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Friday, December 13, 2013

I've taken my talents to Ralphie Report...

I am still blogging but it is for SB Nation on CU things.  I will be writing a 5-part series on the life of a college walk-out soon.  I will also talk pro sports on here when I have time, but life is busy.  Look for me on www.ralphiereport.com talking CU sports.  I'll have a piece on why NFL QBs being paid over $15 million is a recipe to not win the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Colorado Buffaloes-Arizona State Preview and Oregon Ducks Recap...

The Buffs did what many thought they'd do against the Ducks, they laid an egg.  Hopefully it hatches into a first down or a 100-yard running effort by a back or a stop on third and long or... there are many things the Buffs need to hatch out of that egg.  There is light at the end of this dark tunnel, unfortunately it comes in the form of Charleston Southern on October 19th instead of this weekend against Arizona State.  Before we talk about the Sun Devils, let's talk about the Ducks.

Oregon Ducks Recap
The Colorado Buffaloes went in with fire and confidence against Oregon.  It was evident early when Colorado's defense held Oregon to a rare 3 and out.  Colorado then had a quick strike 55 yard pass to Paul Richardson to open up Colorado's first drive.  After getting the ball to the 16, the Buffs had 3 quick passes go incomplete and settled for a field goal.  Playing Oregon, there is no settling for a field goal if you want to have a shot.

Oregon proved that point scoring within their typical 2 minutes on a 75 yard drive that ended in a Marcus Mariota play fake boot.  Colorado was down 8-3, but a well thought out trick play had Paul Richardson throw his first collegiate pass to DD Goodson who scampered downfield for a touchdown.  Suddenly it was 10-8 Buffs and halfway into the first quarter there was a hey this could be fun thought coming to Buffs fans.  Wrong!!!

The Ducks then had a barrage of scoring to end the first quarter with an exclamation point touchdown after an ill-advised Connor Wood pass and the 10-8 lead turned to a 29-10 deficit.  The flap of the Duck wings put out the fire the Buffs had lit.

The Buffs then opened the 2nd quarter after two 20+ yard passes ended the first quarter with a third 20 yard pass.  The Buffs were within striking distance, but instead of putting their foot on the pedal, the brakes slammed hard and they once again decided to take the 3 points instead of going for the touchdown.  Colorado's defense responded and stopped the Ducks in flight and freshman Addison Gillam continued his amazing start to the season with a sack of Heisman trophy candidate Marcus Mariota.  But the Buffs offense took good field position and a strong start to their drive and fell flat on their face and once again settled for a short field goal.  The Buffs were down 29-16.  The Ducks still had complete control of the game.  Both teams had scored 4 times and a score that could  have been 29-28 and a game was instead just a respectable 29-16. 

Oregon doesn't settle and 29 quickly became 36-16 and then 43-16.  The Buffs defense was spent and the offense knew their was no shot, so it went into hibernation mode.  That was evident when the Ducks came out and scored on their first two drives making it 57-16 which turned out to be the final.  The Ducks just played to eat clock and prevent Colorado from scoring.  A respectable showing turned into a typical Colorado blowout loss.  But there are positives to take away along with the many negatives.

First, the negatives:
  • The Buffs went 0-15 on third down which is their worse performance ever.  They did convert a fourth down but to have 15 opportunities and not get one first down shows there are issues from play calling (the conservative draw on a manageable 3rd and 12 or less is awful in my opinion).
  • The Buffs allowed 755 yards which are the second most in school history. The Ducks could have put over 800 easily but had their subs in most of the fourth quarter.
  • The Buffs third down defense has been hit or miss.  They allowed 50% conversion which usually spells a loss.  Their 3rd and longs that they give up are the most frustrating thing to see as a fan and as could be seen by the knocked over pylon on his way out, Head Coach Mike MacIntyre feels the same way.
  • The Buffs continue their submission to the domination of the Pac 12.  They are averaging 50.5 points allowed to 16.5 points scored, a difference of 34 points a game.
  • Settling for 3 when you need 7.  The coaches needed to pressure an offense like Oregon to HAVE to score. 
  • The offensive line where Connor Wood was pressured constantly.  Woods also has not looked comfortable the first two games of the Pac 12 after looking like the seasoned veteran the first two weeks.  Tougher competition will do that.
The Positives:

  • The special teams units.  Punt and kick protection has been much better and the kickoffs were really good on Saturday after being a nightmare in the first two games.  The return units had better returns though the speed is lacking for any potential game changing play. 
  • Paul Richardson-Not much else to say.  This guy is unreal.  As seen in Richardson's One-Handed Catch and his playmaking ability in general, he is one of the few elite players on this Buffs roster.
  • Chidera Uzo-Diribe-This senior captain has been huge.  While he only has 1 sack, he has six tackles for loss that are as good as a sack.  He is a constant problem for opposing teams and forces the opposing quarterback to rush decisions.  His four forced fumbles in four games is equally impressive but he has taken well to good coaching by Jeffcoat.
  • Christian Powell and Michael Adkins II-Powell finally ran with some pop and authority and Adkins II had some solid plays.  They should see some yards the next few weeks with a pourous Arizona State defense and FCS opponent Charleston Southern followed up by fellow Pac 12 bottom feeder in Cal.
  • Addison Gillam-A true freshman leads the Buffs in tackles and has as many unassisted tackles as the second leading tackler.  He has 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 5 zero yard tackles to go along with 11-3rd down stops.  There is not enough praise to put on the play this young man has had in his young career.  He plays sideline to sideline, reads well, takes good angles and is a sure tackler.  He is the diamond in the rough that MacIntyre and crew used to build San Jose State into a power. 
  • Greg Henderson-He now has four interceptions on the year.  He doesn't get challenged much but when he does the drive usually ends early with a solid 3rd down stop, pass break up or interception. 
Arizona State Preview
ASU is 3-2 after losing to Notre Dame in Texas.  It was a chance to put themselves solidly in the Top 25.  Instead they sit outside of it again and are looking to rebound before a shot at redemption by hosting #16 Washington.  Arizona State can put points on the board, averaging 42.2 per game for the season and not being under 32 in any game this year.  They have also allowed 30+ points against all teams they have played on the FBS level.  

Arizona State has a strong passing attack (something that has been the norm for what seems like since my youth) led by Taylor Kelly.  Kelly has a full year under his belt and looks comfortable in 2013 in his second year as the man at ASU.  His favorite receiver is Jalen Strong whom has 569 yards on 39 receptions.  His longest catch is only 36 yards, so he is a first down machine more than a big play guy like Paul Richardson.  He is averaging over 8 catches and 125 yards the past four weeks.

Arizona State returned 17 starters from an 8-5 team and with the addition of Strong appears to be headed in the right direction to be around 8-5 again or improve potentially to 9-4.  The Sun Devils biggest issue remains from last year, while they have a better receiving corp than 2012, they lack that big play threat.  Put Paul Richardson on the Sun Devils and they are likely 5-0 instead of 3-2.  All that said, their game against UCLA will probably determine the South Division representative in the Pac 12 game if both teams do what they should over the remainder of their schedule.

Arizona State does play the pass well, but they have faced many run reliant teams and had close games that kept their passing yardage allowed low.  The fact they give up 30 points a game is a good sign for the Buffs who need a kick start and a tight game.  Arizona State doesn't wow you but they play good football and are well coached. 

This is a who cares sort of game for Arizona State.  They are focused on putting together a string of victories before they play at UCLA on November 23rd and with only Washington currently ranked, a big upset of Washington is probably more on their minds than a Colorado team they have dominated over the past decade. 

Colorado on the other hand is on the ledge.  They have played like the 2011 and 2012 Buffs the last two weeks.  Things have to change in order to make this season not start looking like the previous two. 

Arizona State reminds me of Oregon State.  Solid quarterback play, solid receiving group with one main guy and a defense that wants a statement game against a Pac 12 opponent.  I believe Colorado's coaches are pissed on how the last two weeks went.  It is not the same team they saw in the fourth quarter in games they got behind.  I think Arizona State allows Colorado to finally have a respectable game again.  They have played the last two weeks, came back down to Earth and realized they aren't the 2-0 team they thought they were and know they aren't as bad as the last two weeks.  They are somewhere in the middle, wherever that may be only the season will tell.

The Buffs have not held a Pac 12 opponent to under 35 points since allowing 34 in their only win of 2012 against Washington State.  In order to compete against Arizona State, they are going to have to do the same.  I don't see the Sun Devils being 35 points better than the Buffs as they were last year.  If the Buffs hold the Sun Devils around 30, they have a shot to win.  If the Sun Devils score their 42 point average, it's another loss.  The Buffs have to settle their third down woes of the past couple weeks and take some pressure off their defense.

All that said, I think the Buffs fight much harder than the past two weeks but lose 40-30 with a late TD to make it closer than it appears.  Paul Richardson should get to over 750 yards on the season.  This is kind of that make or break game for Connor Wood.  If he continues to trend towards making bad throws and putting the Buffs in a hole, they may have to make the difficult decision of burning Sefo Liufau's redshirt early and see what he can do.  Wood needs to deal with the pressure like he did in the first two weeks and make quick, smart decisions. Turning to Sefo means the season is pretty much over and it's time to prepare for 2014.  I think a 40-30 game would show some progress back to what the Buffs should be heading into two games at home.

Season Outlook
I am sticking with 6-6, though as little as 4 wins as I originally predicted is easily predicted.  I believe the Buffs have a 3-2-3 schedule.  3 games are where they have 1 game that they should win, one they should be competitive in that could go either way and one they should lose sandwiched by two games that could be as bad as Oregon-Oregon State were in UCLA & Washington on the road. 

Should lose to Arizona State and USC based off talent alone.  Competitive games against Arizona and Utah.  Games they should win against Cal and Charleston Southern, though both will be looking to make the Buffs game the game they get a much needed win and a shock the big boys late season win respectively. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Colorado Buffaloes-Oregon Ducks Preview & Beavers Recap...

Well, Buffaloes fans don't have their head held as high and visions of a special season.  Reality from the previous came crashing down for yours truly and many Buffs optimists.  The pessimistic Buffs "fans" and non-supporters gave a big fat told you so along with the Beavers turning the role around and pounding the Buffs.  So here is a quick recap of OSU:

Oregon State Recap
The tandem of Brandin Cooks and Sean Mannion were what they have been all season, the best quarterback to wide receiver pairing in the nation.  The Buffs were not special on offense and I thought I was watching the teams from 2011 and 2012.  Connor Wood was 4 of 15 in the first half with an interception.  There was no way to sum up his day other than awful.  He couldn't hit a receiver and his throws were not accurate at all.  He looked like the Wood that was yanked from games that he got an opportunity in 2012.  The play calling was no better.  The Colorado staff repeatedly threw a short pass or ran a draw on 3rd and long.  You have to have your foot on the pedal in the Pac 12 or you end up getting rolled over.  That's what happened to Colorado.  They had five 3 and outs (one was an interception on 1st down) in the first half.  There was no rhythm and there was no sense of urgency.  It appeared that the Buffs may get out of the half down by only a score or even have the opportunity to tie the game when the Buffs defense forced a fumble with 4:14 in the first half.  That hope was short lived with a 3 rushes and out coupled with an unsportsmanlike penalty giving Oregon State the ball with 2:34 remaining.  With less than a minute to go and a 4th and 10 on the 33, the Buffs defense appeared to once again stop the bleeding the atrocious offense started.  Instead a poorly defended 4th and 10 lead to a 21 yard gain and the Buffs quickly were down 17-3 heading into halftime.

