September 3, 2011          Hawai’i 34, Colorado 17

As had been the case in 2010, Colorado failed to score in the first half against Hawai’i.

As had been the case in 2010, Colorado stormed back with a strong second half effort.

In 2010, the Buffs fell behind 10-0 at halftime, but dominated in the second half, out-scoring the Hawai’i 31-3 in cruising to a 31-10 victory.

In 2011, the Buffs fell behind 17-0 at halftime, played well at times, and had their chances, but it was not enough, as Colorado lost its first game under Jon Embree, 34-17.

Colorado had a game plan to withstand the onslaught of quarterback Bryant Moniz and the prolific passing game of the Hawai’i Rainbows. Pressure Moniz with an array of blitzes, trying to keep the senior quarterback from making deep throws, while protecting the Buffs’ young secondary.

The game plan was a success early, as the Buffs sacked Moniz three times in the first quarter, and held the 5,000-yard passer to a one-for-seven start through the air.

Unfortunately for the Buffs’ defense, they failed to account for the ability of Bryant Moniz to run with the football.

Moniz shredded the Colorado defense with his legs, setting up the first score of the game with a 34-yard run deep into Colorado territory on the Warriors’ second possession. The Buffs were able to hold on that drive, forcing Hawai’i to settle for a 38-yard field goal with 9:49 to play in the first quarter.

Two drives later, Moniz did it all by himself, evading the entire Colorado defense for a 56-yard run and a 10-0 Hawai’i lead with 10:39 to play before half.

With the Colorado offense continuing to struggle (100 total yards in the first half), the Colorado defense wore down. Taking over at their own 13-yard line late in the first half, the Warriors, behind Moniz, engineered an 87-yard drive, capped off once again by a Moniz run, this time from 14 yards out.

At the break, the Colorado defense had largely accomplished its primary goal for the game. Bryant Moniz had been held to 100 yards passing, had only one pass completion of over 20 yards, and had no touchdown passes. Considering that Moniz passed for over 5,000 yards and had 39 touchdown passes in 2010, most Buff fans would have taken a 100-yard, no touchdown half.

What Moniz did have, though, was 127 yards rushing on only eight carries. The Buffs’ leading rusher at halftime, conversely, was Rodney Stewart, who had 45 yards on 13 carries.

Halftime score: Hawai’i 17; Colorado 0

The Colorado offense almost doubled its output for the game in the opening drive of the second half. The first scoring drive of the Jon Embree era covered 73 yards in just six plays, highlighted by a 52-yard screen pass from Tyler Hansen to Rodney Stewart. On the next play from scrimmage, Hansen hit sophomore Paul Richardson for a 15-yard touchdown and renewed hope for Colorado fans.

Then it was Hawai’i’s turn to show that it had made adjustments at halftime. The Warriors returned the ensuing kickoff to the Colorado 48-yard line. Moniz then used his arm and his legs to led the Warriors on a ten-play scoring drive, doing the honors himself from a yard out with 5:59 left in the third quarter. Hawai’i 24, Colorado 7.

Two drives later, Colorado made it a game again, moving 64 yards in just four plays. Completions to tight end Ryan Deehan for 16 yards and Rodney Stewart for 26 yards set up the Buffs for a second Hansen-to-Richardson touchdown connection, this time from 21 yards out to make the new score Hawai’i 24, Colorado 14, with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

Momentum, for the first time all night, shifted to the Buffs on the Warriors’ next offensive play. Defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe sacked Moniz for a six yard loss, stripping the ball while doing so. The ball landed in the hands of Conrad Obi at the Hawai’i 34-yard line, and the Buffs were in business. A 19-yard pass from Hansen to freshman wide receiver Tyler McCulloch put the Buffs in the Hawai’i redzone as the third quarter came to a close.

The Colorado offense, though, was not able to capitalize, and had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by freshman kicker Will Oliver. Plenty of time remained in the game – 14:51 – and the Buffs were finally back within a touchdown at 24-17.

The Buffs’ defense then did something it hadn’t done all night – force a three-and-out. The momentum and the ball were clearly now in the Buffs’ hands.

