Fifteenth Verse, Same as the First

I’m usually a pretty safe bet to invite to a tailgate.

As a general rule, I am too nervous to eat or drink before a game, so I’m not much of a threat to put a dent into your pregame spread.

This weekend, though, I was able to down my pregame meal without any issues. While I had given myself the freedom to dream of a CU upset of USC, my head knew better.

Sure, USC was vulnerable. The Trojans were coming off of an embarrassing 45-27 loss to Oregon State. The Beavers won in the Coliseum for the first time since 1960, and had done so in impressive fashion. The Beavers ran for 322 yards, and, even with OSU committing two turnovers and 14 penalties for 154 yards, the Trojans were never a threat to win.

Oh, and USC was coming to town with an interim head coach.

All the Buffs had to do was to follow the Oregon State template – use a strong rushing attack and take it to the Trojans. Beat them with the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, and use the momentum from the home crowd to post the first win over USC in school history.

Plenty of reason to believe in the Buffs. Plenty of reason to be nervous before the game.

But I ate my sandwich quickly and quietly – not much chance at indigestion for this game.

I knew better than to hope. You knew better than to hope.

We’ve seen this production before.

A Drama, which turns into a Comedy, which finishes as a Tragedy.

The USC game opened well enough, with the Buff defense forcing a three-and-out. The 48,197 on hand for a beautiful fall afternoon at Folsom had reason to cheer. Maybe – just maybe – the Buff defense would play as well as they did against Texas A&M.

But … the Buff defense would not force another three-and-out until the fourth quarter, when the game was very much out of hand.

CU’s first offensive series opened with a nine-yard pass from Brendon Lewis to tight end Brady Russell and a two-yard run by Jarek Broussard for a first down. Maybe – just maybe – offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini had designed a game plan which would play to the abilities of Brendon Lewis.

But … Brendon Lewis continued to hold onto the ball too long, and it cost him – again. Two plays later, Lewis was sacked, leaving the  CU drive total at: five plays; one yard.

By the time Colorado picked up first down No. 2 … it was already a 10-0 game.

Still, the Buffs teased us one more time, just as they did in the Arizona State game last weekend.

Against the Sun Devils, the Buffs were down 14-0 in the second quarter, but put together a long drive for a field goal just before halftime, and then looked good in a touchdown drive to open the second half. A 14-0 game was now 14-10. The Buffs were in the game … until they weren’t. The Sun Devils scored the final 21 points in a 35-13 laugher.

Against the Trojans, the Buffs were down 20-0 in the second quarter, but the defense forced a fumble, recovered at the USC 48-yard line. The CU offense, which had run 19 plays for a total of 25 yards to that point, managed to put together a scoring drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Deion Smith just before halftime.

The Buffs were in the game … until they weren’t. The Buffs received the opening kickoff to start the second half … and fumbled the ball away. By the time CU scored again, it was 30-7, and the game no longer in doubt.

“A disappointing day”, understated head coach Karl Dorrell, who fell below .500 for the first time at CU (5-6). “Unfortunately for us we felt we had a good plan going into it [the game] and we didn’t even come close to getting the level of execution that we were expecting. I would say that today was kind of a mixture of everything.”

Excuse me?

“We felt we had a good plan going into the game”???

Was the game plan to get Brenden Rice one touch? Dimitri Stanley two? Brendon Lewis had a career-best passing day … 162 yards. The USC defense which gave up 322 yards rushing to Oregon State gave up 80 to the Buffs.

What’s so depressing for the Buff Nation is not so much that the Buffs lost to USC on Saturday … we were expecting another loss.

What is so depressing is that this team is not even competitive.

The game was reminiscent of CU’s games against USC early in the decade, when the Trojans could name the score.

Remember the 2011 USC game? It was 42-17, with the game not even that close, as quarterback Matt Barkley threw for a school-record six touchdowns. “Eventually, it will turn our way”, said first-year head coach Jon Embree. My Essay for that game was entitled, “I feel bad that I don’t feel worse“, which was all about how the Buff fan base had become so numb that even a 25-point loss – CU’s seventh in a row that season – didn’t even hurt.

