came in the final drive, when the game outcome was no longer in doubt), with two interceptions. Yes, Hansen was sacked four times, but he is the quicker of the two quarterbacks. There is much more to be corrected, coach, than just being able to “hit a few more throws”.

Up next for the Buffs is Missouri. The Tigers, 41-7 losers to No. 3 Texas this past weekend, are 0-3 in Big 12 play this season. Missouri currently is the only team with a conference record lower than the Buffs, though Colorado is tied at 1-2 with Nebraska (surprising 9-7 losers at home to Iowa State) and Kansas. The Big 12 North is arguably the most upside-down division in college football, with Kansas State on top at 3-1, with Iowa State alone in 2nd at 2-2.

Two points you will hear often this week …

1) Colorado, had it won against Kansas State, would be entering the fourth week of conference play alone in first place in the North (with a 2-1 record); and

2). Colorado has been mauled the past two seasons by Missouri by a combined score of 133-10.

Happy Homecoming!

Game Notes … 

– Scotty McKnight continues his inexorable march up the Colorado career lists. McKnight had a catch in a game for the 31st consecutive game, extending his own record. His six catches gave him 130 for his career, moving into sixth place all-time (Charles E. Johnson had 127; 1990-93). McKnight’s 61 yards moved his total up to 1,437, good enough for eighth place all-time (passing Monte Huber, 1,436; 1967-69).

– Rodney Stewart’s 49 yards against Kansas State gives him 1,089 for his career, moving Speedy up to 43rd on the all-time list, passing a guy from my undergrad days, Lance Olander (1,051; 1978-1980), and Woody Shelton (1,065; 1950-52).

– The six points scored by the Buffs was the fewest against Kansas State since the Wildcats beat the Buffs 38-6 in 1984.

– For the sixth time in the 13 year history of the Big 12, the Buffs have started with a 1-2 conference record (though the Buffs have never started 0-3).

“Road, Dreary Road”

I’m a stats freak.

Not a great revelation there. Anyone who has been a part of CU at the Game for more than a day knows that I can’t write a paragraph without some numbers being involved.

I am also a history Buff – in more ways than one. I received a B.A. in History from dear ‘ol CU, and I am a student of history when it comes to the University of Colorado football game (I can tell you, for instance, without looking and without fear of contradiction, that today – October 25th – is the 23rd anniversary of the signature game of the past 30 years, the epic 20-10 win over Nebraksa in 1986).

Being a stats freak and a history major is making it all the more difficult to endure what Dan Hawkins has done to the University of Colorado football program.

He was not the coach to break the Buffs’ eight year run in the polls (143 consecutive weeks), nor was he the first to post a losing season in over a decade (Rick Neuheisel took care of both of those records in 1997, when the Buffs posted a 5-6 record). He was not the coach to endure an eight loss season in almost two decades, nor the coach which caused an unfavorable national spotlight to shine on the Colorado program (that would be Gary Barnett, who suffered a 3-8 season in 2000, then was the focus of the recruiting scandal storm which haunted the program for most of the decade).

No, what Dan Hawkins has brought to the University of Colorado is a new set of lows, not thought possible just a few short years ago.

Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs will post their fourth straight losing season in 2009, only the second time in school history CU has been mired in such a streak.

Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs played their first-ever game against a Division 1-AA team – and lost.

Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs were shut out for the first time in 20 years, ending one of the longest streaks in NCAA history.

Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs are not even casually mentioned in the Top 25, after being a fixture for the better part of two decades.

And then there are the stats.

I used to love the Game Day Notes put out by the Colorado Athletic Department. I used to devour the 40-page weekly report handed out to the media (ballooning to near 60 pages by year’s end). Now, however, the Game Day Notes are a painful reminder of what once was, as Dave Plati gamefully tries to put a positive spin on what has happened to the CU program over the past four years.

One of the cornerstones of the Game Day Notes is the printout of “Top College Football Records (1989 – present)”. Here’s how far we’ve fallen:

When Rick Neuheisel took over in 1995, the Buffs had the 5th-best record in the country (1989-94), and had the best conference record of any team in the country (36-3-3);

By the time Gary Barnett took over the reigns, in 1999, Colorado had fallen to the 7th-best record in the nation (1989-98); and

When Dan Hawkins became head coach, the Buffs were out of the top ten, but still respectable, coming in at No. 14 (1989-2005).