Instead of capitalizing, though, the Colorado offense returned to old habits, with Tyler Hansen being sacked twice in a drive that went three plays and lost 17 yards.

Bryant Moniz then put a stake in the Buffs’ hearts, leading the Warriors on an eight-play, 45-yard drive. With the game still in doubt, the Warriors faced a third-and-ten at the Colorado 22, Moniz connected on his first touchdown pass of the season, hitting Joey Iosefa for a score and a 31-17 lead with 4:05 to play.

The remainder of the game was a demonstration of how far the Buffs remained from a contending team, as Tyler Hansen was intercepted on a fourth down pass, leading to a field goal. The Buffs failed to convert on fourth down once again on their final possession, giving Hawai’i a short field once again. The game ended with Hawai’i in the Colorado red zone, with Bryant Moniz doing something he hadn’t done all night … lose yardage rushing (but only because he twice took a knee inside the Colorado ten yard line).

Final score: Hawai’i 34, Colorado 17.

“I don’t know if it was first-game jitters or what,” Embree said of his team’s performance. “But that wasn’t us…We’ll figure it out. There’s no magic solution; we’ve got to get better.”

Colorado actually out-performed Hawai’i in the passing game, a feat which should have netted a victory. Tyler Hansen had 223 yards passing, besting the 178-yard effort by Bryant Moniz. “We knew No. 17 (Moniz) was a heck of a player,” Embree said. “We knew he could run…he just made two plays where he was better than us.”

Added junior linebacker Jon Major: “I never thought he’d beat us with his legs . . . he’s a great competitor; hats off to him.”

Moniz finished with career highs in rushing yardage (121) and rushing touchdowns (three) is surprising the Buffs’ defense. “(Moniz) might not lead the nation in passing this week,” said Hawai’i head coach Greg McMackin. “But he might lead the nation in rushing”.

The stats sheet held little encouraging news for the new coaching staff. The Colorado rushing attack, promoted to be the “identity” of the new Buffs, netted 17 yards, the lowest in an opener for Colorado in over 25 years. The rushing total, of course, counted the 44 yards of lost yardage incurred in Tyler Hansen’s seven sacks, all of which took place in the second half . “(Hawai’i) made a good defensive adjustment with their pass rush in the third quarter,” said Hansen. “They put our tackles and our O-line on their heels.”

The defense did produce five sacks of their own, a good total for a team with only 34 sacks all of last season. The overall production by the Hawai’i offense, 343 yards, was well below 500.6 yards per game average in 2010, but the defense failed to make the big plays when in mattered most. On the day, Moniz and the Warriors were able to convert 8-of-16 third down attempts, keeping the defense on the field too long, and giving Moniz too many opportunities.

“I told them that we lost,” said Embree of his post-game comments to the team. “Colorado lost, coaches included. It’s not a player issue. That’s the first thing that I told them. Then I told them that it’s not us … We have to get ready for Cal. We don’t have any choice. That’s who’s coming in. They whipped our butts last year. We just got to go. We need to get better.”

Cal, which manhandled the Buffs, 52-7 in Berkeley last season, opened their 2011 campaign with a 36-17 victory over Fresno State.

 

Game Notes

– Colorado’s record in season openers fell to 76-41-5; 18-18-3 on the road. Colorado fell to 1-2 all-time against Hawai’i, with all three games won by the home team.

– Including the 2011 game, Colorado, since 1967, is 4-16-1 when failing to score first in the opener (23-1 when scoring first).

– The seven sacks allowed were the most since Texas A&M recorded eight in 2009 (the all-time record was set by Nebraska, with 11 in 1979).

– Sophomore Paul Richardson had his third two-touchdown game against Hawai’i. Only Rae Carruth and Derek McCoy, who each had five, have posted more two-touchdown reception games in their careers at Colorado.

– A total of 11 freshmen made their debuts as Buffs, with two – cornerback Greg Henderson and center Daniel Munyer – earning their first career starts. Other freshmen who played against Hawai’i included five true freshmen: linebacker Brady Daigh; wide receiver Tyler McCulloch; punter Darragh O’Neill; kicker Will Oliver; and linebacker K.T. Tu’umalo. Other red-shirt freshmen to suit up and play included: holder Justin Gorman; tailback Tony Jones; cornerback Josh Moten, and linebacker Lowell Williams.