Or what about the 2012 USC game? It was 50-6, with Matt Barkley throwing for another six touchdowns. The loss left the Buffs 1-6, on their way to what was then a school-record seventh straight losing season, and CU’s first solo last place conference finish … since 1915.

That’s where the 2021 Buffs are at. Loss No. 15 to the Trojans feels like so many of the others. Sure, there have been some closer games of late, but 15 losses are 15 losses.

And now the team is regressing.

And that’s where the second meaning of “Fifteenth Verse, Same as the First” comes into play.

It’s been 15 years since the ignoble 2006 season, the first season under Dan Hawkins. The Buffs – who had won the Big 12 North Division four of the previous five seasons – opened the 2006 campaign with losses to Montana State and Colorado State – and limped to the first-ever ten loss season in school history.

And the program has been wandering in the desert of college football irrelevance ever since.

Even in the three seasons when the Buffs went bowling in the past 15 years, the seasons ended with heads hanging low:

  • In 2007, the 6-6 season ended with a losing record as the Buffs fell to Alabama in the Independence Bowl;
  • In 2016, the 10-2 season ended with two routs – a 41-10 thumping by Washington in the Pac-12 title game, followed by a 38-8 embarrassment at the hands of Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl; then
  • In 2020, the 4-0 start ended in a thud, as the Buffs lost to Utah 38-21, then 55-23 to Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Hell, you could win a bar bet by asking Buff fans to name the last time CU ended a season – any season – with a victory …

In case you were wondering … That would be 2011, when the first season under Jon Embree ended with a 17-14 win over Utah … to give CU a 3-10 final record.

The last time CU ended a season with a victory that actually gave fans optimism about the next season? That would be 2004, when a win over UTEP in the Houston Bowl left the Buffs with an 8-5 record (after, um, losing 42-3 in the Big 12 championship game).

And now, after getting rid of Mike MacIntyre for finishing 5-7 in back-to-back seasons, then losing Mel Tucker after what was considering a promising 5-7 season (at least from a recruiting standpoint – Michigan State, for one, liked what they saw), a 5-7 season in 2021 is a pipe dream.

Buff fans are resigned to a 2-10 season … perhaps as high as 3-9; perhaps as low as 1-11. Followed by another long winter of despair.

A 5-7 record in 2022? We’ll talk about that during the offseason as a hoped for best result.

Are you up for that?

A 16th season of disappointment?

Oh … and probably loss No. 16 in a row to USC …


41 Replies to “Fifteenth Verse, Same as the First”

  1. Buffs will not be playing football within 10 years or at the very least be in the bottom tier of teams in the Mountain West . CU is stuck in football hell with the continual acceptance of mediocracy of coaching, recruiting and financing.

    1. Should have stated, “at the very best”. At any rate, we are stuck with a coach that they will not buy out (that well is WAY EMPTY). At the end of his contract and many dismal seasons (SEE: John Embree), we start from scratch………AGAIN. And….Again…..Again…..insanity.

        1. Well weed its like this
          Me……Wisconsin and CU degree
          Wife….two degrees from CU
          Brother in law two degrees from CU
          Sister in law two degrees from CU
          Daughter attending CU graduate in May

          And yes Tads new house is not yet finished but it looks good

          Don’t live next to him but in the same area.

          And you? Mr. “that was the view on campus at the time”


          Go Buffs …………..take the weekend off

          1. Okay I am old and messed that up
            Daughter graduated from CU
            Granddaughter graduating in may

  2. We are now at a tipping point.

    A perfect time to make substantial changes. There comes a time in every organization, when everything seems to go wrong and then, suddenly, mercifully… there’s a natural pause.

    That’s when all heads turn toward the leader, expecting something to change. Understanding and counting on, a leader’s role and responsibility in such times. Expecting them to fix things.

    That time is now.

