Brooks: No Simple Fix For What's Wrong With Buffs
FRESNO, Calif. - Simpler was supposed to be better. Instead, it turned into simply bad here Saturday night.
After consecutive losses to opponents they were favored to beat, the Colorado Buffaloes shrunk their offensive and defensive game plans for Fresno State. The theory, said CU coach Jon Embree and his coordinators, was to mentally free up their players - particularly the younger ones - with fewer sets and assignments.
An adage in football is to do a handful of things well rather than try to do too much and succeed at nothing - and success had clearly eluded CU in the season's first two weeks. This week's goal, Embree said, was "to give our guys fewer things to think about and let them play faster."
Coordinator Eric Bieniemy said his offense went into Saturday's game with about 50 percent of what was made available in the first two games. The running game, which went from 58 yards in the opener to 153 last week, remained his priority. But, Bieniemy added, no matter how simple a game plan becomes, sloppy execution will kill it.
Defensively, coordinator Greg Brown said what his players practiced last week was reduced considerably, with the objective to remain in their base defense and work in various blitzes when called for. The onus remained on the D-line to produce pressure on Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, and on CU's "Baby Buff" secondary - freshmen corners Yuri Wright and Kenneth Crawley, and safety/nickel back Marques Mosley - to cover.
But on this night, simplification didn't work. Nothing did. And Fresno State did whatever it wanted . . . with ease. Anything simple or elaborate CU had in mind drifted out of Bulldogs Stadium after the Buffs fell behind 35-0 in the first quarter. They left dizzied by allowing 69 points while scoring only 14. Fresno State practically rewrote CU's football record book, with all the revisions in the worst possible context for the slumping Buffs.
"At the end of the day we have to help ourselves by making plays . . . we didn't make the plays," junior linebacker Derrick Webb said. "The coaches did their jobs by making it simpler, but the players, we have to step up and do our jobs."
CU's deplorable first quarter offered reason to flash back to an afternoon in Lawrence, Kan., three seasons ago when the Buffs allowed that many fourth-quarter points in a meltdown loss to Kansas. Embree wasn't there for that one, but some of his players were.
Derrick Webb was among them. "It's a loss," he said. "Kansas was bad, today is bad. I don't know if it gets too much worse than those two games right there. A loss like this should motivate you. If it doesn't, that's another issue...more