September 11, 2009                 Toledo 54, Colorado 38

Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt looked like a Heisman trophy candidate in posting six touchdowns as the Toledo Rockets embarrassed the Colorado Buffaloes, 54-38, before a national ESPN television audience. Opelt connected on 15-of-23 passes for 319 yards, and rand for 109 yards and two more scores as the Rockets posted a mind-numbing 624 yards of total offense.

The game, which started at 9:00 p.m. eastern time (and didn’t finish until almost 1:00 a.m. on Saturday) began as ominously for Colorado as had the Colorado State game five days earlier. After gaining two first downs and getting the ball past mid-field in their opening drive, the Buffs were forced to punt. Taking over at their own 16, the Rockets took eight plays to score. One play in the drive encapsulated the Buffs’ first two games: On third-and-ten at the 26 yard line, Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt dropped back to pass. With no pass rush to hinder his efforts, Opelt calmly stood in the pocket until he was able to find wide receiver Eric Page, who had gotten behind coverage. A 60-yard completion ensued, and two plays later the Rockets were in the endzone.

A two-point conversion failed, but Toledo was up, 6-0, midway through the first quarter, and the game, for all practical purposes, was already over.

Another Colorado punt was met with another long Toledo touchdown drive, this time covering 86 yards in just three plays, as Opelt connected with Eric Page once again, this time for a 70-yard touchdown. 13-0, Toledo.

By the end of the first quarter, Colorado and Toledo each had five first downs, and the Buffs had held the ball for 10:43, to just 4:17 for the Rockets – but it was the Rockets who were in complete control of the contest.

The Buffs held their ground for much of the second quarter, with an Aric Goodman 32-yard field goal off-set by a 50-yarder by his Rocket counterpart. With the Buffs driving late in the second quarter, and the game still marginally in doubt at 16-3, Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins was sacked at the CU 38-yard line, fumbling the ball back to Toledo. After converting a fourth-and-seven with an eight yard run, Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt ran around, over and through the Colorado defense for a 27-yard touchdown and a 23-3 lead with less than a minute to play before halftime.

Taking over at their 33-yard line after the kickoff, Cody Hawkins promptly hit converted defensive back Anthony Wright on a 56-yard pass, only to have the play nullified by a holding call against Bryce Givens. It was yet  another play which defined the Buffs’ first two games.

Halftime score: Toledo 23; Colorado 3.

Down 20-3 at halftime against Colorado State, the Buffs had come roaring back, scoring on the opening drive, and driving to the Ram 15-yard line before a Scotty McKnight fumble turned the momentum back to Colorado State.

Against Toledo, however, there would be no such glint of optimism for Colorado fans. Taking the second half kickoff, it took the Rockets only six plays to cover 62 yards  to score again, with Aaron Opelt hitting Kenny Stafford for a 26-yard touchdown and a 30-3 Toledo lead.

After the teams traded punts, the Buffs scored touchdowns on their next three possessions. A four-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to Scotty McKnight was followed by a five yard pass to Jason Espinoza, and, after a fumble recovery on the kickoff after the Espinoza touchdown, a four-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to tight end Riar Geer. Offset by only one more touchdown pass from Aaron Opelt, the Buffs were down, but not out, as the third quarter came to a close with the Glass Bowl scoreboard reading: Toledo 37, Colorado 24.

That was all fine and good … until the first play of the fourth quarter.

Once again, the normally non-running Aaron Opelt showed more speed than the entire Colorado defense, running for 61 yards and a game-clinching touchdown. “I didn’t know I could still run like that,” said Opelt. “I got out in the open field and it shocked me a little bit.”

With the score 44-24, most of the 20,082 in attendance began to file out. After giving up 10 more points, the Buffs did get two consolation touchdowns late, with Hawkins hitting tight end Patrick Devenny from 18 yards out before scoring himself on a 12-yard run with 1:53 to play. On his score, Hawkins took a helmet-to-helmet hit, a hit which would have kept him out of the game had the Buffs gotten the ball back.

Final score: Toledo 54; Colorado 38.

On the evening, Colorado surrendered 624 yards of total offense, with Toledo equitably dividing the massacre between 319 yards passing and 304 yards rushing. Aaron Opelt accounted for 428 yards all by himself, passing for 319 yards and four touchdowns; rushing for 109 yards and two scores.

The Buffs did account for 38 points, and did have 451 yards of total offense. Cody Hawkins launched 64 passes, completing 30, for 356 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Harassed all night, Hawkins was sacked three times. The rushing attack upped its total to 95 total yards, with Darrell Scott gaining 85 yards on 12 carries – all in the first half.

In the post-game locker room, there was little else to talk about other than the future of the Buffs’ head coach, Dan Hawkins. “All I can do is what I can do,” said Hawkins. “We’re going to have supporters. We’re going to have detractors. I can’t control what people think; nor am I willing.

