It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust

One of the themes for the University of Colorado football team for the 2015 season is “Trust”.

Players received t-shirts during Fall Camp with “Trust” on them, and the coaches have been preaching the mantra for months.

Buff players have been implored to trust the player next to them, to trust the coaches, to trust the game plan. Do your job; trust the man next to you that he is doing his.

After the 48-14 win over Massachusetts, head coach Mike MacIntyre gave a brief talk to the team. The significant pitch was about trust:

“You showed yourselves,” said MacIntyre. “There was ultimate trust out there. Ultimate trust.  I believe in you guys, and now I think you’re starting to believe in yourselves.

“I’ve said, and I still believe this with all my heart and soul, you can win every game you play”.

The CU players, though, were not the only one asked to “Trust” this fall.

Coming off of a school record ninth straight losing season, Buff fans were being asked to trust the coaches and players when they told us that the 2015 team was different. We were asked to trust that the team was just as sick and tired of losing as its fan base, and that the 2015 season would be different.

Not “win the Pac-12” different, we understood, but at least “win a couple of Pac-12 games and challenge for a bowl” different.

And we believed

… at least until about three a.m., on Friday, September 4th, when the Buff Nation went to sleep after watching their team drop its ninth straight game, a heart-wrenching 28-20 loss to Hawai’i.

Same song, different year.

But there were still 12 games to be played, and “Trust” continued to be the theme.

It remained difficult to believe in the Buffs for the first quarter-and-a-half against Massachusetts in the home opener, as every time the Buffs scored, the Minutemen had an answer.

Then, midway through the second quarter, the Buffs turned things around. Their backs to the wall after a questionable targeting call against Afolabi Laguda, the CU defense not only did not surrender a touchdown after UMass was awarded a first-and-goal, they turned the ball over. Ryan Moeller’s interception in the end zone not only preserved the Buff lead … it may turn out to be the most important play of the 2015 season.

After Moeller’s momentum-turning interception, the Minutemen never threatened again, and the Buffs turned a 14-14 game into a 48-14 rout.

Once again, the Buff Nation began to believe.

Colorado had taken an opponent it was supposed to beat, and beat them. Not difficult by design, but – at least for the Buffs in recent years – tough to execute.

Once again, the Buff Nation began to Trust.

That is, until the first quarter of the CSU game.

The Rams sprinted out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter of the 2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown. When combined with the 17-0 fourth quarter domination CSU posted to close out a 31-17 win in 2014, that gave the Rams a run of 31-0 over the last two times the teams faced one another at Invesco Field.

Same song, different year.

This time, however, the Buffs did not fold. Colorado scored the next 17 points of the game, taking leads of 17-14 and 24-17 before finally posting a 27-24 overtime victory.

Despite the early deficit, this Colorado team remained confident. “We came to the sideline and regrouped”, said cornerback Ken Crawley of the Buffs’ attitude after the Rams had taken the early lead. “We knew what type of routes they was running and what to expect.”

On the offensive side of the ball, there was also no panic, despite the fact that Rams were up 14-0 before CU quarterback Sefo Liufau completed his first pass. “I think it’s just us trusting each other”, said Liufau, who finished with 220 yards passing and two touchdowns (and no interceptions). “I think from an offensive perspective we sputtered in the beginning, I think it was obvious there. And it wasn’t just one position; I think everyone kind of took their turn. We kept trusting each other, and we ended up pulling it out and getting something going.”

Sophomore wide receiver Devin Ross, who had his first career touchdown with a 24-yard score in the third quarter, also used the “T” word. “It’s arguably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” said Ross of his touchdown catch, which gave CU its first lead of the contest. “I wish I could relive that moment again right now. It was just so amazing and I’m glad we got that win. It’s the best game I ever played in my life too. It was fun, excitement, everything coach Mac talks about like trusting everything, trusting your teammates, and it was just a great game.”

Okay, so where do the Buffs go from here?

The win over Colorado State cannot be overstated in terms of importance. Sure, not having to listen to the Ram Nation brag about how there team is the best in the state for the next 12 months is huge.

But, at the end of the day, it is just another win over a Group Five opponent. The Buffs have gone 7-2 in non-conference play under coach MacIntyre, but haven’t defeated another Power-Five conference school since taking down Cal in November of 2013.

Up next is Nicholls (please don’t call them Nicholls State, if you don’t mind). The Colonels also have a winless streak dating back to 2013, but it is not a winless streak against Power-Five conference schools … it’s a winless streak against the planet.

Nicholls hasn’t defeated anyone since taking down the Demons of Northwestern State, 33-21, on October 12, 2013. The Colonels went on to lose their remaining six games of 2013, all 12 games in 2014, and their first two games of 2015.

