October 11th – Boulder          Arizona State 51, Colorado 17

Rashad Ross returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game and Taylor Kelly threw three scoring passes to tailback Marion Grice in Arizona State’s 51-17 victory over Colorado on Thursday night.

Grice caught touchdown throws of 37, 16 and 20 yards from Kelly, who threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions thanks to a steady diet of successful screen passes. He also tucked it and ran for 67 yards through huge chunks of open space all night long.

Arizona State went for 593 yards of total offense, while Colorado spent most of the second half hovering around the Mendoza line of 200 yards of total offense, settling for 255 yards after gaining some yards late in the game when the contest was out of hand, and most of the black-out home crowd of 45,161 had headed for the exits.

The game started with a 21-yard pass from Buff quarterback Jordan Webb to freshman wide receiver Gerald Thomas, but that play proved to be the first quarter highlight for the Colorado offense. After being held to a three-and-out in its first possession, the Arizona State offense got on track with its second opportunity. The Sun Devils needed only seven plays to cover 91 yards to take the lead. A pair of 23-yard runs, one by quarterback Taylor Kelly, put the ball on the CU side of the field. On a second-and-16 from the Buff 37 yard line, Kelly through a screen pass to running back Marion Grice, who raced unchallenged for the first score of the game.

The extra point was blocked, but an ominous tone had been set. Arizona State 6, Colorado 0, with 4:48 to play in the first quarter.

Colorado finished the first quarter with only two first downs, but did gain some momentum early in the second stanza. Arizona State faced a fourth-and-eight at the CU 34-yard line. Not confident enough to kick a 51-yard field goal, the Sun Devils went for the first down, but were denied when Taylor Kelly was forced to scramble, gaining only three yards before being forced out of bounds by Buff linebacker Brady Daigh.

The Colorado offense then responded with its first drive of the game. A nine-yard completion from Webb to sophomore tight end Kyle Slavin gave the Buffs a first down, followed a play later by a 21-yard completion from Webb to red-shirt freshman wide receiver Nelson Spruce. A pass interference penalty set up the Buffs at the Arizona State two yard line. On second-and-goal, after Webb missed a wide open Scott Fernandez on first down, sophomore running back Tony Jones ran the ball in around right end for a touchdown.

With Will Oliver’s extra point, Colorado had its first lead in the first half of a game since the Sacramento State game in week two. Colorado 7, Arizona State 6.

Colorado’s “time spent in the lead”, a statistic which was heavily weighted against the Buffs coming into the game (56:49 of game time for the Buffs in the first five games, 202:36 for CU’s opponents), lasted all of 2:50 of game clock against Arizona State. The Sun Devils needed only eight plays to cover 75 yards to take the lead for good. A 34-yard pass from Kelly to wide receiver D.J. Foster covered 34 yards, and order had been restored. Arizona State 13, Colorado 7.

A three-and-out by the Colorado offense was followed by a “three-and-in” by the Arizona State offense, with Kelly completing passes of 30, 18 and 16 yards to up the lead to 20-7. The combination of Kelly-to-Grice worked again for the Sun Devils, who took only 1:01 of game clock on its scoring drive.

On the Buffs’ ensuing drive, the Colorado offense appeared to be stopped at the Arizona State 43-yard line. The Buffs faced a fourth-and-four with 34 seconds to play. Risking returning the ball to the Sun Devils, the CU coaching staff decided to go for the first down, and were rewarded when Webb hit senior tight end Nick Kasa for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later, Webb connected with Kasa again, this time for a 20-yard touchdown, and the Buffs had new life with 24 seconds to play in the half. Arizona State 20, Colorado 14.

But the Buffs weren’t done.

The Colorado kickoff was returned by Jamal Miles, who returned the kick to the ASU 17-yard line, where Buff linebacker Brady Daigh forced a fumble. The ball was recovered by sophomore linebacker K.T. Tu’umalo at the ASU 19-yard line, and – just for a moment – the CU blackout crowd had thoughts of an upset.

There were only 17 seconds left in the half, however, and had only time for two plays, both incompletions, before Will Oliver was called upon for a 36-yard field goal attempt. The sophomore kicker was good on his second of three attempts on the season, and the half ended with CU brimming with confidence.

Halftime score: Arizona State 20, Colorado 17.

The era of good feeling, though, didn’t even last until most of the Buff fans had returned to their seats after halftime. Rashad Ross took the second half kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Sun Devils once again had a two-score cushion. Arizona State 27, Colorado 17.

