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Random Thoughts – Bye Week

In Defense of the CU Defense

In the 2019 season opener, the Colorado defense trotted out five players who were making their first career starts:

  • Senior linebacker Nu’umotu Falo
  • Senior safety Mikial Onu
  • Junior safety Aaron Maddox
  • Sophomore linebacker Jonathan Van Diest
  • Red-shirt freshman nose tackle Jalen Sami

Since that game, six more players have made their first career starts for the CU defense:

  • Junior linebacker Akil Jones
  • Sophomore defensive end Janaz Jordan
  • Freshman defensive end Na’im Rodman
  • Freshman star back Mark Perry
  • Freshman cornerback K.J. Trujillo
  • Freshman cornerback Tarik Luckett

For those scoring at home, that’s 11 players who have made their first career starts on defense this fall – an entire starting lineup. On the list are two transfers (Janaz Jordan and Mikial Onu), and five freshmen.

Mel Tucker has said throughout the season that as long as CU has 11 players healthy enough to play, he will offer no excuses. “Football is a game of attrition and injuries”, Tucker said after the UCLA loss, which gave CU a five-game losing streak. “Guys are going to get hurt and the next guy’s got to step up and make plays. There’s no excuse for it. Those guys practiced, they know the game plan. They gotta go out there and make plays.”

After nine straight games of giving up over 30 points a game to open the Mel Tucker era (and 14 games overall), CU’s defense put forth its best effort of the year in limiting the visiting Cardinal to opponent season lows in points (13) and total yards (372).

“It’s really important for your players, especially our young players who have been working really hard through practice, to be able to see some results come with everything they’ve been doing,” CU defensive coordinator Tyson Summers said this past Wednesday. “They understand what our attitudes are and what our expectations are.”

But along with a much-needed shot of confidence, the performance should also help set a new baseline for expectations. In other words, the Buffs (4-6 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) now have a measuring stick for the future.

“This is a good opportunity for us to kind of reset the standard and be able to tell them this is what it should look like each week if we’re able to get off the field on third down, hold people to field goals and create some takeaways,” Summers said. “I think it’s very gratifying for those young men.”

It’s also gratifying to the Buff Nation, which is seeing its young defense mature before its eyes. CU will lose senior star backer Davion Taylor, senior cornerback Delrick Abrams, and graduate senior Mikial Onu (and perhaps junior Mustafa Johnson), but the rest of the roster on the defensive side of the ball will return.

And continue to improve …

Recruiting Class of 2020 gains a running back; loses another

Five days after picking up a commitment from four-star running back Ashaad Clayton, the CU Recruiting Class of 2020 lost its other running back commitment, three-star running back Stacy Sneed.

In announcing his de-commitment, Sneed posted the following tweet: “Due to Unfortunate Circumstances, I will be de-committing from Colorado University. Thank you to the coaches and Fan base for the continuous love you’ve showed me. With that being said I will be opening back up my recruitment Thank you..”.

Sneed, from Mansfield, Texas, has offers from almost two dozen schools, including a number of Power-Five schools. In addition to having an offer from Arizona from the Pac-12, Sneed has offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, and Texas Tech.

Normally, the loss of a quality recruit such as Sneed would cause much hand-wringing in the Buff Nation, but the loss of Sneed hasn’t been cause for much consternation. While we can’t know for certain why Sneed made his announcement, we do know that:

  • Sneed announced he was de-committing, but didn’t immediately announce he was switching his commitment to another team, and
  • The de-commitment came only five days after CU picked up a commitment from Clayton.

It’s speculation, but if you are connecting the dots, you can easily draw the conclusion that Sneed was recruited over, and the de-commitment may have been a mutual parting of the ways.

Coaches always tell their players that it’s their jobs as recruiters to try and recruit over the current players, and it’s the job of the current players to fight to hold onto their jobs.

It’s nice to see – amazing, actually – that Mel Tucker & Co. is showing that they have the ability to over-recruit some of their prospects before they even get to Boulder.

Rivals deal with coaching issues

Colorado is 4-6 … Nebraska is 4-6 … Colorado State is 4-6.

Similar records, but not similar positions with regard to their head coaches.

