Tuesday, September 8, 2015

CU Football: Regression Leads Back to Depression

I have tried to stay positive.  I saw positive signs in 2014 and heard all the right things and saw enough to believe that with a full off-season that the 2015 Colorado Buffaloes Football season could snap the losing season drought that now appears headed to nine years.  I had visions of a bowl game and singing the CU fight song with the team after a big win in Folsom.  Instead, I feel like it's 2014 all over again. 

Colorado Football regressed back to 2014 early season form in their opener versus Hawaii.  There is no other way to put it.  When I ask what happened, I continually use one form of a word, REGRESS (regressed, regression).  The Buffs have returned back to the team that went 2-10 in 2014.  The promises of improvement due to losing so many close games by a score or less and being "COMPETITIVE" are no longer viewed as acceptable.

The tired excuses were heard from many due to some awful phantom penalties to the ending of the game and some fans and national media added fuel to that fire, but the simple fact is there are no excuses to how CU looked against Hawaii.  So let's look back at the circumstances that lead to the Hawaii debacle and go from there.

CUs Travel Schedule and Game Schedule
Colorado had a football game to play roughly 2 1/3 days after landing in Oahu on Tuesday.  They then enjoyed the island like you should; enjoying the beach, attending a luau and then getting a necessary history lesson of Pearl Harbor.  The issue is they didn't give themselves enough time to do so.  I am all for enjoying Hawaii, but there should have been a full day of rest going into the game.  Even a speed tour of Pearl Harbor requires 4 hours of your day.  There is not a lot of sitting.  The Buffs should have got to Hawaii on Monday and allowed the day before the game to be beach in the morning, football walk through early afternoon and then focus at the task at hand.  Use Thursday to watch movies and hang out.  That's it. 

The other problem is the 11 p.m. start time.  I don't care that it was 7 p.m. Hawaii time.  The game was covered on a network you had to upgrade your regular programming to or already have a ridiculously overpriced sports programming package in order to watch the game.  The Buffs should have said 5 p.m. Hawaii time at the latest or we play Friday or first thing Saturday.  I know the Buffs have a long season, but playing a game that ends 3 p.m. Mountain Time is ridiculous.  Yes, the average college student stays up that late partying but not playing Division 1 football. 

CUs On-Field Play
Key Bone-Headed Decisions
1. Electing to Receive when you win the toss
2. Spread Punt with a true freshman punter having issues getting the ball off in practice
3. Another bone headed turnover by Sefo
4. Hot Handed Adkins doesn't get ball, Powell who has not looked good gets ball and fumbles
5. Force 3 and out to start 2nd half, offense still clicking and CU runs their damn flat pass routes on 2nd and 12 when you need positive yards.  Settle for Field Goal.
6. Another wasted 3 and out D Stop! Adkins is still running well, you cross mid field and throw 3 consecutive passes instead of running the ball.
7. Another wasted 3 and out D Stop! Do the same damn thing that ended your last dive throwing the ball on 3 consecutive downs.
8. Hawaii takes advantage of it and scores making it 25-17.
9. Sefo takes a sack so Buffs go into snail mode and crawl in shell and run the ball on 3rd and long.  Hawaii answers with FG on short field.
10. Again, Lindsay and Adkins get you a first but you again pass the ball on 3 consecutive plays.
11. Another wasted 3 and out D Stop! Do the same thing as Numbers 6, 7 and 10.  There was still over 10 minutes to get two scores.  Not tough.
12.  D gets big stop and Buffs answer to get to Hawaii 27 and settle for a long field goal.  A 4-yard pass on a 3rd and long. Down by 8.
13. Another huge defensive stop.  2 minutes to score a TD + 2 point conversion, oh but you have us...wasted all your timeouts with two of those being in the 3rd quarter?!  Awful clock management, blame refs and yell at refs.