On the Buffs’ first possession of the second half, the Colorado offense generated two first downs before punting the ball away. The two first downs were signifiant only in the fact that, by the time the Buffs generated their next first down, the game clock was under ten minutes in the fourth quarter, and the Sun Devils were in cruise control with a 20-point lead.

Rather than build upon the ten points scored in the last 24 seconds of the first half, the Buffs fell apart. Arizona State, first with an 11-play, 76-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, then with a seven-play, 60-yard drive for a field goal early in the fourth quarter, left little doubt in the minds of the national ESPN audience as to who was the better team.

Already down 20 points, the Colorado offense generated a first down for the first time in over a quarter with a 20-yard completion from Webb to Kasa. The drive ended, however, on an ill-advised deep handoff to running back Tony Jones on fourth-and-one at the Colorado 48-yard line. The play never had any chance of succeeding, with Jones hit well behind the line of scrimmage.

A disinterested Buff defense then surrendered to late touchdowns, with neither Arizona State drive taking over two minutes of game clock. What had been a 20-point defeat quickly deteriorated into a 34-point rout.

Final Score: Arizona State 51, Colorado 17.

In a 34-point loss, there is usually little to be found on the stats sheet for the losing team to grasp onto as a positive.

And such was the case for Colorado against Arizona State.

Arizona State gained 593 yards on the evening; Colorado 255. The Sun Devils had only three more snaps from scrimmage, leaving the average gain per play disparity at a lopsided 7.7 yards per play to 3.4 (on first downs, the contrast was even more stark, with ASU gaining an average of 8.9 yards on every first down; CU 2.5 yards). Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb completed 20-of-41 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown, and was sacked five times.

Buff senior tight end Nick Kasa had the best night for the Buffs, collecting four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. The anemic rushing game, which generated only 75 total yards, was led by Josh Ford, with 38 yards, and Tony Jones, with 37.

“I thought we played a very good first half,” said CU head coach Jon Embree. “Third quarter, we talked about coming out of the locker room and doing a great job of covering the kicks, and obviously we didn’t do that. We did not have any rhythm in the second half offensively. I thought the defense, though, for the most part in the second half played well. Obviously towards the end, after Brady’s incident (linebacker Brady Daigh was carted off the field on a stretcher late in the game, though the move was largely precautionary), there was no juice or air on that side of the ball. I thought the defense, again, like the UCLA game, they gave us a chance if we could just get a little momentum going offensively”.

With only half of the season complete, there was still a great deal of football to be played. Unfortunately for the Buffs and the Buff Nation, the first half of the 2012 schedule was the “easy” half of the campaign. Up next on the calender were three games against ranked teams, USC, Oregon, and Stanford, with two of those three games on the road. More lopsided losses seemed not only likely, but pre-ordained.

“Our kids, and I really mean this, I’m proud of how they compete and how they fight,” said Embree. “And I really do believe that they don’t look at the scoreboard, I don’t think they look at the scoreboard and say ‘Oh now were in it, or oh now were out of it’. They really do go out and play hard and play hard every play and the next play like you would want as a coach.”

That’s good news, as the scoreboards are not likely to be any more kind to the Buffs as the dismal 2012 drags on.

Game Notes …

– The nationally televised Thursday night game was the third such game for Colorado, with the Buffs victorious in the previous two (21-17 over Stanford in 1990; and 17-14 over West Virginia in 2008).

– Folsom Field celebrated its 88th birthday on October 11, 2012. The Arizona State game was the sixth home game played on the anniversary of the 1924 opening of the stadium, with the Buffs falling to a 3-3 record on home games played on October 11th.

– Colorado fell to 21-21-1 while wearing all-black uniforms, and 1-3 when donning all-black helmets.

– The last kickoff return for a touchdown against the Buffs was by Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M, who turned the trick against Colorado in 2009 (the last kickoff return for a touchdown by a Buff also came in 2009, by Brian Lockridge against Oklahoma State).

– Junior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe had one of three CU sacks against Arizona State, giving him 15 for his career, moving him into a tie for 12th place (with his position coach, Kanavis McGhee, and a former teammate, Josh Hartigan) on the all-time list.

– Sophomore linebacker Woodson Greer and freshman free safety Marques Mosley picked up the first sacks of their careers.

– Freshman defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu made his first career start against Arizona State.

– Quarterback Jordan Webb became the 30th quarterback in CU history to pass for over 1,000 yards in a career, while sophomore running back Tony Jones became the 91st player to rush for over 500 yards in a career.

