Dawg Pounded

 

Well, at least it wasn’t 70-3.

In 2005, the last time Colorado played for a conference championship, the Buffs traveled to Houston to take on No. 2 Texas. The result was a 70-3 annihilation by Vince Young and the Longhorns, in what proved to be Gary Barnett’s last game as head coach at Colorado.

The 2005 title game loss helped to hurl the program into a ten-year abyss of horrible seasons, with the Buffs emerging just this fall to reclaim their place on the national stage.

So, will the 41-10 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Washington in the Pac-12 championship game similarly sentence the CU program to another horrific decade?

Hardly.

It just wasn’t the Buffs’ night … and we could see the writing on the wall even before the haze from the pregame fireworks had lifted from Levi’s stadium.

A week after going the entire game against Utah without a penalty (for the first time since 2006, and only the fifth time in school history), the Buffs committed two penalties on the game’s first two plays. A kick out of bounds, followed by a pass interference penalty, gave the ball to the Huskies at midfield just six seconds into the game.

Six plays later, the Washington offense became the first opposing unit in 2016 to score on the Buff defense on the first drive of the game. When Buff quarterback Sefo Liufau went down several minutes later with an ankle injury on CU’s first drive, you just knew, right then and there, that the writing was on the wall … Colorado was not going to win this game.

Still, the Buffs fought valiantly, tying the score at the end of the first quarter, and, somewhat miraculously, found themselves down only 14-7 at halftime.

The game turned on the first play of the third quarter, when Sefo Liufau returned to the game, only to throw a pick-six to give Washington a 21-7 lead. Four plays later, Liufau threw another interception, this one turned into a field goal – and the rout was on.

“In a way, yes,” Liufau said when asked if his interceptions broke CU’s spirit. “You never want to come out and put your defense in that spot and spotting them so many points. It just falls back on being accurate and getting my receivers some balls they can take and run with. I didn’t do that at the start of the second half.

“I really messed up, to say the least.”

So, where does the loss to No. 4 Washington leave the Colorado program?

First, the loss by the Buffs, in Pac-12 lore, will go down as nothing more than a continuation of the domination of the Pac-12 North over the Pac-12 South.

The Pac-12 has conducted six title games, which each won by the representative of the North division. In only one of those six games (UCLA, in a 27-24 loss to Stanford in 2012), did the Pac-12 South division winner come within two touchdowns of the North division winner. The other games … 2011: Oregon 49, UCLA 31 … 2013: Stanford 38, Arizona State 14 … 2014: Oregon 51, Arizona 14 … 2015: Stanford 41, USC 22.

Second, Buff fans need to take a deep breath and remember where this team was four months ago … Coming into the 2016 season off of ten straight losing seasons … predicted to finish last in the Pac-12 South – again … entering the season with a huge question mark at quarterback, with the returning starter not having taken a snap in ten months … a coach who was ranked No. 6 nationally in the Coaching Hot Seat rankings … facing a schedule which included road games against four teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 … no wins over a ranked team in seven seasons.

A 6-6 record and a Cactus Bowl bid was a dream scenario …

… and now Buff fans are up in arms because Colorado has been eliminated – in December – from the race for the national championship.

Gary Barnett, first as an assistant at CU, then as the head coach at Northwestern and Colorado, talked about “Belief Without Evidence”. The idea was for the players on the team, without objective evidence to support it, believe that their team could do the unthinkable.

It worked for Colorado in 1985, when the Buffs, with Barnett an assistant under Bill McCartney, went from 1-10 to 7-5. It worked for Barnett when he took Northwestern to the Rose Bowl for the first time in almost 50 years. It worked for Barnett at Colorado, when the Buffs, 3-8 in the 2000 season, went 10-3 in 2001.

And it worked this fall in Boulder.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how quickly the Buffs and their coaches have gone from heroes to bums in one evening.

Let’s stick with the numbers, shall we?