“I know this: Inside our program, we’re doing things right.”

Athletic Director Mike Bohn was, understandably, not willing to make a statement in the early morning hours of September 12th, with the emotions from the loss still running high – and with ten games still on the schedule. “It’s after the second game of the season, and right now we’re focused on creating an environment to get things turned around,” said Bohn. “We understand the importance of creating a competitive team.”

With Wyoming coming to Boulder, in what now appears to be one of the few remaining winnable games on the 2009 schedule, the Buffs have to re-group quickly. “This team is not deflated,” said wide receiver Scotty McKnight, who led the Buffs with 11 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. “This team has a lot of heart … we’re going to stay together.”

But for how long … ?

Game Notes –

– The 9:07 kickoff was the second latest start for a CU game (the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl kicked off at 9:09). The end of the game (12:55 ET) was the latest ever.

– Colorado has now lost seven straight games played in the Eastern Time Zone, with the last victory coming against Michigan in 1994 (“The Catch”).

– Cody Hawkins’ 64 pass attempts demolished the single game record of 54 attempts, set by Joel Klatt in the 50-47 overtime win over Kansas in 2003. The 30 completions, however, was only good enough for a tie for sixth place all-time.

– Scotty McKnight had 11 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. The 11 catches tied a school record, with McKnight joining Michael Westbrook (11 v. Baylor, 1992), Charles E. Johnson (11 v. Missouri, 1992; Derek McCoy (11 v. Washington State, 2003).

– Scotty McKnight moved up five spots, to 16th, on the all-time reception yards list, with 1,157 yards. McKnight has now passed Dave Hestera, Christian Fauria, Patrick Williams, Dave Logan, and Loy Alexander.

– With Jason Espinoza’s 109 yards on eight catches (and a touchdown), the Buffs had two receivers with over 100 yards in the same game for the first time since 2003 (Derek McCoy and D.J. Hackett v. Baylor).

– Buff fans wanted to see more of Darrell Scott, but not this way. Scott tied the record for kickoff returns in a game (8), and set a new record for return yards, 204, passing the record set by his uncle, Josh Smith, two games earlier (193 v. Nebraska last November).

20 Replies to “Toledo 54, Colorado 38”

  1. Just an aside, I don’t blame Cody. He is likely doing his best with what he has. His father’s first big mistake was bringing him with him to CU. No way to recruit a QB when the coaches kid is starting. Cody could have had a good time and a decent college football experience someplace else where he wasn’t the victim of nepotism.

  2. Hawkins certainly does no coaching or encouraging on the sidelines. He seems off in his own little world. For the first time in 40 years I am seriously thinking about not renewing my four seasin tickets next year and skipping my Buff Club donation.

  3. I was born in Boulder, My dad went to CU, my sisters went to CU, I go to CU. I remember watching football with my dad, watching a team I could be proud of. Today, all I feel after standing for four hours is sleepy. I remember when the Buffs were a team to be admired and even feared. I am CU through and through but for now all my black and gold has bled out. Thankfully my sister is going to grad school in Florida so I can legitimately cheer for a team worth cheering for, I just wish I didn’t feel guilty about it.

  4. [i]We are so bad that the loss didn’t even make a headline outside of Colorado. It’s what is now expected from CU. Please let us get back to being at least mediocre[/i]

    West1315, not only did it not rate a headline, but it didn’t even get a line in the box scores in the last page of the Seattle Times. Pathetic.

  5. It’s so very sad to see a program sink to such depths. I realize hindsight is 20/20, but at the time of Hawkins’ hiring I actually thought they were going for the coach at Fresno State, and was shocked when it was Hawkins instead. I’m a double alum, with a whole family (brother, kids, nephews and neices) who attended CU. Have probably seen in person or on the tube at least 400 games going back to the ’56 Orange Bowl. The Montana State game and the Toledo game were each embarrassing, the difference being that the Toledo game was with Hawkins’ players. This is his team, not an inheritance. Yes, he must go, but can he? I don’t know. We may be stuck with this level of play for a while.

  6. As a 80-year-old native of Colorado, now and forever a proud CU football fan, a CU Boulder alum, father & father-in-law of CU grads, now grandpa of 2 CU Boulder students, and a season ticket holder for nearly 40 years, I am frustrated. Frustrated because the football program appears to be leaderless:
    Athletic Director Bohn, difficult as it may be, should immediately address the competence of the entire football coaching staff and publicly announce the actions he intends to take now and/or at the end of the season to insure CU football teams will always be competitive in the BigXII conference; Coach Hawkins, though it may be not improve this year’s won-loss record, should end nepotism to improve team morale and motivation; Cody Hawkins, football smart and a great kid (and son) should acknowledge that he is too small and is challenged athletically, thereby allowing the offense to revise its play calls.