– In earning the start at cornerback, Henderson became just the seventh true freshman to see action at the line of scrimmage on the first play of the season. Henderson joined wide receiver Billy Waddy (1973) cornerback Victor Scott and linebacker Scott Hardison (1980), running back Eric Bieniemy (1987), offensive guard Clint Moore (1991) and linebacker Jordon Dizon (2004) as the only true freshmen to start in the season opener.

– Daniel Munyer joined some select company in earning the start at center as a red-shirt freshman. The other two, Andre Gurode (1998) and Bryan Stoltenberg (1992) both went on to stellar careers at the University of Colorado, and both went on to play in the NFL.

– Five other Buffs played in their first games against Hawai’i – sophomore tailback Josh Ford; senior transfer wide receiver Logan Gray; sophomore offensive lineman Jack Harris; sophomore center Gus Handler; and senior offensive lineman Sione Tau.

– A total of five players made their first career starts in the 2011 season opener: Harris; Henderson; Munyer; senior fullback Evan Harrington; and senior nose tackle Conrad Obi.

– Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen, with 223 yards passing, became just the 11th player in Colorado history with over 3,000 yards passing. With a new total of 3,045, Hansen moved into 10th place on the all-time list, passing Gale Weidner (1959-61) who had 3,033 career passing yards. (Personal note: Hansen’s moving into the top ten in career passing made me officially “old”. I have now personally seen all ten of the top ten passers in career passing yardage play.  I’m holding at nine-of-ten for receivers, and seven-of-ten for running backs).

– Rodney Stewart, with 52 yards rushing, is still a ways off from fourth place on the all-time list (2,796, with Charlie Davis at fourth with 2,958). With four more receiving yards, Stewart will become just the 12th player with at least 500 yards rushing and receiving.

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9 Replies to “Hawai’i 34, Colorado 17”

  1. A reality check showing how far this team has to go. While there are things that can be fixed with coaching and some time, die hard fans need to accept that the talent deficit is pretty large and it will take time to change that. I think Embree et al can get alot out of these guys, but we need more talent to really compete. Take a deep breath, find your patience and support this staff as it rebuilds from years of poor management.

  2. Disappointed YES, but Kudos to Hawaii and Moniz in particular. Let’s hope they have a stellar season and a showing in the Heisman. Mistakes were costly, some calls were questionable and killed the momentum. It hurt to lose Baktieri (LT)on the OL. Now to regroup and prepare for Cal. Hawaii v. Washington will further clarify how good a team the Buffs are – obviously the warriors were fired up and did a great job of protecting their house. Now the Buffs must do the same in Boulder. Have faith. Go Buffs.

  3. That was a tough loss. One of the things that I did like was the fact they came out hitting and kept it up the whole game. Coach Embree stated earlier in camp that when somebody plays CU they are going to feel it the next day. This is a style of play I haven’t seen in quite a while.

    The O-line was disapointing. They got pushed around and couldn’t establish any type of run game. That will have to improve if they have any chance to win next week.

  4. The problems:
    1. Tyler Hansen has no sense of the pass rush.
    2. O-line allowed the pocket to collapse too often.
    (1 & 2 is a bad combination)
    3. Defense needs to play with their head up. It would have been a dominant performance if they could have kept the QB in front of them.

    Given the above, they tie the game with limited time left if 19 can hold on to the pick. Tough drop.

    A lot to work on for Cal next week.

    Go Buffs! And thank you Stuart for this phenomenal site.

  5. Clearly Coach Embree and his staff have their work cut-out for them this year. While I believe he is definitely the right man for the job, the task of rebuilding this team and this program is monumental and will take years. The biggest immediate challenge will be to get the team up off the mat (since they invested so much in this game, bringing the bricks back, etc.) and ready to take on Cal next week. A beating from the Warriors was not even on my radar this week so I’ve no clue what to expect next week.

    Patience Buff fans patience. Go buffs!

  6. Ouch! Reality bites and the Buffs are a really bad team at present. They can only get better as they couldn’t be any worse. A 2 win season is probably the best we can do. Hopefully we improve a bunch before CSU

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