October 22nd – Boulder           No. 9 Oregon 45, Colorado 2

The No. 9 Oregon Ducks made quick and light work of the under-manned and out-talented Colorado Buffaloes, sprinting to a 29-0 first quarter lead before settling for a 45-2 victory.

In handing the Buffs their worst home loss in four years, Oregon raced out to 293 total yards of offense in the first quarter, the second-highest total ever posted in one quarter against a Colorado team. On the day, Oregon posted 527 yards of total offense, more than double the 231 yard output of the Colorado offense.

The Buffs’ offense played most of the game without its best wide receiver (Paul Richardson, out for a second week), its best running back (Rodney Stewart, injured the week before against Washington) and its starting quarterback (Tyler Hansen, knocked out in the second quarter). Oregon was also without two of its stars, quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, but, unlike the Buffs, the Ducks had more than adequate backups.

Before the game even started, Oregon was assessed a fifteen yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Colorado kicker Justin Castor, able to kick from the Colorado 45 yard line, booted the bal through the endzone.

Castor’s kick marked the last time the team’s played on a level field.

After a 13-yard run on the first play from scrimmage by Oregon running back DeAnthony Thomas, the Colorado defense showed some signs of being able to compete with the nation’s No. 5 offense. A rush for no gain followed by an incomplete pass gave the Oregon offense a third-and-ten.

It was the high point of the afternoon for the Buff defense.

Dropping back to pass, Oregon quarterback Bryan Bennett was flushed from the pocket, but then escaped for a 43-yard gain to the Colorado 24-yard line. A personal foul for a late hit out-of-bounds on the tackle set the Ducks up at the CU 12-yard line.

The 52,123 on hand in Folsom Field, peppered with more than a little green-and-gold in the stands, had a good idea what was about to happen next. It took the Ducks only two more plays to score, with running back Kenjon Barner doing the honors from four yards out.

The Oregon offense, noted for making quick work of scoring opportunities, had taken all of  1:43 off of the first quarter clock. A two-point conversion, far from necessary but available, gave Oregon an 8-0 lead.

A week earlier, the Colorado defense had allowed the Washington offense to score on the game’s opening drive, but had responded with a touchdown drive of its own. Against Oregon, however, the Buff offense could only muster one first down (and three penalties) before punting the ball away.

Oregon’s second drive was lengthy by Duck standards, taking seven plays and 2:18 of playing time. Still, the Ducks’ drive was never much in doubt, with Oregon facing only one third down in covering 58 yards. A 14-yard pass from Bennett to Thomas was the scoring connection, and the Ducks were up, 15-0, with seven minutes of playing time still left on the first quarter clock.

A quick three-and-out by the Colorado offense set up the Oregon offense (after a 55-yard punt by freshman Darragh O’Neill) at the its own 13-yard line.

No problem.

On second-and-seven at the Oregon 16, Kenjon Barner took off on an 84-yard dash to the endzone. The two-play “drive” took all of 50 seconds, and, with 4:05 still left in CU’s Quarter from Hell, Colorado now trailed, 22-0.

Yet another three-and-out by the Colorado offense (and another 55-yard punt by O’Neill), forced Oregon to go another 80 yards for its score. The Ducks’ final drive of the first quarter took 1:53 of playing time, with Oregon covering the 80 yards in just seven plays. A 31-yard pass from Bennett to tight end David Paulson was the scoring play. Oregon 29, Colorado 0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Colorado’s kick return team was called for not one, but two penalties (holding; personal foul). On second-and-nine from its own seven yard line, Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen hit freshman wide receiver Keenan Canty for a nine yard gain. The quarter concluded with the Colorado offense being given a “Bronx cheer” from the Folsom Field crowd for mustering its second first down of the quarter.

The totals for the first quarter … Total offense: Oregon, 293 yards of total offense in just 22 plays; Colorado, 35 yards of total offense in 13 plays. Oregon had 206 yards rushing; Colorado 11. Colorado actually had almost twice as yards in penalties the first quarter (seven for 62) than it did total offense yards.

At least the Buffs won time of possession.