The 3rd quarter, all wheels came off the bus and Oregon State began the 2nd half with a quick touchdown drive and then added 2 more scores before the quarter ended.  The Buffs offense had 15 yards in the third quarter and were embarrassed by fumbles on kickoff returns, not being able to field a kickoff and with them leading already by 4 TDs, Mike Price and the Beavers decided to throw a pass back to Mannion to try to get him a receiving touchdown.  Instead they allowed Mannion to toss his 5th TD of the day.

After getting a TD and 2 point conversion, Colorado's defense had a good series and stopped the constant beating of Oregon State only to have Connor Wood throw his second interception and allow Mannion to come out and throw an easy 6th TD of the day, an Oregon State record!!!

Colorado got a late touchdown to make the final score 44-17 by the hands of Paul Richardson to give him his fifth of the season and give the Buffs a positive to an ugly day. 

The positives that can be taken from this game by the Buffs were:
  • Michael Adkins II-This true freshman from San Diego was the one bright spot on a rainy, gloomy Oregon day in Corvallis.  He rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries and looked like the best power/speed back Colorado has had in a while.  It was only one game against a weak run defense but he has ran with the most authority we have seen in a Buffs back this season.
  • Special Teams Coverage-While the fielding of the return teams was awful, the Buffs coverage units seemed to have a much better grasp on not allowing lanes to open up.  They were solid on both kicks and punts throughout the day.
  • Greg Henderson-He is CU's shutdown corner.  He allowed a couple good catches but for the most part, he had the best game of any person in the secondary.
  • Addison Gillam-He was out of position on a crucial 3rd and long but otherwise I can't fault this young man.  He has more speed than most thought and he seems to be a steal for a recruit that we are lucky came over with Mac and his staff.  He continues to impress.
  • The Buffs pass rush was the best we have seen all-season accumulating 2 sacks but mainly disrupting the backfield and forcing Oregon State to pass with 8 tackles for loss.  Of course, their passing game was on the money all day.
The negatives are plentiful:
  • Wood looked lost and Richardson looked pretty frustrated he wasn't able to get the ball to him.
  • The offense had no rhythm and it bit the Buffs in the butt all day by putting too much pressure on a defense that is better than the last two years but needs the offense to be the strength.
  • Returning game-Now they need to teach the guys how to field a squib kick and how to hold a ball when you are getting group tackled.  I think they have the wrong guys returning the ball and would like to see a guy like Devin Ross back there over Ryan Severson.
  • Secondary had issues opposite Henderson.  The coverage also looked to go to the wrong spot and make the wrong decision on many big plays the Beavers had.
  • Many more I don't care to detail
Oregon Ducks Preview
Colorado welcomes the Ducks into town at 4 p.m. MST, October 5th.  Oregon is a well oiled machine that seems to have lost nothing with the departure of Chip Kelly to the NFL.  The Ducks have the Number 1 rushing offense in the NCAA coupled with a Top 40 passing attack.  They average 59.8 points a game, good for 2nd most in the NCAA and only allow 10.8 per game which is 4th best in the NCAA.

The Ducks are lead by Heisman trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, who is both a threat with his arm (1000 yards passing) and legs (just under 300 yards rushing).  Mariota could run for over 1000 yards and pass for around 3000 yards.  The Ducks rushing attack is led by the two-headed beast of De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, both with over 325 yards for the season.  Mariota spreads the ball around but his main targets are Josh Huff with 16 catches for 342 yards and Braylon Addison with 14 catches for 187 yards.  The Ducks spread the ball around and put up yards and points quickly.  They had 6 touchdowns in under 2:30 on offense and added two punt return TDs against CAL.  Unlike with LT, the speed that kills is the legs of their team which is some of the fastest athletes ever seen as an overall team.

The Ducks force opposition to change their plans by getting ahead quickly and it's an absolute disaster.  Last year's Buffs were down by 56 points... at halftime.  The Ducks haven't lost a step and this Buffs team will have it's hands full.

The Buffs go into the game 38 point underdogs.  That's an improvement of the nearly 49 point dogs they were last year.  The Buffs are not the 2-0 team that we thought they were, nor are they the completely inept offensive team we saw against Oregon State.  I think they looked completely rusty and had no rhythm going for them.  I think Oregon will not help that rhythm but I believe the Buffs will respond with a much more solid showing.  They will not let the Ducks run over them like they did last year and they won't look as inept on offense.

The Buffs will be more prepared and MacIntyre probably installed some Oregon with Oregon State during their break.  It maybe wasn't the right decision.  I believe Wood gets back on solid footing and the offense uses their ability to run a little help the passing attack.  The Ducks will score quick and often, it will not be close but I look for the Buffs to cover and at least keep it respectable scoring the most points on Oregon and making it 52-21.  Normally I'd go into positional match-ups but I just don't see much chance for a team that has many second team guys that would start for Colorado

Season Outlook Weekly Revisited
The Oregon State game proved to optimistic Buffs fans that they are going to revert to their former selves at times and are not who we thought they were (as Dennis Green might have said).  The Buffs have a tough next two games with hosting Oregon after being 4 weeks away from Folsom and follow it up with a trip to Tempe to face the surging Arizona State Sun Devils.  The Buffs are rebuilding still and will most likely have a 3 game losing streak heading into either their October 19th make-up game.  I believe the Buffs have the right coach to guide them through this difficult stretch with 4 of the next 5 Pac 12 opponents being Top 25 programs.  The replacement game for Fresno State has yet to be announced is Charleston Southern, an FCS opponent.  The good news is the NCAA is giving the Buffs a waiver to allow 2 FCS wins for bowl eligibility.  This gives the Buffs a vision to look at with a much easier end of the year schedule and Arizona and Charleston Southern sandwiched between dual ranked opponent match-ups.  I fell like an SEC team playing a directional school after September but desperate times call for desperate measures.  I look at the remainder of the season like this.

Oregon, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA all being losses.
Cal and Charleston Southern as wins.
USC, Arizona and Utah as the toss-up games.  Utah has not looked special and depending on how the Buffs do against USC and Arizona, it could be a team needing a win to get to a bowl game that will put every bit into the game.  USC is talented and the loss of Kiffin may allow for a more relaxed team that shows that by the time the two teams play.  Arizona gets a confident Colorado team knowing they need a Win to try to get to 6 wins and stops the worse passing team in the pass-heavy Pac 12.

The Buffs and their fans have something to look forward to.  They have to feel excited by the fact the Buffs can finish 6-6 and go bowling thanks to a 1000-year flood, an NCAA rare exemption and a coaching staff that won't give up or point fingers but remain positive.  Buffs will finish 6-6 and go bowling a year sooner than expected.  Stay positive Buffs and all their LOYAL fans!!!  Go Buffs!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oregon State-Colorado Football Preview and Season Prediction...

It is Week 5 of the college football season and while Oregon State is playing Game 5, the University of Colorado is playing only their third game of the 2013 Season.  As anyone that is a college football fan should know, Colorado's game against Fresno State on September 14th was canceled postponed.  Currently it appears Fresno State, UNLV and the Mountain West Commissioner, Craig Thompson, are not that interested in moving schedules around to make that game work.  Almost immediately it sounded more like this game would get replaced by a different opponent.  Currently there are talks ongoing and I am sure something will get figured out, but Colorado needs an FBS school.  An FCS game will draw zero interest; and if the Buffs can get to 3-0 after this weekend, and doesn't count towards a bowl game which wouldn't be the enormous joke that most fans and any casual observer thought for the Buffs before the season started.  Before a bowl, you need six wins and this is one of those road game tests that Colorado Football has to pass in order to get there, so without further ado we preview Oregon State.

Oregon State Preview
Colorado hasn't squared off against Oregon State since 1988 and thus this is the first meeting as Pac 12 conference opponents.  Oregon State is 3-1 on the season.  They began the season with a heartbreaking loss to Eastern Washington, whom is a FCS Division school.  Unfortunately, for an Oregon State team with hopes of a big time bowl that wasn't the way for them to start their season.  However, it appears the Beavers have rebounded with 3 straight wins.  Delving deeper into the wins, Oregon State still has question marks to answer.

It took a big 4th quarter to come back against a very pedestrian Mountain West team in San Diego State in Week 4.  They also had to win in OT against a Utah team picked to be amongst third of the Pac 12 conference.

Their one double digit win came against Hawaii whom had their highest point production against Oregon State of only 14 points and is 0-3 on the season.  Oregon State hasn't impressed people the way they did to end 2012 and they look to be the middle of the Pac 12 than just below Oregon and Stanford as many prognosticators predicted them being better than the entire South Division potentially. 

Oregon State returns a very dynamic passing game.  It lost an NFL player in Markus Wheaton which made Oregon State one of the deadliest receiving tandems in 2012.  In 2013, it probably has the better of the two still there in Brandin Cooks.  Cooks is leading the nation in receiving yards, averaging 160 yards a game and 1.75 TDs per game, and is complimented by a Top 30 Receiver in Richard Mullaney.  The man responsible for spreading the ball around is Sean Mannion.  The Beavers quarterback has started out the season averaging 401 yards a game and is tops in the nation in passing yards.  He spreads the ball around, but his main target is Cooks.  Yes, the top QB and WR in the nation play in Corvallis, Oregon.  (The per game numbers rank slightly lower but are still amongst the Top 5 for both). 

Oregon State has had difficulties generating a running game, though they have a young workhorse in Storm Woods.  Storm Woods (a very fitting name in Corvallis, just in the valley of the forests that line the Oregon Pacific coast) had nearly a 1000 yard rushing with a dozen touchdowns in 2012.  While he is running  behind mostly the same line as last year, he hasn't had the success on the ground.  Woods has made up for it by averaging 50+ yards receiving a game and is over 100 yards from scrimmage every game between rushing and receiving.  The Buffs will have to make sure Woods isn't allowed to roll out into the flat, since he has the ability to pick up big yards in the open field.

The Beavers defense has had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, but other than that highlight, they don't seem to be doing anything special.  They have given up 145 yards a game on the ground and 287 per game through the air.  The reason they are 3-1 and not 1-3 is their offense is helping make up for their defensive lapses.

To date the Beavers have not had much success in the return game.  Their kicker has been solid and their punter average.  It is a unit that hasn't wowed you.  Oregon State has visions of putting together a string of victories with their next 3 against Colorado, Washington State and Cal whom are all picked to be amongst the bottom third of teams in the Pac 12.  A 6-1 start would take a ton of pressure off Oregon State heading into a brutal final 5 against Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington and ending with their rivalry game of Oregon in Eugene. 

Before the season, there wasn't much belief CU could go into Corvallis and get a win.  After a 2-0 start and a less than stellar opening to Oregon State's season, this game has many people believing it could be a good game.

This is a tough game for Colorado.  They will have had 21 days without a game which is nearly equivalent to the end of year bowl process.  They have had a lot on their minds with many of them or their friends displaced from their residences during flooding.  The positive is they have a coaching staff that has done what they did from day one, make a positive situation out of a negative one.  The staff had two solid scrimmages to get the team acclimated to game speed again last week and had a shorter scrimmage to start this week.  They have had two weeks to focus on Oregon State and they will have had three weeks to get over the aches and pains some were dealing with, especially Christian Powell.  You could tell Powell has been running a little tender and not had the power and speed in the first two weeks.  The Buffs need that threat of a running game.  A pedestrian defense to establish that running game with the bruising fullback turned halfback of Powell should re-introduce him to the Pac 12 this weekend.  It has hurt asking for Tony Jones or Donte Abron to get that 1 or 2 yards on 3rd down that is needed to sustain a drive or get a drive going.  Both of those backs are edge runners and more dangerous in open space.  Powell is dangerous when he's healthy and can hit the hole and drive.  That drive has been missing with his injuries.  The biggest thing the Buffs needed to work on was special teams.  I would say with 3 weeks and their performances, those units got extra attention and care and it's good they didn't have to test them against Fresno State and instead will face off against Oregon State first.  The worse thing they can do on the road is allow Oregon State the field position they have their first two opponents.  Oregon State's offense can put up points and yardage and Colorado's defense is going to have some tough series that they haven't had to face since last year.

However, this isn't your Buffs secondary from last year.  Kenneth Crawley and Greg Henderson have been blankets at corner and will have their biggest tests to date.  This should be a very interesting match-up to keep an eye on and see how far the Buffs secondary has come.  The Buffs must help their secondary by getting after Mannion which has not happened much this season for the Buffs and the Beavers have not allowed much pressure on their QB as well.  It hasn't been discussed hardly at all but I've noticed Chidera Uzo-Diribe seems to have been dealing with some arm/hand injuries that needed some time to heal.  It has affected his pass rush in the first two games from what I've seen.  Oregon State on the other hand is dealing with 4 weeks without a break and has many nagging injuries that are forcing regulars to take a day or two off practice.

Paul Richardson continues to be in the Top 10 in receiving yardage while still averaging more yards per game than any receiver.  He'll want to take advantage of an Oregon State secondary that has allowed some big games against much lower tiered receiving corps.

Game Predictions
Colorado will have to knock off some rust and get used to the hits and speed of facing an opponent again.  The good thing is they have a couple games under their belt, the bad thing is they were less quality opponents.  The Buffs will need to continue their stingy ways of not letting the opponent establish a ground game and also make defensive plays to cause turnovers, like they did against Central Arkansas, or at least end drives early, such as in the CSU game.  Storm Woods is returning from a concussion so if the Buffs had Gregg Williams as coach, we know what they'd be doing, but a player coming back from a head injury usually shrugs his shoulders a little early and prepares for a hit.  The Buffs should have the health advantage and the hope for them is some of these nagging injuries for Oregon State continue through the contest.

Update: Storm Woods has been announced out for the game against Colorado.  Woods replacement is Junior Terrance Ward.  Ward had two TDs (1 on Rush, 1 on Reception) on Saturday against San Diego State, but amassed only 36 total yards.   Additionally, the offensive line has had many injury issues on what was considered a strength headed into the season.  Only had two starters that have played every game.  Look for Colorado to play a lot of Dime/Nickel defensive packages and try to shut down the pass and make Oregon State prove they can run the ball.  Oregon state ranks 123rd out of 125 in FBS rushing currently. 

The Buffs, averaging just under a 100 yards a game rushing, need to be 150 yards or over in order for this game to go their way.  Oregon State will have to then help put a man in the box and allow Paul Richardson, DD Goodson and Devin Ross (or may we see Jeff Thomas' speed on display finally? The answer is no as I had previously thought and said elsewhere, since he will likely redshirt) to stretch the field.  The short first-down yardage machines of Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch will further allow the secondary to be thinned out for Colorado's downfield passing attack.

Colorado's biggest weakness in the passing game has been that 6-12 yard pass in the middle.  For whatever reason Connor Wood has sailed many of those passes.  He seems more comfortable throwing the ball to the side of the field or along the seams. 

This game should see plenty of offense from Oregon State and Colorado with two dynamic playmaking receivers, in Richardson and Cooks, and two quarterbacks that able to spread the ball around, in Wood and Mannion.  The Buffaloes defense had a tough time getting Central Arkansas off the field and establishing a pass rush.  The Beavers tend to have similar issues.  The difference for Colorado has been late defensive turnovers that have been game changers.  Oregon State needed a defensive interception to get the win last week against San Diego State late in the fourth quarter.  The Beavers and Colorado have many similar question marks, from a weak running attack to pressuring the quarterback, and similar strengths (strong passing game,

The difference in this game will come down to these keys:
  • Special teams play (Colorado must not let the field position difference be so glaring and neither team has had much big plays of their own)
  • Defensive game changing plays (Both teams lack sacks and turnovers have been difference makers)
  • Establishing a ground game (Both teams have struggled to open holes for their backs and a 100 yard game by a back would probably be the difference)
  • Passing Defense (Both teams passing attacks have continued to churn even with each team having either defensive issues-OSU or special teams issues-CU but which defense limits the passing attack)
This game is a lot closer than the 10 points the spread was established at.  The public still looks at this Colorado team like it is coached by coaches that did not know how to run a college football program.  Oregon State has not established itself as a Top 25 program like they were considered to be before the season began, needing Mannion to carry them.  This game will see plenty of offense but with 5 games in 5 weeks and Oregon State getting a hungry Colorado football program coming in wanting to show they aren't your memories 1-11 team and they are ready to finally be in the Pac 12 competition instead of whipping boy, Colorado wins 38-27. 

Season Prediction
Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre has proven to make needed adjustments and prepare his team.  The fact he had them scrimmaging last week shows he is not an idiot and that they didn't need more and more practice, they needed competition.  That will help springboard them for this game and into the season.  At the beginning of the season I though they would start 2-0 and then struggle to gain traction again all year being able to get a win in conference.  However, I didn't realize how big of a turnaround he was capable of.  MacIntyre has said in interviews it took San Jose State a full season to wash away that feeling of losing and having a winning attitude and belief they could win any game they played.  They were competitive in nearly every game that season.  For all the CU hatred or disbelief because of their results, the talent level at Colorado is not as wide as people believe.  Yes, they are thin behind the starting units but Colorado has similar starting talent to Utah, Cal, Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona and should compete with those teams on talent alone.  I believe Colorado's difference comes in coaching.  A team with more talent and playmakers like USC is showing that a great team can't be made with poor coaching.  This Colorado Buffaloes team and this staff believe in one another.  They CARE for each other and it shows in how they react on the sideline when they get down and in interviews when they could point fingers at each other that were there win or lose (mostly lose) in the past at Colorado. 

Colorado has the ability to make a bowl game, no matter how crazy it may sound to the casual observer.  The Fresno State postponement probably will require NCAA help to get a 12th game for both programs.  Colorado needs to fill their October 19th game with a FBS level school to make a bowl game more achievable.  There are no sure wins on CUs schedule and, other than maybe Oregon, I don't see a 99.9% chance loss either.  This team is coached, prepared and shown that every game is winnable.  I love that.

I am afforded the ability to look forward while the team focuses on the task at hand, the next opponent.  Looking at the schedule, I have the following:

Sure Losses: Oregon
Pretty close to sure Losses: @UCLA and @Arizona State
Probable Loss: @ Washington
Toss-Ups: USC, Arizona and @ Oregon State
Need-a and Should-be-a Win: Cal, @Utah, Opponent TBD

I am drinking the Kool-Aid (Oh YEAH) this Colorado team is drinking and Mike MacIntyre and his staff is pushing.  I have the Buffs going 5-7 at worse and potentially a major turnaround based off winning all toss-ups 8-4.  I am going to go conservative and say 7-5 with CU getting hosed by all their FBS brothers and settling for an FCS opponent on October 18th and having to get a win at Utah to ensure a bowl game (only one FCS win counts towards a bowl game or the SEC and Nebraska would only host FCS schools outside of conference).  A win against Oregon State goes a long way towards goes Bowl-ing instead of bowling in December.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mile High Sports Shakes Up Denver Sports Radio...

On September 30th, Denver sports radio listeners are going to have to check their dial, their watch and adjust to the shake-up that has come to their radio dial.  Mile High Sports is throwing out their old script and going with a completely new line-up.  The line-up is as follows:

7-9 a.m: The Press Box with Peter Burns, Mark Kiszla and Oren Lomena
9-11 a.m.: The Reed Marks Show with Zach Fogg
11-noon: Whiteley on Sports with Gil Whiteley
Noon-2 p.m.: The Irv and Joe Show
2-4 p.m.: Danny Williams and Cello Romano
4-6 p.m.: Drive Time with Eric Goodman, Mike Pritchard and Lance Britton
6-7 p.m.: The ReKnowItAll with Renoud Notaro
7-10 p.m.: The Brandon Spano
10-midnight: Denver Sports Nation with Adam Kinney, Dario Correa and Josh Dover

Mile High Sports has always bucked the traditional 3 hour time slots (6-9 am, 9-noon, noon-3 p.m. & 3-6 p.m) that so many other show have gone with in Denver sports radio past.  They have done this for awhile and the overlap with other programs allows listeners to pick and choose their flavor of the day.  With all this change at Mile High, let's breakdown what this changes means to the scope of Denver sports radio and evaluate your choices.  I am forgoing any national shows because ESPN and 1600s line-ups are full of guys I can get turning on the TV or using my ESPN Radio app.  Oh and I can get them live instead of the tape delay we get delivered.  Still, I mostly stay local so here is your breakdown:

Starting at 6 a.m. you have one local choice in the morning.  The choice is Nate Lundy and Mike Evans starting The Fan Morning Show on 104.3.  Vic Lombardi needs an hour more of beauty rest until 7 a.m.  The sad part about this show is it's only talent in Vic Lombardi is being suffocated by the wind being blown by the unimaginative  Evans and should-be in the bosses chair instead of the radio chair, Lundy.  Vic is this shows only talent. and when he gets rolling, I find it tough to not stay tuned.  This show is complete garbage from 6-7 a.m. and when Vic isn't in studio to challenge Lundy & Evans and is instead at home or on the golf course calling in for the show.

What is missing at 6 a.m. is competition for The Fan.  Mile High Sports lost a very morning friendly show when Morning Edge co-hosted between Andrew Fogoros and ex-Buff and NFL player Matt McChesney.  These two are lifetime friends and are entertaining for both their sports takes and humor.  Their audience was the angry, tired crowd from 6-7 a.m. and you could tell Matt with two young kids was angry and tired.  These two have been revived with their new show, The Blitz, moving to 1580 ESPN Colorado Springs-Pueblo on September 23rd from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  These two needed an extra hour daily and some of the best shows I heard from them was when their ads couldn't play so they talked for an hour straight and when they got an extra or Matt filled in on The Press Box.  They needed more time and finally have it. I am excited for this opportunity for these guys and the southern big cities of Denver have got a treat adding these two.

