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Random Thoughts – Volume III – December 16, 2018

Buff Trivia Question of the Week … What Buff player holds the record for the most consecutive games started at quarterback? Choices:

  • Joel Klatt
  • Kordell Stewart
  • Steven Montez
  • Gail Weidner
  • Bill Solomon

Mel Tucker’s First Recruiting Class

Mike MacIntyre was fired as Colorado head coach on November 18th.

As the days ticked by without an announcement as to the new Colorado head coach, Buff fans understood that it would be more and more difficult for the new coach to shore up the Recruiting Class of 2019.

When Mike MacIntyre was let go, there was already only a month to go before the December 19th early Signing Day. That it took a few weeks for Rick George to land Mel Tucker – with CU’s 20 verbal commitments, not to mention its coaching staff, in limbo – it was not a huge surprise that there were defections.

That there were eight de-commitments – forty percent of the Class – was a bit of a concern, but it is a small price to pay for getting the right head coach. It will just be a blip on the Tucker era radar if the new head coach assembles a quality staff and produces a winning product.

So, Buff fans need to be prepared for a less than stellar report card from the national media come Thursday. A Recruiting Class which was ranked in the high 20’s nationally earlier this year fell to the low 60’s when the Class dipped to 12 members.

Big picture time.

Buff fans can certainly hope that the Oregon model works out for Colorado.

Mario Cristobal had a less-than-stellar record as a head coach at Florida International (27-47), before becoming a successful coordinator at an SEC school (Alabama). Cristobal, known for his recruiting prowess, was then the co-offensive coordinator during Willie Taggart’s one season in Eugene before taking over the head coaching job last December.

On Saturday, Cristobal landed a commitment from defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the second-highest rated recruit – at any position – in the nation. The commitment moved Oregon to the No. 5 overall ranking nationally. If that holds, it will be the highest-ranked Class in Oregon history.

While it would be unfair to expect such a huge jump in recruiting for the Buffs for the Class of 2020, the model is there. Mel Tucker was also coordinator for a highly successful SEC program (Georgia), and is known for his recruiting prowess.

If Tucker can follow in Cristobal’s footsteps, Colorado fans will be more than happy to trade a mediocre Recruiting Class of 2019 for stellar Classes in the future.

But wait … we’re not dead yet!

If there were any grumblings about how the Recruiting Class of 2019 was shaping up for Colorado, it was the makeup of the Class.

A few months ago, the CU Class was highly ranked nationally … but it was top heavy at the “skill” positions. In addition to a highly-regarded quarterback commit in Ty Evans from Monument, and a much-needed running back star in the making (Jaren Mangham), there were a slew of  wide receivers and defensive backs.

While, as the 2018 season bore out, you can never have enough quality wide receivers and defensive backs – there wasn’t much meat on the bone of the Recruiting Class of 2019. Nine of the twenty – almost half of the Class – were either wide receivers or defensive backs.

There won’t be much time for Mel Tucker and (as of this writing) half of a coaching staff to piece together a strong Class, there are already signs of where Tucker wants to take the program.

The first two commits of the Mel Tucker era both check in at over 300 pounds. Junior college offensive guard Vaatofu Sauvao is listed at 6’3″, 310-pounds, while offensive/defensive tackle Austin Williams is a 6’4″, 306-pounder.

Sauvao can help the Buffs right away in 2019, while Williams may take a year before he becomes a regular contributor.

In any event, the first two commits to Mel Tucker and his staff (and there will be others between now and Wednesday) send a welcome message to the Buff Nation:

… “We understand that the line play on both sides of the ball is the Achilles’ heel of the program, and we’re taking steps to fix the problem” … 

A welcome message, indeed.

CU Men’s Basketball … 8-1

It wasn’t pretty.

The Buffs turned the ball over 12 times in the first half on the road against New Mexico last Tuesday, and were behind at one point by 17, at 32-15. After a rally, the Buffs fell behind again in the second half, this time by 14, at 52-38.

In previous years, it would have been time to turn off the TV and move on to something else.

CU on the road? Down by double digits? Chalk up another loss.

