Colorado Buffaloes fans all felt it as the field goal from Sacramento State kicker Edgar Castaneda sailed through the uprights as time expired to give the Hornets a stunning 30-28 victory at Folsom Field.
The Buffs have hit rock bottom.
It’s Colorado’s second loss to an FCS team in the last six seasons (Montana State in 2006) and the Buffs are only 1-2 against FCS opponents overall.
Here’s what went right and what went wrong for the Buffs today in Boulder.
The Good: It’s hard to take anything positive away from a loss like this but there were some signs of hope for Colorado fans.
-Freshmen fullback Christian Powell made one heck of a debut in his first start for Colorado. The Buffs needed to establish a solid run game so they turned to the bruising fullback and he delivered a great performance finishing with 147 yards and 3 TDs on 28 carries. His three touchdowns tied the record for the most in a game by a freshmen matching Herchell Troutman at Texas in 1994. Powell got the Buffs off to a great start and his 64 yard TD run on the third play from scrimmage was the fourth longest rush by a freshmen in CU history. It’s easy to say that Colorado has found their running back for the future.
-The tight ends finally got into the action in the passing game. During his weekly press conference Jon Embree stated that he wanted to get the tight ends more involved in the game plan and they were a sizable part of the offense today. Both Kyle Slavin and Nick Kasa caught passes this afternoon and both were big plays. Kasa, a converted TE from DE, caught just his second career pass but it was a big one for 40 yards at a crucial point in the game. Slavin caught his first ever TD pass on an eight yard throw to tie the game at 21. Colorado did a good job getting the big guys involved and they will likely be a staple of the offense moving forward.
-Colorado used big plays to their advantage. Last week against Colorado State, the Buffs had a hard time getting a first down let alone a play of more than 20 yards. Today, however, the Buffs had three plays over 20 yards including the huge 64 yard TD from Powell. The offense seemed to be in more of a rhythm early and utilized big plays to take a 14-0 lead. Time after time the running backs were finding big holes to run through and it led to big gains. The passing game also found some openings down the field which was encouraging.
The Bad: Whenever a FBS team loses to an FCS team the bad far outweighs the good.
-They lost to a far inferior team. Sacramento State was just coming off of a 49-19 loss to New Mexico State and weren’t expected to make this much of a game but they gave Colorado all it could handle and more. They were 4-7 last year and the 2011 Hornets were supposedly more talented than this year’s team. Yet they still came in and stunned Colorado, their second win over a Pac 12 team in as many years (2011:Oregon State 29-28 in OT). The Hornets’ 30 points were their most against an FBS opponent since scoring 43 against Pacific in 1993. Not an impressive showing for Colorado’s defense to say the least.
-Colorado drops to 0-2 for just the 20th time in their 123 year history. It is also the second straight season in which Colorado has started with two straight losses. It’s not the start that was expected as these two games were very winnable. The worst part about being 0-2 is that the Buffs held leads in both games but let the other teams come back and win. Last week it was a 14-3 lead but a muffed punt changed the momentum while this week it was a 14-0 lead that turned into trailing 21-14.
–Jordan Webb was very inconsistent in the passing game. I’m not sure if he just had happy feet in the pocket after being hit and sacked so many times last week or what it was but he never looked comfortable throwing the ball. Most of his throws were pretty poor including some overthrows and underthrows. Not all of it was his fault as he was constantly under pressure but he still needs to be more accurate. In the post game press conference head coach Jon Embree noted that Webb, “missed some throws, some critical throws”. One of the throws in particular that Embree was referring to was on one of CU’s last drives on a third and long in which Webb threw way behind a wide open Tyler McCulloch. It was one of those plays that has to be completed but Webb and the offense were unable to get it done. It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation will look as the season progresses and if Colorado will make a switch at some point and start Connor Wood.
Embree on turning point of the game, “There were a couple of them. We didn’t pick up the first down with three or four minutes left, I thought that was obviously one. Second half, when we gave up the throw back after we talked about that play that should have been stoned. Those were two critical points with lack of execution.”
Embree on getting on the same page, “We’re on the same page, we have to get a different book.” Classic quote from a outspoken coach.
Embree on difference between practice and games, “For whatever reason, the team that is practicing isn’t necessarily coming consistently every week for Saturday. That’s another one of those things we need to look at and figure out why.”
Jon Major on what needs to happen after this, “Just a lot of hard work. Our goal coming into this week was to win three of the next four. We now need to win the next three. There is not anyone in that locker room that won’t come to work hard and expect to win from here on out.”
Connor Wood on competing for the starting job, “I have always been competing for the starting job since I have been here. It did not stop when Jordan was named the starter. I’m going to keep on doing what I’m good at and continue to try and get better each day. We will see what happens.”
It doesn’t get much easier from here as Colorado plays their next two games on the road at Fresno State and then the next week at Washington State. The Buffs never play that well on the road and if they have these problems while playing at home it will be rough to see what happens on the road.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Football writers for Rant Sports and is also a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He covers the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado.