Hawkins, McKnight perform well for CU
The Colorado Buffaloes put up strong offensive numbers in their first win of the season against the rival Colorado State Rams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown Sunday night.
The Buffs (1-0) beat the Rams (0-1) by a score of 38-17 in a game that saw the debut of the country’s top running back recruit, freshman Darrell Scott. Although Scott got off to a bit of a shaky start, he said the experience was exciting.
“For a freshman, it felt great,” Scott said. “My uncle and I had a little prayer before the game. I was just nervous. I had to get the jitterbugs. I slipped on my first run, but after that I just had to get my composure back and get out there.”
Despite the slip, Scott’s first carry for CU went six yards to open the second quarter.
Scott was one of five Buffs to rush the ball against the Rams, leaving the question of who will lead CU on the ground wide open.
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys, and we’re just going to have to keep coming up with creative ways to get them all some time on the field,” head coach Dan Hawkins said.
Now in his second season as the Buffs’ quarterback, sophomore Cody Hawkins was certainly on top of his game, completing 20 of his 29 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also played the part of a running back, taking the ball on the ground eight times for 17 yards as well as two 1-yard touchdowns.
Hawkins said he only did what he had to in order to move the offense down the field..”
“I felt kind of like Dick Butkus,” Hawkins joked. “Not really.I’m not a running back. Yeah, I really enjoyed it. I get to look un-athletic in front of millions of people.”
CSU gained only 258 yards of total offense (71 rushing, 187 passing) compared the 367 total yards (153 rushing, 214 passing ) pounded out by CU.
Sophomore wide receiver Scotty McKnight exploded for the offense in CU’s third drive, catching three passes for 59 yards at the end of the first quarter and into the second. The drive ended in a 35-yard pass to McKnight for a touchdown.
The Buffs scored another touchdown on their next drive, when CSU punter Anthony Hartz fumbled the ball before recovering it at the CSU 5-yard line. CU scored two touchdowns in the first 3:10 of the second quarter.
CU saw some interesting special teams action by return specialist Josh Smith as well. Smith started CU’s first drive by fumbling a punt return, which was quickly recovered by teammate Gardner McKay. Late in the second quarter, he made up for his mistake by running back a kickoff 93 yards for a score.
It was Smith’s first touchdown as a Buff, and the Buffs’ first kickoff return for a touchdown since Jeremy Bloom returned one for a score against Kansas State in 2003.
CSU’s John Mosure responded to Smith by returning CU’s kickoff for a touchdown.
Not to be outdone, Smith almost managed to return a second kickoff for the Buffs to open the second half, running the ball deep into CSU territory before he was tripped up.
CU head coach Dan Hawkins said that his players were able to recover from these changes in momentum because of the way the coaches try to handle mistakes on the field.
“We told our guys before the game, things are going to happen, and you’ve got to be able to roll with it,” Hawkins said. “You can’t get too hung up on the good plays, and you can’t get too bummed out about the bad plays.”
The Buffs kept their composure through the end of the game, when they had an 18-play drive for 74 yards that ate up over seven minutes of the clock, establishing a strong offensive tempo and giving the Buffs a commanding 31-17 lead.
Although it ended in a field goal, coach Hawkins said the drive was important for his team.
Hawkins gave the bulk of the credit for the lengthy drive to the Buffs’ offensive line.
“I think when those guys establish continuity and kind of start taking over a little bit and start being assertive that way, that’s really big,” Hawkins said.
Cody Hawkins said it was great to control the tempo of the game and get the first win, but he said the team still has a lot to practice and work on.
“We just have to keep pushing forward,” Hawkins said. “We won the game, which was our main objective, but if we want to beat Eastern Washington, we have to keep getting better. If we want to win every game, we have to keep improving every week.”
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Amanda Walck at email@example.com.