    It started with bad play calling and missed assignments. That’s really a one dimensional issue and should have already been fixed. Stubborn refusal to adjust, has unfortunately now devolved to the head coach losing his cool in public. The frustration is palpable. There is currently an expectation for something significant to happen. All stake holders, including current players and potential recruits are watching. We are at a point in this drama, when such changes will be expected and even met with understanding and acceptance.

    All heads are turned toward the leader. Everyone is waiting for it.

    It is now time for RG to take that long walk down the hallway and have that hard, inevitable conversation with HCKD. It’s time for him to demand from his head coach, a substantial, organizational game plan that is timely, includes significant changes and will set a fresh, new course toward marked improvement. There must be a clear understanding that his immediate career hangs in that balance. An apology and then more of the same just isn’t good enough.

    Time for RG to get hands on.

  3. I didn’t see anything in Lewis this game. Even the successful plays (the two big passes to Brady Russell) happened more in SPITE of Lewis than BECAUSE of him. Dudes that are wide open for five seconds! Get it there faster!

    He still didn’t manage to pull the trigger on any throws where a guy was covered except MAYBE the TD pass.

    Meanwhile, Slovis doesn’t even look that good, but he can chuck it up to Drake London who makes tight coverage and bad throws look amazingly successful.

    Is Rice as good as his recruiting profile and last name would make us expect? Who knows, but he’s certainly not making plays like that….

  4. Couldn’t agree more with everything that has been said, we need to adjust and get the playmakers the ball some how, some way or there will be a mass exodus through the portal. I’m headed to the river next weekend for my bye week and some much needed fly fishing. Go Buffs, CU at the AZ game, unless it’s at 830pm…

  5. I don’t think coach Dorrell has learned this lesson. His offense does not work in college football. It was one of the reasons he fired at UCLA. It was the reason he was fired at Vanderbilt after one year as the OC.

    I think it would be good for both CU and Chev to part ways. . Chev does deserve to get fired and so does Landesdorf. Landesdorf is the QB coach and the passing game coordinator. So in theory he is one putting the pass plays in the game plan. It is really bad he can’t find Lewis some plays to run where he is comfortable in running. Good coaches develop plays that fit their players strength and forcing the run their system.

    We may beat Arizona and/or Washington but it does not really matter if it is 1-11 or 3-9. This years record won’t change the eventful spin we will get for next season. We now have an OC who understands Dorrell’s offense plus with all experience the young players have got. The Tennessee QB transfer fits the system well.

    Stuart mentioned next year 5-7 record might be generous. I thinking there will be mass exodus into the portal. I would do not blame if Clayton, Rice or anyone leave to play somewhere else. Next year’s schedule is tougher on paper than this years with TCU at home and playing Air Force and Minnesota on the road is tough. 5-7 may be the record everything goes right for them.

    Sorry about the rant.

    1. whats that Reese’s commercial? Not sorry?
      I was thinking myself that all the previous time in the NFL didnt prepare KD to adapt to the college game because there isnt that much disparity in the athletic ability of players in the NFL.
      The only light I can see at the end of the tunnel is if he really isnt blowing smoke about opening up the offense for actually putting players where they will operate best and be more creative in play design and the timing of play calling….even though I don remember him saying that part.
      Part of that is, if not firing Chev, just making him a guy with a job but no job description except for
      detail things and KD putting the offense, both in practice and game time, on his own shoulders. I dont think Chev is able or willing to think out of the box given his record here BKD (before KD). So before some folks start shrieking their derision about trick plays the minute someone talks out of the box or creativity I would like to remind them thats simply something other than what pisses us off every game this year.
      and speaking of trick plays I have seen at least one a game in the many other games I have watched and everyone except one has gone for a TD or really big yardage. The only one I saw fail was when the recipient of a toss fumbled it. If course you dont run one every other series but at least its a small sign that the OC or the HC isnt asleep at the switch all game long like they have been. It will also pick up the morale of the players who could call the game’s drudgery themselves
      right now. I cant imagine playing in a dead end offense all this time. I did in high school but thats all there was from everyone so it didnt make a difference in the game’s outcome.

