Acceptance / (Resignation)

So, how are we feeling today?

The 35-13 loss to Arizona State, unfortunately, went about to script. The Buffs were two-touchdown underdogs to the Sun Devils, and it never really looked like the outcome would stray far from that narrative. CU did make it a 14-10 game early in the third quarter, but never had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the second half.

Shrug.

If Colorado fans were looking for something new and innovative out of their offense after being held to 63 total yards against Minnesota, they were, well, disappointed.

The Buffs first possession of the game went … run up the middle for no gain … run up the middle for two yards … sack for loss of nine yards.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

By the time the Buff offense had its first first down, Arizona State had a 7-0 lead. By the time the Buffs posted their first points in eight quarters (137:11 of game clock, for those of you scoring at home), by way of a long Cole Becker field goal in the final minute of the second quarter, it was a two-score game. When the CU offense did put together its first touchdown drive since the first quarter of the Texas A&M game, the defense responded … by giving up a six-play, 71-yard touchdown drive with gains of 14, 13, 15 and 17 yards.

Game. Set. Match.

What’s really frustrating? Not that the Colorado offense is struggling behind a freshman quarterback (though none of us, based upon Brendon Lewis’ efforts in the Alamo Bowl, thought it would be this bad), but that this is going to be a season of wasted opportunity.

The Pac-12 is wide open this year. Oregon State defeated USC in the Coliseum for the first time since the Eisenhower administration (24 consecutive losses dating back 61 years), leaving the Trojans, who were heavily favored to win the Pac-12 South division, with an 0-2 Pac-12 record. Meanwhile, Oregon State, a team which CU was supposed to be rated above this season, now has wins over Oregon and USC in its last six games.

Hapless Arizona traveled to Eugene with a nation’s worst 15-game losing streak, taking on the No. 3 team in the nation. The Wildcats were 29.5-point underdogs.

So, how did it turn out? … A 40-point rout? Hardly. The Wildcats did lose, 41-19, but it was only 24-19 early in the fourth quarter.

If the worst team in the Pac-12 can be within a score of the best team in the Pac-12 in the fourth quarter – on the road, no less – you can certainly make an argument that there are no games which can’t be won by a team which can compete on both sides of the ball.

Yet Colorado, rather than being in mix for a division title after finishing second in the Pac-12 South last year. is making a play for the worst team in the league. With an offense which can’t score, and a defense doesn’t have enough depth to be pounded for the majority of the game … the home game against Arizona on October 16th could decide which of the two teams actually posts a Pac-12 win this season.

“We have to just keep bringing this team along,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We have a lot of young players playing and a lot of new players playing. It’s challenging every week … We have to keep working at getting better each week and hopefully that light bulb starts to glow a little bit brighter for us to be a more productive team and do as well as we need to do.”

Sigh.

When will CU not have one of the youngest teams in the league? When will CU not have to use the regular season to try and figure things out?

Buff fans have been through the five stages of grief so many times that we can recite the mantra by heart … Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

We were in Denial after the Northern Colorado game: “Sure, the Buffs struggled, but they were just keeping it vanilla, saving their best plays for the Texas A&M game.”

Anger and Bargaining hit after the 10-7 loss to the Aggies: “Two quarterback sneaks inside the five yard line? If we could just have those two plays back, we would have had the upset!”

Last weekend, I was in a full on Depression.

In my Essay for the game, “Why Should We Continue to Care?“, I wrote about the frustration that I – along with most of the Buff Nation – felt after watching another optimistic start to the season be sent down the drain before the calendar officially turned to fall.

Losing is tough. The loss to No. 5 Texas A&M was disheartening, as it was a win against a top ten team that was there for the taking. Still, there were positives to be taken from the game, and optimism about the rest of the season remained in tact.

The loss to Minnesota, however, coming as it did in historically embarrassing fashion, was a body blow.

Now, where are we with the 1-3 (0-1) Buffs?

I think we’re moving on to Acceptance, or better stated, Resignation.

I don’t think Buff fans will ever “accept” being one of the worst teams in the FBS. That is not our history. That is not our legacy. That is not our destiny.

However, as we are now edging towards two decades of mostly consistent poor play, we have grown accustomed to defeat.

We don’t like it. We don’t accept it.

But we’re becoming resigned to it.

There was some controversy this past week when Pat Rooney, a columnist for the Boulder Daily Camera, penned a column entitled “Futile CU Buffs’ Offense Stoking Fan Apathy“, making note of how the loss to Minnesota was deflating faith in the program:

When a 3-yard run from Minnesota’s Trey Potts pushed the Gophers’ lead to 20-0 with 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the exodus began. It emptied the student section first — surely the college crowd had better things to do in the middle of a beautiful Saturday afternoon — but before long the only seats still occupied at Folsom Field were those of Minnesota fans celebrating a surprisingly easy victory.

Certainly a 20-point deficit is a backs-against-the-wall situation, but one hardly insurmountable for competent offenses. Those fans, though, saw what everyone else did. The Buffs don’t have a competent offense. Not even close. And unless things change soon, the apathy that swept through Folsom Field last week could become the prevailing theme of CU’s 2021 season.

For some, the article stoked anger, as the Camera tends not to be a “homer” newspaper when it comes to the Buffs. But most understood the sentiment.

Or thought they did.

I didn’t see Rooney’s article as being critical of the Buff fans for leaving the Minnesota game early. Nor did I see the article as being sympathetic with Buff Nation for wanting to move on to something different on Saturdays … a hike, some golf, plotting out their fantasy football team for Sunday’s game.

Rooney wasn’t looking at the Buff fans leaving yet another sinking ship of a season with disdain.

It was with envy.

For those of us who will stick with the team no matter what, the anger and frustration of this Sunday morning with turn to optimism and hope again by Friday. That’s how we’re wired. USC is a sinking ship – the Buffs just need to take advantage!

But we’re not stupid. Until or unless the Colorado coaching staff can find a way to get production out of the roster of players on offense they have to work with, the results aren’t going to change.

We may not want to Accept that reality, but, until further notice, we’re Resigned to it.

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23 Replies to “Acceptance / (Resignation)”

  1. This season doesn’t make any sense. Lewis came in the Alamo Bowl and made me think that if he started we would have had a chance. Now he seems to have no confidence. There is no timing or rhythm to their game outside of the first drive of the second half.

    1. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems the 2020 season didn’t make any sense. Or, for some, that hindsight confirmed that. I was guardedly optimistic, and liked pointing to the fact that Karl did a remarkable job keeping the team together, and relatively covid free, when many other teams didn’t. But the play was still a little suspect, particularly against UT and TX. At least Sam seemed to know where to go with the ball, more often than not. Unfortunately, it seems his shoulder probably limited his accuracy.

      In that bowl game, Brendon was still only 6-10 passing, for like 94 yards. And that’s when the world didn’t have any idea he really wasn’t a great passing QB, at least for the D1 level, yet. Now, every defensive coordinator knows, stack the box, force the kid to read, react and throw accurately, and odds are in your favor. Massively in your favor.

      I’m just hoping the glimmer of progress we saw against ASU continues and we see a solid step forward from him Saturday. Or, if he continues to struggle with his reads and timing, that Drew gets in the game before garbage time. I’m curious if he can put the ball in the right place, at the right time, to move the chains and get the defense to back off stuffing the run a bit. That would definitely help the offensive production. Pun intended.

      Go Buffs

  2. What were the quarterbacks and receivers doing last spring and this past summer? Have they been introduced to each other yet? How about this as a a strategy to improve the passing game efficiency: have Lewis count to no more than three, then throw the ball in what he thinks is the direction of the first CU helmet he sees. Or here’s another tactic: have him pick a number and a line painted on the field, ask the receiver how long it will take him to get there, then have Lewis throw the ball at that spot one second before the receiver said he’d arrive.
    Result: Touchdown! (Of course, the receiver would need to remember to open his hands and his eyes in order to catch the ball, but heck, these are college guys. they surely can do that, can’t they?)

    1. Yep. The Bowling Green State University Falcons of the Mid America Conference beat Minnesota, the same team that rolled over CU in Boulder of the PAC 12 Conference, by 35 points, while playing in Minnesota. How bad is this Buffalo team? Is it as bad as the CU team that was overwhelmed at the University of Toledo… that’s Toledo …. several years ago? Seems like time has stood still, doesn’t it?

  3. Didn’t get to see the game, but from what I have read it really has been a long time to be very excited about Buff Football. Stuart is that me becoming to ……Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance??? I guess it is but right now I feel like adding the word Apocalypse to the program if this continues much longer.

    Tough to have an offense when the QB is obviously not ready for Div I football and the only backup is a freshman, along with a walk-up from Durango. I watched NU & MSU and it seems that B Lewis could maybe become a Martinez type of QB (even though NU lives & also dies on his shoulders) but with the present offensive scheme doesn’t look like that is going to happen. As I’ve said before drink good quality booze if this continues.

