The Buffaloes coach said Tuesday he believed his players were "fine" emotionally at the outset of a first half that saw CU sputter in almost every area and eventually trail 20-3 at intermission.
"I think everybody gauges (emotion) in a different way," Hawkins said. "I think no matter who it is, they want to see a tremendous amount of outward jubilation and frolicking . . .
"If you watch any great team operate, usually they're pretty business-like, pretty methodical about how they do things. It doesn't mean they don't get excited, but they're pretty methodical. There's not a lot of 'Hey, all right we made a basket' . . . that kind of thing."
Hawkins further noted that his players' early emotion might have been trumped by CSU's fast start and CU's general inability throughout the first half. The Buffs managed only five first downs in the first half (CSU had 11) and were outgained 265-63 in total yardage.
"Look at some of the bigger games, like the Super Bowl . . . sometimes they're just a runaway in the first part of the game," he said. "It happens because you're all geeked out and the emotion goes to the other side and you just tank.
"You absolutely forget it and tank. We struggled; we ended up only kicking a field goal. Aric (Goodman, with a career-long 54-yarder) did an awesome job there.
"But I think that attitude helped us regroup in the second half. We came out shooting guns . . ."
The Buffs scored on their first offensive series of the second half and appeared to be moving toward a second consecutive touchdown. But after a replay ruling, receiver Scotty McKnight was judged to have fumbled at the CSU 16-yard line, with the Rams recovering.
The initial ruling on the field was a catch, giving CU a first down. But CSU challenged it and the call was overturned.
"If that play doesn't go the other way, we score and it's 20-17 and the rush is on," Hawkins said, adding that replays showed a helmet-to-helmet hit on McKnight by CSU corner Elijah-Blu Smith.
CU asked the Big 12 Conference to review it, and the league office confirmed the hit fell into the illegal helmet-to-helmet category.
Hawkins said he could comment further on officiating, but noted CU usually asks the Big 12 to "look at several plays every game . . . to make sure we're instructing our guys correctly. Are you seeing this how we're seeing it?"
The game officials were from the Big 12.
MORE ON QBS: The plan to redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen could be scrapped not only if starter Cody Hawkins suffers a significant injury, but if he is ineffective.
"Cody could break his arm today and (Hansen) would be in, or if Cody ends up just not getting it done, then (Hansen) would have to (come in)," Dan Hawkins said.
"You've got to play well at the spot. There's never a set of rules; it's always a judgment call."
He reiterated that, as was the case last season when Hansen's redshirt was pulled for a change of pace in Game 7, "that could all go out the window in a variety of ways. That's the way we've approached it with (Hansen) . . . . We're trying to, I guess, be fair - as fair as we can . . . with Tyler, who had his redshirt ripped off last year."
The plan, said Dan Hawkins, is to return Hansen to "the progression of quarterbacks . . . but that may not happen."
He added that a No. 3 quarterback has not been settled on, although freshman Clark Evans has said he wants to redshirt. Evans and walk-on Seth Lobato dueled through camp for the No. 3 job.
CRITIQUING KIESAU: Eric Kiesau debuted Sunday as offensive coordinator, calling the Buffs' plays from the coaching booth.
If it didn't show on the scoreboard, Dan Hawkins still termed Kiesau's first day a success: "In terms of being poised, being focused, being on it and having a good method and a good plan and communicating with the kids, I thought he was good."
Frustration was evident for everyone, Dan Hawkins said, because no offensive rhythm was established in the first half.
"As a coordinator, you (think) you need to call the perfect play - and that's very hard to do," Dan Hawkins said. "The good thing was, in the second half, we sketched, added and deleted. We hit a couple of plays and the coordinator gets to call five, six or seven plays instead of three."
The Buffs' second-half problems in getting plays into the huddle, according to Dan Hawkins, stemmed from McKnight's temporary absence and the resulting personnel issues at receiver.
BUFF BITS: McKnight should be able to play Friday night at Toledo (7 p.m. MDT, ESPN) and center Mike Iltis (sprained ankle) also is expected to play. Backup Keenan Stevens played most of the opener in Iltis' absence. The status of safety Patrick Mahnke (sprained ankle) isn't known yet . . . . Dan Hawkins said he hopes to get increased contributions from receivers Andre Simmons and Anthony Wright as the weeks progress. "We worry about giving them too much . . . confidence is a big thing," Dan Hawkins said. Kiesau said before the opener, both players had between 12 and 15 plays they were concentrating on learning - rather than the entire playbook . . . . Among CU's defensive objectives this week is to avoid allowing long receptions created by "double moves." CSU stung the Buffs with completions of 43, 57 and 45 yards - two of which resulted from the cornerbacks being in man-to-man coverage and getting "spun around," Dan Hawkins said . . . . The Rams' "explosion plays" were costly: In addition to the three long passes, CSU had runs of 16, 26 and 44 yards that resulted from "gap errors," Dan Hawkins said.