Brooks: Buffs Say Bye To September, Seek Better Times
BOULDER - The calendar will say he was a day early, but shortly before 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jon Embree waved goodbye to September. It was not anywhere close to the month Colorado's second-year football coach envisioned when it started.
Before the 2012 season began, Embree reminded his team that September would be critical, with nearly half (five) of the schedule's 12 games played in the opening month. A good start was a must. In reality it was a bust.
His Buffaloes bowed out of the month just as they started it, bookending the 22-17 loss to Colorado State on Sept. 1 with a 42-14 loss to UCLA on Saturday. CU will enter October with a 1-4 record, surely not what Embree had in mind in August camp when his team broke its daily post-practice huddle with the chant, "Bowl Game!"
For whatever reason (and you can come up with several), we're not hearing that anymore. With seven games remaining, the bowl goal - five more wins minimum - isn't dead, but it will stay on life support until the Buffs develop a more consistent running game, become consistently better tacklers, get more consistent on third down, get more consistent pass protection, consistently protect the ball . . . see a theme developing here?
CU does a few things consistently well, but not enough to avoid being 1-4 and being labeled inconsistent. On Saturday, the Buffs ran for a mere 83 yards, whiffed on too many tackles to count without having instant replay available as this is written, converted just two of 15 third-down attempts, yielded four more quarterback sacks (now 22 for the season), and suffered two game-turning turnovers in the third quarter.
CU's 15 possessions on Saturday ended with 10 punts, two touchdowns, back-to-back third-quarter turnovers and also giving the ball back to UCLA on downs in the third quarter. The Buffs' offense was hit-and-mostly-miss - and Embree was left searching for a solution.
Asked if he had an answer, he answered: "I don't. I wish I did, but that will have to be something that over this bye week period we will have to address . . . for whatever reason, we have not played well. We have eight to ten plays that we know we're going to start with and we practice it against the looks we are going to get. But for whatever reason we're just not able to do anything."
Despite what the scoreboard might say, the Buffs' defense - poor tackling aside - had its moments.
"Up until a certain time frame in the third quarter," said CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown, "we kind of felt as a defensive staff that our players felt, 'we're in this, we can play, we can stop the Bruins, let's get them off the field and give the ball back to our offense.'
"But obviously, it didn't hold up and we didn't finish what we started. The bottom line is, we're not there. We're a work in progress and we have a long way to go."...more