Let Down? Not so much …

It’s not like we haven’t been here before.

It’s just that we haven’t been here in a long time.

The University of Colorado Buffaloes, the laughing stock of the Pac-12 since joining the league, find themselves atop the South division two weeks into conference play. The Buffs are 4-1, 2-0 … the only team in the Pac-12 South without a conference loss after completing the sweep of the Oregon schools with a dominating 47-6 win over Oregon State.

“We’re a good football team. That’s the good thing, we don’t have any kids anymore; we’ve got some men,” said Mike MacIntyre after the rout. “They listen, they come prepared to practice, they ask questions, they come over after class, they do more studying, they’re involved. They say all the time, ‘Players make plays, players win games.’ They’re understanding that now. They’re taking their coaching. We don’t have guys late for things. They’re getting more professional. As you mature, that’s what happens. The less teenagers you have playing the better off you are.”

The Buffs kept the Folsom Field crowd of 46,839 (the largest of the Mike MacIntyre era) wondering about a letdown from the 41-38 win over Oregon …

… for about half a quarter.

The Buffs went three-and-out on their first drive, breaking a string of four straight games in which the Buff offense posted a touchdown on their first series of the game. The Beavers then posted a field goal on their next drive, becoming the first team this season to score first on the Buffs.

Down 3-0 to cellar-dweller Oregon State … without a yard of offense posted … seven minutes into the game.

Letdown? Over-confidence?

Were the Buffs going to allow the Beavers, a 19-point underdog, make a game of it?

Nope.

The Buffs opened its next drive with six straight runs by Kyle Evans, followed by a 51-yard pass from Steven Montez to Shay Fields. The score gave the Buffs the lead for good, but it was still a game.

After forcing a punt out of the Oregon State offense, the Colorado offense took over at its 14 yard line. Two plays later, the Buffs faced a third-and-three at its 21 yard line. In a game in which the Buffs ultimately played 67 of the 74 players who dressed, this was as close to a game-changing play as there was going to be in the contest.

A three-and-out, with the Buffs holding only a 6-3 lead, may have given the Beavers hope. It was still a game with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

But the Beavers didn’t hold. Steven Montez hit Shay Fields for a seven yard gain and a first down. After a dose of Phillip Lindsay runs moved the ball into Oregon State territory, Montez hit Fields for touchdown No. 2, this time from 33 yards out.

The score made it a 13-3 game.

It was still the first quarter, but, for all practical purposes, the game was over.

Letdown?

Not so much.

“I think it proves we’re legitimate and we can do it,” said Mike MacIntyre. “Everybody kept telling me all week, ‘Are they going to have a letdown?’ Like I said since day one, we’re a good football team. Every week we’ve gotten better. We’ve got to keep doing that”.

And it’s not just the coach who sees the steadiness which permeates the Buff locker room:

— Safety Ryan Moeller: ““I think you can see it in our play and the way we talk to people and the way we feel. We carry ourselves differently. I wouldn’t say that any one of us is getting a big head by any means. I think everyone is very level headed and ready to take it to the next step”.

— Safety Tedric Thompson: ““It could be hard (to stay level-headed), but if we keep pushing each other and keep our faith in each other (we’ll be fine). We don’t listen to outsiders of our football team. We stick to a brotherhood. We keep pushing each other. Games are going to get tougher and tougher, but as we push each other we’ll be fine.”

— Running back Kyle Evans: ““We always try to keep a chip on our shoulder. We never get too big-headed about anything. We keep working. How we prepared for Oregon State is the same way we prepared for Oregon, the same way we prepared for Idaho State and Colorado State. Next week we play USC and we are going to prepare the same way. It’s about getting ourselves better. It really doesn’t matter about the decal on the other team’s helmet. It’s more about us. We are just trying to get ourselves better each and every week.”

There is certainly nothing guaranteed the 2016 Buffs. Colorado is 4-1, but remains two wins shy of its first bowl bid since 2007. The next two games are against teams which have never lost to the Buffs … ever.