Under the much-maligned (by some) co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren, Colorado, even before the extra regular season game against Washington, had set a new school record for the most first downs in a season. The Colorado offense, even adding in the abysmal 163 yards of total offense against the Huskies, finished the regular season with an average of 446.3 yards of total offense per game … the sixth-highest total in school history.

Remember the 1994 Buffs? The 11-1, third in the nation team which sent all 11 offensive starters to the NFL? The team with Kordell Stewart, Michael Westbrook, and Rashaan Salaam?

That team posted six games with over 500 yards of total offense.

The 2016 Buffs? Which may have a handful of NFL draft-worthy players … have posted six games with over 500 yards of total offense.

Should Sefo Liufau been sent out in the third quarter? Perhaps not. Hindsight tells us that a quarterback who had thrown only three interceptions all season threw three interceptions in one quarter against Washington.

“Yeah, I probably thought about it,” said Mike MacIntyre when asked about leaving Steven Montez in the game to start the third quarter. “But (Liufau) is the guy and I wanted to keep him playing and hopefully he would play through it,” MacIntyre said. “He brought us here, and he’s our leader.”

Liufau finished his career (CU doesn’t count bowl statistics in its career tabulations) with 9,568 passing yards, and 10,509 yards of total offense. The previous all-time bests at Colorado? Career passing yards – Cody Hawkins: 7,409 yards … Career total offense – Kordell Stewart: 7,770 yards.

This just in … Sefo Liufau has been pretty good for the CU program. His 87 school records speak for themselves.

Does Liufau deserve criticism for his career-low output against Washington?

Sure, that’s the nature of the beast for the quarterback position. More glory than deserved; more criticism than deserved.

I’m going, however, with what Phillip Lindsay had to say about CU’s first three-time team captain in over a century:

“Sefo’s a ‘dog’ and you have to be a ‘dog’ in this game, period,” said Lindsay about Liufau after the win over Washington State. “That man, he puts his body on the line day in and day out. He takes the most criticism, he has to remember everything on the field. He tells me what to do half the time. For that, there are no words that I can say to express my feelings towards that man. That’s my guy to the end. He’s going to keep us going. He’s our leader. He puts us in the right play calls and positions and then we just go out and play ball”.

The 2016 campaign has been a dream season for the Buffs and their fans. Colorado has already gotten to ten wins, a mark achieved only seven times previously in school history. This team still has a bowl game to play, and a chance to become just the fourth team in school history to post 11 victories in a season.

The No. 4 Washington Huskies are a very good football team. The Buffs needed to play at a high level to stay with the Huskies, and failed to pull it off.

The scoreboard says that the Buffs were pounded by the Dawgs.

But don’t let anyone tell you that these Buffs are not winners.

 

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31 Replies to “Dawg Pounded”

  1. Stuart said: <i? "I cannot, for the life of me, understand how quickly the Buffs and their coaches have gone from heroes to bums in one evening."

    They Didn’t Stuart. That is such an over-reaction. That is not what happened. What did, is that discerning fans like BD and WB do offer constructive criticism that can improve the Buffs.

    Those Coaches (Mac2) have to own it. I hope they (Mac2) do. I am not sure he will.

    Go Buffs

    1. VK, to me, it’s not that “the Buffs and their coaches went from heroes to bums in one evening.”

      To me, it seems that there’s a highly vocal minority (at least in our little forums) that has constantly believed/claimed/posited, whatever you want to call it, that Mac and his staff don’t know what they’re doing (with the exception of Leavitt and Chiaverini).

      I simply cannot follow that narrative.

      As I’ve said, I am no football savant. I never played football beyond 8th grade (I was a 75 lb freshman in HS, plus I was more focused on other sports anyway) so soccer, tennis and wrestling were my sports. I did compete at a reasonably high level in each though. For high school. May have been able to walk on to CU’s club soccer team, but…was into “other” endeavors at that time in my life.

      But enough about me…

      This is about the coaches, and their players, right?