Ah, The Press Box with Peter Burns.  This 7-9 a.m. time slot should honestly become 6-9 a.m. to really push 104.3 The Fan into a full tit for tat program.  The show spends half its time trying to get Mark Kiszla to get his point through.  He uses the phrase "But, but, but, but, but..." to start a really big topic at least 3x a show.  I actually enjoy this show more when Kiszla is calling in due to being out of town to cover a local team or go to the Olympics.  Peter Burns is kind of a big deal and is a young modern metrosexual Ron Burgundy.  Burns is the pivot point to this show and is really a very entertaining guy but Smug Ass Peter Burns shines through at times though his make-up covers up nicely.  Oren Lomena has added a solid element to this show that was much needed when Kiz and Burns seemed to spin their wheels for an entire week.  The problem with this show is it has added another strong voice in Brandon Krisztal and 3s Company but four is a crowd!

At 9 a.m. Denver sports radio changed to a completely different scope.  You have the more "cerebral" choice in Sandy Clough's "Clough Talk" on 104.3 The Fan or on Mile High Sports 93.7 FM/1510 AM the entertaining, fan friendly show in Morning Mayhem with Williams & Romano... oh wait that show got moved and we'll get into that later.  Morning Mayhem has been replaced by Reed Marks from 9-11 a.m.  Replaced is a bad word, how about brought in to try to fill the shoes of a great show.  Reed Marks was a great late night local guy that talked about things I enjoyed, University of Colorado athletics and the scope of Colorado sports, and he had an amazing repertoire with his producer Zach "Honey Bear" Fogg.  I have to admit, I hated Fogg's move to mornings.  He seemed completely angry and uninterested in working with the shows in the morning.  He was a great producer for ReKnowItAll, Spano and Reed Marks and teaming him up with his old friend is a great move.  I am excited to see how this show will do though it comes at the expense of a show that held me over until 11 a.m.

Sandy Clough has been a staple of the Denver sports market for many years and I have listened to him since 1999 when he was teamed up with Mike Evans on The Fan.  Sandy is a very intelligent guy that works well with others and is great to listen to.  The problem is The Fan is taking a great "top" in Clough and he is flying solo instead of working with a "bottom" daily (it's a BDSM term, Google it).  Clough on the weekends with Terry Frei is great listening and unfortunately that shows format isn't what you get daily.  Instead we get the real Know-It-All in Denver sports where we get about 15% of Clough's show filled with dead air while he gathers his thought while discussing a topic and 35% filled with him reading "texters".  Sandy doesn't take callers regularly it seems and when he does it's the caller making a point and Sandy discrediting the "idiot" caller.  I have listened to Sandy make a point for an hour and then a caller continues on and says the same thing and Clough chews them apart.  It has drove me away completely and every time I give it a chance I get disappointed.  Sandy is a great sports mind and can have some great takes but I need that most of the time, not 25% of the time like Sandy brings from 9 a.m. to noon.

The geriatrics continue their run on Mile High Sports but thank goodness it is from 11-2 p.m. instead of 11-3 p.m.  Irv and Joe take an hour away from Gil Whitely with the shake-up.  I actually enjoy Gil's movie information and local eatery knowledge, but I honestly can't listen to him for more than 10 minutes.  Nice guy, but past his time many years ago.  Irv Brown and Joe Williams have been on in Denver since before I was born in the early 80s and together for most of my years.  They were great... until about 10 years ago.  I quit listening to Irv and Joe in 2003 because I had graduated both from Mines and from the tired schtick their show had become.  It's tough to say goodbye to a legend but these three are past their time and I'll get to why they are still on at the end of this piece.

From noon to 6 p.m. the choices are a whirlwind.  ESPN finally becomes local after "Lou from Littleton" sold out from an all local angle to taking the money of the national shows.  Lou seems to have mixed things up correctly for the 6 hours he goes local.  Les & CJ are on 102.3 ESPN noon to 3 p.m.  Les Shapiro is another "Look at me, I've been in Denver sports for so many years, I know everything types".  CJ actually fits well with Les.  He seems to be more on focus than he was with Nate Kreckman on the drive home and seems to keep Les a little grounded.  Good pair, but doesn't hold my attention. 

Against them from 12-3 p.m. is Drew and Scott with Scott Hastings and Drew Goodman.  Both have had a hand in Denver sports since I was a kid.  Such as Drew calling Nuggets game on Prime Sports Network that Hastings played in.  The problem with this show is Goodman has spent so many years toeing the company line that he can't say anything degrading of the local sports teams, especially the biggest problem of all being the Rockies.  These two are constantly on the road between Drew and Scott's television schedules with the Rockies and Nuggets respectively.  I have to say that when they are interviewing someone, I can't turn off the dial but otherwise the show doesn't have the strength it could.  Again, Hasting with Big Al makes more sense.  Two strong, testosterone filled formal professional players were radio gold a number of years ago.  The Fan continues to make the mistake of not teaming these two up.

And now for us "less cerebral listeners" as Colin Daniels blog about the shake-up in Radio Row: MHS Changes calls fans of the show Danny Williams and Cello Romano put on.  It has changed to be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Well even though my intelligence may be questioned, I know what this move is, it's a direct "SCREW YOU" to Matt McChesney and Andrew Fogoros new show The Blitz on 1580 ESPN that is not coincidentally on at the same exact time.   Mile High Sports knows that a large group of the listeners that enjoy Williams and Romano enjoy a similarly entertaining show in McChesney/Fogoros.  The listeners of both programs are torn.

What Colin Daniels and the more cerebral listeners of Sandy Clough fail to realize is listeners have thousands of avenues to get knowledge about sports locally and nationally through multiple media outlets' sports articles, podcasts and other avenues that they don't want one guy talking about one or two topics for hours on end.  They want to hear other fans opinions, they want entertaining stories about guys similar to them and they want a fans perspective, not some know-it-all that really is just someone who is a robot trained not to cheer for the local team such as Sandy Clough, Eric Goodman, Les Shapiro and Mark Kiszla.  The four most anti-Denver "experts" that have a history of knowing Denver sports but missing out on the big picture, THE FANS/fan-dom they are talking to/about!

I am pretty disappointed with this change from Mile High Sports.  I believe Danny and Cello could hold their own in any time slot and will be a great transition to the afternoon drive but honestly they have been better than the Drive Time that Mile High Sports has put out there and still are better than the new show if you had flip flopped them but kept Pritchard with them for 4-6 and let Britton and Goodman make great radio 2-4 for that transition.  I don't know how I'll do it yet but I will be supporting both The Blitz and whatever Danny and Cello call their new show, I vote my more cerebral Afternoon Asylum, from 2-4 p.m.

From 3 to 6 p.m. (see the 3 hour time slot can't be changed, it's a staple in sports) you have The Drive with Big Al and D-Mac on 104.3 The Fan and The Locker Room with Nate Kreckman, Tom Nalen and Gary Miller on 102.3 and coming in an hour late with Drive Time on Mile High Sports on 93.7 FM/1510 AM.  Big Al and D-Mac are awful.  You want to talk about a lack of intelligence?  Their listeners and these two morons are unbearable.  Big Al spits out facts that are completely wrong and D-Mac is yuck-yuck-yucking his way with him.  As Mike Gundy would say, It's Garbage!

The Locker Room is actually the best show in Denver at this time and pushing Morning Mayhem/Williams & Romano.  Gary Miller is a very intelligent, and not a boisterous, long-time staple of Denver's sports scene.  He had been overshadowed by Vic Lombardi's shine on Channel 4 and when they hosted the best sports radio show (though Jim Armstrong and Tim Neverett were pretty amazing together) in Denver from Vic's basement for years and seems to be a perfect fit between Kreckman (is it a surprise Kreckman gave Danny Williams his first shot?  They both are funny, entertaining sports guys) and Nalen.  Nalen has a great football knowledge and I have enjoyed him during football season.  He is getting comfortable with this group.  For whatever reason this group talks about urine quite often.  I like gross humor so I can appreciate it.

I am looking forward to Afternoon Drive with the shake-up.  Mark McIntosh seems to get distracted by whatever other info he was trying to gather.  He just didn't have the right fit with Eric Goodman.  Eric is good.  He is intelligent but at times I can't decipher if Sandy has taken over his soul.  Mike Pritchard is a great former football player to add which seems to be the format for the drive home.  Grab an old vet that contribute to the show.  The real player in this game is Lance Britton.  Lance fills in for other shows from time to time and I love listening to the guy.  He is very knowledgable of the local sports and a human encyclopedia for the Broncos.  He is also amongst the best looking and dressed in Denver sports radio.  I am glad to see him finally be a full-time guy with his name attached to a show.

This is where the local angle ends on ESPN and The Fan.  I don't do the runs, oh did I see runs, I mean re-run of the worse show in Denver that truly has the least astute, insightful, perceptive, clever and intelligent listeners in the sports market by re-listening to the replay of those two least cerebral sports DJs in the Denver market.

This is where Mile High Sports continues with the local angle and Renaud Notaro has solid guest co-hosts including the guy that referred to me as unintelligent in Colin Daniels on Thursday evenings 6-7 p.m.  Renaud has been around for many years and has always broguht a solid angle.  His sister is the famed Tig.  Her humor is not for all but I DIG! and Renaud is pretty darn goood in my book as well.

From 7-10 p.m. you get He is I, I is him... Brandon Spano.  Spano makes a BIGGER deal of himself than anyone else can.  He is ummm, okay.  The good thing is he isn't a moron and has some solid regular interviews (Chris Harris Jr for one) and is in on the boxing scene which is good with the great locals like an old teammate of mine in World Champion Mike Alvarado.  If there is a game on and I am driving, I'll listen to that.  If there is just Spano, you could do a lot worse like national guys like Van Dyken and Dibble.  He is solid, just not a huge fan.

From 10-midnight, you will now been fully introduced to two of the hardest chargers in Denver Sports Radio, though Dario Correa is a pretty dang wingman to the mighty twosome of the hard working Adam Kinney and the smooth voiced young gun that is also a producer extraordinare in Josh Dover.  I have to be up by 6 a.m. but I will be listening to their podcast if they continue that tradition to hold me over when I can't stand the shows coming in and especially around lunch time.

Denver is blessed to have the opportunity to have MANY local choices in sports radio.  There is the ability to make 102.3 ESPN and 104.3 The Fan even better.  With 105.5 ESPN now broadcasting to Denver and up north, I don't understand why I have to listen to the same show on two stations.  The local ESPN affiliate should give Cecil Lammey a daily show like he had on the former Ticket.  He is a regular on ESPN and kills it in Riding Shotgunn and in his appearances.  He should talk fantasy and draft 365 days a year, well at least the weekdays that aren't holidays, to help with that itch that needs scratched daily.  Football is now around the year and this guy from 9-12 on 102.3 would be great and adding Jim Armstrong who also fills-in would help in the slower months where football isn't king.  Armstrong was amongst my favorite columnists and The Denver Post cut him loose even though it should have stuck behind him.  This is where 102.3 ESPN could steal or co-partner with their Colorado Springs brother and put McChesney and Fogoros on 6-9 a.m. on The Drive-In.  There is a lack of humor that has been missing 6-9 a.m. and these two were great 6-7.  Heck, even let them sleep in and give them 7-9 a.m.

James Gomez is a great producer and hosts a very solid show on the weekends.  Put him on 104.3 The Fan from 6-8 p.m. after the Afternoon Drive.  This is where my less cerebral listening may have got to me but give Ron Zappolo his own show and let him pick a solid young host from 3-6 p.m and get rid of the clowns from 3-6 p.m..  Zappolo is a legend in Denver.  I have always enjoyed him and he would kill it!!!