USC has a 10-0 record all-time against Colorado; Arizona State has a 7-0 record all-time against the Buffs.

The next two weeks, the Buffs will be fighting uphill not only against history, but perception. Colorado has not posted five wins in a season since 2010. The last bowl game, as Buff fans are acutely aware of hearing, was in 2007. The last winning season and bowl game were back in 2005.

But the numbers, almost halfway through the season, do not indicate that this team is likely to let up anytime soon.

The Buffs have out-scored their opponents 85-17 in the first quarter this season, with a 976-292 advantage in total yards. That’s not just consistent play out of the gate … that’s consistent domination.

The stats are impressive on both sides of the ball … The defense held a league opponent without a touchdown for the first time since 2005 … the Buff offense went over 500 yards for the fourth time in five games, the first time CU has been so good on offense since 1994 … the Buff defense has held three opponents under 250 yards of offense for first time since 2007.

And these numbers are not being created against teams like Nicholls and Central Arkansas. Sure, there was the game against Idaho State, but the Buffs were just as successful offensively against a Colorado State team which went bowling last year, a Michigan team which is ranked in the top five nationally (at least until Sefo Liufau was injured), and two Pac-12 opponents.

The Buffs and their fans may still wake up from this dream of a season. But, for at least one more week, the Buff Nation gets to remember what it’s like to be dominating team.

“The Pac-12 Conference is what these young men wanted to play in,” said MacIntyre. “The Pac-12 Conference is, for our coaches, the level they wanted to coach at. We want to play the best and we want to be able to beat the best. They’ll be ready to play, I guarantee you. They’ve tasted it now and it tastes sweet and I know they want to keep tasting it”.

The Buffs keep passing tests.

The next test is taking on USC on the road. The Buffs will hear all week that the University of Colorado has never defeated Southern California. The Buffs will hear that the Trojans, having dominated a previously unbeaten Arizona State team, have righted their ship and are primed to make a run back into their rightful status as a nationally ranked team.

But the Buffs will do their best not to listen, preferring instead to focus on the most important team on the schedule … Colorado.

“I guess you could say (continuing to post wins) gets challenging because you can see that ultimate goal that you want to reach,” said cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. “So that gets a little more challenging. In terms of week-to-week, there’s only one way to play this game. If you look forward to a game three weeks away, you’re not going to be successful that week. We really believe in Coach MacIntyre’s motto of going 1-0 every week, so that’s what we’re doing.”

1-0 each week.

No let down.

So far … so good.

—–

18 Replies to “A Let down? Not so much …”

  1. I’m a tad concerned about the QB situation. I wonder if they will get equal first team reps to see how it goes with each leading? The old axiom of never losing a starting job to injury is a poor one I think. Ultimately it depends on how the team responds and we have no insight into that. Of course with a well coached team it shouldn’t matter who starts and the team chemistry should support that. I guess I hope that if Sefo comes back Montez understands and that he is preparing himself to take us to the next level in the future. Frankly knowing that we have him for the next three years makes me giddy because that means we can finally start the usual process of the heir apparent honing their craft and putting on muscle while the reigning QB leads the way.

    1. Don’t worry, be happy. 🙂

      Sefo should get the start against USC (if 100%), then he can finish what he started, both last year when the Buffs were in the lead against USC when he went down, and what he started this year.

      Sefo Liufau, COMP 54, ATT 76, PCT 71.1, YDS 768, YDS/A 10.1, LONG 70, TDS 6, INT 0, SACKS 3, RAT 182.0
      Steven Montez, COMP 48, ATT 76, PCT 63.2, YDS 743, YDS/A 9.8, LONG 69, TDS 8, INT 2, SACKS 5, RAT 174.7

      Same number of attempts and it’s very close, but Sefo wins all categories, except TDs, but he also has zero INTs compared to Montez’s 2 INTs. They played almost equal time for the IDST game and Sefo played 60% of the Michigan game. Montez relieved Sefo for the 4th quarter of the CSU game and Gehrke relived Montez before the 4th for the Beavers.