Key Bone-Headed Coaching
1. FIRE NEINAS-It starts with Neinas.  You have a blocked punt due to not protecting a freshman punter correctly.  It bites you in the ass.  You have a punt return muffed that shouldn't have even been attempted to be grabbed. 
2. Lindgren makes me balder-I already have very thin hair.  As my Grandma Ventura would have said, it's part of life.  But it is made worse when a Pac 12 offensive coordinator can't be innovative and regresses back to what he has done consistently.
-Panic and throw the ball too often:  Go back up and you will count 4 times that CU passed it three consecutive times to end a drive with time on the clock.  Run the ball or play action, but no these were passes from the start. 
-Short routes or runs when you need more: Why does CU have so many 3rd downs come a yard or two short?  It's the routes they are being told to run.  Have your players get past the sticks a yard or two.  Not short of it and have to make a play with tight coverage.  Or run the ball on 3rd and long. It's overly conservative and ridiculous.
3. Bernardi's Offensive Line-Can you say discombobulated? Sure you can!  That was a CU offensive line that looked like they had no depth and were playing for an Embree coached team.  Yes, regression!
4. Clark coaching corners-Kind of nitpicking, since defense was key but I feel that was mainly due to the nickel corner and safeties.  The outside corners aren't getting burned but they aren't turning so they can't make a play on the ball.  This was regressing back to last year and Crawley is a huge part of that.
5. Mike MacIntyre-I have gone to bat for him.  I believe in him, but your team regressed back under your watch and that talk about being on the hot seat I tried to keep cool got stoked with all of the above and the below.

Key Bone-Head Players/Units
1. Sefo Liufau-He is starting for the third year.  He regressed back to the OOC form in 2014 and all of 2013 by keying on receivers from the snap of the ball.  If Hawaii had more athletic cornerbacks they could have keyed on his eyes and he would have thrown more than the one typical bone headed interception.  By the way, I'm not counting or anything but that's 10 consecutive games started with an interception thrown by Sefo.
2. Kenneth Crawley-Forth year starting and give up a touchdown early.  You could see he was frustrated and he let it get to him the rest of the night.  The 79-yard touchdown could have been a 30 yard first down but instead of tackling, we went threw a ball punching drill.  This game was the worse I have seen from Crawley that I can remember so more regression.
3. Offensive Line-What happened to the pass protection we had seen last year.  Nembot got bull rushed by a guy much smaller than him and Kelley looked bad.  The guards looked like they were trying to still figure out the plays and were not sure what to do. 
4. Addison Gillam-We would like to see Gillam regress back to 2013 form.  Gillam still looks hesitant and a step slow and not the same.  He is no longer making plays but just there for them.

What can you say?  The team did everything possible wrong and lost to a Hawaii team they should have beat.  The defense played a very good game minus the baffling cornerback play.  The offense seemed to regress back to their worse times.

This team has to improve.  Rick George was brought on to bring a winning program back and while he has won from raising money to a beautiful addition to Folsom to improving the game day atmosphere, the Buffs ultimately fail repeatedly in the most important place, the WIN column.  The heat will just get turned up on MacIntyre if we don't see improvement in that win column. 

Last year I wrote a blog with just three weeks left in the season titled CU Football: Reasons To Not Give Up Hope. I re-read it before this and while there are many factors there for reasons to not give up hope, the main one I didn't see was improvement and that was the most on-field related reason to not give up hope.  Improvement comes in Wins in 2015.  The Buffs can't finish with 2-3 wins and claim they have improved.  At most they can say they have remained steady.  Steady is okay when you are a winning team, you must make strides and take that next step up when you are a conference bottom feeder.  CSU is proof positive.  There is momentum and positive vibes that are warranted.  Right now, a CU fan can do little more than just sit there and hope and pray.  Well, MacIntyre is a very strong spiritual man and a good man, so all I can do is pray with him.  The Colorado Football Depression appears to still be around, so get ready for a lukewarm Folsom crowd for the home opener against UMass.  Right now, there is just a lot of "Here we go again!!!"disappointment amongst Buff fans.