In front of a Folsom Field crowd of 52,123, the Colorado Buffaloes fell to 1-7 on Homecoming weekend as they suffered a demoralizing loss against the No. 10 Oregon Ducks (6-1, 4-0).
“I’m smiling because you have to smile to keep from crying,” said head coach Jon Embree summarizing the feelings of Buff Nation after a 45-2 blowout.
The Ducks came out soaring by taking an 8-0 lead with a 6 play, 80 yard drive which lasted only a minute and 36 seconds. The Ducks had no trouble picking apart an ailing Buffs defense that has seen a fair share of significant injuries over these past weeks.
Colorado didn’t play well on their opening drive. Without star tailback Rodney Stewart in the backfield, the offense failed to produce any results on three tries.
On its second drive, Oregon showed again why its offense is one of the most explosive in the country. Oregon scored another quick touchdown, extending their early lead to 15.
Kenjon Barner, who replaced an injured LaMichael James, broke to the outside on a run and sprinted up the sideline for an 84-yard touchdown to make it 22-0. Barner’s run was the third longest rushing touchdown against CU in the school’s history.
Even with James on the sideline, Oregon still ran through the Buffaloes defense. Barner finished with 115 yards as he eclipsed the century mark for the second straight week. As a team, the Ducks had five players rush for 50 or more yards to bring their total to 371.
For a brief moment, it looked as if things finally began to mesh offensively at the start of the second quarter as CU finally moved the ball down field for the first time. But once it seemed like the offense had finally shown up, the spark disappeared as soon as it came.
The offensive woes went on for Colorado as quarterback Tyler Hansen threw an interception to Oregon’s Michael Clay, who returned it for a Ducks touchdown.
Tyler Hansen gets sacked during the first half of Saturday's 45-2 drubbing by Oregon. Hansen later exited the game with a concussion. (CU Independent/James Bradbury)
Towards the end of the half, Hansen was taken out of the game due to an apparent concussion. Freshman Nick Hirschman stepped in to take his place behind center. This game served as Hirschman first time on the field getting live reps at quarterback.
“It’s a great experience every time you get to go out and play,” Hirschman said. “Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We’re going to keep working. I know my play needs to elevate. In football it all starts and ends with this position. So I know I need to play better. I think that will help the team a lot.”
As for Hansen, Embree said his starter should be well enough in time to face ASU.
“I think he will be ready next week,” Embree said. “We’ll see what the protocol is on everything, but we hope he will be ready next week.”
Colorado had an abysmal first half on both sides of the ball, and could never overcome the slow start. CU netted 144 yards total offense without scoring. The defense allowed 35 points, 29 of which came in the first quarter alone.
A safety at the end of the third quarter gave Colorado their only points on the day.
Oregon’s victory came without starting tailback LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas. The Buffs mustered 231 yards of total offense, a total Oregon eclipsed in the first quarter alone.
Hansen went seven of 15 for 62 yards and no touchdowns. His replacement, Hirschman, went 8 of 18 and finished the day with 71 yards.
Backup Tony Jones rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries. Jones spent the majority of his day getting ransacked by Oregon’s large defensive line.
Colorado suffered more injuries on what is already a long list and exhaustive list. Along with Hansen, senior safety Anthony Perkins left with an ankle injury.
However, there is a bright side for future contributors. Given the slew of injuries the team has faced, freshmen have been asked to step up and take on larger roles. For a new coach trying to build a successful team, having a group of young players with hands on experienced definitely helps in the long run.
Coach Embree had a message for his young players. “Don’t worry about mistakes, just go out there and play hard and understand that we may be playing these guys three or four years from now and it is your senior year and you have to understand that every time you go through this, it is a learning experience and focusing on what we want to be, not about where we are.”
Despite the crushing loss, the team, along with Embree, remains as strong-willed as ever.
“I don’t think there has been a separation factor at all,” said junior linebacker Jon Major. “We’re all staying together pretty well. It’s difficult on guys. Seeing guys get hurt. That’s the cards we’ve been dealt. You’ve got to move on, and you go to roll.”
The Buffs will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils October 29, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona, hoping to end their 21 game road-losing streak.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Shay Knolle at firstname.lastname@example.org
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