CU is in its first season under Mel Tucker. Even if the Buffs finish 4-8, a game worse than the 5-7 records posted by Mike MacIntyre in his last two seasons in Boulder, Tucker’s position is not only not in jeopardy … Tucker is almost universally being lauded for his approach to the game and his relationship with his players.

In Lincoln, it’s Year Two of the Scott Frost era. The Cornhuskers went 4-8 last year, giving Frost an overall record of 8-14 under their Favorite Son. Considering that Nebraska was ranked early in the season (coming to Boulder as the nation’s No. 25 team), and was picked by the Big Ten media in the preseason to win the Big Ten West, you would think that a 4-6 record in Year Two would be warming up the hot seat for Frost in Lincoln.

Think again.

Saturday, before the Cornhuskers lost at home to Wisconsin, 37-21, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green and Athletic Director Bill Moos announced a two-year extension of Frost’s contract.

In a joint statement they announced, “Two years ago, we had the tremendous opportunity to bring Scott Frost home to Nebraska to lead our football program into the future.  We are even more committed to that decision today.

“Coach Frost has shown tremendous leadership in beginning to rebuild our football program.  We appreciate that a change of this nature will not happen overnight.  We are committed to Scott and the direction he is taking this program.

“Scott is the right coach at the right time for this program.  We are excited for the heights to which he will take Nebraska football and the tremendous impact he will have in the development of our student athletes.”

The original terms of Frost’s contact will remain intact, with an extension from December 31, 2024, to December 31, 2026.

Read that last sentence again.

When Frost came back to Lincoln from a successful run at UCF, he was given a seven-year contract. Over five years still remain on the existing contract, so it’s not as if there was an immediate need for an extension. With five years left to the original deal, there is no logic to the argument, “We need to reassure recruits of our commitment to Scott Frost”.

Bill Moos, the former Washington State athletic director, is all in on Scott Frost. Fair to say that his future in Lincoln rests on Frost’s ability to win more than four games in a season.

Colorado plays Nebraska again in the 2023 and 2024 seasons. We don’t know if Scott Frost will still be patrolling the sidelines on behalf of the Cornhuskers roll around.

But we do know that Nebraska will still be paying him.

Meanwhile, up in Fort Fun …

The status of Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo is far more tenuous.

The Rams are 4-6 after a “come-from-ahead” 38-21 loss to Air Force, in which CSU led 14-0 after the first quarter, only to be out-scored 38-7 the rest of the way (including 28-7 in the fourth quarter).

The loss left Colorado State with a 4-6 record, with a road game against Wyoming (6-4) and a home game against Boise State (9-1) remaining. After opening his career with three consecutive 7-6 seasons, Mike Bobo has gone 3-9 and 4-6 the last two.

To make matters worse, CSU under Bobo has now lost 11 straight games against the Rams’ chief rivals – Colorado, Wyoming, and Air Force – not winning a game that matters to the Ram Nation since a 26-7 win over Wyoming in 2015 (Bobo is 0-5 against Colorado).

If CSU were to fire its head coach, Bobo would be owed $5.5 million as a buyout, which may be hard to come by for a program which is bleeding red ink.

CSU adopted a “if you build it, they will come” approach to their new $220-million on-campus stadium, but attendance for the season was down 13.9% before Saturday’s home loss to Air Force, a “rivalry” game which attracted a paying audience of 24,914. If CSU loses on the road to Wyoming next weekend – a distinct possibility – then what do you think the Canvas Stadium crowd will look like Thanksgiving weekend to watch a 4-7 CSU team take on a 10-1 Boise State squad angling for a New Year’s Six bowl?

Attendance this year notwithstanding, Colorado State is assured of a sellout for its 2020 home opener. When Colorado comes to Ft. Collins for the first time since 1996, it will be a standing-room only crowd.

The only question (other than what percentage of the crowd will be wearing black-and-gold) is whether Mike Bobo will still be the head coach for the Rams come September 5, 2020.

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One Reply to “Random Thoughts – Bye Week”

  1. With Alex running hard for 2 more years and Jared right behind him it sounds like the Clayton kid really wants to be here, unlike……..
    I wont cry if Mel can persuade another 5 star lineman, this time on the O, to take Sneed’s place

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