Instead, the 2018-19 Buff showed heart, fighting back to take a 78-75 victory over the Lobos. Colorado has an 8-1 record heading into the Finals Week break (next game: December 22nd v. Indiana State in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i), tied with Arizona State for the best record in the Pac-12.

Sure, the New Mexico Lobos aren’t as good this year as they usually are, and “The Pit” wasn’t as intimidating a venue on a Tuesday night in December as it can be. But … you are looking at a team which went 1-10 on the road last year, and already has two road wins this year (Air Force and New Mexico). Not bad.

The Buffs are certainly going to miss Dallas Walton at center when Pac-12 play begins, but, at least for now, this is a team which has balanced scoring, cohesiveness, and a star playmaker in McKinley Wright who can, when he has to, take over late in a game.

The Pac-12 is down this year, with currently only one ranked team (Arizona State, at No. 20). Every team except for the Buffs and Sun Devils already have three or more losses.

Jon Wilner wrote about a “Black Saturday” yesterday:

If not for a huge rally by Arizona State (at Georgia) and a last-second shot by Cal (to beat Cal Poly), this would have been the blackest of Black Saturdays for the Pac-12.

As it is, we’ll color the day a shade of dark, demoralizing gray:

No. 15 Virginia Tech 73, Washington 61
No. 19 Kentucky 88, Utah 61
Oklahoma 81, USC 70
Belmont 74, UCLA 72 (in Pauley)
Baylor 58, Arizona 49 (in Tucson)
Texas A&M 67, Oregon State 64 (in Portland)

The conference was 4-6 overall but 1-5 against power conference opponents (some of them not very good).

The best win by the conference was ASU’s two-point escape against Georgia, which recently lost to Georgia State by 24.

I’m not saying that the Buffs are an NCAA-tournament caliber team.

But, with eight wins already in the bank, and the upcoming schedule not looking as daunting as it did a month ago, a winning season and an NIT berth are certainly not out of the question.

CU women’s basketball – 9-1

A tip of the CU at the Game hat this week to the CU women’s basketball team.

The Buffs went 15-16 last year, with Kennedy Leonard shouldering almost the entire load. Stop Leonard … and you stop the Buffs.

This year, while the schedule has not been especially daunting, the Buffs have taken care of business. The only loss so far this year came on the road against No. 20 Miami, and Leonard has a much improved supporting cast.

Unlike the men, however, the Pac-12 schedule for CU women will be a gauntlet.

There are five Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 25 nationally, including three in the top 11 (Stanford is currently No. 11, but will move into the top ten this week after defeating No. 3 Baylor on Saturday).

As is the case with the men, an NCAA berth is a longshot for the CU women’s basketball team.

But, as is the case with the men, a winning record and a post-season berth are not too much to ask.

Trivia Question Answer … Gale Weidner holds the CU record for most consecutive games started at quarterback, with 31 (1959-61, including the 1962 Orange Bowl).

Next on the list:

  • Kordell Stewart, 28 (1992-94)
  • Steven Montez, 24 (2016-18)
  • Bill Solomon, 22 (1978-79)
  • Joel Klatt, 19 (2004-05)

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3 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Vol. III”

  1. The Mighty Buff Oline.
    The starting line will average over 300 lbs
    The best players will play. And this has not been the case under wackymacky or adams.
    A couple who played a lot last year will not play the coming year…………(Upper classman)

    Adams was a travesty for the Mighty Buffs. 4 years………….of ” I am gonna shuffle em as much as I want to.

    Buffs.

  2. A Recruiting Class which was ranked in the high 20’s nationally earlier … Now Stu, that was when schools had like 6 to 9 recruits and CU had 15. You know how the class rankings go………….This early ranking, as you know was a mirage, as other schools added recruits….

    And the recruiting class will be just fine as certainly you believe.

    Random thoughts…………..I like this…………….I can relate………………nice.

    Buffs.

    Note: Can’t wait until the Dline coach is named. Earache will reserve judgement and like he did WacMac……………give him six years with five last place division finishes before he can make a decision. Glad he is not my banker……………
    Note 2: Thanks for mentioning the WBB team. Yup they skated through, but they have some talent, but perhaps not total Pac 12 talent. Few breaks and they get a tourney slot……………in NIT with an outside chance at NCAA………..

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