Flag football

In the end, it wasn’t Paul Richarson’s record-shattering performance.

In the end, it wasn’t Tyler Hansen setting a new standard for passing yards.

In the end, it was the Buffs’ inability to overcome their own mistakes which cost Colorado the first victory of the Jon Embree era.

On a day when Colorado amassed 582 yards of total offense, it was the 98 yards in penalties which were the story. From the beginning of the game through to the end, Colorado continued to make mistakes at critical junctures.

A look at the afternoon of Frustration at Folsom:

Penalty No. 1 – After the defense stopped Cal on a three-and-out to start the game, Colorado marched smartly down the field. The drive ended on the Cal nine yard line when Rodney Stewart was stopped short on a fourth-and-one attempt. However, looking back three plays, you find the Buffs’ first penalty of the afternoon, a false start on first-and-ten at the Cal 18 yard line. The Buffs appeared to fall short of a first down after gaining nine-and-a-half yards, when in fact they had gone fourteen-and-a-half yards before being stopped. Arguably, but for the false start penalty, the Buffs could have scored on their opening drive of the game.

Penalty No. 3 – Late in the first quarter, with Colorado up 3-0, Cal faced a third-and-three at the Buff 49-yard line. Zach Maynard’s pass to Marvin Jones fell incomplete, but freshman cornerback Greg Henderson was called for pass interference. First down, Cal, at the Colorado 34-yard line. The Bears went on to score on the drive to take their first lead of the game, 6-3, early in the second quarter.

Penalty No. 5 – Taking the ensuing kickoff, Colorado pushed the ball out to the Buffs’ 42-yard line. Facing a second-and-four, the Buffs were called for a false start. Second-and-nine turned into fourth-and-eight, and the Buffs were forced to punt the ball away.

Penalty No. 6 – Cal running back Isi Sofele takes off on the longest running play of the day for either team, taking off for 29 yards to the Colorado 30-yard line. Unfortunately for the Buffs, junior safety Ray Polk is called for a personal foul in tackling Sofele out-of-bounds, moving the  ball from the Buffs’ 30 to the Buffs’ 15. Three plays later, Gior Tavecchio connects on a 39-yard field goal (which would have been a 54-yard attempt otherwise). Cal upped its lead to 9-3.

Penalty No. 7 (off-set) – On the Buffs’ next drive, Tyler Hansen completed a 22-yard pass to Toney Clemons. Hold on. Colorado and Cal are called for off-setting holding penalties on the play. No penalties are recorded against either team in the official stats, but the Buffs lost a 22-yard gain as the play result was nullified.

Penalty No. 7 (official) – After Colorado kicker Will Oliver connected on a 52-yard field goal to cut the Cal lead to 9-6, the ensuing kickoff was returned to the Cal 25. Offsides, Colorado. On the re-kick, the return is taken out to the Cal 38, a net loss on the transaction of 13 yards to Colorado.

Penalties No. 8 and No. 9 – Colorado is twice called for false starts as the Buffs run the two minute offense just before halftime. Colorado ends the half at the Cal 44-yard line. But for the penalties, the Buffs could have been at the Bears’ 34-yard line, with a chance at a last second field goal. Instead, the Buffs go into halftime down 16-6.

Penalty No. 10 – Colorado comes out in the second half, and, for the second game in a row, scores its first touchdown of the game on the first possession of the second half. With momentum on its side, the Colorado defense holds the Cal offense to a three-and-out. The 49,532 in attendance are in a frenzy as the Cal punting unit comes onto the field. Instead, the Buffs rough the punter, giving the Bears new life. The Buffs’ defense does hold once again, but yardage, and momentum, are lost.

Penalty No. 11 (declined) – After two bombs from Tyler Hansen to Paul Richardson give Colorado a 27-23 early in the fourth quarter, the Colorado defense is called upon to hold the Bears one more time. On third-and-three at the Cal 40, the Buffs are drawn offside. The  penalty is declined as Zach Maynard goes on to complete a pass to Michael Calvin, but Maynard knew he had a free play and a given first down as soon as the ball was snapped.

