Gashed!

Against Colorado State in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown, Colorado had 34 rushes for 134 yards.

Not great, but an improvement over last season’s averages.

Against Colorado in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown, Colorado State had 30 rushes for 185 yards …

… in the second half.

After holding the Rams to 81 yards rushing in the first half (and only 22 in the first quarter), the Buffs could not contain the Colorado State rushing attack, giving up 266 yards on the ground, with a 31-17 defeat the humbling result.

Bad enough, but the brutal reality facing the Buff Nation in the aftermath of the debacle is that the Colorado State offensive line may be the worst offensive line Colorado faces this season.

Colorado State had to replace four of its offensive linemen this fall. The lone returning starter went down in the first quarter, never to return. So the CSU offensive line ran over, through, and around a Colorado defensive line utilizing an offensive line which had started a combined total of zero games coming into the contest.

Let’s pause and let that sink in for a moment.

Zero career starts along the offensive line … yet the Rams posted 45 rushes for 266 yards, a 5.9 yards per carry average.

The harsh reality is that, with no waiver wire or trade possibilities, the defensive line roster is what it is.

The 2014 season could get ugly.

Fast forward for a moment to game 11 …

Fade in: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon. Duck quarterback Marcus Mariota is set to play his final home game before his adoring Duck faithful. It will be late in the Heisman chase, a late opportunity to impress Heisman voters.

Enter: the Colorado defensive line.

The horror!

Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre, while sounds were coming out of his mouth during the post-game press conference, was still at a loss for words in describing what happened to his defensive line: “One thing that I saw was a bunch of missed tackles out there”, said MacIntyre. “We’ve been working on that extremely hard … You all that have come out to practice have seen how hard we work on tackling … But we’ll keep working on it and get better at it … I think a lot of it was missed tackles … Some were in the backfield even a few times … So we have just got to keep working, keep improving and look at it on film and see what happened there … I think we got cut out of the gaps some of the time … Sometimes when they came free instead of going flat down the line we went up the line and they sprung it us … We’ll look at it and figure out what’s going on … We have got to fix it, that’s for sure.”

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy that things will improve, doesn’t he?

The maddening part of it all was the inability of the CU defense to get off the field in the second half. Even when the Buffs forced a third down, they couldn’t close the deal.

The numbers (CSU third down attempts after the Buffs took a 17-7 lead midway through the third quarter):

– Third-and-three – gain of two yards (followed by a two yard gain on fourth-and-one);

– Third-and-seven – gain of eight yards;

– Third-and-six – gain of seven yards;

– Third-and-ten – gain of 13 yards;

– Third-and-ten – gain of 11 yards;

– Third-and-four – no gain (followed by a successful field goal attempt).

Want to feel worse? Okay, there’s this … none of the above third down attempts took place in the red zone. Four times the Rams got into scoring position during the game, but not once in those four red zone trips did the Colorado defense force a single third down.

“We have just got to keep getting better, we’re really young”, said MacIntyre. “We’ll keep playing hard and we’ll keep fighting. That’s all you can do. It’s one game.”

Yup. The CU head coach is just as befuddled as the Buff Nation.

And it’s not like the coaching staff – or anyone else – was unable to foresee this issue. In my preview for the game, I wrote: “If you want to watch one position battle during the 2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown, watch how the Buffs’ improved – but suspect and depleted – defensive line fares against CSU’s completely rebuilt offensive line. The winner of that trench warfare will likely win the game”.

Game. Set. Match.

Season?

Okay, it’s not as if there were not some positives coming out of the game.

As hard as it is to believe, Colorado actually led for three quarters of the game (42:21, truth be told). In the first quarter, the Buffs dominated. Colorado had 152 yards of total offense, holding Colorado State to 26 yards (on 11 plays). Colorado held the ball for 10:35, had a 7-0 lead, and, as the quarter came to a close, were facing a third-and-one at the Colorado State five yard line.

If only the game had ended then.

Painfully, the Buffs had to settle for a field goal to open the second quarter, when four rushes netted four yards.

It wasn’t the series which decided the game, but one can only wonder what might have happened had the Buffs gone up 14-0 early in the second quarter.

Other positives:

– Freshman wide receiver Shay Fields tied a school record, with his eight catches tying a school mark (held by Scotty McKnight and Nelson Spruce) for most catches by a Buff in their first career game;

– Punter Darragh O’Neill had a good night, with six punts for a 45.5 yards average, with four punts inside the CSU 20-yard line;

– Nelson Spruce had four punt returns for 35 yards. Not much to get excited about? Compare: Colorado had 45 yards in punt returns … in all of 2013;

– The Buffs did not have a turnover, and did not give up a sack;

– The Buffs did not suffer any significant injuries.

Okay, that’s not much to go on, but, at least for the first third of the game, the Buffs looked much improved on offense, defense, and special teams.

