Hawkins, players emphasize importance of a strong finish
Three games ago, as CU quarterback Bernard Jackson was carried off the field following his team’s first win of the season against Texas Tech, a crowd member shouted, “We’re still in it.”
Now three weeks and two losses later, CU players find themselves in the position no athlete wants to be–the position of playing for pride once the post-season is no longer a possibility. The Buffs’ chances of making it to the post-season are minimal at this point.
“We’re just taking it week-to-week now, trying to get a win”
CU quarterback Bernard Jackson
Despite the possibility, Jackson said no one in the locker room is dreaming up crazy scenarios.
“We’re just taking it week-to-week now, trying to get a win,” Jackson said.
Post-season or not, CU (1-8, 1-4 Big 12) will begin its final three-game stretch of the season this weekend when it hosts the Kansas State Wildcats (5-4, 2-3 Big 12) at Folsom Field. Even though none of the Buffs are still thinking post-season, the players vow to finish the season on the right foot.
“Last year we didn’t finish strong, and this year we’re hoping to not repeat that. (Head Coach Dan Hawkins’) main emphasis has been finishing, and once we get that fresh and glued in our minds that we have to finish the season, I think we’ll be good,” said junior linebacker Jordon Dizon. “We’re playing for pride now and a lot of guys have it, so we’re going to finish strong hopefully.”
All week long, Hawkins has reiterated Dizon’s sentiments to his team. Following what was characterized as an “intense” Sunday workout by many Buffs players, it is apparent that Hawkins wants his team to finish the season right.
“There is something to be said for teaching a group of people to finish,” Hawkins said at his weekly press conference luncheon. “We are going to try and go as hard and fast as we can against Kansas State.”
Dizon said that he understands Hawkins’ message.
“Sunday’s practice was a little intense, but we deserved it. We gave away seven of our eight games or whatnot, and once we learn to finish and put the nail in the coffin, we’ll be a good team,” Dizon said.
For much of the season, the Buffs haven’t finished strong. A direct culprit in CU’s inability to finish is the team’s anemic passing offense. The team ranks 117 out of 119 teams in NCAA Division I football in passing offense, with just 105.1 yards per game.
The quarterback situation for Hawkins’s squad has been an ever-changing one since the start of fall camp.Hawkins named senior James Cox as the starter to open the season. Following the team’s opening loss to Division I-AA Montana State, Hawkins replaced Cox with junior quarterback Bernard Jackson. Soon after, junior quarterback Brian White announced his decision to transfer.
Jackson, after improving in his first four starts, has trailed off since the team’s win over Texas Tech on Oct. 14. Jackson struggled so much in CU’s 24-3 loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago that Hawkins decided to let Cox play a few snaps at Kansas this past weekend. Cox was ineffective before breaking his thumb in the first half.
The offense will be geared once again by Jackson full-time. The quarterback says he still remains confident despite his recent struggles.
“My confidence is up there now. This has probably been, by far, the best week of practice we’ve had in a long time. I’m confident with plays and I’m ready to go out and make plays,” Jackson said.
The injury Cox suffered against Kansas leaves Hawkins with Jackson as his only experienced player at the quarterback position. Redshirt freshman Patrick Devenny will be CU’s emergency quarterback should Jackson go down. Hawkins’ son Cody will only play in a dire situation.
Although Jackson knows that the position is his for the rest of the year, the junior from Corona, Calif. says he isn’t concerned with that.
“(I’m) not trying to think about that too much. I just want to go out and play and have fun. Let’s get some wins and carry it over to next season,” Jackson said.