So my rant about Mile High Sports Shake-Up ends with this.  I believe this move is mainly financial driven.  I understand it.  Sponsorship dollars keep stations on-air and the hosts pay the station through these sponsorships.  The problem is they keep old guys around for their old listeners but mainly old sponsor dollars and it takes away from other shows hours and has forced better shows out.  McChesney and Fogoros could have been saved at Mile High Sports by putting them on 12-2 with Morning Mayhem adding the extra hour its listeners have been clamoring for.  I will still be listening to 93.7 FM/1510 AM more than any other station in Denver, but I don't see this crowded and clouded sports talk competition working out without more shake-ups happening in the near future.  Let's give it a couple months and I'll rank how I see both the shows in Denver and the individuals in Denver sports radio.  Happy Listening... even for the less cerebral listeners in Denver.




Monday, September 16, 2013

Colorado Football's Options for 2013 Postponed Fresno State Make-Up Date...

As many know Colorado had to postpone its contest against Fresno State this past weekend, scheduled for September 14th, due to the devastation caused by flooding in Boulder and the surrounding areas.  With the clean-up still ongoing and the inability to properly prepare for any team this Saturday September 21st, the only way to really achieve a contest against Fresno State this year is to have Fresno State play UNLV on Nov 16 and have the make-up game on October 19th.  However, comments from MWC commissioner Craig Thompson make it sounds like it is very low priority for them to have to move around their schedule to appease their big brother conference of the Pac 12.  Here are some options if UNLV won't reschedule their game with Fresno and forcing a different opponent:
  1. San Diego State-San Diego State has a BYE that week and is allowed a 13th game since they play at Hawaii.  They also play Air Force the week before, so maybe they could play the game Thursday night and allow for San Diego State to have a long Colorado vacation.  Technology would allow for these athletes to take all classes without issues. However, Rocky Long and staff may not want to add another L to their season which looks like it may be one of the worse in Aztecs history.  However, taking the cash from Fresno and giving it to SDS so they can wave it in the Bulldogs face the 26th would be a bonus.
  2. Hawaii-Talking Hawaii, their opponents are allowed a 13th game, so why not them for a season?  They play at UNLV on Saturday the 12th and a Thursday night against CU would allow for a nice trip away from the island.
  3. Kentucky-They have a game against Alabama State at home scheduled early November but who wants to watch that?  Cancel that game and play at Colorado.  I unfortunately think since it is taking away a home game, the Wildcats face Mississippi State the following Thursday night on the road, this doesn't make a lot of sense.  However, a return trip date in 2015 might get the Wildcats to take the loss of a home game, but VERY UNLIKELY.
  4. Air Force-It's local and the Buffs and Falcons communities have been affected by many natural and human caused disasters in 2013.  This would require the NCAA stepping up and giving the Falcons a 13th game.  The Falcons season is already long enough with the life of a cadet is exhausting.
  5. Nebraska-There are 25 other schools that would have to be allowed a 13th game or lose a conference game that would then effect their conference schedule.  I think this game makes the most sense out of the 25 others.  Nebraska would be playing 3 games on the road consecutively, but they play 8 home games this year and only have 4 road games schedule and this is an old rivalry game that would bring out the ugly big red N loving fans and definitely all the true Colorado fans.  Screw it, make this the #1 game for me that I'd like to see.  UCLA whipped you and a growing CU team will to send little Bo Pe(ep)lini out of town red faced due to another Pac 12 team beating him and one that everyone thought would only get a win or two!
  6. Added: San Jose State – I don't know how I missed this.  Mike McIntyre's former team. Also played at Hawaii.  They only have 12 games on the schedule and can add a 13th.  This is probably the equivalent of Fresno State.  A very good option.
Who knows if the Buffs can get to 3 wins let alone 6 (I for one think the Buffs are closer to 6 than 3 by season's end), but the last thing the Buffs and the city of Boulder needs is to not play a 6th game in Folsom in 2013.  The businesses, the university and the city need the revenue that a Buffs home game will generate.  Making the Fresno State game as a float game on December 7th makes no sense since Fresno should make the MWC championship game and Colorado coaches have preached to players they are capable of reaching the Pac 12 game.  Either way, Colorado needs help (Options to do so NOW!!!) and college football, the NCAA and others involved should add to the effort to ensure Colorado Football has a make-up game to the Fresno State postponement.

Jaguars Need Tebow to be Savior...

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-2 to start the NFL season.  They have scored 11 points... in two games.  Their offense is averaging 213 yards a game.  They have Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi as their QBs.  Henne is 14-24 on his career with Gabbert 5-20.  Both have amongst the lowest QB ratings in the pros.  The Jaguars have NO HOPE in winning more than a game or two this season and may join the 2008 Detroit Lions and 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs to end the season with 0 wins.  It appears they are set up for the first overall pick in the NFL draft and at best a Top 3 pick if for some miracle they win 2 games. 

A year after taking over the Jaguars, Shahid Khan had to decide on a new direction and it came in the form of former Atlanta Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell.  Amongst Caldwell's first orders of operation was to fire former colleague Mike Mularkey and replace him with another top rated assistant coach in Gus Bradley, formerly Pete Carroll's YES Man! in Seattle.  David Caldwell is coming from a business model laid out under the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons, dynamic playmakers led by a quarterback that can spread the ball around and wing it downfield.  The problem is he doesn't have Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan, he has Henne and Gabbert.  The other order of business for Caldwell was to dismiss the possibility of Tim Tebow being a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Shad Khan dropped the ball before handing it off to Caldwell.  Sometimes you have to break the model and tradition and realize there is more than one way to win in the NFL.  Caldwell does not see that and Khan will spend 3 years watching Caldwell struggle and the Jaguars continue to lose interest if he sticks with his decison.  His only choice should have been to hire a GM that said, "I have two goals, winning in Jacksonville and helping you put asses in the seats, and their is one person that can do that Timothy Richard Tebow."

The Jaguars had over 8000 empty seats for their season opener (not counting the tarp filled areas which is another 9600 seats).  The fans will continue to show their disapproval for the Jaguars by that number potentially reaching 10,000 empty seats as the 2013 season continues.  Shad Khan is a smart businessman and amongst the 500 richest people in the world.  He is a fan of his teams, Jaguars and new team Fulham FC, but part of that is also being a winning both on the field and with money in his pockets.  Empty seats in EverBank field will make Khan start looking at opportunities to make cash elsewhere, like he already has by having the Jaguars have a yearly game in London over the next four years.  Next up could be a move to an NFL hungry city like Los Angeles or even an Oklahoma City or other large that has shown the ability to support a new franchise with rabid fandom. He wants to increase the franchises recognition.  Best way to do that is for Khan to make this statement the Tuesday after the Jaguars start off the season 0-4;


The Jaguars have signed Tim Tebow and he will take over as starting quarterback immediately.  We understand he will have some difficulties but Tim brings a spark to the game of football and we need that.  After talking with both David (Caldwell) and Gus (Bradley) I have let both of them go and will have the assistant GMs run all football operations until the end of season.  I have made a generous donation to one of the best engineering programs in the world, the Colorado School of Mines, in order to hire Bob Stitt of Colorado School of Mines as the new Head Coach.  Stitt brings an offense that takes misdirection and innovation to a whole new level.  If you look at the Eagles (Bob Stitt on Eagles), Redskins, Seahawks and 49ers, you will see teams that have athletic playmakers and dynamic offenses that Stitt has helped bring to these coaches.  All assistant coaches have been retained.  We have all talked and are excited for the direction of the Jaguars future.  Tebow, Bob Stitt and the Jaguars future is together.

For those with Colorado ties and that have paid attention to some of these spread/pistol type coaches, like Chip Kelly, many have credited Stitt with some of the fundamentals they use they are fully aware of who Stitt is.  In order to turn around the Jaguars it will require a new direction, innovation and the ability to bring an offense that can have success even with less athletic and talented players.  This is the NFL, the talent gap between the Jaguars and the middle of the road #15-25 team is minimal but coaching, scheme and utilizing your offense to match your personnel is key.  The 2011 Denver Broncos under Tim Tebow showed that with adjusting to your personnel and strengths of your best quarterback, you can succeed.  An offense that would utilize the speed of the Jaguars receivers and misdirection that Stitt's offense uses West Virginia shows in this video (West Virginia Runs Stitt's Fly Sweep).

In late 2010 and the 2011 season, Tim Tebow showed he brings a dynamic element to the game.  His throwing motion sucks, his accuracy is questionable but his biggest asset is the ability to lead a team to victory by never giving up.  I have sung the praise of Tebow repeatedly on my blog, but the biggest things he would bring to the Jaguars is what he brought to Denver, Hope and Belief.  Jaguars fans are tired of paying for a shitty product.  They're tired of being promised a successful team while sitting and watching the Jaguars become less and less competitive.  They need a reason to look forward to Sunday's.  Tebow brings that. 

Tebow would cause blackouts to be a thing of the past in Jacksonville.  The stadium would reach capacity and the tarps may even have to be pulled back a little to allow the curiosity factor and fandom of the cities beloved son, Tim Tebow, return as starting quarterback.  A group of Jaguars fans are is rallying today at 3:16 p.m. today.  The Jaguars need the circus; they need the hype, they need someone to save them from moving to Los Angeles or some other NFL city and no one can do that like Tim Tebow can.

And it all sets up to this...

 

Imagine the headlines as Tebow heads into Denver against an undefeated Denver Broncos team.  The naysayers will have the Broncos winning by 100 points.  The national media and Denver fans would go into a war of Tim Tebow Broncos fans vs. Peyton Manning Broncos fans.  It would be talked about the less talented, inept Jaguars take on the fine tuned machine Denver Broncos that are penned into the Super Bowl from the AFC by all the fans and NFL experts were going to welcome Tebow back with cheers and boos alike.  The fans would sit in stunned silence as the Broncos 15 point forth quarter lead was erased by the Chosen One Tim Tebow.  Tebow and the Jaguars would go on to win 10 out of 11 games and come into Denver in the AFC Divisional playoffs because teams can not solve the madness of Tebow and Bob Stitt. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Colorado-Fresno State Postponement & Possible Rescheduling...

It was announced that the University of Colorado was postponing their game against Fresno State, set for tomorrow Saturday September 14th, early Friday afternoon.  For the very few outside the state of Colorado that may not know, Boulder and its surrounding communities are dealing with some of the worse flooding they have seen in as much as a century.  The devastation is pretty massive with 3 people dead in Boulder county and as many as 80 that are reported missing.  While the stadium sits high on the campus hill and has not seen the affects of the floods and roadways into Boulder likely opening up before the game, there would have been many conflicts to keeping the game as scheduled.

The main being that Boulder police, paramedics, traffic and other resources are being used in a more proper manner currently in assisting those affected by these floods.  The amount of traffic, police and other areas to get people safely into Folsom with some roads most likely causing detours and congestion and difficulty getting parking around campus would have made for a nightmare.  The campus is a big piece of Boulder and while the football team is not priority in many Boulder residents minds, this shows that the University believes the well being of their neighbors is more important than the game. 