  6. Well? Here are my thoughts on the weekend of Saturday sadism (or really masochism, but that didn’t ring as nicely, and I liked that sadism includes sad):

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Luke Fickell does at USC. It must be his job to take, if he wants it. And people thought/think Bohn was bad at hiring coaches.

    It’s amazing to me, I mean amazing, how good the ACC defensive coaches have gotten since Dabo and his offensive staff, who’ve basically been together for a decade, no longer have generational talents in Trevor Lawrence and DeShawn Watson (along w/a lot of other NFL dudes around them). Coaching (at least to the extent that coaching means recruiting). Yeah, Clemson won, but largely in spite of themselves, with another abysmal offensive display. Same staff. Different players. Different results.

    Jim Harbaugh, who many thought was a goner, is looking pretty good again.

    Granted, it’s early season still. But a third of the way through, we’re seeing some decent trends. And the trends in Boulder are not good. Particularly hearing about even keel Karl losing his keel walking off the field.

    So, to coaching… Karl, it turns out, may not be the guy. Who knew (that’s sarcasm for some)? I’ll still give him more time and the benefit of the doubt. What choice do we have? Who else would want this job?

    But if Karl’s not the guy, I’m pretty sure neither are Lance and Rick. This is their mess. Rick’s great at raising and managing money. And, in this era, that is the #1 job of an AD. But, right behind that are hiring coaches for the money sports. Whiff and apparently, whiff. I’ll offer a kind thank you to Mr. Bohn for getting Tad into the fold.

    As all y’all know, I’m big on players making plays. And for whatever reason, Buffs players aren’t making many of them. Any of them? It is possible that the 30%-ish that comes down to coaching is outweighing the 70%-ish of players making plays? EP felt that’s exactly what happened to his talented high school football team.

    I learned watching the broadcast yesterday that apparently Brendon knew his entire offensive playbook and often called his own plays in high school. Granted, typically high school play books aren’t that tough to master, but that’s still a sign the kid is bright. So, when he said “I know the play book like the back of my hand” he probably was not being hyperbolic. So, that’s good. But he still isn’t functioning like he knows the playbook. Or maybe, despite knowing the play book, he doesn’t know defenses, and that’s causing his hesitation. Or maybe, like on that swing pass that he couldn’t make in the spring showcase either, he’s just not that accurate a passer? At least in games. I don’t know, honestly. I’m not a football coach. He has moments. Maybe Karl’s right, and by continuing to get game reps, it will click? But, I still think we all agree, try Drew. Try Wolverton. Try something different. But again, not a one of us sees them practice.

    The offensive line isn’t helping. The times they did try to attack the edges (that’s some diversity in play calling at least) USC’s defensive speed usually got there before our running backs.

    Would JT have made a difference? We’ll never know. At this point, I’ll keep wasting my Saturdays, hoping for glimmers of hope. Once again, the know nothing national media seemed to know more than we all did. This is not a very good team. Let’s hope they can get some wins. At least I know with certainty they will not get embarrassed again next Saturday.

    And maybe, just maybe that kid named Owen McCown will be a stud QB who has the physical, and mental talents to drive a D1 football team to success. My biggest concern is that he grows and that his body can take the beating it will no doubt need to take. And hopefully he keeps his commitment to CU to try to compete and, sigh, once again work to turn things around.

    Go Buffs

    1. Well said. I am sorry but we just don’t have very good lineman and very poor qb play. I have a problem with the lack of coaching during the off season and during the week over play calling on game day. The offense just looks lost no matter the play called

    2. Clemson not the same staff
      New coach two years ago
      New rb coach this year.
      Dismal running attack

      Offensive scheme is as old as the rock. He is running the same old thing. Outdated. New talent old scheme. No adapt to the new high ranked personnel To him and chev, scheme always matters cause there mantra is ” I am me and you are not” (Chev and earache take a note)
      Still waiting for your “Why I hate the Real Mac essay, or whatever. Lots of excuses. You should be on the Buff Staff.