Now? Colorado started the season ranked 21st, a few percentage points behind – of all teams – Kansas State. The Buffs this season have since been passed by … pause for irony … West Virginia and Toledo, and have been lapped by Kansas State. That’s right. The University of Colorado, using a starting date most favorable to the Buffs (1989), with a national championship and six ten-win seasons over that span, still has fewer wins in the past 21 seasons than one of the most feeble programs in the history of college football, Kansas State (the numbers are much worse if you start in 1990, taking away the Buffs’ 11-1 season and the Wildcats’ 1-10 season in the first year under Bill Snyder).

Equally sad, and particularly poignant as the Buffs’ road losing streak hits two full seasons, is Dave’s insistance insistence on continuing to include the “Road-Sweet-Road” column in the Game Notes. Going back to 1988, Dave points out, the Buffs have the 13th-best road record in the nation over that span. This record is incredible, considering the Buffs are now 2-17 on the road under Dan Hawkins over the past three-and-a-half seasons.

When Rick Neuheisel took over, the Buffs had the 4th-best road record in the nation.

When Gary Barnett took the helm, the “Road-Sweet-Road” column still had the Buffs with the sixth-best road record.

There will a few more road losses before the Dan Hawkins’ era comes to a close, as the Buffs still have to play in Ames and Stillwater (after Iowa State knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln, anyone still looking at that game as a “gimme”?), making it all the more difficult for the next head coach to pull the Buffs back into respectibility …

… and give us back “Road, Sweet Road”.

5 Replies to “Kansas State 20, Colorado 6”

  1. Rob count me in, I have nothing more to say other than the Hawk has managed to make a sport I love and a team I love become the laughing stock of the NCAA. Even worse is that I no longer even look forward to Saturday’s (or whatever other day we are lucky enough to have him embarrass us).

  2. Dear Stuart,

    I live around the corner from a Diamond Shamrock gas station. Every day I stop in and purchase a pack of smokes and several times a year I am asked if I would like to donate my change to charity. Thats it!

    We organize a change drive statewide to pay for Hawkins contract buyout. Alongside the Coffee cans with faces of sad hungry children we put a can and a poster of the Hawkins clan and a brief plea for your chump change to pay Hawkins off and at the same time set up a charity to support the poor and starving CU Athletic Dept. We could even use some of the money to payoff the Bohner!

    You might think I am just being facetious. You might think I am just another disgruntled Buff fan. Well I am not. I am serious and us hardcore Buff fans need to make something happen because this is probably the worst program in the NCAA not just the big XXII. Did you here what Bobby Pesavento had to say on KOA radio after the game yesterday? Hawk is a moron Stuart. He just cannot understand that Cody will never be the right QB for CU and I am restraining from saying what I really feel when I say that. For two years he has justified using Cody because he has more experience over Tyler. How does Tyler get the experience? You put him in after the season is unsalvageable! Hawk will not even do that. Hawk is not gonna get it, he has to go! Lets take action now and show him the door! Lets give him his money and save this program before it is too late!

    10 losses and all I have heard is more excuses! Two and Seven*%!#ingteen on the road in his career. There is no turning back now. Hawkins is now the enemy of every Buff Fan on the planet. No more of this “I inherited a program in shambles” either, look at Josh McDiapers and The Denver Broncos and say that coach.

    I want to organize a drive to put him out of town, are you with me?

    Rob Thompson

  3. I know it was mentioned a few years back, but has anyone brought back to the table the idea of naming rights for Folsom Field? I mean heck, if we’re scraping every corner for cash why not give it a whirl? I know the sentimental value everyone has for “Folsom Field”, but right now I think anything monetarily would not only help us buy out Hawk’s contract, but might even offset the burden of hiring a top tier coach.

    Don’t know if it’s plausable, but what are your thoughts?

  4. Stuart, it appears that many of our current record woes harken back to the early 1980s for similar failure. Back to the time of Chuck Fairbanks and the early years of McCartney. Unfortunately, I don’t see Hawk leading us to positive new records like Mac did.

    Please wake me when we have a new coach.

  5. Stuart

    That’s about as good of a chronology of the downward mobility our program has shown since Mac made his (unfortunately, ill-timed) decision to step down. I couldn’t have said it better. For my money, the Buffs downfall began when they didn’t heed Mac’s advise and promote Bob Simmons to head coach, instead choosing Neuheisel. He was never a good – fit and was never going to stay. At best he was a short-term caretaker of Mac’s baby. I know that Simmons failed at OSU, but rememeber OSU then was not the OSU of today with it’s bottomless pit of T-Boone resources. We’ll never know but I often wonder where we’d be had Simmons or ANY other coach with real ties to CU been promoted. You could’ve picked anybody on that staff as a better choice, including Les Miles, Gerry DiNardo or the guy still here, Cabral.

    The Buffs are one big downer right now, leaving me bummed out every weekend, last week excepted.

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