Can Colorado rebound?

“We’ll keep fighting and keep pushing”, said MacIntyre. “It’s one game. We have a bunch more to go and we’ll keep fighting”. Is it just me, or is usually language coaches use after the team loses its seventh game, and all hope for a bowl bid has been eliminated?

No choice, the schedule says we have to keep playing. We can’t just fast forward to 2015 … or 2020.

We’ll just have to wait, patiently or impatiently, for our Buffs to improve.

You know, as I sat in Sports Authority Field, in an ever dwindling group of CU fans, watching the CSU student section go crazy, I was going through different potential headlines for the post-game essay.

“Fault: Line” sounded good to me. Then there were a number of “De-” related headlines: “De-Ficiency”‘, “De-Railed”, or even “De-Pressed”.

Well, there are still 11 games left to the 2014 season.

There will be other opportunities for these headlines …

——

 

15 Replies to “Gashed!”

  1. Yo Stuart,

    All things considered from the game and the comments, I don’t think we should be blaming the defensive backs for this loss at all. When our D was on the field, it was our line that was not doing its job. More specifically, the defensive tackles. Tupou and Parker were supposed to be the “anchors” of the line and help the young ends out. After getting destroyed in a game in which the opponent ran it up the gut on the Buffs time and time again, the stat sheet shows that CU’s two anchors in the middle of the line combined for a grand total of ONE (1) tackle! One tackle? They would have done better than that if they sat down and made the CSU running backs jump over them. Instead the overpursued and left gaping holes where they should have been.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  2. 1st qt was great what happened after that well CSU just out played better.They got into thier heads and out played the Buffs to the ball. why they didn`t try the kid from denver south at returning kicks lets Spruce rest some just didn`t show some change. Not going to worry about a bowl game yet . time to see what the coach and his group can do. the Rams have made this game a real rival game .big brother needs to realize little brother can and did kick his butt

  3. Watching from LA I had one noticeable comment. Liefau did something that will hurt us long term……every time he went back and passed down field he looked right at the receiver he was throwing at…NEVER looked at others …it was so predicable it will not be pretty as the season goes on.

  4. This game is always a no-winner for the Buffs. They hate to play it, no matter what the coaches say and the Lambs make it their “chip-on-the-shoulder, Little brother, Super Bowl” every year, despite what their coaches say!

    Play it the second/third game of any season, when the BS hype doesn’t factor into the Lammies psyche and and the Lammies always lose. Even this year. Time for the Buffs to stop this foolishness, play the UMASS’s of the world first then play the RMS, if they really have to.

    C’mon, R George, you’re supposed to be smarter than that! (And HCMM, try a roll-out on the goal line, at least give our kids a chance to score? That g-stand was the turning point, even though it was early in the game. 14-0 and Lammies doubt their own hype. GS and they start to believe.)

  5. I said it last year and will repeat it this year. Our corners and safeties are garbage. Can’t tackle, can’t follow the ball and continue to get burned. Crawley added two crucial penalties. Until we start getting some at least 3 star players, we can expect no better. As it is, we have a 4th year player that is the equivalent to a one star at best. Henderson, make a tackle!

    1. Bill-
      3 star players is the answer? Well just a little background on the Buffs, there are a couple 3 star DBs, while Crawley and Wright are 4 star recruits, they were amongst top in the nation. So I don’t see the relevance.
      What I see is lack of coaching, players giving too much cushion off the line and not covering in zone space. It’s a poor coaching scheme. But what can they do back there when they constantly have to tackle the RBs.
      A lot of work to do on Def

    2. The only thing Crawley did wrong was get that unsportsmanlike call… the very next play he got the pass interference call which was totally a bad call by the refs since the reciever ran INTO Crawley. Even the tv commentators said that it should have been a no-call.

      But back to the secondary, because our D-line is so horrible our secondary had to deal with as many tackles as they did. Watch it again if you don’t believe me. I’m not saying I’m happy with the missed tackles, but it wasn’t necessarily the secondaries letting them thru at full speed, over, and over, and over, that was fully the problem.

      The problem I see is our D-line being completely unable to adjust to what the lambs were doing to make their run game so effective. They only got better and better until we were allowing 7 yards a carry in the 4th quarter. Yikes!

  6. For the second year in a row CSU was the more physical team only this year they didn’t let up. They are bigger, faster and more aggressive than us and that needs to change. They play with a chip on their shoulder, we play with with a piano strapped to our back. Big step backwards for the program. This could be a very long season.

  7. I recall my first CU game in 1956. We were whitewashed by Oregon 35-0. I thought: “this is what I came to CU to see”?

    We went to the Orange Bowl that season and beat Clemson! We also were beating OU at the half 19-6.