  4. I am sick that Dorrell is publicly accepting this offensive garbage. Now maybe Dorrell’s philosophy is make a change after the season. Maybe Dorrell knows he isn’t any better than Chev at play calling and he doesn’t trust the qb coach. Maybe Carter is a disaster in practice that just doesn’t understand the playbook. To be honest I really don’t care. I went through how many years of Hawkins, just try better, and the 2 years of Embree were we were just as lost, and then the 5 years of Mac saying players make plays…. I thought Dorrell with his pro philosophy would clean that sort of acceptance up….at least on the coaching side. But you have to try something other than just get better! I saw Nebraska running the old triple option, I saw multiple teams drop to true freshman qb’s. What do we do…. Just try harder….. that doesn’t work, we have been trying that for 15 years now. I am sick of waiting for the 1 in a d3cade break out year. I have season tickets so I am going to keep going. Please just try something new! Carter, wishbone, but running 2 tight end and running a stretch run is not new…. At least Lewis actually threw the ball a couple times 8n under 4 seconds…..

  5. Good article Stuart. I think if the we-just-gotta-fix-some-things talk and no meaningful changes in offense plays/strategy continues, it’s pretty clear the coaches have not been able to advance to the acceptance phase. I agree with Eric the coach speak has really changed in just two weeks.

  6. The University itself has resigned itself to the results this past decade…..Having watched the Buffs since the 70’s (all the ups and downs) it’s clear to me that the school itself needs new blood and some fresh ideas on how to support/market/execute on a top 25 football team given the environment today. Ex…Chancellor has been around many decades…time to refresh…..Does the University even want to set the bar where it needs to be……investments seem to be the bare minimum these days.

  7. We need to find a QB first. I hear there is one from Utah that is available?
    Next we need a good Offensive Coordinator who can adjust the game plan to match the players he has to work with. While I like Chev and he’s a good WR recruiter, his game plans are too easy to beat.
    If Dorrell is smart, he’ll be calling the plays very soon. USC is ripe for the picking this week for our first win against them!

  8. Good morning, Stuart! I’m going with a Monty Python “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” theme. Earlier this year, I felt that we hadn’t established a good balance between the defense/special teams and the offense. Now, it appears we are much more balanced. The defense and special teams have closed the gap!…they look pretty bad too! Gallows humor, to be sure, but that’s all I have left…

      1. FBS Football: Bring out yer’ dead!
        Every Buff Fan: I’m not dead!
        Everyone else in college football: Yes, you are.

  9. I think the few talented players will definitely be looking at the portal to leave CU. Too many years of desolation and no progress in sight. You look over the college football landscape and see young players excelling….but not here. Chev’s recruiting is pedestrian at best. You can wander down to Georgia and pick up all the 2.5 star projects you want. Firing him is the first step.

    1. Oh NO ! Don’t say IT Mark. Don’t say IT.
      Cover ur Ears………….. Don’t print IT…….Cover ur EYES !
      Oh NO !……. don’t say IT………….Don’t say IT !
      PORTAL……..Oh NO…….
      C’mon back lil’ VK ….C’mon makeup Stu !

  10. I was listening to the radio broadcast last night towards the end of the game and Barnett pointed out that Dorrell is working with players from 3 different coaches, Mickey Mac, Midnight Mel and HCKD. He said it is not easy to mix 3 different coaches cultures and types of players. He also pointed out that his own second season was a disaster so maybe there is hope after this year. But I think after the mediocrity of Mickey Mac and the treachery of MM, we just have to let the this play out for a several years with HCKD. I do not think Chev will be coaching CU next year. HCKD dropped Summers like a hot rock after last year. I think Chev will suffer the same fate. He obviously can’t adjust his style to the players he has and one of the supposed strengths of the team that was his recruiting niche, the WRs, can’t seem to get open.

    We’re a basketball school anyway. Roll Tad Roll!

  11. Resignation is having to keep putting our faith in Karl, b/c really who else is going to come right the ship??? The season is such a debacle think it’s natural to already think of it…next hire we need to go the WAC route and try to find the ‘next great thing’ versus trying to find that person from the WAC (they won’t come and if they do, 1st hint of success they are Tucking it).

  12. I actually thought Howell basically copied your post…and would have said that if there were comments on BuffZone (at least I don’t see them).
    I’ll watch, but mentally am beyond this season…already thinking the portal is going to be ACTIVE potentially to our detriment after the season, unless we make some real progress on O.

  13. Dang. From something like “I told you guys, you’re going to like how this team plays”

    To We have to just keep bringing this team along,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We have a lot of young players playing and a lot of new players playing. It’s challenging every week … We have to keep working at getting better each week and hopefully that light bulb starts to glow a little bit brighter for us to be a more productive team and do as well as we need to do” in two weeks.

    Come on Karl, fix it.

    Go Buffs

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