October 12th

More on Tyler Hansen, starting quarterback

Last Monday, when the internet was full of consternation about the continued mediocre play of the Colorado offense, there was a discussion taking place in the Hansen household. Son Tyler was talking with his father, Rick, a high school football coach and former starting quarterback (San Diego State, 1978-82), about the option of pulling Tyler’s red-shirt at mid-season for the second consecutive year.

Earlier that evening, Tyler had been asked by offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau to stay late after a quarterbacks’ meeting. “He said, ‘close the door,’ ” Hansen said. “He said, ‘you know what I’m going to tell you.’ Once he sat me down, I knew. Once he gave me that look, it was pretty much the exact same thing (former offensive coordinator Mark) Helfrich had last year.”

The question son Tyler had for father Rick, though, was whether burning his red-shirt was a good idea. Rick told his son to seize the opportunity. “He’s been around football enough to know that when you get the opportunity to play, especially against Texas or some other team like that, you take it,” said Hansen. “That was the biggest thing. Once he said that, I was pretty sure I was going to go through with it.”

Now all Tyler Hansen has to do is defeat a Kansas team which has beaten the Buffs three consecutive seasons, against a senior quarterback, Todd Reesing, who threw for a career-best 442 yards on Saturday against Iowa State. To date, Tyler Hansen has thrown for 297 yards … in his career.

CU first?

The Buffs may well have set an ignoble record Saturday against Texas. Colorado had 127 total yards of offense and 140 yards of penalties. Dave Plati’s research may prove me wrong, but I’m guessing that the Texas game represents the first time in school history in which the Buffs had more yards walked off in penalties than was generated by the offense. A review of the games of note in the “Most Yards Penalized” section of the Colorado record book reveals no game in which the Colorado offensive production was down close to the penalty yardage generated.

Injury Update

The latest on the injury front –

Center Mike Iltis (concussion) did not play against Texas. Keenan Stevens started in his place for the second consecutive game …

Wide receiver Jason Espinoza (broken thumb) did not play on offense for the second game in a row. He did return punts against Texas, returning two punts for 16 yards …

Linebacker Doug Rippy (knee sprain) did not return after being injured in the second quarter Saturday. He was still limping Monday, and his status is “day-to-day” …

Buffs Knock Texas down to #3

The Buffs may have lost the war, but they won at least one battle. Texas, despite the 24-point win, fell below Alabama in both polls.

It may have been just a matter of timing. The Colorado/Texas game came on an hour before the game before #1 Florida and #4 LSU. When many of the voters switched channels to watch the marquee game of the day, the Buffs were still ahead of the Longhorns. Even though Texas came back to dominate Colorado in the second half, the point had been made to the voters – Texas is losing to Colorado? At home? The Longhorns can’t be all that good then, can they? …

October 9th

Ironic

Did anyone else notice the irony how the Nebraska/Missouri game ended up last night? Here was the scenario: Nebraska was playing on the road; the weather was awful. The Cornhuskers kept turning the ball over, and were shut out, 12-0, through three quarters. Then, in the fourth quarter, the wheels fell off for home team. The visitors scored a touchdown early in the fourth to make the score 12-7, then quickly scored again, but missed the two point conversion to go up 13-12. With the home team continuing to make mistakes, Nebraska rolled to a 27-point fourth quarter, winning going away, 27-12.

If you are a long-time Buff fan, you know that is the exact same scenario as the Colorado/Nebraska game in 1990. The weather was awful; Colorado couldn’t do anything right, falling behind the home team, 12-0, through three quarters. The Buffs scored early in the fourth quarter to pull within 12-7, then quickly scored again to make the score 13-12 (again, after a missed two-point conversion). Nebraska couldn’t do anything right (including a failed fake punt at their own 29-yard line), and the Buffs, behind four touchdowns by Eric Bieniemy (who had fumbled the ball away on several occasions early in the game), the Buffs rolled to a 27-12 victory.

Creepy similarities. The 1990 Buffs, with a loss and a tie, went on to win the national championship. The 2009 Cornhuskers already have a loss.

You don’t think? … Nah …

Friday Night Lights

We made it to Austin in one piece. We’l be hanging out with fellow Buff fans tonight – there are some here! We’re talking about finding a high school game to go to tonight – the real Friday Night Lights!

It’s nice to see some black and gold. We don’t get much of that in Bozeman, so it’s good to be back amongst fellow members of the Buff Nation!

GO CU!

October 8th

Just a few notes … before I head off to Austin.

