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CFN Take: Colorado Bombed On By USC

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 18, 2014


Colorado Buffaloes 2014 ... Head Coach: Mike MacIntyre


Colorado Buffaloes

2014 Schedule
Record: 2-5

Aug. 29 Col St (Den) L 31-17
Sep. 6 at UMass W 41-38
Sep. 13 Arizona St L 38-24
Sep. 20 Hawaii W 21-12
Sep. 27 at Cal L 59-56 2OT
Oct. 4 Oregon State L 36-31
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 at USC L 56-28
Oct. 25 UCLA
Nov. 1 Washington
Nov. 8 at Arizona
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Oregon
Nov. 29 Utah
Oct. 18 at USC 56, Colorado 28
And You Care Because … USC QB Cody Kessler threw seven touchdown passes with four in the first quarter and five in the first half on the way to a 35-7 lead. Nelson Agholor caught touchdown passes from 16, 18 and 75 yards out, and Steven Mitchell caught No. 7 on a 24-yard play in the third. Colorado got two Sefo Liufau touchdown passes in the third quarter, but it was never close.
What Else? USC QB Cody Kessler completed 19-for-26 passes for 319 yards and seven touchdowns, and Nelson Agholor caught six passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns
- Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 23-of-35 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions
- USC RB Javorius Allen ran 15 times for 128 yards and a score
- Yards per pass: USC 11.4 – Colorado 4.7
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 4 Oregon State 36, at Colorado 31
And You Care Because … In a shootout, Oregon State held on late as Colorado got a 44-yard Will Oliver field goal and a 17-yard Tyler McCulloch touchdown catch in the fourth to pull within five, but the last drive stalled. The Beavers got two touchdowns from Terron Ward and one from Storm Woods, and Caleb Smith caught a 24-yard touchdown pass, but Colorado kept up the pressure as Sefo Liufau threw two touchdown passes. Trevor Romaine hit three field goals for OSU from 38, 33 and 47 yards out.
What Else? Oregon State QB Sean Mannion completed 27-of-37 passes from 278 yards and a score
- Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 32-of-49 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns with a pick
- Oregon State RB Terron Ward ran 12 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and Storm Woods ran 13 times for 69 yards and a touchdown
- Colorado RB Michael Adkins II ran 13 times for 79 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: B

Sept. 27 at California 59, Colorado 56 2OT
And You Care Because … Jared Goff and Sefo Liufau each threw for 449 yards and seven touchdown passes, but it was Cal’s defense that got the job done late with a goal line stand in the second overtime allowing Bear PK James Langford to hit a 34-yard field goal for the win. It took a wild final four minutes get to the extra time with Colorado’s Nelson Spruce coming up with his second of three touchdown catches with just over three minutes to play, but Cal answered with two touchdowns in less than 30 seconds on a Goff 75-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Anderson and a 40-yarder to Chris Harper for the lead. But the Buffs would fight back with Bryce Bobo catching a 30-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds to play to force overtime.
What Else? Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 46-of-67 passes for 449 yards and seven touchdowns with a pick, and led the team with 72 rushing yards on ten carries. Cal QB Jared Goff completed 23-of-41 passes for 449 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception
- Colorado WR Nelson Spruce caught 19 passes for 176 yards and three scores
- Total yards: Colorado 629 – California 576
- Penalties: California 12 for 113 yards – Colorado 9 for 75 yards
Game Rating: A

