The View from Row 72 – Time Management

Walking out of Folsom Field to the chants of “It’s great … to be … a CSU Ram!” was difficult to take. The last time I had to endure that at a home game was my third year of law school, and that, my friends, was a long time ago.

My feelings since the final gun have vacillated between disappointment, frustration, and anger. My concerns can be consolidated into the broad heading of “Time Management”, with three areas to discuss:

First, I am at odds with time management with respect to how the offense was run against CSU.

Yes, the defensive secondary, billed as strength, was consistently loose in its coverage (one disclaimer allowed – sophomore safety Patrick Mahnke sprained his ankle on Friday, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Ray Polk, who this time last year was a running back recruit). True, the running game was pathetic, and the line play on both sides of the ball was three steps below mediocre.

Yet in the stands, the most fervent cries during the game were spent on the annoyingly slow play calling. Even late in the game, with the Buffs down two touchdowns, the Colorado offense was still taking the full play clock to get off plays. Down and distance were not contributing factors – every snap throughout the night took too long (in truth, the Buffs could have been called for delay of game five or six times on the night). The identical ritual was repeated all game long: Cody would run to the sidelines to get the play call; the Buffs would huddle; the Buffs would then line up; then shift out of the alignment; then there would be a long count which resulted in a snap just as the play clock hit on “0”.

I scoured the post-game quotes for comments from Dan Hawkins, Cody Hawkins, and Eric Kiesau about how poorly the Buffs had managed the play clock – but found nothing. I had thought, incorrectly it seems, that the Buffs squandering of clock time would be a major topic of locker room conversation.

Second, I am disappointed in the “Time Management” of the Colorado program since last November.

It has been nine months since the crushing last minute defeat in Lincoln, Ever since, we have all heard nothing from the players and coaches other than the mantra that the Buffs were devastated by the loss, and had been re-dedicated since last Thanksgiving to be prepared to hit the ground running this fall.

Remember last December, when many of the Buffs’ opponents (including Colorado State), were preparing for bowls? All we heard about was how the CU players were, to a man, hitting the weight room and enduring punishing conditioning drills with renewed dedication.

Remember spring ball? “The best ever” for a Dan Hawkins’ team?

Remember summer drills? 100% participation. The Buffs’ were “focused and determined”.

Remember fall practice? Crisp and clean – “the best ever”.

See any of that Sunday night? Darrell Scott was supposed to be ready to have a break out season, after a freshman campaign which started late and was fraught with injuries. Darrell Scott got the first carry of the season, and then – nothing. Zero carries the remainder of the game (Anyone want to post an over/under on how many times “Darrell Scott” and “Marcus Houston” will appear in the same sentence in reports the next few weeks?).

The Colorado running game, supposed to be the strength of the offense, posted 29 total yards on the evening. (Even Toledo, which threw the ball 69 times against Purdue last week, had 70 yards running the ball). Were any of the Colorado running plays new and innovative? Did the passing game come up with any field stretching plays, or did you, like me, see a number of five yard patterns on second-and-12?

We waited nine months for this game. We endured 282 days of patiently believing that the Colorado program had turned the corner. We bought into the storyline that the loss to Nebraska was to become the fulcrum upon which the Buffs found their way back into the national spotlight.

Not so much. This was the most devastating and surprising loss since the 2006 opener against Montana State. We’re back to square one, folks.

The final “Time Management” issue deals with the 10-year Invesco contract with CSU (with the 11th year back in Ft. Collins – but we’ll deal with that in a decade or so).

I have no issue with playing CSU on a regular basis, and I am not entirely opposed to playing in Denver (or Ft. Collins, for that matter).

I am, however, adamantly opposed to playing the game as the first game of the season, (which will occur eight of the ten games under the contract) giving it the “hype” of a meeting of equal powers.

The “Rocky Mountain Showdown” is billed as a match-up between the state’s two great programs. Problem is – the game elevates the CSU Rams to equal status with the Colorado Buffaloes. With all due respect to the Rams, the programs are not equal, but the Rocky Mountain Showdown gives CSU equal billing in the eyes of the fans, the media, and, most importantly, the Colorado prep recruits.

What’s more, playing the game as the first game of the season gives the underdog Rams a perfect scenario to start every season: everything to win and nothing to lose. Playing the RMS as the first game of the season gives the favored Buffs nothing to gain and everything to lose. The game should be played later in September, when both teams have a few games behind them, and the Rams cannot focus all of their energy for a month on beating their chief rivals (see, for example, Iowa/Iowa State).

Time Management – last night; the last nine months; the next ten years – the Buffs grade out at an “F”.

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