      So, here’s what we know:
      1) is there room for improvement? Yes. Always will be. A person never “arrives” at anything in life. It’s a constant evolution (or should be) but?
      2) Mac has been successful his entire coaching career. Really. Check it out.
      3) We’ve now seen what he has done at CU, as well.
      4) That is little short of remarkable, by anyone/everyone’s estimation.
      5) Included in that success are milestones seldom hit during the entire 100+ year history of CU football. Sure, the game has evolved, so some stats are less meaningful than others (or certainly open for interpretation) but, worst to first, 10 wins, etc. are things that tend to span a broader spectrum of time, I’d think, than offensive or defensive production (or lack thereof).
      6) Dude was just voted, by his peers, as coach of the year. I would argue, even those that know little to nothing about the actual work Mac has accomplished at CU (they’re too busy to know that detail) know what it takes to do that to a football program. It ain’t easy. If it were, it would happen all the time. Give the dude, and his entire staff some credit – says me.
      7) Lindgren. The brunt of your and others’ ire. Dude had a highly prolific and powerful offense in 2014, his second season at CU. 2015? Not so much? So, what changed? Level of predictability in the play selection? No. Same offense. Different offensive line. Follow that up in 2016. What changed? A new co-coordinator, who in his own words really enjoys working w/ the dude you hate. 2016 offensive production? Pretty good, no? What makes anyone think that trend won’t continue? Add to that, offensive line continuity, etc. I know. You’ll say “Chev is merely toeing the company line, but secretly doesn’t like Lindgren.” Oh. Ok… They’re building a great offense together. As I’ve posited before, they are akin to Sark and Kiffin. One is a hyper exuberant dude w/ high football knowledge. The other is an introvert, with high football knowledge. They are both ok at imparting that knowledge into action by their players. Together, they are even better at it.
      8) The fact that any of us, who are not coaching football at a high level, nor have we played at a high level thinks they understand the X’s and O’s more than the guys doing that? It’s pretty laughable to me.
      9) the “Peter principle”… so, when did you hit your ceiling? I agree, that in business and in life, we run into people and say “wow. How’d you reach that?” But, as others ’round here have also pointed out, the culture of sport is one of the biggest meritocracies on the planet. Competition is never ending. As such, it is a much more difficult environment to have those people who don’t belong achieving and continuing to reach new heights in their careers. Hell, in sport, even dudes who really know what they’re doing get canned. Sometimes it’s as much about fit, and timing, as it is about knowledge. I go back to Singletary and Harbaugh at the ‘9ers. Does anyone think either knows more about the X’s and O’s than the other? I don’t. I think Harbaugh is better (or was, we may see Singletary as a head coach somewhere again) at conveying his knowledge, through to his players, in a way they can take action and succeed. How does that apply to our Buffs?
      10) we’ve seen them take what the coaches teach, and turn that into actionable success on, and off the field. Offensively. Defensively, and…eventually, special teams. To think that won’t be a huge point of emphasis this off season- whether visibly to us or not – is silly.

      These dudes know what they’re doing. Mac in particular. And, we already know he’s one of the hardest working coaches in the profession.

      You ask “will Mac own it?” Of course. He’s owned everything to this point. Like Sefo, you’re probably hard-pressed to find anyone who’ll be their own toughest critic more than Mac (and his staff). That’s just how they’re wired.

      Does that mean you’ll always see that introspection? No.

      But, their results to date show that it’s there. Do they not?

      Now, go kick the snot out of whoever they get matched up with in their bowl game. It may be posted by now, but I’m not watching yet.

      Next year, we’ll see more improvement out of our Buffs. Will it outpace the improvement of the other teams in the Pac 12? I think so. But? That’s why they play the games. It’s sure to be another fun year, with a much improved Pac 12 across the board.

      And? I will not be surprised to see our Buffs back in the Pac 12 title game next year.

      Go Buffs!

      PS – someone posted that UW’s offense was just ahead in play-calling against our Buffs’ D. Not so. They ran power. There is hardly a more predictable and vanilla play call than running power. It’s about one man against another. Our men lost that battle. Did Leavitt forget how to coach stopping the run? I don’t think so. Has it been a weakness of our Buffs’ D since, well, longer than I can remember? Yes. Has it improved? Yes. But, against a top rushing offense? Got a little exposed. They’ll be better next year. Mark my words. That’ll hold true whether or not the defensive staff remains intact.