As was the norm for Oregon, which came into the game dead last – 120th nationally – in time of possession, the Ducks did not need to hold the ball to be successful.

Time of possession, first quarter: Colorado 8:16; Oregon 6:44.

For the remainder of the first half, indeed, for the remainder of the game, the contest took on the look of a glorified spring game. Both sides emptied their benches, with second- and third-string players seeing much of the playing time.

The only score of the second quarter was scored by the Oregon defense, with Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen throwing a pass right to Duck linebacker Michael Clay, who returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown midway through the quarter. That the extra point was missed was of little consequence.

Halftime score: Oregon 35; Colorado 0.

As if to ensure that there would be no mistake about the outcome, the Oregon offense scored on its first two drives of the second half. A six-play, 48-yard drive for a touchdown was followed up by an eight-play, 44-yard drive for a field goal. With 6:18 still left to play in the third quarter, Oregon closed its books on scoring.

The lone highlight for Colorado came on the Buffs’ ensuing drive. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman, in for Tyler Hansen since late in the second quarter after Hansen suffered a concussion being hit by two Oregon players while sliding (no penalty called), directed the Colorado offense out to midfield, where the drive stalled. There freshman Darragh O’Neill, who would punt 12 times on the afternoon, spiraled a kick down inside the Oregon five yard line.

Awaiting the kick was Oregon kick return specialist Cliff Harris. On the play, Harris made two crucial mistakes. First, he caught the ball inside his own five yard line (“We never field punts inside the ten,” Oregon head coach Chip Kelly bluntly noted after the game). Then, Harris, in an attempt to get around the outside kick coverage of the Buffs, gave ground, back-tracking into the endzone. There Harris stumbled, and was tackled by sophomore safety Terrel Smith for a safety.

Oregon 45, Colorado 2.

While the score allowed the Buffs to avoid their first shutout in a home game in a quarter century, it did little to inspire the Colorado offense. True freshman running back Malcolm Creer, playing in his first game as a collegian after having had his red-shirt removed for the Oregon game, was given 11 carries, netting Creer 37 yards.

Both teams played the fourth quarter as if they had somewhere else they would rather be. Both teams had three possessions in the final stanza; both teams punted the ball three times. The total yardage for both teams combined in the fourth quarter – 75 yards.

Final score: Oregon 45, Colorado 2.

“Obviously not the performance that we wanted”, understated head coach Jon Embree, whose 1-7 team was eliminated from post-season contention for the fourth consecutive season.

The Buffs, dominated in the first half for the third consecutive week, managed only 231 yards of total offense on the game. Before being knocked out of the game in the second quarter, quarterback Tyler Hansen was 7-of-15 for only 62 yards, and had an interception returned for a touchdown. In his place, Nick Hirschman went 8-for-18, for 71 yards, but, as had been the case in his limited time against Washington, was sacked three times.

With Rodney Stewart out for 2-4 weeks, the burden of carrying the rushing attack fell to red-shirt freshman Tony Jones. In his first career start, Jones had 19 carries for 71 yards. Where Stewart was sorely missed, however, was in the receiving game. Stewart had 28 catches for 435 yards in the first half of the season, but Jones could not carry the load, pulling in three catches for a total of eight yards.

The Buffs’ leading receiver, Paul Richardson, remained out with a knee injury, so the receiving duties fell to senior transfer Logan Gray, who had two catches for 50 yards, and red-shirt freshman Keenan Canty, who had three catches for 28 yards. The disappointment of the receiving corps, senior Toney Clemons, who was being counted on to step in Richardson’s absence, had a number of balls thrown his way in the Oregon game, but Clemons gathered only two of those offerings, for 31 yards.

The star for the Buffs, if there can be one in a 45-2 rout, was freshman punter Darragh O’Neill. The nation’s leading freshman punter, O’Neill was called upon a season-high 12 times, with O’Neill coming through with a 43.2 yard average, including five punts inside the Ducks’ 20-yard line.

Perhaps it was fitting that the Buffs’ only points of the game came with O’Neill on the field.