 Injury Report

– While sophomore linebacker Brady Daigh was taken off the field in the fourth quarter, he had movement in his extremities and good strength. Daigh was still taken to the hospital for more tests as a precaution.

– It was reported during the week that senior safety Ray Polk would return to the lineup for the first time since the first half of the season opener, but Polk’s high ankle sprain was not sufficiently healed to allow him to play against Arizona State.

– Also held out of the game against the Sun Devils were defensive tackle Justin Solis (concussion), linebacker Paul Vigo (foot) and cornerback Yuri Wright (concussion). Freshman running back Christian Powell, who suffered a deep thigh bruise against UCLA, was also held out of the lineup. Solis, Wright, and Powell should be ready for the USC game, while Vigo may be out up to three weeks.


9 Replies to “Arizona State 51, Colorado 17”

  1. I again am writing to comment that we have made a mistake at offensive coordinator. First we are starting Cody the II at QB. Gym rat, coaches kid, knows the playbook etc. He is just good enough to get his head coach fired….In practice and meetings I am sure he is fine but when the bright lights go on in real time it is painfully obvious that he is too small, too slow, not enough strength or accurate enough arm and I think players know it too. When it breaks down in the game behind our weeny O-line he just falls apart. Coach made a bad call here and needs to stop now… Please Coach E dont get yourself fired over this kid it isn’t worth it.

    Second and even worse is Coach Bienemy. This is going to be really hard but it is obvious to everyone he has no idea how to be an offensive coordinator. Watching him on the sideline is really painful as I love him as a loyal buff and despise his play calling. He really is a deer in the headlights, even the game announcers were struggling not to laugh at him…

    Did you see our screen plays ?!# OMG what were they? We were running pretty successfully against an undersized A State defense before the game was out of reach and inexplicably turned the game over to Jordan Webb’s passing and athleticism, and allowed their speedy 6 foot nothing 250 pound d-line to dominate us. I think Coach Embo can still be the right guy but he has made some big mistakes in hiring and needs to act decisively. Please Coach dont wait too long and lose all of our support and recruits…

  2. I wonder how we become known as a “basketball school”. Nobody expects Kansas or Duke or Louisville to play football, they just endure the fall and enjoy the winter. How do we get to that point? Anyway..

    I do not think it is time to dump the coach, or the AD or the president, although at my worst moments I think a housecleaning might be needed. I cannot really even summon the passion to argue it strongly. For a moment at halftime I was excited. Then we kicked off and reality set in. This is a bad team facing better teams. The next two weeks are going to hurt.

    1. Daigh had movement in his extremities while still on the field. He did have some pain, and so was still taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons.
      Prognosis in terms of long term health appear to be very good, but his playing status for future games is still to be determined.

  3. It’s inconceivable to me that the talent gap between our kids and every other team on our schedule is so enormous that the best we can hope for is a game that remains competitive for one half. It is as if our coaching staff is a cadre of magicians. In a game in which the Buffs score 10 points in a row right before halftime to close the gap to three, they come out of the locker room and make momentum disappear.

    Kickoff returns for touchdowns happen. And had we lost 27-17 or 31-17 I think I’d have spent less time this morning scratching my head. Again however that is not what happened. What happened is a team who our kids was competing against fairly well for 30 minutes came out after having had a chance to regroup and reorganize and beat the living tar out of us. At some point, are we not supposed to look at the adults in the locker room and hold them responsible for what appears to be a chronic, endemic inability to make in-game adjustments?

    I love my Alma mater and shall always root like Hell for them but this has become unwatchable. I hope others can see the light at the tunnel’s end because from where I am sitting, I simply cannot. Jon Embree is not the first really good man who may prove to be utterly overmatched by the job for which he was hired.

  4. This mess can’t continue. It’s time to make a move and dump this coaching staff. They have the Buffs going in the wrong direction and if we stay with them they will just get worse.

    1. I think Embree should get his 4 years. Coach Mac was a mess his second year and barely took baby steps his third year. If we dump Embree now then we really are screwed. The test will be how he recruits after such a poor showing in 2011 and now 12. Personally I believe in these guys. I caught Coach Cabral getting in his car after the UCLA game and I told him that. Embree and Co. needs time to fix the mess Hawkins left here, period. I think it would be great if everybody comes back next year. USC was not built in a day.

  5. Anyone catch Coach Embree jumping up and down in front of the crowd after we were only down by three at home? Anyone see Nick Saban doing that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *