Same Song, Different Verse

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before.

In the final two games of an otherwise magical season, the 2016 Colorado offense looked awful in falling to Washington in the Pac-12 championship game, then again a month later against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

The Buffs looked just as bad in falling to No. 15 Washington State, 28-0, on a dark and stormy night in the Palouse.

Against the Cougars, the Colorado offense looked inept. The Buffs posted a grand total of 174 yards of total offense, the lowest since gaining only 163 against Washington in a humbling 41-10 defeat in the title game last December.

“That was the worst offensive performance we’ve had since I’ve been a coach here,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.

Who can argue?

To give credit where credit is due, Washington State did come into the game with the No. 7 passing defense in the country, and was ranked 10th in the nation in total defense.

But the Buffs made the Cougars look like world-beaters … a week after Washington State gave up 37 points to Cal.

What’s most frustrating for Buff fans, though, is that it hasn’t only been poor play by the offense which has left CU with a 4-4 record.

It’s that the offense and defense seem to be willing to take turns being ineffective.

For the past several weeks, the defense has been a sieve, giving out 569 yards of total offense to Arizona, then 569 yards of total offense to an awful Oregon State team.

This weekend, the Buff defense surrendered 212 yards passing to an offense which had been generating 381 yards passing a game (third in the nation). The Buffs gathered in two turnovers, and posted two sacks (after registering only two sacks total in the previous four Pac-12 games).

Not great, but enough to keep the Buffs in the game had the offense had even a modicum of success.

Instead, the offense generated only 13 first downs, and went a woeful 1-for-17 on third down attempts.

“We have to play an all-around good game,” said running back Phillip Lindsay. “Right now when the offense is doing good, the defense is struggling. When the defense is going good, the offense isn’t going anywhere. We’re going to keep having things like this until we all come together and decide not to take it anymore.”

The offense this year was supposed to be a dynamo. Nine of 11 starters were back. The wide receiver corps was listed as one of the top groups in the nation (No. 2, according to Athlon). Steven Montez was supposed to be a better version of Sefo Liufau. The offensive line, said Mike MacIntyre, was the best in his tenure in Boulder.

And now … Montez might not even finish out the season?

Mike MacIntyre, who inserted red-shirt freshman Sam Noyer into the lineup to start the second half, was non-committal.

“We’ll see what happens this week,” MacIntyre said when asked about who would be his starting quarterback going forward. “Who plays best this week and who plays best in the game. If they’re not playing well, I’ll pull the guy and put the other guy in. We’ve got to have more consistency on offense if we’re going to win anymore Pac-12 games.”

Deep down, Buff fans were prepared for a roller coaster season … it just wasn’t supposed to play out this way.

The Buffs were supposed to struggle on defense, with eight starters from the Pac-12 South division winners having graduated.

If the Buffs were going to lose to teams like Washington State, it was supposed to be 45-38 … not 28-0.

Still, the maddeningly frustrating 2017 Buffs still have the opportunity to salvage their season.

Buff fans can harp on what has been, or choose to focus on what is yet to come.

“I told them they had 45 minutes to get on the bus and were going to get for on Cal, that’s exactly what I told them,” said MacIntyre in his post-game press conference.

I would suggest that Buff fans do the same. Get on the bus leaving the Washington State game behind them, and get focused on what is still to come.

Yes, the Buffs have looked less than perfect in their four victories.

Yes, the Buffs have been dominated by the two Washington schools … the only ranked teams they have played.

And yes, the Buffs could have /should have beaten UCLA and Arizona, falling 27-23 to UCLA on the road, and losing 45-42 to Arizona at home.

Let’s take a moment, though, to review the opposition, both those teams which CU has played, and those teams remaining on the schedule.

Arizona was supposed to be looking for a new head coach by now, but is 5-2 after beating Cal in double overtime, 45-44.

UCLA was supposed to be looking for a new head coach by now, but is 4-3 after beating Oregon, 31-14, in the same venue (the Rose Bowl) where the Buffs were so close to victory in early October.

Looking ahead, there are opportunities.

Buffs will next face a California team which is much improved … but “much improved” is a relative term.

The Bears have the same record as Colorado … 4-4, 1-4. Cal, however, has a new coach, and is coming off of a 5-7 season. That gives outsiders the impression that the Bears are getting better, while the Buffs, coming off of a 10-4 season, are on the decline.

Fair enough.

The fact is … the Buffs should have every reason to believe they can play with – and, yes, beat – the Cal Bears at home.

Arizona State will be next. The Sun Devils are playing much better than expected, with a 4-3 overall record. Arizona State had a surprisingly easy win over Utah on the road Saturday, beating the Utes 30-10 in Salt Lake City.

While the road trip to play Arizona State now looks more daunting for the Buffs than it did two months ago, naysayers would also have to acknowledge that the road trip to Salt Lake City to play the Utes looks just a little bit easier than it did eight weeks ago. Utah is struggling at quarterback (where have we heard that before?), and are 4-3, 1-3 this fall (the only difference in records between CU and Utah is that the Utes still have to play Washington – on the road).

Between games against Arizona State and Utah on the road will be a home game against USC. The Trojans were a fashionable pick two months ago to be playing in the College Football playoffs, with quarterback Sam Darnold a leading candidate for the Heisman trophy.

Now? Not so much.

The No. 11 Trojans were humbled Saturday night by No. 13 Notre Dame, 49-14, ending any chance at a playoff bid before the calendar hits Halloween. How will the Trojans respond to such adversity? USC will play both of the Arizona schools before coming to Boulder on November 11th.

USC could rebound, and take control of the Pac-12 South division race … or the Trojans could become a dumpster fire.

Which is a long way of saying that the Buffs still have time to get their act together and make something of the 2017 season.

“We can beat everybody we have left to play, there’s no doubt about it,” MacIntyre said. “And we could lose to every one of them. We have to find a way to get it done.”

Can they?

Other than senior captain Phillip Lindsay, there are few bright spots to point to on the CU roster.

“Everybody needs to look at themselves in the mirror and man up,” Lindsay said. “We’re not out. We’re not done. We can still do some good things, go to a bowl game and have some success. But everybody has to come together as one. We have to play an all-around good game”.

Buff fans have heard that song before.

We’ll just have to hope that, in the final third of the season, the offense and defense can find a way to sing in unison.

—–

19 Replies to “Same Song, Different Verse”

  1. Its getting to be a famous quote in c.u coaching…….”we just need to clean a few things up”.
    Lets begin by cleaning out the coaches.

  2. Mein Gott you are oblivious to realty. But it is fun reading irrelevant posts such as yours.

    Cheerleading is your gig. Keep it up. We all need a bit of cheerleading. But don’t pass yourself as one who has a clue. Cause you don’t You are just a fan a loyal fan all the time. Nice.

    Buffs.

    Note: It appears that Chev has been muzzled the same way that Leavitt was muzzled last year when he tried to help the offensive geniuses (lindy lu and Mac) understand what the opponents defense was doing to their offense.

  3. Oh yeah you made me remember the lack of play and clock management at the end of the first half. That is all on the OC. But I’m looking ahead now not backwards, and will be so happy when I see a Lindgren fired headline in the Monday news.

  4. If Mac wont fire Lingering RG needs to do it tonight. Steve, Bryce and Phil could draw up better plays with better timing in a huddle

    1. it could be true the friction between Mac and Leavitt may have been over Lingering. Leavitt knew the Buffs werent going anywhere with him as OC.

      1. Agree with this post 100%. Leavitt was frustrated with the defense consistently coming up with stops, and the offense failing to capitalize on them (USC 2016 was a prime example). Lingren is a WAC level coordinator working in the PAC12. Nice guy, average coach, that doesn’t get it done, and MM better figure it out before the shine is off all of those awards from last year.

        MM did a great job of working good players into a position where they could win over the past 4 years. The problem is that he didn’t prepare them for THIS year. Too many times players didn’t get meaningful playing time, and now they are being thrown to the wolves. That works OK for 4 and 5 star players, not so much with 2 and 3.

        1. Yo WarBuff,

          Lindy’s not even a WAC level coordinator. He’s a Big Sky Conference coordinator (at Northern Arizona). At San Jose State, he was there for one year with David Fales at QB. Fales was an outstanding college QB, and it had nothing to do with Lindgren. That’s why he was drafted into the NFL.

          In the Pac-12, he has been outcoached so many times it’s sickening. He’s by far the most loved/least feared OC in the Pac-12 by opposing coordinators. He’s as easy to read as Dr. Suess and as predictable as Old Faithful. We need better.

          Mark
          Boulderdevil

          1. Good synopsis of a mediocre career BD! While I can appreciate MM wanting to be loyal to a good soldier, that’s alll Lindgren will ever be, never a field Marshall, just a company clerk. Proof is by how few offers he has to take his skill to the next level. Cut him loose, before he kills our recruiting next year.

  5. I’m over it, done wasting beautiful fall days watching a mediocre to poor football team. I would rather ski/hike etc. We’ve never been great, we had one coach who made us good for a couple years almost 30 years ago. Otherwise it’s been mediocrity every year at best for the entire history of the program. I’m not a fan because fan means fanatic and I am willfully choosing not to care anymore let alone be fanatical about it. I’ll go to the occasional game to see old friends and alums but unless I’m bed ridden and by some miracle they arent on some 3rd rate backwater of a tv network the buffs don’t deserve 4 hrs of my Saturday or another dime from me. Call me a bandwagon fan, I don’t care, there is nothing in this program to be a fan of. I’ll let you know if that changes, until it does this is likely my last posting. Wish you all the best!

  6. Just saw this on Buffzone:

    “Of the 74 offensive plays they ran, 34 of them came in Washington State territory. The Buffs gained a total of 46 yards on those 34 plays.”

    1.35 yard average per play.

    That is so bad, I could launch into another post but I will not. It speaks for itself.

  7. Enhanced frustration is common behavior in Peter Principle individuals.

    A quote from an all buffs poster.

    “I am worried the coaches were so very wrong about this offense. All off season we heard how great this offense was gonna be. Some of the best receivers in the country, the best o line we’ve had in years, dynamic QB, etc. I don’t understand how they could be so off on their assessment. Very troubling.”

    Yes it is. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Or maybe I did.

    And the trouble is right here in The Champions Center.

    Buffs.

    Ol foger ol doger where art thee now.

  8. After multiple decades of watching the Buffs, I will continue to watch them and will be in the stands this coming weekend as well as USC. I am not giving up on them, never have. But this game, IMO, clearly demonstrates that something has to change on the O side of the ball. Yes, the D has its issues but this the D coordinator’s first season with the Buffs, there are new coaches, and lots of talent on that side of the ball is gone.

    Contrast that with the O side of the ball: a coordinator who has been here 5 years, 9 out of 11 returning starters, supposedly (but obviously not the case) the best O line in years, one of the best receiving units in the nation, and……we get shut out at WSU.

    I feel the co-coordinator arrangement was a placating move to begin with. It allowed Mac2 to avoid making the hard decision due to his emotional investment and long connection with Lindgren. The WR talent that came to CU did not come here to play for Lindgren, they came here to play for Chev.

    I do feel that there may two games out there to win but only if a couple of things happen: the team comes out ready to play (will they at homecoming or will it be another passionless showing?) and a change(s) are made on the O side. Do I expect the O changes to happen? No, due to emotional investment which creates rationalization, denial, etc. But I sure as bleep want to see some emotion from the players at the beginning of the game on Saturday.

  9. Stuart, what is most depressing and concerning is the lack of progress by Montez the Oline, the Offensive game plan, the lack of execution and just plain not always appearing to be mentally into the game. The only identity to the offense is the running of PL. After 8 games there does not seem the normal progress that one should see with the offense. Consistency through out the 60 minutes is sporadic. They continue to start slow and last night finished, SLOOOOOW.

    The Defense is a work in progress but it is better then the building years and will probably remain adequate for the remainder of the season. Though they were gashed by the run the last few games they actually played just well enough for us to have stayed in the game last night and although we still may have lost the lack of any semblance of Offense made that task impossible.

  10. The Buffs ain’t middling in conference and that
    is where the play 75% of their games.
    Sorry but the Buffs stink and it starts with the MWC
    coaching staff

    Now where they gonna get those 2 games they need?

    ???

  11. Well said, Stu. Glad to see you’ve not gone too much further down VK’s rat hole.

    As I posted in your game recap, there’s not many silver linings from last night’s game. But, the season as a whole is not lost.

    Could it be? Sure. If they play like that the rest of the season.

    On the other hand, we’ve seen lots of better teams have equally abysmal games this year.

    How our Buffs respond to that beat down is going to be key.

    For those who incessantly claim this staff is in over their heads, time has come around to their broken clock. If you take that game in isolation, both the coaches and their players were clearly in over their heads.

    With a broader lens, they’re doing what this season was going to be about: battling through, trying to find ways to win, in an up and down season. Keep in mind, 5 wins had been the ceiling for our Buffs for the better part of 17 years, and all of the “lost decade”. I still see at least two more wins this year, but… obviously none are certain.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this team handles this week, and Cal coming to town. I didn’t look, but it seems like 7 of the Pac 12 teams are in that “middlin” world of 4-4, give or take one game, one play, etc. If it were easy, we’d all be ‘Bama.

    Go Buffs.

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