  8. That was not a PAC-12 team Colorado put on the field yesterday. The lack of skill and athleticism of the front 7 (except for Gillam) is shocking. I cannot see Colorado winning a single PAC-12 game.

    When Colorado starts PAC-12 games Vegas is going to make the over/under 80.

  9. It was heartbreaking to watch how both our lines crumbled in that last quarter, especially the Dline that was unable to stuff the run. CSU is probably a much better team that early prognosticators have predicted. The Buffs are young and inexperienced and probably over matched in most areas talent wise. This will be a building year for 2015. Looking back at SJS in Macs second year, this is not surprising. Go Buffs!!

  10. Yo Stuart,

    I fear that this is the start of something really ugly this year. Colorado did not lose because of a couple of fluke big plays by CSU. They were absoulutely mandhandled in the trenches on both sides of the ball. And the D-line was manhandled by a bunch of guys making their very first starts at the collegiate level.

    MacIntyre needs to get his head our of the clouds. His offensive and defensive coordinators were awful. Their jobs are to attack weaknesses on the other side of the ball and use schemes to limit the Buffs’ own deficiencies. The also need to be able to make game day adjustments. They seem incapable. And he needs to use more accurate language. The Buffs need to actually be better before he keeps spouting the clichéd phrase “we have to keep getting better”.

    All through camp we heard about how much better the O-line was doing. Turns out they looked better only because the D-line was so bad. When we had to face the D-line of another team, our hogs up front were exposed as truly horrible. One guy in particular continued to look like a fish out of water and out of position half the time. If MacIntyre and his staff don’t do something quick, Sefo is going to get killed back there. He may not have been sacked but he had snot knocked out of him.

    We heard so much about “competition” and “depth” all through camp, but they just went with the same old guys on the line and it showed. Mac better start pulling the trigger on getting some of the younger a chance to show what they can do.

    If Mac and his staff continue to have that deer in the headlights look, the Buffs will be lucky to win two games this year.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  11. Everything went CSU way after their goalline stand. Three poor play calls after first and goal, then CU abandons the fast pace O and try to establish the run never try to roll out Sefio. Good coaches are suppose to put there players in the best postion to win and they failed last night. And where was Bobo? Mac needs to get his play makers on the field regardless of position(puntreturner). As for the Front seven they got worked no creative blitzes poor defensive play calling. I put this loss on coach Mac and his staff!!!! As for gashed… Beat down is a better way to describe it.

  12. This game was reminiscent of the 2009 game at Folsom. Sitting through this debacle was tough to swallow, Stuart. The D simply couldn’t get off the field, whether it was by penalty or shoddy tackling, the D repeatedly allowed the rams to extend drives. The ram runners were through to the linebackers with no penetration by the D-line on nearly every run in the third quarter. The ram o-line owned our boys in the second half. Poor performance out of the box and absolutely kills the momentum CU’s been building through the offseason with new facilities, etc. if the Buffs can’t compete with csu, it’s going to be looooong season! This is not a bowl team, not even close.

    And none of this ^ accounts for the disaster of playing this game at Sports Authority Field. I’m done with that. Every year there’s an incident or two or three involving drunken csu fans poaching seats, fighting with equally drunk CU fans. The ushers are timid and intimidated so they don’t intervene and it just becomes an ugly experience. It doesn’t matter whether they’re winning (like last night) or losing (last year). It’s not a family event, so I’m out!

  13. Given how we seemed to have ZERO answer for stopping the run in the 4th Quarter which was beyond frustrating, I do have to say that I’m not fully surprised by this outcome. Our D was already suspect, and the team is young (yes, including the coaching staff) and CSU had the benefit of extra practices and a bowl game to get even better at what they do at the end of last season… and their strength is definitely in the trenches on their O-Line. Their coach came from Saban-ville where that is what they do. Regardless of the number of starts or the loss of their key O lineman, this is what CSU’s coach excells at: Beating you in the trenches.

    As for specifics last night, the thing that was odd to me was, after CSU got some momentum going, we seemed to abondon the confident, hurry up, in your face Play Calling that had worked so well in the 1st Quarter. Why? You have Spruce, Fields, Goodson, Irwin, ect… keep going fast and sharp. Which leads me to the fact that I think it was Liefau who allowed them to get in his head the most. He wasn’t the same QB that started the game by the time 3rd Quarter started.

    Anyway, I see no reason why they can’t go back, look at the film, and fix a lot of what happened so it doesn’t repeat later this season.. CU got better in most aspects of the game last season as the year progressed. I feel there is no reason this season can’t do the same.

    As for a bowl, I always thought (given the schedule) it was likely too early to discuss that. But given what I saw in the 1st Quarter last night, I see no reason why they can’t fix things and suprise someone. A young team will often lose one they shouldn’t. But if they keep working and correcting, they can win one they shouldn’t, too.

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