September 1st – Denver          Colorado State 22, Colorado 17

Jim McElwain became the first Colorado State coach to win his debut in 42 years, as the Rams rallied past their arch rival for a 22-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.

Garret Grayson completed 14-of-21 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns and Jared Roberts kicked two fourth-quarter field goals after the Rams had fallen behind 17-16. Grayson outdueled Kansas transfer Jordan Webb who was 22-of-41 for 187 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffaloes.

McElwain, the former offensive coordinator at defending national champion Alabama, became the first Rams coach to win his debut since Jerry Wampfler in 1970. None of other 12 Rams coaches who have faced Colorado had ever beaten the Buffs on their first try.

The game started much better for the Buffs than had the 2011 edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The previous year, the Rams took the opening kickoff and smartly marched 80 yards for an opening touchdown. In this game, though, the Rams went three-and-out.

The Buffs, though, were not able to capitalize, though, going three-and-out as well. In a foreshadowing of how the afternoon would go for the Colorado offense, the Buffs actually managed only one net yard on their first two drives combined. In trading punts, the Rams gained territory, taking over for their third drive of the game at their own 45-yard line.

Colorado State then put together the first scoring drive of the afternoon, covering 25 yards in eight plays. The Rams could only get as far as the CU 30-yard line, but that was good enough for CSU kicker Jared Roberts, who hit a 47-yard field goal to give Colorado State a 3-0 lead with 8:16 to play in the first quarter.

A third consecutive three-and-out by the Colorado offense was followed by a brief CSU drive which made it to the CU 44 yard line before Buff defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe sacked Ram quarterback Garrett Grayson for an eight yard loss on third down.

Late in the first quarter, Colorado finally got its offense on track. Two consecutive plays by freshman wide receiver Gerald Thomas, a 17-yard run on an end run and a 14-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Webb set the Buffs up at midfield at the end of the first quarter.

A 19-yard pass from Webb to wide receiver Tyler McCulloch took the ball to the CSU 31-yard line. Three plays netted three yards, leaving the Buffs with a fourth-and-seven at the CSU 28. Rather than attempt a 45-yard field goal, CU head coach Jon Embree opted to go for the first down, and was rewarded when Webb hit red-shirt freshman wide receiver Nelson Spruce for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Two plays later, Webb hitting Spruce in the endzone from 15 yards out, and Colorado had its first lead, 7-3, with 12:22 to play in the first half.

On the Rams’ next drive, CSU head coach Jim McElwain also decided to go for a first down on fourth down. The Rams were at their own 46-yard line, and faced a fourth-and-two. Rather than punt the ball away, CSU went for the first down, but running back Tommey Morris was stopped by CU defensive tackle Will Pericak for a one yard gain, turning the ball back over to the Buffs.

With the momentum for the first time all afternoon, the Buff offense capitalized. A 12-yard pass from Webb to McCulloch moved the ball to the CSU 35, but again the Buff drive stalled. Facing a fourth-and-five at the CSU 30-yard line, Buff head coach Jon Embree again eschewed a field goal, opting to go for a first down instead. Again, the decision was rewarded, but only because CSU defensive back interfered with a pass intended for CU senior tight end Nick Kasa.

The penalty gave CU new life, with a first down at the CSU 16. Three consecutive runs by sophomore running back Tony Jones gave the Buffs 12 yards and a first-and-goal at the CSU four yard line. A holding penalty pushed the Buffs back, but, on third-and-goal at the nine yard line, Webb hit Tyler McCulloch for a touchdown.

Colorado 14, Colorado State 3, with 4:25 to play before halftime.

A 37-yard kickoff return gave the Rams good field position, but after one first down CSU was forced to punt the ball away. Colorado then began what could have been a game-defining drive, marching out to the CSU 41-yard line before Webb fumbled the ball on a sack, giving the Rams new life.

The CSU drive, however, went backward, with the Rams set to punt the ball back to the Buffs with less than a minute to play before halftime.

Then, the play of the game … Colorado went for the punt block, leaving sophomore return man D.D. Goodson to his own devices. Rather than call for a fair catch, or let the ball go, Goodson ran up to try and field the punt. Goodson was hit by Trent Matthews, fumbling the ball away to the Rams at the CU 22 yard line.

On the very next play, Grayson hit a wide open Dominique Vinson for a 20-yard touchdown. That the extra point was blocked by Will Pericak a few moments later was of little consequence. The momentum had been changed.

Halftime score: Colorado 14, Colorado State 9.