… The first drives of the CU/Texas game should tell you all you need to know Saturday. In the Buffs’ three losses, the opponent has scored a touchdown on their opening drive. Wyoming went three-and-out. The Buffs, meanwhile, failed to score in their opening drive in each of their three losses. Against Wyoming, the Buffs drove 74 yards for a touchdown …

… Colorado has scored 103 points in four games, a 25.6 ppg average. This number is an improvement over the 20.2 ppg the Buffs posted last year. Problem is, the Buffs have put up 70 of those points in the second half, 35 alone in the Toledo game when the Buffs were playing catch-up. The Buffs have a total of two touchdowns in the first quarter this season. The Buffs will probably have to match their season total Saturday if Colorado is to have a chance …

… The Buffs are giving up an average of three 40-yard plays per game so far in 2009. Suffice it to say, this trend had better not continue …

You know what the facts are. You know what’s coming. Hang in there!

For those of you going to the game, head up to Section 32, Row 47, to say “hi” – and wish me a happy birthday!!!

Go Buffs! CU in Austin!

 

Doesn’t get much easier than that. If the Buffs are behind in the first five minutes, feel free to watch the game between #4 LSU and #1 Florida.

 

October 6th

Press Conference Quotes

Dan Hawkins conducted his weekly press conference with the Big 12 media Tuesday. Here are some of the more intriguing quotes:

On being a 31 1/2 point underdog, and using that as motivation: “I’ve never been a big believer in long term in extrinsic motivation. Every sports psychologist will tell you that’s not the road to go down.”

My take: It’s time to take the road less traveled, coach – nothing else is working …

On the confidence level of the team: “I think they all have a feeling that things are coming togetherand it’s a little closer than most think, and they have a sense of that and a feeling of that.”

My take: Isn’t this the “we’re ready to explode” talk we’ve been hearing since spring practice? When will it not be “close” anymore, but actually get here?

On Scotty McKnight: ” His production doesn’t surprise me. He’s probably underrated by most guys because he doesn’t come in the tall, lean, 4.29 guy that people would see out there.”

My take: No disrespect to Scotty, whom I believe would make a great third-down-and-six possession receiver in a good offense, but coach, can we try, once in awhile, to throw it to the “tall, lean, 4.29 guys”? Isn’t that what we recruited them for – to take the heat off of Scotty?

On depth on the offensive and defensive lines: “It’s interesting. We were talking the other day – in both our o-line and d-line we don’t have a senior playing in the two deep.”

My take: No coach. It’s not interesting. It’s a recipe for disaster. You have been coach for four years, and there are only three juniors in your two deep on both lines. When players keep leaving, you end up with freshmen starting. That’s anything but “interesting”.

October 5th

Buffs a 31 .5 point underdogs to Texas

Quick quiz: When was the last time the Buffs were a 31 1/2 point underdog? I must admit I normally don’t pay attention to the spread, so I have no idea when the Buffs were last considered so overmatched.  Some possibilities from recent losing seasons:

The 2006 team was 0-3 heading to play #9 Georgia – but I don’t believe the Buffs were so poorly rated as to rate a four-touchdown spread;

I doubt the Buffs were that much of an underdog heading into the 70-3 buzzsaw which was the 2005 Big 12 title game against Texas (after all, the Buffs were 7-4 heading into the game, and were Big 12 North champions);

The 2003 team did face #1 Oklahoma, but the Buffs were 3-3 at the time, and the game was in Boulder;

Perhaps the 3-7 Buffs heading to Lincoln to play #9 Nebraska in 2000? (A game which the Buffs had won with a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the last minute, before a squib kick allowed the Cornhuskers to get in position for a last-second field goal); or

The 5-5 Buffs playing #2 Nebraska at home in 1997 (doubtful. The Buffs had fallen to #10 Kansas State on the road the week before, but only by a score of 37-20). (The Buffs could have won that game also, falling 27-24 to post the first losing season in 13 years).

None of the above seem likely, so we’re probably going back to the 1-10 1984 season to find a 31 1/2 point spread. The Buffs played #5 Nebraska, #10 Oklahoma State, and #9 Oklahoma late in that season. Any one of those may have been predicted to be a huge blowout.

Ah, fun with numbers … anyone know the right the answer?

Colorado/Kansas to be televised

Are the network honchos a bunch of sadists?

