Same old story – same old sad song.
The Colorado Buffaloes suffered their ninth loss of the season on Saturday at the hands of the visiting Kansas State Wildcats, 34-21, before 42,696 fans at Folsom Field. The loss dropped the Buffs to 1-9 on the season and 1-5 in the Big 12.
This loss was no different than any of the previous eight for CU – either the defensive or offensive unit was out of sync, a play here or there was made or not made, the team lost confidence after certain plays, and the list goes on.
“It’s probably typical of a team that is looking for external means of confidence and reinforcement,” said head coach Dan Hawkins after the loss. “You’re sort of waiting for something to happen rather than going and making something happen.”
The offense certainly was waiting for something to happen in the first half, as the Buffs’ offense was not able to muster any sort of spark. The Buffs were able to net only three first downs the entire first half, and one came on a KSU penalty.
“When you don’t start the game well, guys wonder what is going on,” junior quarterback Bernard Jackson said. “I told the guys at halftime that I took responsibility for the slow start.”
Sophomore receiver Stephone Robinson lost 15 yards on a reverse try that stalled one Buffs drive and fumbled the ball on an end-around handoff that Kansas State recovered and turned into seven points. Colorado ran a total of four plays over one nine-minute stretch in the second quarter.
“I don’t know if ‘flat’ is the word,” Hawkins said in reference to the team’s slow start. “It’s a question of saying, ‘Can I do it? I hope I do it. I want to do it,’ versus, ‘I’m going to do it.’ You have to make plays to make plays.”
The second half was better from an offensive standpoint for the Buffs, as Jackson was able to rip off an electrifying 62-yard scamper that brought the Buffs to within six points. Kansas State came right back with a 74-yard pass from freshman quarterback Josh Freeman to junior receiver Jordy Nelson on the next series that took any wind the Buffs had out of their sails.
“Obviously, when a defense allows 34 points, the team didn’t play too well,” senior defensive Abraham Wright said. “Overall, I think it was a poor performance.”
Kansas State extended their lead to 34-14 after senior receiver Yamon Figurs took a reverse 30 yards for a score, and Colorado battled back for another score to make it 34-21.
“You get some plays here and there, and you can use those to build confidence,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t say not making plays hurts you at all, but making them really helps.”
Senior linebacker Thaddaeus Washington suffered two cracked front teeth during a play in the first quarter. He was, however, able to return, and Hawkins pointed to Washington’s toughness as a motivating factor for the Buffs in the second half.
“When you have guys come back like that, it provides a tremendous amount of inspiration to everybody else,” Hawkins said. “Toughness is a key thing in football and in life.”
The continual losing has taken its toll on the team, Wright said, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t keep coming back.
“If you are talking about losing, you hate to lose because it makes it hard to go back to practice and get yourself psyched up,” he said. “At the same time, every time I play is a blessing in itself, and you have to look at it like that.”
The Buffs’ record this season has raised some questions about Hawkins’ coaching ability, but after the Kansas State loss, he reiterated his commitment to building a quality football program.
“I knew this was not going to be an easy rodeo when I got into it,” Hawkins said. “But I came into it with my spurs on, and I may be getting a little longer ride than I thought, but I knew there was going to be some bucking going on.”