Any hope of the Buffs regaining the momentum in the third quarter were quickly dashed. Colorado managed one first down before punting the ball away to open the half, with Colorado State taking over at their own 11 yard line. The Rams proceeded to march confidently down the field, covering 89 yards in eight plays, capped by a 32-yard pass from Grayson to Joe Hansley.

Colorado, which had held a 14-3 lead two CU drives earlier, now trailed 16-14 midway through the third quarter.

A three-and-out by the Colorado offense left Buff fans despondent, but hope was renewed two plays later. Sophomore linebacker Brady Daigh forced a fumble from running back Tommey Morris, recovered by Will Pericak. First down, Colorado, at the CSU 15-yard line.

Five plays netted a first down, but left Colorado with a third-and-goal at the Ram two yard line. What happened next could have been – should have been – the play which changed the game. Sophomore Malcolm Creer carried the ball near the goal line, stretching out for a score. The ball bounced loose instead, picked up and returned 99 yards for a CSU touchdown. The delirium on the Rams’ side of the field, however, was tempered a few moments later, when a replay review showed that Creer was down before he fumbled.

The drama was not over, however. Creer did not fumble, but he did not score, either. Colorado, down 16-14, with 3:48 to play in the third quarter, faced a fourth-and-goal at the one yard line. Eschewing a chip shot field goal, Colorado head coach Jon Embree and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy opted to go for a touchdown. Rather than force the issue by pushing the ball up the middle, the play call was a roll out pass. The CSU defense, though, was not fooled by the call, and quarterback Jordan Webb’s pass for senior tight end Nick Kasa was way too call for anyone to catch. Ball turned over on downs.

The CU defense, though, was not done, forcing a quick punt. On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman defensive back Kenneth Crawley returned the kick 24 yards to the CSU 35-yard line.

This time, the Colorado offense came away with points. Five plays netted 22 yards, with sophomore kicker Justin Castor called on to give the Buffs the lead. Castor was successful from 30 yards out, and Colorado was back in the lead with 13:27 to play, 17-16.

Colorado State, though, was not deterred. On the Rams’ next possession, the CSU offense covered 52 yards in 13 plays, stalling at the CU 31 yard line. Jared Roberts, though, was good again, this time from 48 yards out. Colorado State 19, Colorado 17, with 6:39 to play.

It was now the Buffs’ turn to take control. Instead, the CU offense went three-and-out for the fourth time in the game. A 37-yard run by Donn Alexander, with a 15-yard face mask penalty tacked on, set up another Jared Roberts field goal. Roberts was true from 32 yards out, upping the CSU lead to 22-17.

When the kickoff went through the endzone, Colorado took over at its own 25-yard line. Down five points, the Buffs needed 75 yards, and had 2:56 of game clock to accomplish the feat.

Colorado, though, which mustered only 245 yards of total offense on the day, was not up to the task. The Buffs made it as far as the Ram 39-yard line, where on fourth-and-two, a Jordan Webb pass to Malcolm Creer was stopped for a one yard loss.

Final score: Colorado State 22, Colorado 19.

“Congratulations to coach (Jim) McElwain and Colorado State,” said Jon Embree after the game. “They found a way to get it done and win the game and congratulations to them. Obviously we didn’t play good enough we had too many turnovers we talked about that. Protecting the ball was going to be key for us in a game like this and we didn’t do it and they were able to take advantage of it and we weren’t effective running the ball. We better get that fixed. It has been too many games of us not running the ball so we will get that figured out.”

Colorado held the Rams to 287 yards of total offense, but could only produce 245 yards of total offense of its own. Former Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb, in his debut at quarterback for Colorado, was fairly productive through the air – 22-of-41 for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Webb, though, was sacked five times for 30 yards in losses. The Colorado running game, which was supposed to be fueled by an offensive line with four returning starters, the introduction of a true fullback, and run-oriented tight ends, failed to materialize. With Webb’s five sacks included, the Buffs netted 58 total yards rushing. Sophomore running back Tony Jones, before hurting his shoulder, carried the ball 16 times for 43 yards … a 2.7 yards per carry average.

“There was a decent amount that surprised us, but it’s going to be like that in any opener,” said Embree. “That is not an excuse. If we just handle our business and do our job, communicate. One was just no communication on the touchdown after the muffed punt. Half the guys heard one call, half the guys didn’t, so not to take anything away from that play call execution from them. It will be like that every year you play an opener. You are always going to get new wrinkles and things.”

Game Notes –

– Colorado’s lead in games played in Denver fell to 7-5. The overall record in the series became 61-21-2.

– Temperature at kickoff was 94 degrees, tied for the third warmest game in CU history, and the warmest played in the state of Colorado. The previous high was 91 degrees in 2000, when the Buffs faced off against Washington in Boulder.