      I think Sefo could have played as well or better against Oregon, so it should be Sefo, with an awesome backup to come in when/if needed. The beautiful thing is the Buffs don’t need a 4+ TD lead in the 4th to bring Montez in, he can play well enough that he can get some reps earlier then a untested back would.

      By QB ratings, Sefo and Montez are the #2 and #3 QBs respectively in the PAC12. AND they are #7 and #11 respectively IN THE NATION!

      1. Nice breakdown. To me, I think the only debate is with the fans and media. This is Sefo’s team. He knows it. The coaches know it and the players know it. When he is close to 100% he goes. And, if the last three years are any indication, they can finally be less hesitant, Sefo included, in sitting him if/when he really cannot go.

        So nice to actually have a legit two-deep in so many key areas. Thank you Mac and co. Boxes very well for the future.

        Go Buffs!

  2. My question is this: When is it time to give MacIntyre his contract extension? If they roll into the Coliseum, and come out w/ a win (which I believe they will) that would seem like a good week to do so, to me.

    This team is for real, people. Still lots of games left, but I think there is no longer any doubt. They are putting the “lost decade” of CU Football behind us.

    Go Buffs!

      1. There may be doubt. But, At the end of the year when the season is over. Usually sometime in February. Certainly they can be working on any details now.

        He has some incentives to meet”

        There are others, but here are important performance ones.
        $100,000 for making conference title game
        non playoff bowl bid: $200,000
        playoff bowl appearance: $250,000
        national championship $750,000
        conference coach of the year: $25,000
        $50,000 for 7th win in a year
        Additional $25,000 for 8th win

        They may be a little off but they are close. Stuart you got updates?

        Regardless let em finish the season. No distractions, No distractions. And the first reporter who brings his up should have to spend time with the Dline.

        Moving right along eh?

        Go Buffs.

        Note: One game at a time. Don’t get ahead based on emotion.

  3. Don’t wake me up. I think I may be dreaming but reality is slowly seeping in thru’ the door and I think I’m beginning to see a light.

  4. Wow…believed early but what these guys are actually putting on tape is seriously impressive. Combined with what I’ve seen of the traditional Pac12 powers (UCLA, USC, Stanford) we have a legit shot at the Pac12 South.

    Back to this reality, which is this week. Losing DMac and Diego haven’t hurt to date, this week is huge. Don’t think Moller can hold up at OLB vs. USC power game, Falo/someone will have to step up. Kicking game could be huge and going on the road is always a crapshoot for inexperienced PKs (love Price’s leg but he has to get more elevation).

    GO Buffs.

  5. Buffs stats Conference games only (2 this year and 9 last year) so still a long way to go, but not seeing a conference defense out there that can shut the New-Improved-High powered” Buff offense down. And the Buff defense looks damn good.

    Item…………………2015……………….2016

    scoring offense……….19.7……………….44.0
    scoring defense……….32.3……………….22.0

    Go Buffs

    1. You can add the foot note that the 2016 offensive stats, were behind the backup QB(s)with 67 players (as Stuart mentions above) playing yesterday too. Nice! 😉

  6. No doubt the Buffs will be the underdog again. Being on the road contributes to that. Is the coliseum any harder to play in than Autzen? Take CU and the points

  7. Awesome game!!! One thing that worries me coming out of it though. Our corners got beat a few times and they had wide open receivers for easy touchdown passes. If the OSU QB could hit the broad side of a barn, the game would have been much closer (at least in the first half). Hopefully we get that cleaned up.

  8. Winning the next game over SC will put the “legitimate” stamp on this team and the season. Forget whether or not we will just get a bowl bid, it will be whether or not its the Rose Bowl or another major bowl. These young men are the real deal!

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