Let's be honest, the headache of getting to the game would have caused many low numbers and with resources being used more intelligently it would have put a negative atmosphere on this game and had the naysayers dogging the decision.  Fans will be there either way, it's the naysayers and question makers that will make the borderline fan or entertainment enthusiast to sway them away from Folsom and towards something else.  We have plenty of large publication columnists that provide enough negative image of Colorado Football and the University that causing more issues was not worth it.

We have seen the images, seen the potential for more rain this weekend and the difficulty many Colorado residents are going through.  While it is tough as a fan that wants to see the show go on as Queen would say, it's the right call.  While we can question Phil DiStefano and Bruce Benson's past decisions, they seem to have made many of the right calls since forcing the firing of Jon Embree and the "resignation" of Mike Bohn.  Mike MacIntyre and Rick George are great men that have a winning attitude to them.  MacIntyre points to the fact of making these young men great men for their lives, not just winning football games on Saturday's.  I agree that is first priority but they back it up with a priority of winning as well and do everything they can to do so.  This was a life lesson "winning" approach to take for the University of Colorado and their football program.

What are options for this game to be made up?:
The research team, of... myself, has combed through schedules and these are the most plausible scenarios:
  • Game is played on Oct 19th: Fresno State and UNLV move their originally scheduled game of October 19th to November 16th-This makes the most sense out of all possibilities.  It gives all teams involved plenty of time to figure out logistics and
  • Game is played on November 16th: Colorado and Cal move their scheduled game of November 16th to September 21st-This is a week turnaround and to be honest, there is probably still a lot of clean-up and other issues that not having a game in Boulder until October 5th makes the most sense.
  • Play Game on December 7th: This is the championship game for both the Pac 12 and MWC.  While CU would have to have the biggest turnaround in NCAA history from one year to the next to make this happen (optimistic it can but unlikely) Fresno State plays in the weaker half of the division and has a very likely shot to be playing the MWC Championship game that day.
  • Play the game between Championship game and bowl games: The problem with this is bowl games are announced after Championship weekend.  If Fresno State is somehow undefeated at 11-0, whatever happens against CU would have no effect on that after the final BCS rankings.  They need to play before Championship game in order for it to help Fresno most likely.  Additionally, CU could be 5-6 and not have a bowl bid but maybe be able to pull the upset against Fresno to get the 6th win.  This seems least likely out of group.
  • Move the game to September 26, 2015.  Colorado plays at Hawaii that season and has an open date on the 26th of September.  This does nothing for this season.  I don't like this decision as a fan and the University could use the revenue this season.
  • Cancel entirely.  Unless either UNLV or Cal agrees to a re-scheduled date, I don't see this working out.  I believe sportsmanship prevails and this doesn't happen.
For all of those affected by the floods, like my own family, I hope you and your family are safe and get through this difficult time.  For the fans, there is always another game and a way to make it up.  For the University of Colorado, you made the right decision and you can't please everyone. 

The city will be provided funding from many areas including fans of the team.  I believe that people have many avenues to assist both locally and nationally to this effort.  For the next game and the remainder of this season, I believe the city of Boulder and fans of Colorado should fill the stadium and show the same respect and love for this football team that is being shown in this selfless decision.  Also, donate to a program that wants to no longer be the laughing stock of the Pac 12 but to compete for a national title again.  For those that doubt Mike MacIntyre, the young men that have the talent and now the coaching to direct them that way and a businessman that was built through the game of football that WILL generate the funding to get the facilities in Boulder up to their competition in the Pac 12 and college football, I am sure they and the long time true Buff supporters look forward to the brighter days ahead and realize you never cared to see CU succeed so enjoy hating the success that began getting built December 2012.  Go Buffs!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Colorado Buffaloes-Central Arkansas Recap & Fresno State Preview (And Paul Richardson)...

The Colorado Buffaloes faced a BEAR (pun intended) of an opponent in the FCS Division's Central Arkansas.  Colorado had sported a 1-2 record against FCS opposition and constantly found themselves victims of the little brother playing out of their mind while Colorado looked inept and more like the little brother.  Saturday almost breathed the same fire but this isn't your Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree led University of Colorado Buffaloes but Coach Mike MacIntyre's.  Saturday had plenty of times where fans felt inside, "Here we go again!" "Last week means nothing if we lose...", etc.  The difference between the past and the present shined through like it did against CSU, this team doesn't come apart when adversity hits but they come together, re-focus and put together turnovers and drives that allow them to win.  As Coach MacIntyre said "These young men keep fighting.  They never get down.  They keep playing... The kids are starting to believe they can win, no matter what"

The 2013 Colorado football team came out onto Folsom Field... too soon.  Smoke bellowing from the tunnel for the players with TV delaying the running of Ralphie V caused the greatest tradition in college football to take a Buffalo Chip.  Coach Mike MacIntyre also looks a little ruffled like Ralphie, her handlers and the fans with the whole start.

After both teams looked a little out of it to begin the game, Colorado opened up the scoring where they started and finished the Colorado State game with none other than the 5 to 6 connection of Connor Wood to Paul Richardson.  Richardson outran his double coverage to open it up.  Then Greg Henderson continued his playmaking ways with a Pick 6 and the Buffs looked in control up 14-0.  The last 5 minutes of the 1st half were ugly, Colorado allowed 2 long scoring drives to go into half knotted up at 14-14. 

Ralphie did not disappoint to open the second half thundering down the east sidelines before making the turn at the south end zone and driving down the west sideline.  Unfortunately the Kickoff and special teams continued their disappointing ways and allowed a long kick return.  It appeared the Buffs would be down 21-14 but the defense showed the tenacity they did against CSU and seem to have under this staff that was lacking the past couple years when they only allowed a yard and held Central Arkansas to a Field Goal.  Colorado answered with a FG shortly after.  Another fumble on another sack by Markeith Gaines led to the Buffs ending the 3rd quarter with a defensive stand and 4th and 1 to begin the 4th.  The excitement was short lived and with the Buffs 24-17, the stadium went silent.  It was exactly what we had seen against Montana State and Sacramento State.  The Buffs were down and the doubt glowed in the stadium.  However, it appeared the Buffaloes went Harry Potter on us and summoned their Patronus of the Mighty Buffalo of past success and answered the call with a 21-point barrage that began with a tipped pass taken to the "house" for the second defensive interception return for a touchdown and 3rd defensive score for the season.  Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce made the final two touchdowns and iced the win of 38-24.

Central Arkansas showed a great deal of composure and tenacity.  Their offense was not as explosive as I expected and I believe that's because this defense has been hammered on that it is important to keep the big play from happening.  Central Arkansas' Quarterback Wynrick Smothers had a rough day with regards to turnovers but his ability to be patient and take the short gains and long drives led to the Buffaloes having to sweat out this win.  He didn't fold when they got down early but answered the bell.  Central Arkansas' defensive line and scheme dominated CU's offensive line.  Their Defensive Ends were more athletic than initially thought and caused fits.  Markeith Gaines was a beast and a huge reason CU found themselves in doubt.  Look for Central Arkansas to respond with a great season and to compete for the FCS championship. 

What we learned against UCA and through the first two games:
Positives
  • There is a great deal of fight and never say die attitude in this Buffaloes team.  Instead of the bickering and finger pointing from the past they continue to show the ability to come together and rally.  The Buffs have outplayed their opponent by a large margin in the first and fourth quarters of their games.  Now they need to finish the 1st half strong and answer the bell when the second half begins.
  • Connor Wood is showing why he may be the best quarterback to line up at CU since Joel Klatt, with the potential to be much better if he stays on his feet.  Wood has had issues with throwing off his back foot and overthrowing receivers, but for the most part he has been great stepping up when protection broke down and making good throws.  He also picks his team up and says the right things.  His offensive line got him killed a few times and instead of blaming them for getting hammered, he praised them for allowing the offense to make the plays they did. 
  • This wide receiving corps is the best I have seen at Colorado since McCoy-Hackett.  They have two great possession receivers in Nelson Spruce and Tyler McColloch that are holdovers that were asked to do too much with an inept quarterback and no serious playmaking receiver to open up the game.  That receiver is none other than...

  • Paul Richardson.  Richardson has 21 catches, over 400 yards and 4 scores in two games this season.  While those numbers can't possibly occur for every game, there is no question Richardson is the dynamic playmaker that Colorado hasn't had at the Receiver position since... EVER.  Rae Carruth, Michael Westbrook and Charles Johnson were all in the same class and are all great receivers that have wore the black and gold that are in the Colorado Record Books but no one has eclipsed 1150 yards in CUs long and proud tradition.  Richardson is better than any of these guys as far as being a dynamic playmaker and being able to be the difference in a game EVERY week.  Simply put...We're Not Worthy!!!  Richardson could average 60 yards per game and eclipse the century mark being only the 5th Buff and 7th season that 1000-yards has been accomplished.  Teams will start doing what they can to take him out of a game, but all that does is open this offense up to start getting the run game going and allow Spruce, McCulloch and DD Goodson to get more passes their way.  Still, I see Richardson finishing with 90 catches, 1400 yards and 16 scores to crush CUs record books.
  • Defensive playmaking ability.  The staff has rode the defense.  You could see it in spring ball, you could see it in fall camp and you can see the rewards that have come from it.  The 3 interceptions this weekend matched the total for all of 2012.  This defense has yielded very few big plays.  Kenneth Crawley and Greg Henderson have been amazing in the first two games and they faced some talented, speedy receivers this weekend.  Chidobe Awuzie has been a very solid nickel back and Jered Bell has been great helping over the top while Parker Orms probably had one of his best games as a Buff against Central Arkansas.
  • Linebacker continues to be solid and the run stopping of the front 7.  Both Central Arkansas and Colorado State couldn't get much going in the ground game and that's a far cry from last year's numbers.

Negatives
  • Special Teams coverage units have been atrocious over the first two games.  The kickoff coverage seems to stay in their lanes far too long and not break down towards the ball soon enough allowing large gaps with not enough Buffs and too many opposition at the point of attack.  They will HAVE to get better.  Additionally, it has caused them to put pressure on their defense.  CUs defense responded quite well to a tired and overmatched overall team in Central Arkansas but allowing the opposition to start on average around the 40 yard line means for a short field.  Against more talented teams, Colorado will get into big holes.  The loss of Justin Castor due to injury in the off-season has hurt big time.
  • Defensive quarterback pressure.  Both CSU and UCA were allowed too much time.  Fortunately the secondary were in great coverage and kept big plays from occurring but for Colorado to only have three sacks from the unit is a little frustrating on their end I am sure.  Chidera Uzo-Diribe has a lot of QB pressures and a couple tackles for loss.  It is a matter of time before he prays on a weak opposition and racks up a big day.  He has had some big plays and I am sure is sack hungry.
Finishing strong outweighs the negative of allowing a team back in it.  The Buffs have shown heart and that ability to come right back and answer the bell and that is something that can not be overlooked.  The crowd was pretty sad to see with one of the smallest crowds I've seen at a game.  I believe Bohn and staff may have overinflated numbers as well.  I think this week should see around 46,000 fans and hopefully fill the student section (was lacking).  Last, this staff and team are class acts.  The players stuck around to sing the fight song with the students and then the fans on the east side after the win.  MacIntyre stopped players before they went into the locker room to do this.  MacIntyre is bringing back a tradition of winning that most fans are so skeptical of but should embrace it before they get kicked off that 2nd bandwagon.