– Attendance for the game was 58,607, up slightly from last year’s attendance of 57,186.

– Junior quarterback Jordan Webb threw for two touchdowns in his debut, making him just the seventh CU quarterback to accomplish the feat in Buff history (John Hessler had five in his debut against Oklahoma in 1995). Webb’s 187 yards passing were the ninth highest total in Buff history.

– Red-shirt freshman Nelson Spruce not only scored a touchdown in his first game, but also became the answer to a trivia question. The first six points of the game for Colorado gave the Buffs 2,000 points in the series, the first time CU has broken the 2,000-point barrier against any team (next on the list is Iowa State, with 1,732). The new totals: Colorado 2,011; CSU 979.

– Colorado played 13 freshmen (nine true) against Colorado State … True: cornerback Kenneth Crawley; defensive tackle Tyler Hennington; safety Marques Mosley; fullback Christian Powell; wide receiver Gerald Thomas; defensive tackle Josh Topou; cornerback Yuri Wright; tight end Vincent Hobbs; and tailback Donta Abron … Red-shirt: wide receiver Nelson Spruce; offensive lineman Stephane Nembot; defensive back Isaac Archuleta; and linebacker Clay Jones.

– Senior defensive tackle Will Pericak’s PAT block in the second quarter was the third of his career. Pericak also made his team-leading 38th straight start.

– With two sacks, junior defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe moved from 38th to 28th on CU’s all-time sack list.

– Colorado, even with the fumbled punt return which changed the game, had 36 yards in punt returns. Colorado had 56 yards in punt returns … all season … last year. True freshman Kenneth Crawley, with 38 yards in punt returns, has already surpassed Rodney Stewart’s team leading total of 22 yards last season.

– Senior linebacker Doug Rippy made a successful return from his knee injury suffered midway through last season. Rippy led the team with 12 tackles, a career-high, including two tackles for loss and a sack.

– Colorado had 126 yards of total offense in the second quarter, but did not have more than 45 yards of total offense in any other quarter.

Injury Update

– Colorado played the second half without two starters in the secondary, with safety Ray Polk and cornerback Greg Henderson both suffered ankle injuries. Both are currently listed as day-to-day. “I don’t know, we will have to wait and find out,” said Jon Embree of Polk after the game. “I guess tomorrow, I think it is going to be a while regardless with him. Same with Greg Henderson, and a couple other guys with some injuries so we will see where we are at.”


17 Replies to “CSU 22, Colorado 17”

  1. well, regarding our last offensive play: kasa was wide open beyond the sticks, perhaps even could have run another 5-10 yards after catch. on the pac-12 highlight show, neuheisel opined that webb misread the D and threw to the wrong receiver. so, maybe that one wasn’t on the coaches.

    and, on the 3rd & 1 where creer ‘fumbled’, in the backfield creer tripped over our guard’s foot otherwise he’s in easily.

    but, that still does not excuse attempting to field the punt, or even having a returner back to receive it. further, one of the camera articles notes that goodson had not fielded a punt before in a college game. unwise call for many reasons.

    last, and not to beat on the coaches too much, but give a listen to embree’s interview with koa as the team was leaving the field after the first half. its available on

  2. The Rams must have been terrified to see Oompa Loompas coming at them time and again! If only we had Willy Wonka coaching them, then, we probably would have had a better running game.

  3. Hard to blame Webb. In the second half he was running for his life. o line was unable to make holes for the running game and unable to pass block. Agree that coaching calls were questionable, but without an O line you don’t have many alternatives.

  4. Isn’t it a little too early to write off the Buffs after their first game. By my reconning the game could have easily turned on just two plays, DD’s muffed fumble and then Webb’s erant pass on fourth and goal. The fact is CU has the youngest team in the nation and faced a very stout CSU defence. They were well prepared by Coach McElwain, who reminds me a bit of Jim Harbaugh. While I did drink the Koolaid, I also read up on CSU prior to the game and had a queasy feeling that they were actually a pretty darn good team with talented players on both sides of the ball. I hope they do well this season which will make CU look better. I do think the Buffs need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how best to use their young players. Getting to a bowl just got harder, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Next season . . . experienced, older players . . . that will be the proof if we are heading in the right direction!

    1. In case you didn’t notice they were playing one of the worst teams in 2011. The Buffs knew that they were defeated at halftime.

  5. I am still speechless and embarassed. I understand there is a youth movement and they will make mistakes. But that should be a reason for the young players. Not the coaching staff.
    I saw a coaching staff that is incapable of good judgement, adjusting to the opposition, play calling etc.
    And calling yourself a power running team in practice against each other does not make one a POWER running team in the Pac-12. We are an inferior team and this may take many years and more changes to right the ship. This team would not be .500 in the MWC or WAC.

