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Whetting our Appetites

For your holiday education … The definition of “whet”: To sharpen by rubbing on or with something (such as a stone) – “whet a knife“, with “whetting” defined as acting to excite or stimulate.

As in “whetting your appetite“.

Honestly, do you ever hear “whetting” associated with anything other than appetite? It’s kind of like myrrh. By itself, myrrh (a resin which comes out of cuts in the bark of certain trees) looks like a typo … until it’s paired with frankincense.

Okay, moving on …

It says here that the 2020 Buffs have whetted our appetites for the 2021 season.

Yes, the 4-1 Buffs still have a game to play in the 2020 season, with a great deal at stake.

A Colorado victory in the Alamo Bowl over No. 20 Texas …

It would almost assuredly guarantees CU of a top 25 final ranking, last achieved in 2016 when CU finished ranked 19th after losing the last two games of the season.

It would also make Karl Dorrell just the second head coach in CU history to have his first edition of the Buffaloes finish the season nationally ranked. He would join Rick Neuheisel, who in 1995 coached the Buffaloes to a No. 5 final ranking (of course, Neuheisel was taking over a team which had gone 11-1, finishing No. 3 in the final rankings in 1994).

And then there is this … Oddly enough, a fifth win would match the total in each of the previous three years; only other time has CU had the same exact win total for four straight seasons: six wins in 1909-10-11-12.

But, as we well know … 5-1 beats the hell out of 5-7.

And a win in a bowl game could provide a springboard for next season. The momentum from a bowl win has proved to be a charm, as the Buffs are 9-2-1 in season openers following a bowl victory. A hangover effect seems to linger after a loss; CU is 8-8-1 after losing in the postseason.

A Colorado loss in the Alamo Bowl to No. 20 Texas …

… is expected. Texas opened as an 11-point favorite. The number shot up to 13 before (perhaps) Las Vegas realized that as many as a half dozen starters for the Longhorns have opted out of the game, reducing the current number to 9.5 points.

Regardless, Texas is a two-score favorite, and, with Austin being only 80 miles from San Antonio, figures to be the “home team” among the 11,000 who are being allowed to attend the game (CU will get to wear its home jerseys for the game).

A defeat, especially a defeat along the lines of the 38-8 loss to Oklahoma State in the 2016 Alamo Bowl, or limp-to-the-finish 38-21 loss to Utah in the regular season finale, will leave the Buffs – and the Buff Nation – with a bad taste in their mouths, a bad taste which will linger for nine months.

It would also mute the positive narrative building for the program nationally. It took a month’s worth of victories for the Buffs to gain any traction in the media. The Pac-12, starting later than any other Power Five conference, was already an after thought nationally, with Colorado predicted to be at the bottom of the conference. CU opened the season ranked No. 11o by CBS Sports, and didn’t hit the Top 25 until the Buffs were an unlikely 4-0.

Two losses to end the season … especially if they are ugly losses?

CU back to being CU …

Ugh.

Still, regardless of whether CU finishes the 2020 season with a 5-1 record or a 4-2 record, Buff fans have much to be excited about heading into next September.

A total of 73 players lettered for the Buffs this fall: 33 on offense; 34 on defense; and six specialists. The total number isn’t as significant this year as is the number of seniors on the squad … and that number is ten.

Let’s take a look at the ten, while recalling that these players do have the option of returning for a second senior year in 2021.

Three are not likely to return, but did not have a significant impact upon the 2020 results:

  • Kicker James Stefanou – has already medically retired; replaced by Evan Price, who has made five of his six field goal attempts as Stefanou’s replacement;
  • Tight end Nick Fisher – dressed for every game, but played in only one;
  • Tight end Matt Lynch – dressed for four games, with three special team points.

Which leaves … 

  • Quarterback Sam Noyer – He waited four years to get a chance start – why not come back to try and be the starter again in 2021?;
  • Offensive lineman Kary Kutsch – Started the first three games, sat out the last two (COVID protocols);
  • Linebacker Akil Jones – Ten career starts (would have been 11 except for missing the Arizona game for the birth of his son);
  • Linebacker Nate Landman – All-Pac-12 first-teamer the last two seasons, but out for nine months with Achilles injury;
  • Defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson – Second-team All-Pac-12 performer after being a first-team preseason selection;
  • Wide receiver K.D. Nixon – Explored leaving early for NFL last off-season; 10 catches for 93 yards this fall;
  • Safety Derrion Rakestraw – Most plays on defense (346); second on the team in tackles (35).

While none of the above players have declared their intentions for the 2021 season, it seems safe to assume that K.D. Nixon and Mustafa Johnson will explore their NFL options. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Derrion Rakestraw and Akil Jones at least contemplate a professional career. (It should also be noted that offensive lineman Will Sherman, though only a junior, may declare for the NFL draft).

The big question, of course, will be Nate Landman. Reports are that his injury requires eight to nine months to recover, which puts him right into next August or September.

Will Landman, who certainly has plenty of tape to impress NFL scouts, take his chances with the 2021 NFL Draft in April? He certainly won’t be ready to go, but he seemingly has a strong upside. How far will he fall in the draft because of the unknowns? Or will he choose to come back to CU for a replay of his senior season? A opportunity to prove that he has healed, and is worthy of a high draft pick in 2022?

Buff fans certainly hope Landman returns … but we’ll have to wait and see.

The point, though, is that, even if Landman goes to the NFL, along with Mustafa Johnson, K.D. Nixon, and perhaps Akil Jones, Derrion Rakestraw, and Will Sherman, there is still a great deal of talent from the 2020 team returning. The 2020 senior class, while it has some talented players, is relatively small … and some of them may even return for a second senior year.

Back to a 2020 team which beat UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona in conference play, with two of those games on the road. A team which defied all the negatively publicity which surrounded the hire of Karl Dorrell.

A team which should (you never know) finally be able to have a full set of spring practices under the new coaching staff, with a chance to get even better.

A loss in the Alamo Bowl would make it easy for CU’s legion of detractors to decry the Buffs’ November to remember to be an anomaly, a discountable run which runs contrary to the Buffs’ historic run of poor play.

A win in the Alamo Bowl … ?

It would be fun to find out …

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4 Replies to “Whetting our Appetites”

  1. Agree, not sure who is ‘advising’ KD b/c he has no shot at the league…he’s not even close to the best WR on the team. Unfortunately I think Landman should go, he has nothing left to prove at the collegiate level and would be better served just getting on a NFL roster to complete his rehab, and use the next year as a NFL red-shirt year, ready to make an impact for the team that invests in him the year after. Would be GREAT if Rakestraw/Jones decided to return…think they both could get a draftable grade if they continue their trajectory (right now have to think they are UDFA).

  2. I don’t think kd has a shot at the nfl, even as an undrafted free agent. Mustafa I would think is gone. Landman probably is too.

    I’m sure Karl is subtly selling the unfinished business story, so it will be interesting to watch. I see Sam coming back, and I hope he takes another big step in his development. Will be interesting to see Lewis and chandler or someone else competing too.

    But first? Go get a win Tuesday.

    Go Buffs.

  3. I’m looking for the win.

    …………………………………..Buffs…………………………….Horns
    Score off vs def………………29.5…………………………….29.1
    Score def vs off………………..27.0……………………………41.3

    Rush off vs def…………………..218…………………………..135
    Rush def vs off……………………156……………………………183

    Pass off vs def…………………….202……………………………..274
    Pass dev vs off…………………….220……………………………..274

    Buffs win outright.

    Yup

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