That’s an overall losing streak of 20 games, folks. A losing streak against mostly Southland Conference opponents, one of the weakest FCS conferences in the nation.

After opening the 2015 season with a 47-0 loss to Louisiana-Monroe, the Colonels did hang tough on Saturday, even going into the half with a 10-7 lead. But it was not enough, as Nicholls ultimately fell, 20-10, to … the Cardinals of Incarnate Word.

Okay, so the Buffs will be 3-1 heading into Pac-12 play. Next Saturday’s game will be the most relaxing for Buff fans in the better part of a decade. Trust will not be an issue against the Colonels.

Then what?

The Buffs open the Pac-12 campaign against defending conference champions Oregon, with Colorado likely to be a two- to three-touchdown underdog. Then its off to Arizona State, where the Buffs have lost 48-14 and 54-13 as members of the Pac-12.

Once again, the Trust the Buff players have placed in themselves will be tested.

Once again, the new found Trust the Buff Nation has placed in their team will be tested.

I’ll leave it to master songwriter Billy Joel to play us out. While Joel’s song, “A Matter of Trust”, is a love song, it also speaks well to the love the Buff fans have for, and the trust they have placed in, their team …

Some love is just a lie of the soul
A constant battle for the ultimate state of control
After you’ve heard lie upon lie
There can hardly be a question of why
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
But that can’t happen to us
Because it’s always been a matter of trust

Enjoy the win, Buff fans. Enjoy the quiet coming out of Ft. Collins. Enjoy the fact that the 2015 Buffs were able to put the hammer down against a lesser opponent in UMass, then rally from a 14-0 deficit against a rival.

Enjoy the possibilities of what the 2015 season might still bring.

Trust.

—–

4 Replies to “A Matter of Trust”

  1. I also agree that CSU is a really good team. The new coach has the luxury of taking over a talented group that plays hard physical football.

    This game had me frustrated in so many familiar ways. CSU was the more aggressive and physical team in the first quarter. CU players limping off the field in the first half, uh oh. The CSU yards after contact drove me nuts — why couldn’t the CU defense tackle that little 175 lb running back? (by the way , he is very talented) Even the officials seemed incompetent — who else let out a big moan after realizing it was the same group that did the Hawaii game?

    What was different? Big-time CU plays at just the right moments: 4th down stops, pass knockdowns in the endzone, interceptions, blocked punts. Those have been missing for quite some time. If they can clean up the other problems and keep this up maybe there are some wins in Pac-12 play.

  2. NWbuff, I definitely like your optimism and your glass half full viewpoint, and I hope you’re right. I agree that CSU was much better than I thought they would be. But I was frustrated with our lack of ability to sustain drives on offense, and our lack of ability to stop the run on defense. CSU had a freshman QB, why were we not stacked up to make him throw to beat us? Was it game plan or players just not getting it? I will certainly take the W, it beats the alternative, but I feel there is still a lot of work to do before we will be competing for wins against PAC12 competition.

    That brings me to my second point. I was at the game, and the lack of class and sophistication shown by CSU fans was not totally unexpected but the depths to which they sunk was a bit surprising. CU fans often get a bad (mostly undeserved) rap for being rude etc. but from what I saw Rams fans are just as bad if not worse. They booed when CU players were hurt. After the game they were chanting “F— CU.” And at least 2 or 3 CSU fans were telling me and my friends after the game “congratulations for beating a mountain west team,” and/or “good luck beating PAC12 teams.” Stay classy Ft. Collins. Keep acting like little brother and you will continue to be treated that way…

  3. Stuart,

    While I agree with most of what you say here, I DO NOT want to see this team assume a victory over Nicholls. That could lead to an embarrasing loss and all of these good feelings will be gone. Should we win? I think so but let’s not assume it.

    BUFFS, keep trusting in the man next to you. Keep working hard and keep fighting!

    The fight has been the most impressive attribute since last season. Coach Mac has instilled a fighting spirit and no quit attitude that at least makes going to the games fun again and has served notice that teams have to play at least the full 60 minutes against our Buffs.

    SHOULDER TO SHOULDER!!!

  4. Stuart, What I saw. Actually a much better Csu football team than I anticipated; that is important because the Buffs gave no quarter and kept their hearts in the game. This was the best gang D I have seen from the Buffs in over a decade. Congrats to Sefo !! He took a beating, look how often he got popped as he was getting a pass off. The O turned it around with a steady effort, that was impressive !! I had the Buffs @ 7-6 this season, assuming 4-0 non-conference. This team has now showed me they will still be bowl bound this year. W’s will come against OSU, WSU and 2 from the group of (AU,ASU,SU or Utah) GO BUFFS !!!

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