  6. A first year coach should not be able to beat a second year coach if they both have approximately the same talent. I believe that CU still has better talent than CSU. Thus, I am hoping that Saturday’s game was just an exception, but I get this feeling that we were outcoached and out schemed. If Embry has a bad year, then we are looking at another 2-3 years of rebuilding. He will probably be given a 3rd year and then we will be looking at a new coach. I hope I am overreacting.

  7. There is enough talent on this team to beat CSU. This loss is due too poor preparation, poor execution and incomptent play calling.

  8. This has to be the most demoralizing loss since Montana State. The offensive line was atrocious and our receivers appeared to have lead in their shoes. I will never believe another prediction, forecast, report etc. coming our of fall camp indicating that our O-Line will be good. I’m tired of hearing it year after year and not seeing it on the field. When will this program get turned around?

  9. For a power run team, run the darn ball from the 1/2 yard line. You have a 240 lb fullback for a reason. I agree with Max that the play calling this game is horrible. It looks like Bienemy is trying to “outsmart” the defense. How about instead, you line-up and control the line of scrimmage. I had so much hope and excitement for this season, but feel like It was crushed in the first game.

  10. I agree with Maxd72: why even attempt to field the punt just before half? indeed, why even have a returner in position? LET THE PUNT GO! cu could have killed the clock and gone in with a lead. cu was in control of the game at that point, would receive to start the second half, and had some momentum. instead, csu gets seven and all the momentum. even if the punt had been caught by cu, there was likely not enough time to get into field goal position. the small likelihood of points wasn’t worth the risk. i said it to my friends prior to the play, all of whom agreed – its not hindsight, its football common sense which was absent from the cu staff today. an extremely poor decision that demonstrated a lack of sense about the ebb and flow of emotion during an athletic contest. the game may have been lost on that one play.

    there was another momentum killer in the 3rd with csu up 16-14. cu gets a turnover on the csu 20 or so. cu couldn’t punch it in. so, prior to that play it was clear that cu had to get some points, stop the flow of csu momentum, regain the lead, and most importantly, reward the defense. no points off that turnover gave momentum back to csu and put a deflated cu defense back on the field. again, this was a poor decision and an unnecessary and excessive risk at that point in the game.

    in sum, cu played well enough to win, except for those two judgment errors by the coaches, which cost cu the game.

    in more general coaching shortfall, csu consistently out-adjusted cu, especially on offense. for example, cu didn’t counter the csu blitzes with extra blockers or with quicker-developing patterns. (true, the oline had a terrible game.)

    if i were a cu player, i’d be sore at the coaches. i hope the staff doesn’t lose this team. although i do not want to denigrate the staff, i am beginning to doubt whether this staff has the ‘it’ to do the job.

  11. Great use of a timeout going into halftime. (I hope everyone can sense my sarcasm)

    I’m still shaking my head at that call along with the final play. Oh well…same stuff different year.

    I agree with Maxd72…UGH!

    1. I agree; this is pathetic. It’s going to be a long year AGAIN. Embrey can’t seem to get his team ready to play the first game (just as Barnett couldn’t). It’s agood thing the Pac-12 doesn’t apply golf rules: ‘CU, you didn’t make the cut.’ UCLA & USC put up 49, last I looked Oregon had put up 28 in the 1st quarter, and we lose to CSU…pathetic!

      1. What if the Pac-12 had a relegation rule like the English Premier League? We’d be relegated to the Big Sky conference.

  12. I’m not suggesting Embree or Bienemy need to go, but this coaching performance cannot be repeated. Fielding a punt inside the 20 with seconds to go in the first half? A roll out by a hobbled QB on 4th and goal when a field goal gives you the lead? Not being prepared for a run when CSU was lined up in shotgun formation to start their final drive? A screen pass on the final play (there has to be a second option when there are three defenders between your RB and the first down line)?

    Some more areas of needed improvement:
    1. Pocket presence by Webb. He couldn’t feel the blitz and ran right into defenders when stepping up in the pocket when the line picked up the blitz.
    2. Return game needs to catch the ball. Pretty simple.
    3. WR’s need to catch the ball. Pretty simple.

    Things can certainly get better, but given they way they played against a terrible team, they could get worse, too. Ugh!

    1. This is just pathetic it’ll be an entire year before we can get our hopes up again to just see progress. I’m not upset with the athletes or even the coaches for that matter, it isn’t their fault, we don’t have any talent and that is the bottom line.

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