      1. MacIntyre said he contemplated going back to Montez after Liufau’s third quarter struggles.

        “Yeah, I probably thought about it, but (Liufau) is the guy and I wanted to keep him playing and hopefully he would play through it,” MacIntyre said. “He brought us here, and he’s our leader.”

        Narrow scope. Missed the big picture. Blow out cost em.

        Poor decision.

        1. Hindsight is almost always flawless, VK.

          But, I guess you answered one of your own questions already: Does Mac look himself in the mirror and break down his decisions, good and bad? Yes. Yes he does. And, I’m sure he holds his staff and players to that same standard.

          The future is bright in Boulder. Even if Lindgren and Chev are still Co-OC’s next year. Or, if Leavitt (or anyone else, for that matter) ends up moving on to their next big gig.

          Go Buffs!

          1. Yes it is. Foresight is the mark of a winner. Scope vs focus.

            Consumed by the process leads to errors in judgement.

        2. So what’s your point?

          Are you saying Mac, Lindgren, Chev et al were “consumed by the process” and didn’t consider their plan if Sefo got hurt?

          That’s just silly.

          Foresight the mark of a winner? Oh, like 10 wins and from worst to first winners?

          Got it.

          Go Buffs!

          1. Yup they missed the big picture. Sefo was hurt. Couldn’t play.
            Didn’t make the change. With Sefo hurt they had no chance.

            Blowout cost them the Rose

        3. Good morning. USC was going to jump CU with any type of loss. Close or otherwise. Why? Head to head win over CU and UW. You want redemption story? Worst to first is pretty good. But? Clay was dead man walkin’ in week 3. 9 straight wins. And, most importantly? SC will fill the Rose Bowl. CU? Less likely. Period. End of story. Easily rationalized by the committee w/ a loss, even by 1pt, to UW. And, that’s not even a “conspiracy theory”. Just the facts. It’s all about the duckets.

          And, with everyone’s revisionist history, of course Montez would’ve won that game. Sure.

          But, you can go on promoting your anti-Mac and Co narrative. It’s ok.

          I’ll continue enjoying the rise. 2017 starts now. Go and beat OSU and impress some Texas recruits. More of them.

          Go Buffs!

          1. You don’t know that now do ya. They looked terrible as a team.
            Yup close woulda looked good. Run all the numbers you will see it. Why did usc move up 2 when all the other teams who were idle moved up one. All the teams who one move up two. All the teams who lost moved down two. So why did USC Move ahead. Because of head to head? Didn’t work that way with PSU. Naw the Buffs got no credit for the 13th game cause they were outplayed and outcoached. So If usc moves up one like the rest of the idles and CU moves down 2 like the rest of the losers. Then they should both be at ten. But USC goes to nine. Interesting

            Money yup you got it. But the Buffs didn’t help themselves.

            Yup Buffs did good.

            Peter was in the building.

            I recall the chair of that committee talking about Washington’s dominating win over Colorado and how that iced em in. If it would have been close like the wisky psu game Buffs would have not been passed by CSU.

            jumho. But correct of course

        4. I think if Sefo looked like he could play, I would have made the same choice. Without a doubt, Sefo got these guys to where they were. Without the benefit of hindsight, it was a completely understandable decision.

          I’m 100% behind Mac2 and his entire staff, including Lindgren.

          1. Me too on all counts.

            Difference is after the first inteception and then the 2nd a change would have, could have, should have been made. No offense to Sefo, he is my hero. But sometimes ya gotta make the tough and correct decisions

  2. Yo Stuart,

    The Buffs had a much better season than anyone expected. That much is beyond doubt. But with success comes greater expectations. After a 10 win regular season, fans expected more.

    There is a reason for the quote, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

    Your article seems to suggest that Sefo’s records therefore make him the best QB in Colorado history. That is only true if Cody Hawkins was the best before him.

