Friday Fast Facts

Neill Woelk’s Fast Five Keys for the CU/Air Force rivalry renewal

From … They are not the biggest team the Colorado Buffaloes will face this year — but they might be the most disciplined.

And, in terms of the hours needed to prepare and then practice a proper game plan, the Air Force Falcons may represent one of the biggest dilemmas of the season for CU head coach Mel Tucker and his staff.

The Buffs are by no means unique in that regard. Every team that plays AFA must spend extra time preparing for the offensive scheme employed by the Falcons, one that has its roots in triple-option football but has been modified and modernized by head coach Troy Calhoun.

Still, while their multiple-formation schemes and sets are no doubt a headache for opposing defensive coordinators, the Falcons’ basic goal is still relatively simple: run the football and control the clock. In their season opening 48-7 win over Colgate, AFA threw exactly one pass (a 41-yard completion). Otherwise, they pounded Colgate at will.

So what must Tucker’s 2-0 Buffs do Saturday at Folsom Field in their 11 a.m. matchup (Pac-12 Network) to make sure 1-0 Air Force doesn’t completely control the tempo of the game?

1. Take full advantage of every offensive possession.

2. Continue to win the turnover battle.

3. Be wary of the pass.

4. Play assignment football.

5. Start fast on both sides of the ball. 

Read full story here

Big Picture

— This is the 17th all-time meeting between Colorado and Air Force. CU holds a 12-4 advantage in the series, including a 7-3 advantage in games played in Boulder;

— The most recent meeting between the two teams was in 1974, a 28-27 CU victory in Colorado Springs. The Buffs have won nine of the last ten meetings, with the lone victory in that stretch for the Falcons coming in 1968 (a 58-35 win in Boulder);

— Colorado is 707-508-36 all-time (.580). The Buffs are 25th in all-time victories; 36th in all-time winning percentage;

— The 34-31 win over No. 25 Nebraska snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Buffs v. ranked opponents;

— The Buffs have now won eight straight non-conference games, the longest such run for CU since the Buffs won 13 straight (including bowls) between 1993 and 1996;

— Colorado is only 1-4 on September 14th (ouch!), with the only win coming in 1985, in one of the most memorable (and important) wins in CU history. The Buffs defeated Oregon, 21-17, with Mickey Pruitt tackling Duck quarterback Chris Miller for a loss on a fourth-and-goal play with nine seconds remaining (check out the video in the Archived story). Bill McCartney said after the game, “I think that could be a turning point for our program”, which proved prescient, with the Buffs going on to post a winning record in ’85 – for the first time since 1978 – setting the stage for the Buffs rise in the late 80’s.

— The CU/Air Force game will be telecast nationally by the Pac-12 Networks, with Guy Haberman on the play-by-play; former Buff linebacker Chad Brown on color; and Camryn Irwin on the sidelines. KOA radio will have Mark Johnson with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Mel Tucker’s Podcast

Coach Mel Tucker has a weekly podcast, hosted by KOA’s Mark Johnson. So far, Coach Tucker has interviewed Rick George, Kordell Stewart, Matt Russell, and Alfred Williams.

This week’s interview is with Jeremy Bloom, and can be found here

Buffs v. Cornhuskers – revisited

— The comeback from a 17-0 deficit tied the fourth-largest comeback in Colorado history, and was the largest in the series (the previous best against Nebraska was 12 points in 1990, as the Buffs rallied from a 12-0 fourth quarter deficit to win, 27-12;

— The 258 yards gained in five possessions in the fourth quarter marked the most yards for the Buffs in any fourth quarter in CU history (topping the 231 yards gained against Michigan in 1994 … yes, the “Miracle at Michigan” game);

— The 24 points in the fourth quarter were the most in a fourth quarter since the Buffs scored 24 against Nebraska in 1999 (the Buffs forced an overtime in that game as well, only to fall, 33-30);

— And this … Just can’t help myself … This is from a Nebraska fan site, lamenting how the Cornhusker program has struggled since the 2001 CU/Nebraska game, in which the Buffs battered the No. 1 team in the BCS, 62-36 (a/k/a “Black Friday”). Hard to feel sorry for the Corn, but it is an interesting post:

How’s this for arbitrary stats. 18 years before/including Black Friday (and the ensuing cruel joke of playing in the BCS National Championship that year for some reason), compared to 18 years since Black Friday :

15 top 10 finishes

11 Conference Championships

3 National Championships

17 Major Bowl Appearances

8 Major Bowl Wins


0 Top 10 finishes

0 Conference Championships

0 National Championships

0 Major Bowl Appearances

0 Major Bowl Wins

The Curse of Black Friday was brought up in another thread and prompted me to go back all the way to 2001 after that awful, pitiful, and miserable game. Since that day…..

… And, not for nothing … The next time you hear about how Nebraska has owned Colorado forever, let them know that the ownership does not include the 21st century. Since the 2001 game, the series is tied: Colorado 6; Nebraska 6.