      Hullabaloo and Buffaloes too

      1. And let me add. This guy is the best at doing break down of plays. His comment is accurate as the performance shows
        Dan Orlovsky
        Sep 25
        Been telling Clemson fans for 18 months

        The offense is behind everyone scheme wise. Trevor covered up a lot-& it held him back

        It can’t always be about “execution”. Your job coaches is to make execution “easier”

        It’s fair to say/ask “yes you can recruit-but can you DEVELOP”?


        Note: Take a memo chev

        1. Orlovsky? Ok. I will grant that he knows way more about football than you, or I, combined. And he said “ Trevor covered up a lot-& it held him back” so? Trevor’s talent covered up for poor coaching? Got it. And it held him back how, exactly?

          Go Buffs

          1. Call him up.
            Trevor and Clemson………………a great match…………….then it wasn’t.
            Yup poor coaching killed the pigeon.
            They got stale. Believed it was them. All them. Their scheme got figured out . The scheme became stale. Like old bread left on counter.
            Boom ….lose. Exposure begins. Trevor leaves


            Note: Produce the “why I hate the real Mac” expose.
            Note 2: You can’t just spew that hate, say you are going to write an expose and then go dark.

      2. Enough of the Mac bit!! It’s really not that hard….you have a founder of the Promise Keepers fattening his own wallet using CU Football as his promotional arm. Same time you have his daughter (2 baby daddy from the team?!?!), look the other way attitude re. his players, recruiting questionable character. Once we went spread he had only a basic idea of what we were doing and became just a motivational figure-head, lead recruiter. Again, I was THERE and this was the prevailing view on campus during that time.

        1. The prevailing view on campus is meaningless and you know it.
          Bring me the facts of that view.

          Until then.

          Sit down.


          Note: Yup there were some questionable recruits. Probably the only place in the country at CU and the only time in the history of CU

          Note 2: His daughters exploits are none of you business.

          Note 3: Promise keepers was a great idea. Got lost somewhere. And the money? Show it to me

          Summary: You think he is the only one who had problem recruits. And today? You think he is the only coach who had problems with his kids. You think he is the only coach who tried to do good for the community? Your last line “Again, I was THERE and this was the prevailing view on campus during that time” means nothing.

          Earache, I hope you do better with facts and data rather than “I was there”

          1. I got facts. I got opinions. You are dying to hear them. And you will. You could just call me, but you won’t.

            At least I call my opinions opinions, not facts. You seem to think your opinions are facts and try to foist them out there as such. And try to berate those who disagree.

            I Will post my thoughts on mac long before you drop your mask of anonymity.

            Go Buffs

          2. So what part of being a complete and total hypocrite that everyone ON CAMPUS can see through not hard evidence of legitimate negativity towards MAC???
            Oh, wait you must have voted for Trump…I get it.

            LMAO on #2 get off your high horse, it’s VERY public knowledge.

          3. You want the truth, but can’t handle the truth…..hmm again like another prominent figure I know.

    3. Same thought regarding Qb and the playbook. My title has “couch” not “coach” but I think the speed and the timing of needing to make the throw before the guy turns around and is open is proving really difficult. But, receivers are surely not helping. One play stuck in my mind was a double crossing route by Stanley and Russel, except they both cut and cross at the same downfield distance, Russel gets a little push by the defending LB and then collides with Stanley, two receivers on the ground. Geez, one can’t make this stuff up. And I just can’t understand the Broussard out routes being the 2nd or 3rd option, by the time he gets the ball he gets smashed by a defender. That play needs to a quick throw while there’s still space, or forget it. It is truly puzzling. We could go on and on. I saw this poor homeless guy wandering downtown Denver on Friday having an animated conversation with himself, and thought he must be a Buffs fan.

  7. Never been a fan of playing 2 QBs, but at this point I would even be happy with alternating Lewis and Carter on every series, even if the play scheme didn’t change. But they really need to draw up some more dynamic run/screen plays no matter what. I agree Stuart this might be the worst offense of the last 15 years (or tied with the Bernard Jackson year). It’s a mystery to me how many times I see a MWC or G5 school QB tear it up and wonder why CU can’t get one of those guys.
    Defensively, yeah they are starting to show cracks, but they have good talent and are inevitably wearing down vs. some really good offenses. I wish they would stunt and blitz more. Becoming a little predictable.