Once again, the Buffs are slated for national television coverage. Next week’s game against Kansas will be shown by Fox Sports, with kickoff slated for 5:00 p.m. in Boulder. Kansas is ranked 16th in the nation, and will likely move up a notch or two before the October 17th matchup (the Jayhawks play Iowa State this weekend). While the spread probably won’t be in the 30+ range (see above), there is no reason to believe the Buffs will be less than a two-touchdown underdog.

What was Fox thinking? Well, it’s ABC’s fault. ABC is showing a Big 12 double-header on October 17th, with the Texas/Oklahoma game kicking off at 10:00 a.m. MT, followed at 1:30 by Nebraska/Texas Tech. ESPN chose Missouri at Oklahoma State for its night game, leaving Fox to choose between Kansas at Colorado, Baylor at Iowa State, and Texas A&M at Kansas State. Granted, Kansas is the only ranked team in the bunch, and a game in Boulder has more panache than a game in Ames or Manhattan, but still …

Can’t we just have an anonymous blowout that no one else has to notice? …

More on Lagrone Shields leaving the Buffs

It was confirmed Sunday that defensive end Lagrone Shields has left the team. Shields, a sophomore, was in for all of four plays as a red-shirt freshman last season (two each against Colorado State and Texas), and was in on 37 plays in the first three games of 2009. Counting the one tackle last season, and the four this season, Shields ends his CU career with a total of 41 plays, five tackles. Shields did not play against West Virginia.

The official line: “It’s a lot of things,” said Dan Hawkins. “I think he feels a little more comfortable closer to home (Shields is from Memphis). So, we’ll wish him well and hope he stays on track.”

It’s the last part that is doubly damning for the Buffs. Shields, for whatever reason, was not able to make an impact on the field (he was in the system for three seasons, but was being beat out for playing time by players in the system for three months). Colorado is woefully thin and inexperienced along the defensive line, so any loss is significant. What could cost the Buffs even more is that if Shields leaves before the end of the semester, he would leave the team ineligible. This would hurt CU’s Academic Performance Rate (APR). Previous defections and dismissals are already going to cost Colorado five scholarships next spring.

Shields leaving, in other words, does not automatically open up another scholarship for the Buffs to use next February.

October 4th

Games of the Week

October 3rd was the fifth Saturday of the 2009 college football season.  For the fourth time, the University of Colorado was not a participant. The Buffs’ only game to date played on a Saturday came against Wyoming (the Buffs are undefeated on Saturdays!), leaving CU fans with little to do yesterday but channel surf through other games.

It was an interesting weekend, to be sure. As many of us are already looking forward to 2010, it is worthy of note that all four of the Buffs’ 2010 non-conference opponents lost this past weekend. Hawaii was first up, losing to Louisiana Tech, 27-6, on Wednesday night. The Warriors are now 2-2 on the season, with games against Fresno State, Boise State, and Wisconsin still left on their 13-game schedule. Also losing their second games of the season were Georgia and California. The Georgia Bulldogs were ranked 13th in the preseason poll, but an opening game loss to Oklahoma State, coupled with a 20-13 loss to #4 LSU Saturday, has left Georgia on the brink of being ousted altogether from the polls.

Cal’s fall has been even harder. The Golden Bears opened 3-0, rising to the #6 spot in the national rankings. Back–to-back embarrassing losses, first to Oregon (42-3), then to #7 USC (30-3), have removed Cal from the Pac-10 race, not to mention the national polls.

Also falling Saturday was Colorado State, 31-29 losers to Idaho. The loss on the road to the Vandals leaves the Rams at 3-2 on the season, with tough games against Utah and TCU up next on the schedule. (Idaho, which plays Nebraska next season, is a surprising 4-1)

Not that any of the above makes anything easier for the 1-3 Buffs. Georgia and Cal have lost to tough opponents, and will still be going bowling this season. Colorado State and Hawaii also are solid bets for bowl bids. Colorado meanwhile, has already been all but eliminated from bowl consideration. Want to lose some sleep? Try this on: It remains very possible that the Buffs will open 2010 against nine straight 2009 bowl teams (the Big 12 campaign starts with Missouri, followed by Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Kansas). It may not be until November 13, 2010, when Colorado gets Iowa State at home in game ten, that the Buffs face a fellow non-bowl participant.

Yuck.

The Buffs 2010 non-conference opponents went 0-4 this past week. It will take a few more similar weeks for the task of the Buffs’ new coach to look anything but daunting.