Fresno State Preview

Colorado is 4-2 all-time versus Fresno State but have lost the last two.  Both of these have come courtesy of a quarterback named Carr.  In 2002 lightly talked about David Carr led the Bulldogs into Boulder in the Jim Thorpe Classic and upset CU 24-22.  That game was the springboard to a season that sent Colorado on to what became a Big XII Championship season.  Last year, brother Derek Carr and the Central Valley proud Bulldog's put a thumping that was the epitome of the ugliness Colorado's 2012 team was.  Colorado was down 48-0 halfway through the 2nd quarter.  Derek Carr had 5 passing touchdowns by that time and the Buffs were down 55-7 at halftime in what ended as a 69-14 drubbing.  The bad news, Fresno returns most of their receiving playmakers from that team with Carr in his senior year.  The positive news, their big running back Robbie Rouse whom opened up the passing game is gone.

Fresno State is averaging 332 yards passing per game and 121.5 yards rushing.  They have not had great success rushing the ball this season with most of their yardage coming in the second half of a blowout of Cal-Poly.  Fresno State leans heavily on the hands of their solid receiving corps and the arm of Derek Carr.  This week the secondary will have to play better than it has to start the season and the front seven is going to have to put some pressure on Carr so he doesn't have the ability to pick apart the Buffs.

Fresno State has the ability to score on special teams with speedster Isaiah Burse taking two punt returns in for scores last week. 
Fresno State is 2-0 but very well could be 1-1.  They got fortunate field position with only 1:18 left in the game against Rutgers in Week 1 and scored quickly and won in overtime.  The Bulldogs are prone to giving up the long score.  Fresno State relies heavily on the blitz packages to provide pressure.  The Buffaloes offensive line will  have to keep the speed of Kyrie Williams from disrupting the offensive flow up the middle.

This weeks game appears to be set up to be a shootout with Fresno State having a strong offense and having difficulties on defense.  The Buffaloes will need to shore up their pass protection but this should be the week their rushing game gets established with the ability of their passing game opening it up. 

Prediction
This game was struck through with a big fat L after last season and even a coupled days before this season started and with the positivity increasing it had kept about 75% of its original size.  After watching Colorado continue to fight in times they've folded for most of the past decade and seeing the Heart of these Buffaloes shine through and the ability to Win, my heart is torn as a Colorado fan.  I have not seen the offense suddenly just explode like this and the defense cause turnovers to turn the game around since the Barnett era. 

Colorado's keys to victory lays in three key areas that have been their biggest issues to start the season: Special Teams Coverage/Field Position, Pressuring the Quarterback and establishing a run game so Fresno State pays for playing Nickel and Dime coverage.

If these areas turn out to be a non-factor, where Fresno State starts behind the 35 on average, they get 150 yards rushing as a team and get pressure on Carr, then CU shocks the world and starts 3-0 with a 41-35 win and head into Corvallis 3-0 with the chance to go to 4-0 against one of the most overrated teams to start the season in the Pac 12.
If they allow Fresno State to start around mid-field on average and gives up a return TD and major yardage, continue to average under 3.0 yards a carry and allow Carr to sit back and carve up the secondary, CU loses 42-21.

My estimation is this staff will do everything to make this group remember what Fresno did to them in 2012 and prepare this team to do better on coverage with Toby Neinas feeling the heat already from fans starting to question what is going on and if he is in over his head. I have a world of respect for Tim DeRuyter at Fresno State and think both MacIntyre and DeRuyter are cut from a strong coaching pedigree.  MacIntyre has already got his guys believing they can win which isn't easy for a first year coach.

While Carr has NFL pedigree, size and ability, he lacks key things that will cause him to have his worse game since the thumping that was given to him by SMU last year.  This isn't your Jon Embree and Dan Hawkins Buffaloes folks, this is Mike MacIntyre's Buffaloes and Buffs win 41-35.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 NFL Season Bold Predictions: Super Bowl Champs, MVP & Much More

The 2013 NFL season is upon us within the next 8 hours.  I have combed through the schedule and so here we go...

Teams Records-NFC
The NFC has re-gained its superiority as a conference.  It appears that the NFC East will take full advantage of playing a weak AFC West (outside of the Denver Broncos) and every team will finish 0.500 or better in that conference throwing a curveball at the playoff picture.  I have the NFC breaking down like this:
San Francisco will flirt with perfection but go 15-1
Atlanta will take a solid NFC South and go 13-3
Green Bay will take advantage of their weak conference and finish 11-5
Dallas, Washington and New York will all finish 11-5 and cause the most hair pulling, mind-numbing playoff scenario and locations the NFL has seen
Seattle will also finish 11-5 but due to a heads up tiebreaker between them and the Giants they will be the odd man out.
The rest of the NFC is: Tampa Bay & Philly at 9-7, Minnesota at 8-8, Carolina at 6-10, Chicago at 5-11 and then Detroit, Arizona and St. Louis at 4-12.

Teams Records-AFC
The AFC will be much clearer of a picture with the top end teams dominating their division.  The consistent AFC North will be the best division record wise.  The AFC breakdown goes as such:
Houston will not crumble and will finish 14-2.
Cincinatti will finally take the North crown at 13-3.
Denver will take a step back with tough NFC East losses at 11-5.
New England will claim their weak division to finish 10-6.
Indy and Baltimore finish 11-5 and make the playoff picture crystal clear.
Pittsburgh can't get over that hump and proves they have lost their touch and finishes 9-7.  Keep them terrible towels in the dresser.
Kansas City shows promise at 8-8 under the Walrus.
Buffalo and Miami are 6-10 and a year away from blitzing New England.  Tennessee is far away from their divisions top 2 teams and are also 6-10.
Cleveland finished 5-11 but plays in too solid of a conference to do anything until they improve at QB.
San Diego and Jacksonville are 2-14 and have so many holes to fill they.
Oakland and the Jets Week 14 showdown is the difference and the Raiders throw the game to claim JaDaveon Clowney and ruin his career.  The Jets settle for a real QB in Bridgewater and Geno Smith asks for a trade.

Bold Predictions:
The league MVP is Colin Kaepernick with over 1000 yards rushing and 3500 yards passing with 10 TDs and 20 TDs of each.
The Defensive Player of the Year will go to JJ Watt again though it would have gone to Von Miller who ends up with 14 sacks in 10 games.
Because MVP never wins Offensive Player of the Year, this goes to Adrian Peterson.  He breaks the rushing record with 2100 yards but can't carry the hopeless passing game of the Vikings into the playoffs.
Comeback Player of the Year is RGIII even though he got hurt in the playoffs in his last game and it makes no sense to me.  This should go to a guy whose season was cut short.  Jon Beason and MJD are better options if they have good years, BIG IF for MJD with him being on his way out on a bad team and them probably cutting into his carries.
Offensive Rookie of the Year goes to EJ Manuel.  He is the reason Buffalo wins 6 games and he keeps them competitive.
Defenisve Rookie of the Year goes to Alec Ogletree of St. Louis who is the bright spot with Tavon Austin for a Rams teams that must move on from Sam Bradford finally.
Coach of the Year goes to Chip Kelly: Kelly keeps Philly competitive and wins 9 games.  Andy Reid is also deserving at 8-8 and KC on the edge of challenging Denver in 2014.

Playoff Breakdown
The playoffs start in Wild Card Week with:
Denver defeating Baltimore and the fans claiming true revenge has been served.
Indy shows that New England has no weapons to keep up with them.

Green Bay handles the Giants.
Dallas can't contain RGIII and Romo leaves Dallas stadium a loser once again.

In the Divisional Round:
Houston owns the Showdown of the Domes and beats Indy in a tough fought win.
Cincinatti proves their great defense and solid offense is too much for the Broncos, just like Baltimore did and Peyton Manning continues his losing ways in the playoffs.

San Francisco and Washington have an electric game due to the athleticism of their QBs but San Fran prevails with a much better defense.  Daniel Snyder fires Shanahan expecting a Super Bowl already.
Green Bay ends Atlanta's run early again and Matt Ryan just has no answer for reporters but we all know he is overhyped.

In the Championship games:
Matt Schaub shows why question marks run abundant and gets annihilated by Cincy's defense.  Cincy is headed to their first Super Bowl since Boomer was QB.

San Francisco picks apart the Packers with too much speed and depth to Green Bay.

And in the Super Bowl Jim Harbaugh doesn't settle for a loss and Kaepernick wins SB MVP to go with his League MVP trophy as Cincy loses by 3 scores.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Colorado Buffaloes Football: Rocky Mountain Showdown Recap and Central Arkansas Preview

The 2013 Rocky Mountain Showdown between RIVALS Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams on Sunday September 2nd was more than fans of both teams and college football fans could have expected or asked for.  A week before these two teams faced off, it appeared as if reaching 50,000 fans in the stadium would be a reach and people expected two teams with little to no talent to have an ugly game.  A couple days removed from the Rocky Mountain Showdown, there seems to be a change of tune from the masses.

In tailgate alone you could tell there was a bigger buzz this year than there had been in the previous two for Colorado fans though about the same amount of Colorado fans.  While people were excited to have John Embree take over for Dan Hawkins, everyone knew that team, they knew the quarterback, the running back and saw promise in a young sophomore in Paul Richardson.  They knew what the offense would look like.  Nothing was tickling the fans curiosity.  This year it was: How would this new offense look and work?  Is coaching that much better?  Is Paul Richardson fully recovered and really that big of a difference maker?  Could Connor Wood show he is actually a Division I quarterback?  How could we compete in the front seven and how was our secondary?

Colorado State fans also stepped up with almost the entire allotment of their 10,000 student tickets being sold and at least 6,000 more tickets being used by the Colorado State side.  Colorado State's main questions to be answered is who is the starting quarterback in this 3-headed race?  Is Colorado State good enough to be a bowl team and could they make it consecutive wins for a Rams team over the Buffs for the first time since 1999-2000?

After a quick 3 and out, the new Pistol offense opened in the Buff era.  On the second play, Colorado State made the biggest mistake possible, having no one to help over the top on one of the most electric players in college football when Paul Richardson stood 20 yards from a Rams defender awaiting a Connor Wood pass.  Richardson never looked back in route to the tenth (tied) longest passing play in CU history of 82 yards. 

The first half appeared to show CU was up for this game putting together a better half as a whole and ability to cruise when the Buffs took a 20-10 lead into halftime.

By the time the 3rd quarter started, there was an excitement on the Colorado side and the crowd appeared to be closer to 60,000 than the 50,000 that was expected a week before (final attendance was 59,601) and both sides were hoping for different things.  Colorado fans were hoping for what they had seen the first half and were hoping another touchdown would put the Buffs up by 17 and Colorado State was hoping for a defensive stand to open the second half and the big plays that pull CSU back in this game what seems like on a yearly basis.  Well, history has a way of repeating itself and it did for CSU again with the Buffs going a quick 3 and out and the Rams getting a 74-yard punt return by Joe Hansley for a Touchdown and causing the student section for CSU to erupt and the cannon to go off.  Hansley did the same thing to the Buffs the previous year when he made some great moves on a pass in the flat to be what put confidence back in the Rams in 2012. 

