Friday, November 10, 2017

Colorado Buffaloes: One Last Home Stand For Colorado's Seniors

After last week's 4th quarter implosion and loss to Arizona State, the Colorado Buffaloes made the walk of shame back to Boulder knowing their season of high promise had denigrated to a season based on delusions of grandeur. 

Chatter on the fan boards ground to a halt this week, as fans (including this writer) sought out new ways to spend their Saturdays. Ways that involve more enjoyment and less disappointment than way too many of the Saturdays of the 2017 season in Boulder.

Tomorrow's game against USC represents the last home game of the year for the Buffaloes, and the last home game ever for the seniors on the roster. Final thoughts on some of these young men:

Michael Adkins - RB
The heart goes out for Adkins. From early on in his career, he has showed flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, the injury bug was a persistent hindrance that kept the young man from ever really reaching his potential on the gridiron.

Bryce Bobo - WR
Bobo's nickname should be "Amazing!" No Buff fan will ever forget his unforgettable one handed catch against Oregon in the 2016 season. The young man's big hands made spectacular catches seem easy during his time in Boulder. Sadly, Colorado's woes during his stay have kept Bryce largely out of the national spotlight. Fortunately for Bobo, his skill set should play well at the next level.

Shay Fields - WR
Shay earned the nickname "Big Play Shay" due to his speed and ability to get in the open from early in his Colorado career. Even when the Buffaloes were struggling during his tenure, Fields could be counted on for a number of big yardage plays every season. He also struggled at times, making fans wonder if there were some unreported physical issues hindering his play.

George Frazier - TE/DT
Frazier is one of those guys who make us older fans yearn for the olden days. He's a guy who gives his all every play he's on the field, and also a guy who plays both offense and defense. If that seems strange, it's because only a handful of FBS players play both sides of the ball in the specialized world of college football.

Jeromy Irwin - OL
Irwin has been in Boulder for longer than the typical college football player. Sadly, that extended stay was due to several severe injuries that kept him off the field despite his tenacity and talent.

The final three players listed have a special place in the writer's heart.

Derek McCartney - OLB
Anyone with any sense of history knows that Derek is the grandson of the greatest coach in Colorado history, Bill McCartney. He grew up with football in his blood. His NFL father Shannon Clavelle was an all-time great at CU. But as good as his football bloodlines are, Derek is a world class student as well. He finished his pre-med degree in three years and will earn his masters degree next month. Barring a stint in the NFL, Derek will soon take his prodigious intellectual talents to medical school.

Ryan Moeller - DB
Most people have never heard of Rifle, Colorado. That is the small town where Ryan Moeller grew up and became a Colorado high school football legend. Ryan's senior year in high school was what most players would call a career. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards and scored 50 touchdowns in one year. Really.

Despite those gaudy stats, Moeller had to walk on at Colorado instead of being given a scholarship. Back in the days when we could still watch practice, Moeller stood out to the serious football followers. Soon enough, the young man from Rifle had earned a place on the field and also earned a scholarship. Watching the young man go down to injury against Arizona State was one of the lowest points of a disappointing season. Like the last player on this list, Ryan Moeller gave his all every play during his time at Colorado. His influence will be missed.

Phillip Lindsay - RB
Lindsay was such a force of nature during practice for Colorado that he quickly earned the nickname "The Tasmanian Devil" for his intensity. Not everyone remember the roots. Phillip grew up and Colorado Buffaloes fan and surprised many when he committed to Colorado following the disastrous 1-11 season in 2012. He proclaimed that he intended to help Colorado return to winning ways.

Even during his redshirt year, Lindsay stood out and was selected scout player of the year by the Colorado coaches. Over the next four years he became one of the best to ever line up at tailback in Colorado. He is the first running back to ever run for back to back 1,000 yard seasons at CU. Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam didn't do it. And all-time leading rusher Eric Bieniemy didn't do it either. Only Lindsay can make that claim.

Sadly, Lindsay will likely fall short of the all-time rushing record. He's close, but it's a tougher row to hoe than some of his predecessors. Both Salaam and Bieniemy had a stable of future NFL offensive linemen leading their way. Lindsay never had that luxury. His yards were earned the hard way.

More important even than the numbers, however, was the leadership that Lindsay gave the team. He gave his heart and soul every play and every practice, and also on the sideline. A great coach in Colorado's past once talked about they type of player that Lindsay represents. He said those types of players were the key. Give him 20 of those guys and he could beat anyone.