Other games of note this weekend:

2009 foes Toledo and Wyoming both posted last minute wins. Toledo fell behind (winless) Ball State, 30-29, with less than a minute to play, as the Cardinals were successful on a touchdowna and two-point conversion. No problem for quarterback Aaron Opelt and wide receiver Stephen Williams (remember them?), who connected on a 51-yard touchdown just 15 seconds later, propelling the 3-2 Rockets to a 37-30 victory.

Wyoming needed a last-minute defensive stand to hold off Florida Atlantic, 30-28. The Cowboys took the lead with a touchdown with 4:29 to play, but it took a batted down pass on fourth down inside Cowboy territory to preserve the win, pushing Wyoming’s record to 3-2.

There was also the first Big 12 game of the season, as Kansas State defeated Iowa State, 24-23. The Cyclones put together an eight-play, 64-yard drive in just 1:17 of playing time, with quarterback Austen Arnaud hitting Jake Williams for a 23-yard touchdown with 32 seconds to play. The game seemed destined for overtime, but the extra point was blocked, preserving the 24-23 win for Kansas State. The win gave the Wildcats an overall record of 3-2 (same for the Cyclones). Kansas State, seen as the next best opportunity for a Buff victory (after the Buffs play Texas and Kansas), will play Texas Tech and Texas A&M before hosting the Buffs.

(The game between Kansas State and Iowa State was played in Arrowhead Stadium before a “disappointing” crowd of 40,000. The two game contract calls for the KSU/ISU contest to again be played in Kansas City next season, with the Wildcats as the designated home team).

Finally, did you notice that UTEP knocked off #12 Houston, 58-41? This was the same Houston team which took out Oklahoma State and Texas Tech earlier this season.

So, the Cougars, who beat two Big 12 teams, was blown out by a UTEP team which did not post an offensive point last weekend, being mauled by Texas, 64-7 .

So, UTEP, completely humbled by Texas, is apparently not all that bad.

Which means Texas, which toyed with UTEP, is ….. uh,oh.

 

Injury List – Your Guess is as Good as Mine

It may be time to place the Colorado injury report in the “fiction” section of the CU Media Notes. For last week’s games, only three players were listed.

Noted as being “day-to-day” were offensive lineman Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner and defensive end Nick Kasa. No big surprise there. Both have been out since August, and their health, along with the issue of using their red-shirt seasons in 2009, has been subject of much speculation for weeks.

The other name on the official injury update list was tailback Darrell Scott, listed as “probable” with a bruised knee. Interviews with Scott during the week, though, led to the conclusion that Scott was a “full go” for the West Virginia game.

So, come the game against West Virginia, it was surprising to learn that Nick Kasa had indeed played. In for a few plays, Kasa did register an assisted tackle against the Mountaineers. There will be no more speculation about whether Kasa will need to wait until 2010 to make his debut – he’s in for the rest of the 2009 season.

Also surprising was the absence of an important starter. Center Mike Iltis was replaced in the starting lineup by junior Keenan Stevens.

CU may have two outs as to why Iltis did not show up on the injury list. First, the Game Notes are published a few days before games are played, and injuries can and will occur after injury reports are issued. Second, there are HIPAA laws to contend with. Perhaps, just perhaps, Iltis did not sign a waiver. Problem is, Iltis was injured last season, and appeared on the injury lists. I find it difficult to believe that Iltis signed a waiver before, and has since had it withdrawn.

A more probable answer is that the Buffs have developed a bunker mentality – an “us against the world” view. Dan Hawkins’ press conferences, once the venue for wise cracks and philosopher quotes, have become strained and to-the-point. It’s understandable. Despite Hawkins’ quote last week that he doesn’t read the newspapers, doesn’t check the internet, and rarely deals with email, Hawkins knows what is at stake. His career is on the line over these next eight games, and it’s easy to see why a coach would close doors and try to eliminate the negative noise from outside.

But failing to report injuries? Perhaps there was a media release about Iltis which came out after the Game Notes were published that I did not see (and I am pretty thorough in checking around. There was certainly nothing on the Buffs’ website about the injury). It seems more likely, however, that the Colorado coaching staff is looking for any small advantage they can find, and by not listing the absence of the starting center, the West Virginia coaches would be unaware – and thus less able to exploit – the weakness.

I guess it’s all part of the game. I just have never seen it before at the University of Colorado.

One more nail in the coffin.

One Reply to “The Colorado Daily”

  1. Stuart

    The Iltis injury was announced in the pre-game broadcast on KTLK 760. apparently sustained a concussion in practice the day before. At least that’s what was reported.

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