Crooked Numbers

“Crooked Numbers” refers baseball term for a number higher than one that has been placed on the line score as a result of a run being scored during a half inning. Even in a game which ends 5-3, there are going to be more “0’s” and “1’s” (mostly “0’s”) posted on the scoreboard tally of inning by inning results.

The relevance to your Colorado Buffaloes?

In the past decade, in both reality and perception, the CU football program has been posting way too many “0’s”.

Now, for at least the non-conference portion of the 2015 season, the Buffs have been posting some “crooked numbers”.

This is not to say that the Buffs have not been posting records during their decade long drought. Last season, for instance, Colorado broke, established or tied 136 school records, both team and individual. Most were on offense, with quarterback Sefo Liufau breaking or tying 54, and wide receiver Nelson Spruce tacking on 34 of his own.

Many of the records set last season were very impressive, and deserve our praise and adulation.

For example, Sefo Liufau’s seven touchdown passes against Cal (breaking the school record of five held by John Hessler and Koy Detmer) was quite the achievement, as was his 28 touchdown passes for the season, crushing the old record of 22, set by Koy Detmer back in 1996. Similarly, Nelson Spruce’s 106 receptions is amazing, especially when put up against the old school record of 83, set just the year before by Paul Richardson.

When the team goes 2-10, 0-9, however, the value of those records is diluted.

Yes, Sefo threw for seven touchdowns against Cal … but the Buffs still lost the game.

Yes, Nelson obliterated the record for catches … but he had only one 100-yard game and only two touchdowns in the second half of the season, went the Buffs were in the process of finishing the year on an eight game losing streak.

Now, on the heels of a 48-0 flogging of Nicholls, the Buffs have the luxury of enjoying some “crooked numbers”:

– The 48-point margin was the greatest since the Buffs took out Northeast Louisiana 55-14 in 1995;

– The shutout was the first for the Colorado defense since the Buffs handled Wyoming, 24-0, in 2009;

– The Colorado offense put up 636 yards of total offense, with only two plays going for negative yardage all afternoon … and those were the two kneel downs to end the game (with the Buffs inside the Colonels’ ten yard line);

– The Buffs had the luxury of having its average starting field position be their own 47-yard line (Nicholls’ average – it’s own 15).

– One stat which in particular shows the domination. Every one of CU’s 14 offensive drives had at least play on Nicholls’ side of the ball … except one. That drive? It ended with a Donovan Lee 59-yard touchdown run.

Now, Colorado enjoys some heady NCAA rankings:

– The Buffs are 23rd nationally in scoring defense, giving up 16.5 points per game (2014 … 39.0 ppg.; 116th nationally);

– Colorado is a plus-four in turnovers, ranked 16th in the nation in turnover margin (2014 … minus-10; 112th nationally);

– The Buffs are 13th in the nation in rushing offense, at 272.0 ypg. (2014 … 154.6 ypg.; 75th nationally);

– Colorado is 41st in total defense, giving up 341.3 ypg. (2014 … 461.0 ypg.; 111th nationally).

I could go on, but you get the idea.

CU’s statistics show considerable improvement on both sides of the ball

The most important “crooked number” for the Buffs, of course, is the number “3”, as is CU’s 3-1 record. Not earth-moving, but it ain’t 2-10, either.

There has been – and there will continue to be – hand-wringing over what might have been had Colorado not opened the season with a tough loss to Hawai’i. Instead of three Pac-12 wins to earn coveted bowl-eligibility, the Buffs need four.

Even in the wide open Pac-12, where every team seems to be a world-beater one week and then vulnerable the next, it’s still tough to see a 4-5 Pac-12 record for a team which has won four Pac-12 games … in its first four full seasons in the conference.

4-5 after going 4-32?

Possible, but it will still be very difficult.

What Buff fans can revel in this morning is that Colorado has three wins to open the 2015 season.

That’s more wins than a pair of preseason top ten teams, Oregon and Auburn.

It’s more wins than schools like Arizona State, Washington, Oregon State, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Nebraska and Texas.

Sure, two of Colorado’s three wins were against Group of Five conference teams, with the other victory coming against one of the worst teams … in the FCS.

I really don’t care.

Colorado has its first three game winning streak since 2008. The Buffs are nationally relevant in multiple statistical categories. The Buffs believe in themselves … and now have wins in the books to help give credence to that belief.

And the players do believe:

– Wide receiver Donovan Lee: “I think we’re ready for the next step. I feel that we’ve grow a lot this whole season. Especially after that first loss against Hawai’i, we’ve had a chip on our shoulder because we know we’re better than that. We’ve been focusing on putting teams away and that’s something that we’ve always done. We’re ready for that next step”.

– Linebacker Jaleel Awini: “We’re in a great place right now. These last couple of weeks, we have just been building up confidence. It’s been different since last year. This year, we’re just trying to take a stand and make a difference. We want to be the Buffaloes that we were in the early 2000’s”.

– Defensive back Jered Bell: “It starts with the team.  We’ve come together and we have matured a lot, which is starting to show in our plays later in the games. Today at halftime we came in and knew we left too many plays out on the field, so we came together as a unit and that’s one thing we didn’t have in the past”.

Does that mean that Colorado will be able to take down Oregon next Saturday (8:00 p.m., MT, ESPN)?

After all, Oregon is 2-2, and was humbled at home Saturday, 56-20. The Ducks are coming off of their worst home loss since 1977, and will come to Boulder with the 110th-ranked defense in terms of yards, and 117th-ranked defense in terms of points allowed.

Will the Buffs post its first win over the Ducks since joining the Pac-12?

