Late offensive surge not enough to catch ‘Noles
With just over a minute and a half left in regulation play, redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins opened the CU drive with a 15-yard pass to senior tight end Tyson De Vree, moving the Buffs to the Colorado 35-yard line.
Three passes and 47 yards later, the Buffs were on the Florida State 18-yard line.
Twenty seconds remaining, one timeout and one incomplete pass later, Hawkins threw a pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Scotty McKnight for a 14-yard gain and a first down. Time ticking away, CU was called for delay of game and received a 5-yard penalty.
With seven seconds to go, second and goal on the six yard line, Hawkins threw a pass to the end zone intended for sophomore tight end Riar Geer, but it was intercepted by Florida State junior cornerback Tony Carter with two seconds on the clock.
Even with the touchdown and two-point conversion, CU still would have lost. Down 6-16 at the start of the drive, the team had little chance of coming back to win its home opener against FSU Saturday Sept. 15.
“Last year that was one of our big problems, we gave up a lot of touchdowns in the red zone,” junior defensive tackle George Hypolite said. “You know in this game we bowed our necks and you know we kept our offense in it, so when they did come around late in the game, we had a chance, a legitimate chance, to win the football game.”
True freshman wide receiver Josh Smith saw his first playing time of the year after an injury in the preseason. Although there were a number of incomplete passes between Cody Hawkins and Smith, on CU’s first drive of the third quarter Smith gained 38 yards on a pass from the redshirt freshman quarterback.
While Smith still has a ways to go, Cody Hawkins said the wide receiver played well.
“He brings a lot of energy and a lot of play-making ability,” Hawkins said. “I think down the road as he grows you will kind of see defenses kind of key on him a little bit with the ability that he has.”
Smith said his injury was the reason it took so long for him and Hawkins to get their chemistry going. As the season progresses and the two get more time to practice and play together, he said that the two would get back the chemistry they had earlier this year.
Smith said the relationship between him and Hawkins is a positive one.
“I like the way he leads me, he’s a good motivational speaker you know he really puts it, instills it in me to make big plays and you know that’s how I feel each and every time I go out there,” Smith said. “So I know if Cody wants me to get something done early, we’ll definitely get the chemistry going a lot faster.”
Smith said there were a few things the team needed to work on, but he saw more positive than negative.
“We are very close to something that’s going to be very great,” Smith said.
Close is not good enough for some senior members of the team. While Coach Dan Hawkins said the defense played “pretty darn good” and it was the offense that could not execute, senior linebacker Jordon Dizon had different thoughts.
“The most frustrating part is, you know you wouldn’t think of this, but they got 16 points,” Dizon said. “You can’t put anything on the offense. They scored 6 points. If we had held them to less than six points then we would have won so you can’t put anything on the offense. They scored more points than our offense did so you’ve got to put that on our defense.”
The offense, though, showed its weakness in the numbers. At the end of the game, CU had minus-27 net yards rushing.
No amount of passing could win a game for a team that cannot gain any yards rushing, Coach Hawkins said.
“You have to run the football to win consistently. You can’t just keep dropping back,” Hawkins said. “It’s just something we have to continue to keep harping on and keep going.”
It was obvious that Florida State’s speed was too much for the Buffs. Florida State is a team known for its fast, strong defense.
“It’s tough to score against a team with that kind of speed,” Cody Hawkins said. “We definitely felt we were capable of doing that coming into the game and we didn’t live up to our own expectations tonight.”
Despite the failure in rushing, CU came up strong over the Seminoles in the passing game. CU finished with 306 yards passing, with Cody Hawkins completing 34 of 54 attempts.
Because he was able to execute so many passes in spite of Florida State’s strong defensive line, Cody Hawkins was impressed with his offensive line.
“That was probably the best D-line that we’ve faced so far and I got hit the least,” Hawkins said. “So I was really proud of those guys.”
It was not just the defensive line, but the Seminoles as a whole, that stood out against many of the previous CU opponents.
Although Florida State, which fell out of the top 25 after its No. 19 preseason ranking, is not the powerhouse that it used to be, they are not a non-conference opponent to just brush aside.
“This was a chance for us to play a really good program and win a football game,” Coach Hawkins said. “I think our guys discovered that we can play with anybody, and we need to quit making excuses and go make plays and do things we do in practice and have a little bit more certainness about it.”
Contact Staff Writer Margot Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org