I will be on hand to give these guys my final salute tomorrow. I hope that both the serious and casual fan of Colorado football will appreciate the sacrifice and dedication these young men gave to dear old CU.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Buffs Collapse in 4th Quarter, Lose to Arizona State

Turn out the lights, the party's over. Colorado took a 10 point lead into the 4th quarter and managed to lose by 11 points, 41-30. Actually, the season was never much of a party. Maybe just a surprise party where the guest of honor was smart enough to not show up.

Although the Buffs mathematically have a chance to win another game, they won't. They make the worst rushing teams in the Pac-12 look like Barry Switzer's 1980's Oklahoma Sooners.

One could say that head coach Mike MacIntyre quit on his team by taking away their last chance for a win. The Sun Devils ran it down Colorado's throats all 2nd half, and Colorado was unable to stop them. Despite that, he choose to punt the ball back to ASU with less than three minutes left.

Most of us figured that ASU would run out the clock but Colorado failed to stop any runs and the Sun Devils scored another clinching touchdown.

The score against USC next week will be as embarrassing as the Washington and Washington State games. Mark that prediction. Whatever the line is, the Trojans will probably triple it.

Sadly, a season predicated on promised great success has turned out to be yet another lost season in Boulder. At least it's almost time to hit the slopes. Or maybe go traveling. Anything other than more wasted time.

Colorado Buffaloes vs Arizona State Sun Devils: Battle for the Middle

Sun Devil Stadium is a hard place to win unless you are playing for Arizona State or playing in a bowl game against another team from outside of Tempe.

The only time that Colorado has won there was in the Fiesta Bowl following 1994 season. In Bill McCartney's last game, the Buffs put a serious whipping on Lou Holtz's Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Colorado has never beaten Arizona State in Tempe, and hasn't had much luck against them anywhere overall. Last year's victory in Boulder was the first ever for the Buffs against the Sun Devils. Overall, Colorado is 1-7 against ASU.

The past doesn't bode well for Colorado, so the job of Mike MacIntyre and his staff is to get their team to play for the future and forget the past. The Buffaloes have won five games this year, and need a win in the last three weeks to become bowl eligible.  

With Pac-12 South leader (and #17) USC coming to Boulder next week, the Buffaloes face a tough road to bowl-ville unless they can pull an upset of 4-4 Arizona State. 

The Sun Devils have been up and down all year. They got spanked at home last week by USC, but beat #5 Washington (at home) and went on the road to defeat Utah in the two weeks prior. Early in the season, the Devils also lost to San Diego State and Texas Tech. It's been a tough season to watch for ASU fans.

Likewise, things have been tough in Boulder. After last year's 10 win season, fans of Colorado expected them to once again vie for the Pac-12 South title. Coaches added to the expectations when they proclaimed Colorado would have one of the best offenses in the country.

Then came the season. The Buffs went 3-0 in non-conference games but looked wholly uninspired and far from explosive on offense. After losing their first three Pac-12 games, the Buffs squeaked by Oregon State, a team which had yet to be within 28 points of an FBS team. Then came the 28-0 debacle loss to Washington State to drop the Buffs to 4-4.

The grumblings from the Peanut Gallery at Folsom Field got louder and louder during the season, and became an outright roar during the Washington State loss. The quarterback was benched, and after neither backup QB could do anything either, calls were made for the play-caller (and Co-offensive coordinator) Brian Lindgren to be fired or demoted.

Finally, in week 9, the Buffs finally showed some fire. They were explosive offensively, and cruised to a big win over California. Most fans were willing to recognize the effort and congratulate the team on a well played game. It was good to see the team having fun again.

Throughout this week, however, the facts began to sink in about the Buffs' two conference wins. They were against the two worst teams in the league this year. The Buffs have lost to the middle of the road teams in the Pac-12, and been smoked by the upper level teams. 

Most fans were happy with last week's win, but are unconvinced that it will lead to more wins this year and a bowl game. But they are waiting with bated breath to see how this game goes. 

If the Buffs win, they will be bowl eligible and they will have a fighting chance to finish the season 8-4 and on a four game winning streak entering bowl season. 

If they lose, particularly if they lose badly (which is typical in games in Tempe against ASU), the Buffs could very well finish season 5-7 and on the outside looking in come bowl time. It's an all too familiar place to be with a decade between last year's bowl team and the last time they went bowling.

Buff fans are hoping against hope, but the emotional content from fans seems to be missing. They've had their hearts already broken this year. They are waiting for one more game before they give the Buffs their complete support.

They want their Buffs to win, and hope it comes true. The question remains whether the Buffaloes themselves are going to lay it all on the line and do whatever is necessary to win? Or will they face adversity and a tough road game and cash in their chips? Will the coaches rise to the occasion? Or will they be outcoached once again and lay the fault at the feet of their players?

Let's see who shows up. It's less than two hours until we find out.