I’m not prepared to say that at this point.

But I am sure glad that we can even have that conversation with a straight face.

The Buffs have proven that – unlike the 2014 team – they can win a tough game against a rival, and can win the games they were supposed to win.

As Donovan Lee put it, the team is “ready to take the next step”.

Time to put up some more “crooked numbers”.

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13 Replies to “Crooked Numbers”

  1. if Sefo is cleared to play how do you keep the young man off the field when he wants to play? sure he will hurt when he gets older but who doesn`t when they play football? Really don`t care for points for or against either team or for. don`t want to jinx the Buffs either . But this game coming up could be a game that makes our season something to remember. and maybe a few more 4 or 5 star recruits

  2. The CSU game is a game they should be winning anyway and i was not overly impressed with the UMASS and Nicholls State victories.
    I will buy into the Buffs are winning games they are supposed to win when they start winning consistently in the PAC12.That is when i twill really matter.
    GO BUFFS

  3. “Rick George is opening himself up to problems with the NCAA is Mcintire continues to move on with an injured Sefo. Mark my words.”

    Understand your concern Scott, however we’re not talking about a concussion….. and, as Stuart points out, “Coach MacIntyre wouldn’t be allowed to play Liufau unless he was cleared by the medical staff. Even if MacIntyre could overrule the medical staff, how is this Rick George’s fault or responsibility?”

    I’m sure Dr. McCarty used excellent protocol in evaluating Sefo’s AC separation. Even if it’s not a concern medically, the AC ligament is an extremely sensitive structure and, even with a mild separation, he could be cleared to play but still get a sharp pain from the passing motion on certain throws.

    Sefo didn’t make any “bad” decisions in the last game however-and is using his experience to do well enough to be the Field General. Right now, neither Gerke or Apsay have that asset in their safety vault. Unless forced to, due to any further injury-or unless his current injury is found to be more severe than thought- Sefo is still our #1 option for success.

    1. Understood. But it’s the student- athlete I am concerned about— not who the back ups are, etc. We have had 10 losing seasons so that is not the concern. Sefo may have long term shoulder problems if he continues to play. They just let Wilson rest up for a week up in Utah— same deal. It did wonders for Wilson against Oregon. I think it was a HUGE mistake playing Sefo last week. It will be hard for him to be effective with nine games in a row and the daisy schedule now over.

      1. Sefo rested his shoulder for a week and is a big boy. Playing in pain is very common. If Sefo felt the injury was going to be a detriment to his team or his own well being he would have taken himself out of the CSU game, instead he returned on the next play and threw a 65 yard bomb. Travis Wilson was hurting and he crushed Oregon. Rick George needs to continue what he has been doing. Why do you think CU built the country’s finest sports rehabilitation centers in the country. Sefo is the first string QB on an Power Five FBS football team, not an underwater basket weaver.

  4. I’m really encouraged by the defense’s improvement under Leavitt. Pitching a shutout is difficult, even against lowly FCS teams. Go Buffs, beat Oregon!

  5. The Michigan AD faced something similar when Hoke played a QB with a concussion knowing he was hurt. It eventually led to his demise.

    This is not all that different. It’s still an injury that could cause long term damage if not treated. With all the litigation going on with injuries and how they could have been prevented, My opinion is Sefo has said too much and McIntire as well. It would have been better to keep their mouths shut. The NCAA is brutal on these matters nowabays. It’s their “hot button”. I smell trouble lurking ahead…. Too much publicity.

  6. I am glad Colorado left so many points on the field yesterday. There is plenty of time to correct the silly mistakes this week.
    That game was better than a bye week. A lot of the kids rested and the game was basically a tune up for the weeks to come. I have a feeling the lack of decent passing numbers are a baited trap for PAC 12 teams to ponder. It would be great to see that trap sprung on the arrogant Ducks as they review tape of Colorado’s East West rush attack and sparing passing game which on paper should be the best in 10 years.
    I have a great feeling about next week. I have a great feeling because unlike the deer in the headlight performances of Oregon and the Arizona teams, even last year these Buffs did not quit, not even when Cody shredded them in the first quarter last year in the Coliseum.
    This is year 3 comrades! The foundation looks solid to build on.
    For all of the flak Sefo is taking I say this in his defense. 4 games, 1 pick!

  7. While the offense has not been scoring at the pace we saw last year I think a lot of that is due to our focus on the running game. The running game keeps the opposing offense off the field and your defense a little better rested. I think these are going to be key as we go into Pac 12 play. Our next 4 opponents have shown that they have holes. I think the question will be is can the coaches put the players in a position to exploit those holes. Oregon will come out fired up after their loss this last week. I think if we can punch back and hang in with them then the mental toughness our team has may prove the difference. I don’t see us putting up any crooked numbers against Pac 12 teams. Unfortunately, not yet. What I do see though is our mental and physical toughness will weigh out. I think we have a very good shot against the next 4 opponents.

    1. I agree with you on the Oregon coming out fired up. I also believe they will be fragile. If we can move the ball relatively easily and early, their defense may fold and we have a real shot a winning this thing, even if it turns out to be a horse race.

  8. Rick George is opening himself up to problems with the NCAA is Mcintire continues to move on with an injured Sefo. Mark my words

    1. Please explain … Coach MacIntyre wouldn’t be allowed to play Liufau unless he was cleared by the medical staff.
      Even if MacIntyre could overrule the medical staff, how is this Rick George’s fault or responsibility?

      1. Don’t let him get to you Stuart. “Scott” (surely not his real name) is obviously a bitter CSU troll. Completely idiotic comment…

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