This is the first installment of Cannon Fodder, a CUI Sports column by copy editor Cannon Casey where he shares his opinions on all things CU sports. For an Urban Dictionary definition of the expression “cannon fodder,” click here.
You probably clicked on this article because of the graphic our multimedia manager (Matt Sisneros) made, but you don’t know what you’re getting into. Cannon Fodder? What the hell does that mean? Who does this kid think he is? I’m just a Buffs fan giving my take on all things CU sports.
This Saturday’s game at UMass has much bigger implications than a W or an L. Job security type of implications. Season crippling implications. Interested yet?
Let’s jump in. The Buffs made it hard on themselves to make a bowl game by losing to Hawaii. Is a bowl game now out of reach? No, but the possibility of going undefeated in non-conference play gave Colorado the best option for getting to that seven-win mark.
With all the talk about bowl games, new facilities, new uniforms and the lucky third year for Mike MacIntyre (who took a 2-10 San Jose St. to 11-2 in three years), the team — scratch that, all of us — overlooked Hawaii. So, let’s not make the same mistake. Let’s talk about UMass.
CU almost lost the game at UMass last year. Down 31-20 in the third quarter, Colorado turned it around, led by a Christian Powell touchdown and two Sefo Liufau touchdown passes to Nelson Spruce.
What if (God forbid) they lose? An 0-2 start would not look pretty for MacIntyre and the Buffaloes. First, MacIntyre would quickly be put on the hot seat. With defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt looming large as a possible next head coach, this season or next season — depending on Colorado’s upcoming performances — could be the beginning of the Jim Leavitt era at the University of Colorado.
A loss would put MacIntyre’s record as head coach at CU at 6-20. Fans, players and even MacIntyre himself expect big strides to be made this year. If those strides aren’t met, his tenure could be over.
The other implication of a loss vs. UMass spans past MacIntyre. It could cripple the entire season.
Think of it from the perspective of a player: All off-season you’re hyped up on the idea of a bowl game and truly believe that this season is a new beginning for Colorado football, then you go out and lose two very winnable games. That could be crushing for team morale.
How can I say the season would be over after just two games? It’s become bowl game or bust, and the Buffs have a grueling Pac-12 South conference schedule: No. 7 Oregon, ASU, No. 22 Arizona, Oregon State, No. 13 UCLA, Stanford, No. 8 USC, Washington State and No. 24 Utah.
One more implication could come with the loss — recruiting. Potential recruits thinking about the University of Colorado see the new facilities and new uniforms and hear the buzz that football has for this season.
With interest piqued, now is the time to show those potential recruits that CU football is making strides and the program is on its way up. Two straight losses to begin a hyped-up season could turn those recruits off to the program.
How can Colorado win?
Go out and play your game, don’t play down to their level. Make smart passes, protect the football and let them make the mistakes. Mistakes will happen, turn the page and think next play. Try not to compound errors. Don’t get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct because you’re mad you missed a tackle. And for goodness sake, GIVE MICHAEL ADKINS THE ROCK.
Adkins was one of the few glimmers of hope I saw in that first game. He brought energy and toughness to the Colorado offense that needs to be adopted throughout the entire team.
I expect the Buffs to come out with a chip on their shoulder not only because of the season opening loss, but because of how the game last year went. Not to mention it’s a home game this year.
A win would put the Buffs’ season back on track. It keeps fans (and higher-ups) happy. It keeps the dreams of a winning season and a bowl game, which players and fans alike have been so stomach-grumbling-hungry for, alive.
A win shows that the loss at Hawaii was just the case of an off-season hangover.
This team has genuine talent and I think the buzz around this season is warranted. MacIntyre and crew need to right the ship and put a “1” in the win column come Saturday.
Colorado (0-1) plays UMass (0-0) at home Saturday, Sept. 12, at 12 p.m. (MST).
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Cannon Casey at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cannon_casey.