    College football is drastically different now than it was in the mid 1990s. This year’s Buffs ran almost 29% more plays than the 1994 squad. They also played one more game in the regular season. Despite those obvious advantages for the 2016 team, the one in 1994 only had 191 fewer yards. That’s because they averaged 7 yards a play, compared to the 5.7 per play this year.

    Don’t get me wrong, they are both good numbers that led Colorado to winning 10 games. But comparing the “record holders” of the past decade with Kordell and the 1994 team is shameful.

    Liufau threw 75% more passes than Stewart (1370 vs 785), and had 20% more rushes (362 vs. 302). Sefo SHOULD have more yards. He played a LOT more plays.

    By the same token, Stewart played on a team fresh off a national championship and had a Heisman winning tailback in his backfield. Stewart also had a rocket for an arm and was also one of the fastest QB’s not only in college but also the NFL. He should have (and did) have great numbers. But his numbers were not based on the sheer volume of passes or plays run.

    Sefo served as a starter for four years and his toughness has been an inspiration that helped lead his team to a phenomenal turnaround. No one can doubt what he has meant to the program. As I said in another post, I think they should rename the Buffalo Heart Award in his honor as the Sefo Liufau Buffalo Heart Award.

    However, those guys earning the six figure (7 for Mac) paychecks on the taxpayer dime need to be ready for criticism. It’s part of the job. Lots of it is unwarranted, for sure, but a great deal is right on the money.

    The fans of the Colorado Buffaloes can no longer blame losses on lack of talent or lack of hustle or determination by the players. These guys played their hearts out. Some of the coaching decisions (or lack thereof) directly led to two of the losses this year.

    The buck stops with Mac, but as the builder of a top tier team this year, he needs to hold any of coaches accountable if they are failing in their jobs. Now that they have won the Pac-12 South, the Buffs will not “sneak-up” on anybody anymore. They’ll be wearing a target next year. They better be ready.

    As for the players, they have been an inspiration this year to all who watched them play. I hope they enjoy the reward of a bowl game and keep up the hard work so that it can become an annual event for them.

    Go Buffs!

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  3. I’m very proud of this team, and of Sefo especially. I really hope he heals before the bowl game.

    WarBuff’s post about the team hit it on the head. The players and coaches were able to win in spite of their weaknesses. They’ve finally got got this program launched, and an excellent opportunity to take it higher. Let’s keep it together and going!

    And let’s give credit to the Huskies for a great game and season. They deserve the Final Four, and are good enough to play with the big dogs.

  4. Welp Welp Welp. Great season.

    Facts.
    1. Without Leavitt, the Buffs probably don’t make a bowl. In fact leave out the probably.

    You can spew all the family, and foundation, and other rah rah (I believe that I really do………….who said that??)

    2. Without Lindgren, the Buffs probably win that game last night.

    Go Buffs.

  5. Anyone who has actually played the game knew CU’s weaknesses this year:

    1) Weak OL overall
    2) Inconsistent passing skills on occasion from Sefo
    3) DL susceptible to strong running attack
    4) ST play all year

    The coaching staff was able to scheme and work around these for the majority of the season. They were all exposed last night. No need to disparage anyone on the team, we were observers to a special season. Take the 10 wins, the PAC12 South title, an upcoming bowl game and look forward to better days next year!

    1. Agreed, though there was tons of improvement over the OL and DL situation last year, there is a long way to go. With better OL talent starting to come in, hopefully we will see steady improvement in coming years.

      I’m a little concerned about the DL situation with seemingly precious few recruits coming in on that side of the ball.

  6. Well said Stuart. I’m extremely proud of these Buffs and the coaching by staff. So happy to be able to cheer on a winning team again. Go Buffs!