Colorado State's third quarter and domination in special teams was what so often catapulted the Rams to a win in this game and put CU away.  The 4th quarter started with CU down 24-23 and the Buffs on the ropes but the fight got put back in them with Will Oliver's 4th FG (keep in mind he only 6 makes on 8 attempts) and tied for his career long with a sure as heck 52 yarder.

The Buffs coaching and emphasis on the turnover battle showed when Chidera Uzo-Diribe got his big mitts on a short pass to the flat and years of being Mr. Consistent paid off for Greg Henderson and he took it home for a 9-point lead.

CSU made it interesting getting within a score but like CU had done to start the 4th, they put the game away when Paul Richardson made CSU pay with another lack of cover over the top when he took a back shoulder pass (I hate that phrase but had to use it to show I could do play by play or color commentary) for 75 yards and sent the Rams fans out in masses.

It officially ended with the jubilation, fist pump and huge sigh of relief from Mike MacIntyre on the fumbled punt by CSU put the seal on the game and after a final kneel down, by Connor Wood, MacIntyre continued that celebration by running out to his quarterback and celebrating with him.  The doubt of Wood, the doubt of IF this offense could work, if the Buffs had the talent to win even one game against a FBS school and so many other questions were lifted off the shoulders of Buffs fans even if only for that night.

What we learned from the CSU game are these things:

For CSU
  • There is a reason there is a question mark at QB.  Grayson has work to do to show he is  better than Conner Smith.  While he made some nice plays, he often ended drives by not being able to make that third down throw the Rams needed where the Rams finished third downs 2 of 14.
  • The Rams best rusher may be neither of their top two rushers from 2012 in Chris Nwoke or  Donnell Alexander, but a JUCO transfer that had to finish his necessary credits and sit out 2012 in Kapri Bibbs.  Bibbs made some excellent runs.  Nwoke had no burst and looks to be the 3rd back at CSU.
  • Offensive playmakers.  Colorado State had Hansley and Rashard Higgins that had some big plays but they lack the needed speed to compete against the top teams. 
  • They have a solid secondary with great plays made by Blake and Pierre-Louis throughout the game.  Shaq Barrett is a playmaker and one CSU should lean heavily on in.  Shaq Bell was almost non existent and maybe that's because he didn't get thrown against but I didn't notice him except on when he had tackles and celebrated after CU first downs.
  • CSU has a tough schedule this season.  The Mountain West Conference has improved.  CSU showed to have a solid offensive line that pass blocked well and a solid defense.   CSU fans would like to see a bowl game but will need to show something against a solid Tulsa program and to take care of FCS school Cal Poly in order to set themselves up for that opportunity.  A bowl season would make for the CSU support to be there for next seasons Rocky Mountain Showdown but another 4-8 or even 5-7 season could make Rams faithful question if they will ever get back to even a shade of the program Sonny Lubick had them in throughout the 90s and early 2000s.  I believe McElwain and crew recruits very well and are very good coaches.  They look prepared and coach well during the game.  They know how to get there players ready, but lacked talent.  This is a very solid CSU team with a lot of seniors and experience.  Unfortunately, their lack of explosive playmaking ability means they are going to have to win by pounding the ball and hitting a big play defensively or with a defense over committing to the run.  I expect them to be 2-3 going into conference play after losses to Tulsa & Alabama.  They can be competitive in almost any game but Boise State.  The Rams are going to have to fight to get to 6-6 but I believe it is possible and they are between a 5-7 and 7-5 team.  It rests on how their QB situation shakes out.  They need to be better and sustain drives.  To make this series competitive and entertaining and to give college football some air time on the radio, TV and through people talking about it, the quicker CSU gets to a bowl game, the better off the state of college football is in Colorado.
For CU
  • Paul Richardson is electrifying and the game changer CU needs to keep defenses honest
  • Connor Wood has the ability to win games and be CUs starting quarterback.  The road to ho only gets tougher from here, but he played beyond expectations.  For those that really watched the spring game and practices Wood looked confident and able to be THE GUY!
  • DD Goodson is finally in the right position and is a wild card in every game and can be used in many ways.
  • Nelson Spruce is Mr. Reliable and sure handed and a stick moving machine.
  • Offensively, they are going to have to get some better push to show they can effectively run the ball and keep defenses honest but I felt like the offensive line pass blocked really well.  Christian Powell has the ability to run between the tackles and pick up the first but Tony Jones should only be used for the outside plays and receiving.  In his career, he has shown that he can't get the extra yards pounding the ball but on the edge and in receiving he can be a playmaker.
  • Added: I was very impressed with how well their TEs and RECs blocked on passes in the flat and in general.  This was an area that you saw that were being missed during the last two years to where they were in position but not sure how to drive correctly and hold a block without worrying about a penalty.  Obviously a point of emphasis.
  • Defensively, Colorado had a true freshman two years removed from high school that sat out school last year show why he is a defensive force.  Addison Gillam was all over the field and had 14 tackles with 2 Tackles for Loss and a pass break-up.  He stopped many drives and is a sure tackler.  If he can stay healthy Gillam shows why MacIntyre turned it around at San Jose State, he finds diamonds where others don't look.
  • Colorado's secondary looked improved.  Greg Henderson has always been solid and it was good to see him get a highlight play and Kenneth Crawley looked good as well.  Another true frosh in Chidobe Awuzie played great in the nickel.  It appeared that even when Grayson had a long time to pass, he didn't make a throw because the Buffs had tight coverage.  CUs secondary didn't look bad against CSU last year though so there is reason to have reservations.  That said, after observing practice and spring ball the staff has the experience and knowledge that pass defense is key.  Parker Orms is a great local kid but there are reasons coaches grilled him during fall camp, they expect a 5th year guy to be better.  He still seems a step slow in pass protection and it is a concern.
  • They were facing a very experienced offensive line and didn't get a ton of sacks or pressures but played solid upfront.  Uzo-Diribe will get sacks, he often got completely held with an arm across his throat.  The Defensive line was not a liability but will need to continue to learn on the fly.
  • The LB corp is solid with the emergence of Gillam and the strength of two seniors on his outside on Derrick Webb and Paul Vigo.
  • Colorado's biggest weakness Sunday was special teams.  This can often be seen early in the season where these teams haven't seen enough live action.  The concerning issue was Colorado didn't cover punts or kicks well.  Will Oliver, their kicker, made 2 or 3 tackles on kickoffs and the Buffs had many big returns against them with 2 potential game changers in the punt return for a TD and kick return for what turned into a short TD.  I am sure the staff will put an emphasis on this.
To wrap up the CSU game, Mike MacIntyre and staff showed that they have coached their butts off and made these young men better.  They are putting the belief in their players through these past 8.5 months together that they don't have to be the team that hasn't had a winning team in 7 years or the butt of all the jokes but win, be successful and CARE about each other.  This offense is exciting and the defense seems to rally together rather than pointing fingers.  There was no arguments or yelling but an extreme focus that could be seen throughout the game and an air of confidence.  That hasn't been seen for far too long on the Colorado sidelines.

Central Arkansas Bears Preview
Central Arkansas is a Football Championship Series (FCS) team.  Week 1 of college football showed that FCS schools are up for the challenge against the FBS (Football Bowl Series) schools with 7 FCS teams upsetting their "big brother" division.  The Colorado Buffaloes know all too well about FCS schools with losses to Montana State in 2005 in Hawkins first game and a loss last year to Sacramento State.  Additionally, Eastern Washington put a scare in the  Buffs a few years back and Eastern Washington upset Pac 12 school Oregon State this weekend.  One thing Mike MacIntyre and staff is emphasizing is not overlooking the Bears and all they have to do is to look at last week and last years tape against Sacramento State for great reasons.  The Bears are coming off a 9-3 campaign and are a Top 6 FCS school so the Buffs will have to keep on their toes and be up for this game.  A win against Colorado would be a big next step for a program that put Ole Miss on the ropes at halftime last year leading 20-14 before being outmanned in the second half of that game.

Central Arkansas is led by Wynrick Smothers at Quarterback.  He has the ability to run the ball but is first and foremost a fairly accurate passer.  The Bears also have a dynamic true freshman playmaker in speedy returner and receiver Jatavious Wilson who had 2 receiving TDs and a kickoff return for the other in their opening week win.  Central Arkansas spreads the ball around on offense and can hit big plays.  On top of that, they have a running corp, led by Blake Veasley, that helps out in the passing game.

On defense, the Bears appear to emphasize on stripping the ball.  They had three forced fumbles and completely outmanned their opponent in their 58-7 thumping.  Their defense is going to have to deal with much more speed and talent from the Buffs but an emphasis should be put on protecting the ball.

Special teams was big for Central Arkansas in their win Week 1.  They had 2 blocked punts to go with their big kick return.  Special Teams was nearly the kiss of death for the Buffaloes against CSU so the Buffs will have to really focus on their coverage units and protections.

Prediction for Central Arkansas and Beyond:
Mike MacIntyre and staff are great coaches.  They played these sort of opponents at San Jose State.  They know not to overlook opponents.  They don't want their Folsom Field debut to go from jubilation and celebration that comes with Sunday's Rocky Mountain Showdown win to the boo birds and questions brought on by losing to what is SUPPOSED to be an inferior opponent.  The Buffaloes will not overlook Central Arkansas.  The Bears have speed and playmaking ability the Rams did not.  They don't have the size up front that CSU did, so the pressure should be there from the Buffs that we did not see against the CSU wall.  This is a dangerous game, but the Buffs offense looked good and should be able to outgun the Bears defense.  CSU has a fairly solid defense and the Buffs took advantage of that throughout the game.  The Buffs should be able to be in the 40s to 50s again.  The Buffs Special Teams will need to step up or else they could cause fans, coaches and teammates a significant amount of anguish and anger.  The defense will give up big plays but should be able to play the Bears tough.  Prediction:51-24 Buffaloes over the Bears.

The Buffaloes season only becomes much more difficult after this week.  Mike MacIntyre coaches to win each game in its own right so he believes every game is winnable by preparing his guys and game planning for each opponent.  Great coaching can often be the difference and I believe we are FINALLY seeing great coaching.  However, the realist in me still has my worries for the overall aspect of the season.  Fortunately CU's following week opponent lost its tailback that Colorado made look like Emmitt Smith on 1994 Madden but they still have under-heralded Derek Carr.  Currently I still have the Buffs as a 4-8 team since I had these first two as wins, but I believe the Buffs have a more likely opportunity to win in games I didn't initially think they had a chance in (such as Oregon State) and the ability to make a bowl game so 4-8 realist, but 8-4 Buffs optimist.   Whatever the outcome of the season is, the Buffs appear to have the right staff to continue to improve and bring the ability to make games entertaining and competitive which could not be said at all the past 24 months and much of the Hawkins era.  Buffs fans seem to be more into the program than they had with the Buff group in Embree and Company and since Year 2 of Hawkins.  A win in your Colorado Head Coaching debut will do that.  It was 3 coaches and 18 years since that had happened under Slick Rick.  As I've said before, I felt like this was the right hire and direction for this program in taking a coach that builds players and programs through great coaching.  Keep impressing the naysayers, you have a supporter and believer in many of us that have seen what this team has lacked the last 7 years, COACHING ABILITY and PROWESS!