  7. I am in for a call to Mike Shanahan by Bohn just for giggles…. : ) How cool would that be as it would solve all the problems especially if we had a big time donor just buy the Hawkins contract out after he confirmed interest and agreed to take over. : ) Can’t a guy dream! : ) Ha ha. Hey, we could even let Hawkins stay and coach the receivers as it’s not that we don’t like him….

  8. We are so bad that the loss didn’t even make a headline outside of Colorado. It’s what is now expected from CU. Please let us get back to being at least mediocre(sp?).

    I bleed Black & Gold, but this year I cry Black & Gold as well 🙁

  9. Just a thought . . Hawkins success at Boise certainly came from delegating the real coaching to his offensive coordinator. Isn’t this a pattern that is repeating itself with Eric Kiesau – although with less success at CU. Hawkins may have been fortunate at Boise to have the right assistant coaches but may be running out of luck this time.

  10. Early reports on Dan Hawkins from Boise State indicated that the real fire power behind the coaching was with his offensive coordinator, now the head coach there, not Dan Haukins. Unfortunately, this is coming true at CU. I shudder to think what Wyoming will do to CU – as I write this I am stunned that Wyoming is giving Texas a run for their money. Hawkins days are numbered. CU can do better.

  11. Stuart, what you say in your article is succinct and to the point. I really can’t disagree with you and if your lawyerly briefs are just as well written, then the Judges and the Courts in Montana shouldn’t have a problem understanding you. Last year should have maybe been just a little bit of a hint of what to expect, as there was in retrospect very little progress. Every year many like I get our hopes and expectations to such a feverish level that myopia would be a good description of our view. I don’t know if CU will keep Hawk as coach at the end of the year and it is not hard to gauge what the outrage will be if they do. One thing that McCartney had going for him when Marolt put his own career on the line by extending Mac’s contract was the absence of the Internet. There was a hue and cry even back then but it wasn’t very organized and the fans were unable to make themselves heard, as is not the case today. One other thought; is it just me, or do I have a feeling deep down that Mac knew what had to be done and continued to work toward that end while Hawk is a totally different cat and will be unable to reach that same goal.

  12. In case your not from Colorado and don’t know who I am talking about, the right Coach for Colorado now and for the next mellenium is Dave Logan.

  13. Put me down for voting to get rid of Hawkins, and I don’t mean just Dan. This team is in desparate need for change at the top. We need to get the man that we should have gotten when Hawkins was hired. I have been in favor of getting this guy even when Barnett was brought on. He is Colorado Football and he bleeds black and gold, and he has won multiple state titles in 6A football in Colorado, including taking two different teams Arvada West and Wheatridge. Make a change now, or a 1-10 record awaits.

  14. Don’t be so quick to jump on the fire Hawk bandwagon. Having played under Neuheisal AND Barnett I can tell you that it is much more than the coach. I personally believe in what Hawk can do with the program. We are young and need to exercise patience. Mac didn’t get it started until his 5th season. Posts like yours are ignorant at best to the complexities of college football. Yes the coaching needs to get better and these two losses are inexcusable. But we MUST stick behind the coach and team and hope for a turnaround. Calling for Hawk’s head does nothing but show that the bandwagon consists of a bunch of quick to judge fans who are anything but loyal. I’m flying to CO for the Wyoming game and will not jump on the boo bus. Let’s hope the Buffs can turn it around.

  15. We have an NAIA coach and every school in the country knows it. When Toledo went for a two point conversion on their first TD that was a signal they had no respect for the Buffs. We have great athletes on this team. However,they are being poorly coached. Other than Cabral they all need to be fired. Of the 120 teams in the BCS the Buffs are number 120. When the Buffs are 0-4 going into conference play even ISU and KSU are marking down wins on their calendar. When the huskers come to Boulder it will probably be an away home game for them, a sea of red coated loons and no silver/black/gold anywhere to be seen. The fan base will have been lost. Great job Hawkins, you’ve already lost the players and the fans are over hawk love. FIRE HAWKINS TODAY!!!!

  16. When expectations are set, and bowl games projected, then it stings even more when you’re team looks like rubbish. A decent High School football team could beats these guys. I have never seen a “team” play with less heart, passion, and drive, than I did last night. This is worse than the Montana St game. Hawkins needs to go, he has no clue, and if you look at his face on the sideline, it looks like he’s ready to run for the hills himself. I got $100 to go towards his buyout, if every CU fan chips in, we just might get there. Ashamed to be CU football fan today.

  17. Dan Hawkins was obviously not the brains behind the Boise St machine which is even better now. Come on CU make the change. He has proven that he is not a big time coach!! As Dan Hawkins once said himself “this is Big 12 football”. I just wish he knew that.

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