Buffs v. Falcons

— Try this one on your friends. This Saturday’s game will be the first game in the 17-game series … to be televised;

— Colorado has played Air Force six times as a ranked team, winning all six. The Falcons have played the Buffs twice as a ranked team, winning 20-14 in Boulder in 1958 as the nation’s No. 8 team, then losing 49-19 in Colorado Springs as the No. 10 team in the nation;

— The last time the Buffs played the Falcons in 1974, the No. 1 song in the nation was I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton-John, and the No. 1 show on television was All in the Family;

— In 1974, the Denver Broncos were coming off of their best record in their 14-year history (7-5-2 in 1973) … The Denver Nuggets were the still in the ABA … The Denver Rockies were still 19 years away from existence … and NHL hockey was still two years away (and that was the Colorado Rockies, who would later leave to become the New Jersey Devils);

— The 1963 game between Colorado and Air Force was postponed for two weeks due to the assassination of President Kennedy. In an emotional game played on December 7th, the Falcons won the first game in the series to be played in Colorado Springs, 17-14;

— The last time Colorado played a service academy was in 1977, when the Buffs traveled to West Point to take down Army, 31-0;

— Air Force and Colorado State compete each year for the Ram-Falcon Trophy. The trophy game dates back to 1980, with the Falcons holding a 24-15 lead in the series.

Injury Report

— The CU injury report remains fairly short. In addition to offensive lineman Jacob Moretti, who has medically retired, three backup defensive players (defensive backs Lucas Cooper and Dustin Johnson; and linebacker Chase Newman) are out. None of the three played in the first two games;

— Joining the list this week are running back Jarek Broussard, who had knee surgery on September 6th, and is likely slated for a red-shirt season, and linebacker Carson Wells, who missed the Nebraska game with a concussion, and is listed as “day-to-day”;

— Junior safety Trey Udoffia, who has been out since Fall Camp what are described as personal reasons, remains out.

Statistically speaking

— Colorado has been out-scored in each of the first two quarters this season (14-7 in the first quarter; 24-17 in the second), but has out-scored its opponents in the second half (21-3 in the third quarter; 38-21 in the fourth … and, of course, 3-0 in overtime);

— Individually, Nu’umato Falo leads the nation in fumbles recovered (2); Mikial Onu is tied for third nationally in total interceptions (2); Nate Landman is sixth in the nation in tackles per game (12.5); Mustafa Johnson is tied for seventh in the nation in sacks per game (1.5); and Alex Kinney is tenth in the nation in punting average (46.7/punt);

— Think Air Force is good at running the ball? Since 1987 – that’s 32 seasons, folks – the Falcons have finished outside of the top ten nationally in rushing exactly one time … and that was in 2013, when the Falcons finished 13th in the nation in rushing. Last season, Air Force was 5th nationally, at 283.5 yards/game;

Familiarity can’t hurt … Not only is head coach Troy Calhoun an Air Force graduate (88-67, in his 13th season), but no fewer than eight of his assistant coaches are also Air Force Academy graduates. Calhoun succeeded Fisher DeBerry, who was the Falcons’ coach for 23 years. So, yes, Air Force has had exactly two head coaches in the past 36 years;

Player Notes

— Quarterback Steven Montez is second on the all-time passing charts in yards (7,448), passing Cody Hawkins (7,409) and Joel Klatt (7,375) with his 375-yard passing day against Nebraska. Montez has a ways to go to get to Sefo Liufau (9,568), but could catch him with an injury-free season;

— Wide receiver Laviska Shenault was held to five catches for 31 yards by Nebraska, but still became just the 18th Buff in school history to post 100 career catches (101). In so doing, Shenault also passed his position coach on the list, Darrin Chiaverini, who finished his career with 98 receptions;

Steven Montez has started 26 consecutive games. Next on the list are DT Mustafa Johnson, LB Nate Landman, and OT Will Sherman, who have each started 14 consecutive games;

— Captains for the game: wide receiver Tony Brown; safety Mikial Onu; and punter Alex Kinney;

— The uniform combination for this weekend: black helmets; silver jerseys; and black pants;

— CU’s roster settled in at 83 scholarship players (out of 85 allowed by the NCAA), with another 29 walk-ons. By Class: 3 graduate transfers … 15 seniors (8 fifth-year); 20 juniors; 30 sophomores; 45 freshmen (16 red-shirt/3 2nd-year/26 true).  So, CU will have at minimum 20 scholarships to work with for the Recruiting Class of 2020, with likely five or more coming by natural attrition before next fall;

Pac-12 Notes

— Five teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the third week of the Associated Press poll … No. 11 Utah; No. 15 Oregon; No. 20 Washington State; No. 23 Washington; and No. 24 Stanford … It’s the first time the Pac-12 has had five teams in the poll in three consecutive weeks since the first six weeks of the 2015 season;

— In Pac-12 rankings, CU is fourth in scoring offense (43.0 points) but 10th in scoring defense (31.0 points); fourth in total offense (469.5 yards) but 10th in total defense (487.0 yards);

— Oregon State and Utah are two of only five FBS teams without a turnover;

— Pac-12 National Leaders after Week Two: Colorado, kickoff returns (43.0/return … only two so far, including Laviska Shenault’s 54-yard return against Nebraska); Arizona/Washington State, turnover margin (3.00)(Colorado is tied for 4th, at 2.50); Arizona State, net punting (52.8 yards/punt); Arizona, punt returns (42.0/return); Kedon Slovis, USC, completion percentage (.829); Jevon Hollard, Oregon, punt returns (34.8 yards/return); Michael Turk, Arizona State, punting (55.3 yards/punt).


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