“It is hard,” lamented Embree after the game. “I’m smiling because you have to smile to keep from crying. It is hard because I feel that we have missed opportunities. I feel that these seniors will look back a few years from now and would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. It has been difficult from that standpoint. Probably the hardest thing has been the injuries because that is something that you can’t control and prepare for. We are getting decimated and as a coach, that is frustrating because it limits a lot of things that you may want to do. It limits you when it happens during a game because all of a sudden, there is half of your game plan or blitzes that you can’t run because you lose some guys.”

Up next for Colorado, yet another ranked team, yet another road game. Arizona State, resting with a bye week on a 5-2 record, stands as the Pac-12 South favorite (with USC, the other other team in the South with a winning conference record, ineligible for the title game).

As for the Buffs’ first year coach, he was ready to get on to the next game. “What I told the seniors, ‘When you come in Monday, let us know’ said Embree. ” ‘Let the team know, let the staff know, what do you want to do because this is your year. What do you still want to accomplish. What are the things that are still out there and are important for all of us to keep preparing with an intensity and mindset that we want to go out there and win and be the best that we can be. What is it that you want us to do, so you guys come and tell us.’ I’m excited for Monday because I want to see what they say and what they want.”

Arizona State.

Another chance for the Buffs …  but another likely blowout.

Game Notes –

– The only other time in the 1,157-game history of the Colorado football program in which the Buffs ended up with a “2” beside their name in the final score came on November 14, 1914, in a 6-2 loss to Colorado Mines in a game played in Denver;

– The safety allowed the Buffs to avoid their first home shutout loss since a 28-0 loss to Oklahoma in 1986 (the only Big Eight loss of the season for Colorado that year);

– The 43-point defeat was the worst home loss since Missouri defeated the Buffs, 55-10, in 2007;

– Oregon’s 293 yards of total offense in the first quarter was the second-highest total for a quarter by any opponent. The only other quarter higher came in the infamous 82-42 loss to Oklahoma in 1980, when the Sooners posted 312 yards of total offense in the third quarter;

– The Ducks’ 371 rushing yards was the most against the Buffs in almost 20 years, dating back to a 377-yard game by Iowa State in 1993;

– Kenyon Barner’s 84-yard run tied the third-longest rushing play ever against a Colorado team;

– Darragh O’Neill’s five punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line tied a school record, set by Mitch Berger against Texas in 1983;

– Three players made their first career starts against Oregon: freshman running back Tony Jones; freshman safety Kyle Washington; and freshman defensive back D.D. Goodson. The total of true freshman to play for Colorado in 2011 rose to 15;

– D.D. Goodson played defensive back for the Buffs against Oregon, but has been practicing as a running back all fall. Goodson had all of two practices at the position before being asked to take the field against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation … such is the plight of the Colorado defensive backfield …

Injury Update –

– Junior safety Ray Polk, who had started every game this fall – and who was not even listed on the injury report issued by the school, was held out of the Oregon game due to lingering effects of a concussion. The same was true for defensive back Jason Espinoza, also held out against Oregon;

– Two more defensive backs were injured in the Oregon game (as if that would be humanly possible). The other safety who had started every game this season, opposite Polk, was senior Anthony Perkins. Perkins, though, sprained an ankle against the Ducks, and his status for Arizona State remains unknown;

– Freshman defensive back D.D. Goodson, who, as mentioned was in his first game as a defensive back after two days in the position, suffered a concussion against Oregon;

– Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen also suffered a concussion against Oregon, and did not return. “I think he will be ready next week,” said Embree of Hansen. “We’ll see what the protocol is on everything, but we hope he will be ready next week.”

One Reply to “No. 9 Oregon 45, Colorado 2”

  1. CU 2011 players,

    The kind of losses administered by Oregon and Washington are unbelievably impactfull. Instead of showing progress it shows that the deteriation has continued. As a team you find yourself looking for who to blame…don’t do it look within yourself and other folks who have shone to be courageous. Stay together and never give in to the criticsms of your ability,talent or resolution. Believe me, you will bring it back to where you belong: on top!

    CU 65 player, Dick “Porky” Taylor

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