  8. Wading through my emotions (thank you, CUATG for providing that space!!) I’ve realized that we all thought we were beyond ‘this’. That the Hawk/Embree stink was finally off and the program as a whole had at least righted the ship to where middle of the road was baseline. We could now begin ‘growing’ the program….
    Instead we are all the way back to the DARK YEARS and staring at a foundation that is cracking before our eyes.

  9. After four straight games, why not just change things up at QB? Everyone knows Lewis can’t read and throw and they pack the box. Why can’t we take a 3 step drop and throw a crossing route like every other team?

  10. I am really glad we have a bye week. I agree with you, Stuart, we all need a break. Let’s hope we will see some improvement in 2 weeks. GO BUFFS!

  11. Starting with KD, then Chev, this coaching staff is not currently demonstrating the leadership capabilities to navigate through the situation at hand. What is the current situation? A roster predominantly filled with underclassmen. What does that mean? Less experience and less leadership from the players. That puts a premium on coaching, even if the reality is that it will take 1-2 years for the team to fully develop. You deal with the situation you have at hand as a leader and adapt. That includes leveraging the strength of the personnel you have today even if you have a longer term vision of how you want things to go. You make hard choices and make changes. And you serve as a role model (that does not include shoving camera people- that shows you are losing control). None of the coaches’ plans and expectations have gone as they have hoped. Why is that? The coaches need to examine that and then look in the mirror and ask: “What do I need to do differently?” “Are my changes incremental or do they really need to be more significant to correct the situation?” I certainly hope we do not hear about “details” to be fixed. There are so many details to be fixed that there are gaping holes all over the place and the ship is sinking. Change starts at the top. Will we see it in two weeks? Unfortunately, KD and Chev have history together which make changes more emotionally difficult. Sitting a QB for a game to help him see the landscape and stop pressing is emotionally difficult. Those “difficulties” come with leadership and getting paid a lot of money. Own it. Make the changes.

    1. Agreed, the coaching is awful. Whether it’s technique, scheme, play calling (or composure of late)…it’s a total failure across the board.
      Where are all the ‘better’ freshman?? Not one is making an impact?
      This year is/has been toast….but already worried about the ‘big picture’, next year/future.

  12. The thing I am most distraught over, the most frustrated is that Dorrell seems to think we are close and is not going to make changes in season. He is incapable or unwilling to even unable to make an adjustment. Last year was amazing and given a decent qb we see what he can do. But without that they seem to be unable to do anything but keep trying to improve doing the same thing. Why won’t they play Carter? Why? I don’t care if he only knows 10 plays. Teach him those 10 damn plays and let him run them. It cannot get worse…. Or just admit you have given up on this season so you are trying to get your seniors good film for their nfl try and get everyone reps and admit this is a practice year…..

  13. Well said as usual, Stuart. OH….I hear the Cu Arizona game start time was announced. 2:30 a.m. The was picked up by the Nickelodeon network. Welcome to big time college football. But at least our QB is not having his confidence shaken by pulling him from a game. How ironic Westbrook was at the game. To win another bar bet ask your friends the last time you saw an exciting play by CU that actually had significance. Can you imagine the angst among CU fans if Arizona breaks their 17 game losing streak against us? Or will anyone even notice……sad.

  14. Thanks Stu
    Definitely depressing that there isn’t more progress, what happened to “player friendly”
    I sense stubborness and stoicism coming from the coaching staff (KD)
    Rooney may be right, there need to be changes this bye week or it is more of the same
    Bill McCartney new what he had and made it work -wishbone (I know different era) but I was there for it and he got it done
    Can’t hope to have what you don’t
    Gotta make this season competitive even if we are losing, figure how to light it up or you risk losing the players
    Still pulling for ya Buffs !

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