  7. call me “some” call me a hater and of course I’m a “D” bag but my nightmare scenario for next year is Leavitt leaving and lingering lingering.
    Yes….Hats off to all the coaches for getting the fundamentals down and getting the players to execute.
    Now it is time for the coaches…more specifically the O coaches to get their game to the PAC 12 level. Yes it was a great season but the way we went out in that game is not a surprise.
    The UW D only had to watch about 10 minutes of film before the game.
    And I have to say Sefo is the heart and soul of this team but at what point do you give the Reins back to Montez? After 6 pick 6s?
    Seems like every one of those picks was thrown at Jay, running the same route with the same double coverage.

  8. Nice article. Who would have thought we’d have the opportunity to even lament about a game the CU football team played on December 2nd?

  9. I also fail to understand the hate for the coaching staff. This is the first group in over ten years to get us this far and people are pounding them. Hindsight says they may have made some mistakes. But, who else could have resurrected our program. I am extremely grateful to MacIntyre and company. Every coach makes mistakes, but we are floundering at the bottom without this staff. I am pleased with where we are at and look very much toward the future!

      1. LOL, really VK, your hate of Lindgren is staggering and you won’t even “own it” as you repeatedly say about Mike Mac.

        1. Yeah, all respect VK, but I’m sort of over the “I believe it…I really do” (Who said that?) posts. At least change out the record.

          The staff and the team definitely need to improve. But, it’s a little hard to take such heavy criticism seriously when they’ve just completed the biggest season-to-season turn around in the history of the Pac. What these guys have accomplished is a once in a generation or more success story. And, like I said, of course there’s room for improvement. So expect it. Ask for it. But maybe it’s time to stop heaping the same stale witticisms on a coaching staff that just exceeded our expectations by a lunar mile.

          Unless, of course, anyone wants to pretend that they were expecting an 11 win season this year, it’s time to celebrate us all being a part of something truly special (from the sidelines) and start giving these guys some benefit of the doubt and rooting them on. It’s like we aren’t acknowledging the better-than expected improvement because we’re too busy criticizing them for not exceeding our expectations enough.

          Just my pair o pennies.

          1. I am celebrating like crazy.

            Great season as I have said many times.

            Great for coach Mac

            Totally exceeded expectations.

            Sometimes ya gotta repeat things to get some to see and understand.

            So Again, I bring up the “Baer Trap” where I started early and got criticized by many. But I was right and Mac2 fired him.

            Okay, I will tone it down, but I still hope Lindgren gets the SJS HC job.

            Go Buffs. Beat everybody.

  10. Buff players are absolutely winners! For sticking with the program and delivering The Rise this memorable Fall! I’m hoping that team will rally in a good bowl game and go out with a win against a quality opponent. Go Buffs!

  11. I’m just speaking for myself when I say “THANK YOU” to the players and coaches on this years team. No “up in arms” here. Anyone who says any of our coaches are “bums” really is an ignorant D-bag. Sucks the way it turned out last night, but I am proud to be a Buff fan and I let everyone know so. Season is not over yet. Even if we lose our bowl game; a 10 win season is remarkable. Thank you coaches and thank you players for a GREAT season…

    1. Hear hear. Been a great season. This has been my favorite CU season, actually. I do remember (barely) 1990, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005. But this is my favorite season because the same players who lived in the Pac12 basement found it in themselves to play to the level of Division Champs. They weren’t sparked by transfers, or new players. They found a way to win with the talent they had, and they did it convincingly most of the time. No matter how we do against Okie State, we’ll always have 2016. Here’s lookin at you, kiddos!

        1. No doubt. I’ve had my season tickets since ’87, and I put this year right up there with the ’90 champ season, the ’94 “the catch” and “destruction of Notre Dame” season, the ’01 “62-36” and “Big 12 Champ” season, the ’89 “Sal” season, and the ’86 breakthrough season. Loved every minute of it! Such an easy team to cheer.

          I also think the offense will be just fine with Montez (and Lindgren and Chiav)next year (barring major injuries). I’m more concerned with the D, with all of the key players graduating. I really hope the youngsters on the D Line and in the Secondary grow up quickly and prove to be talented. We’ll see, but it is going to be fun!

          GO BUFFS!

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