Penalties No. 11 and No. 12 – With the Buffs down 30-27, Colorado takes over at its own 15-yard line with 7:10 to play in the game. The Buffs march methodically down the field, successfully converting a third-and-five at their own 20-yard line, followed by a successful conversion of a fourth-and-one at the Cal 36. With under two minutes to play, Tyler Hansen hits Paul Richardson for ten yards on third-and-five at the Cal 24, giving the Buffs a first-and-ten at the Bears’ 14. The upset is there for the taking, the victory is within the Buffs’ grasp. On first-and-ten, Rodney Stewart rushes around right end for nine yards to the Cal five yard line. Jubilation! But, no. Holding. Colorado, instead of a second-and-one at the Cal five yard line, now has a first-and-20 at the Cal 24. Frustration is heightened a few seconds later when the Buffs commit their last penalty of the afternoon, a false start. From the Cal 29, the Buffs do gain 15 yards, but only make it back near the original line of scrimmage, where Will Oliver connects from 32 yards out to send the game into overtime.

Twelve penalties. 98 yards.

Every team goes through games where there are a number of “could have been” situations. Certainly many Colorado victims of the past would point to a play here and a play there which would have resulted in their team coming out victorious over the Buffs.

But for a team struggling to find an identity; for a team trying to establish a new era on a positive note; for a team looking at a daunting schedule the remainder of the season; for a team looking for something positive to build upon – the Cal game was that opportunity.

One step forward, two steps back.

Five years ago, when the Buffs opened with losses to Montana State and Colorado State, patience was the watch-word.

We believed. We had faith. We were not rewarded.

We’re being asked once again to have such faith.

I, for one, still have that faith. The loss to Cal was crushing, but the Buffs did make significant strides from what CU fans witnessed against Hawai’i.

There are going to be tough times. There are going to be tough losses. The losses will someday make all the victories all the sweeter.

It would be easy to blame this loss on the officials. The sad truth is that the penalties, while they contributed mightily to the Colorado loss, did not keep the Buffs out of the endzone in overtime after the Buffs had a first-and-goal at the Cal four. Penalties did not turn Cal’s first-and-30 in overtime into a 32-yard pass play which set up the game winning touchdown.

These Buffs still need to learn how to win. They need to learn how to overcome mistakes.

Lesson No. 3 is in Mile High Stadium next Saturday.

8 Replies to “Flag football”

  1. I’m not sure how we can say that the officials might have cost us the game when it seemed like the two biggest questionable calls were in our favor.

    1) The late hit penalty in the 4th Quarter that we got was bogus. The runner did not appear to be down and was trying to get up and keep running. The refs said that he was hit after the whistle, but that argument only holds weight if the defender had enough time to pull off (or if the runner was obviously down). Neither was the case here. Oregon was burned by Auburn on a similar play where the defender didn’t finish the tackle. We turned the extra possession into a touchdown.

    2) The 4th Quarter incomplete pass where it looked like the cal receiver made the catch was like the Calvin Johnson injustice. The receiver made the catch took two steps lunged forward and took two hits. The ball hit the ground and moved a little, but the ball was still in his hands when it hit the ground.

    If either of these plays were called the other way it would probably have been a very different game.

  2. Tough loss, to be sure. Penalties are a pain the bum, absolutely. But Paul Richardson looked like Superman out there. The team looked good, now they just have to keep pushing and it will pay off. I hope. This weekend should break the streak, I hope.

  3. Yes it was one of the worst officiated games I have seen and when the crew early on (penalty Number 3) initially placed the ball at the spot of the foul ( uhh this is not the NFL) we knew it was going to be a long day. That said the Buffs yet again had far too many legitimate mistakes to win a close game. The good news is that we looked like we belonged on the field with Cal. The talent gap that looked so wide last week seemed less so yesterday. It was hard to take the loss and frustrating, but it at times was also fun and exciting. These guys can play some.

  4. yes it easy to blame the refs
    refs, of course, are a critical part of any game.
    The Buffs may not have deserved to win due to their legitimate penalties
    but I also feel they played well enough to win the game without the “no calls” in favor of Cal and that phantom holding penalty No.11.

  5. Well said, Stuart. Was VERY frustrating to watch the old “self-inflicted wound” dance, 1step forward, 2 steps back routine. This team has talent (not depth) but are not good enough to overcome those critical errors. They gotta learn to get outta their own way and just play. Eventually they’ll figure it out but the seniors are running out of time to meet their goals. Should be 1-1 maybe 2-0, but they’re staring at an 0-4 non-con start.

    Patience indeed!

  6. Oh, let hope there is not a “lesson 3” at Mile High. A lesson against CSU would just put another loss in our column. We need a victory, especially this week. I always said, (in Big 12 days) beat CSU and beat Nebraska and I can be patient the rest of the season. Now, it’s still beat CSU. A victory at Mile High will buy many fans’ patience for the season.

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