Sept. 20 Colorado 21, Hawaii 12
And You Care Because … A record-setting day from WR Nelson Spruce, and a solid effort from the D propelled Colorado back to the .500 mark. Spruce hauled in a Buff-record 13 passes for 172 yards and the game’s first touchdown, while the defense didn’t allow a TD in a game for the first time in four years. Hawaii rallied to within nine points in the third quarter, but went the final 22 minutes without getting back on the board.
What Else? Spruce’s battery mate, QB Sefo Liufau, went 29-of-45 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His other scoring strike went to George Frazier.
- The Warriors used three different quarterbacks, none of whom worked. Jeremy Higgins, Ikaiaka Woolsey and Taylor Graham combined to go 17-of-46 for 155 yards and a pick.
- Hawaii, though, did have a pulse on the ground. Powerful RB Steven Lakalaka carried the ball 19 times for 123 yards, including a long run of 30 yards.
- Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is happy with the win but undoubtedly dissatisfied with his team’s execution. The Buffaloes committed nine penalties, and too often failed to put away Hawaii when it had a chance.
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 13 Arizona State 38, at Colorado 24
And You Care Because … Arizona State won the battle, but might have lost a key part with QB Taylor Kelly getting knocked out with a foot injury. The Sun Devils had a fight after getting up 17-0, with Colorado getting back in the game with two Sefo Liufau touchdown passes, but D.J. Foster scored his second touchdown of the day, and Kelly ran for a 50-yard score and hit Jaelen Strong on a one-yard touchdown pass before getting knocked out for the game.
What Else? Colorado outgained Arizona State 545 yards to 426, but turned the ball over three times. ASU didn’t give it away.
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 20 times for 147 yards and a score. Taylor Kelly completed 13-of-21 passes for 195 yards and three scores, and ran six times for 70 yards and a touchdown.
- Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 31-of-46 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns with two picks.
- Colorado RB Christian Powell ran 11 times for 118 yards.
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 6 Colorado 41, at Massachusetts 38
And You Care Because … Colorado avoided disaster, coming back from a 31-20 deficit with Christian Powell running for a 14-yard score and Nelson Spruce scoring on passes from 70 and three yards out to take the lead for good. But UMass wouldn’t go away, scoring on a six-yard Marken Michel touchdown run late. Blake Frohnapfel found Jean Sifrin on touchdown passes from 12 and 14 yards out to help the Minutemen stay alive, but Colorado and Sefo Liufau kept pressing – he completed 26-of-42 passes for 318 yards and three scores with a pick.
Game Rating: A-

Aug. 29 Colorado State 31 … Colorado 17
And You Care Because … Dee Hart rumbled and pounded his way for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Treyous Jarrells added 121 yards and a score as Colorado State scored 24 unanswered points to get past the Buffs. Colorado took a 17-7 lead on the second Sefo Liufau to Nelson Spruce touchdown pass of the game, but that was it for the offense – the Ram running game took over.
What Else? The Ram offensive line was fantastic. It got better and better as the game went on, but it also helped to have an Alabama running back in Dee Hart transferring in and cranking out 6.3 yards per carry with 139 yards on 22 runs. He also led the team with 35 receiving yards on three catches.
- Colorado didn’t put the Rams away. There were chances in the first half to take full control, and the touchdown early in the second half stopped the momentum after the Rams scored late before halftime, but all of a sudden, the Buffs couldn’t tackle and there was no stopping Hart.
- It’ll get lost in the shuffle, but CSU PK Jared Roberts had a tremendous night, putting four of his six kickoffs into the end zone and nailing a 52-yard bomb.
- Addison Gilliam did what he could for the Colorado defense, making ten tackles and three tackles for loss, but the line got beaten up and battered – this was a gassed D. Fortunately, until late October, Arizona State is the only team on the schedule who can run.
Game Rating: B

2014 Preview 

It’s a slow process, but the Buffs are finally moving in the right direction.

Second-year head coach Mike MacIntyre is a fixer, and he’s fixing to get Colorado a little closer to its first bowl game since 2007 and its first winning season since 2005.

The Buffaloes improved by three wins a year ago, while breaking in a new coach and a true freshman quarterback, Sefo Liufau. Beyond the simplicity of the record, this team executed a little tighter and played with more confidence, trends that figure to continue again this fall.

In 2013, the Buffaloes scored 7.6 more points than in 2012 and allowed 7.8 fewer points per game. It’s not only a start, but also evidence of the impact of MacIntyre, the guy who led San Jose State to 10 wins and a No. 21 ranking in the final 2012 AP poll. San Jose State.

MacIntyre is off to a nice start in Boulder, where the challenges of competing in the Pac-12 are numerous. And he and his staff have done it by using a slew of underclassmen.

Going young last fall means Colorado returns a whopping 53 letterwinners and 15 players who started at least six games on offense or defense in 2013. The Buffs are banking on being more mature and less uncertain, especially behind center.

In Liufau, the program feels it finally has a young quarterback it can build around for the foreseeable future. And if Liufau suffers through a sophomore slump, former JUCO transfer Jordan Gehrke has looked tailor-made this offseason for the Pistol attack.

Coordinator Kent Baer’s defense may have taken a statistical step in the right direction in 2013, but there’s a ton of work still left to be done. Topping Colorado’s priority list is to toughen up in the trenches. The Buffs’ inability to hold up at the point of attack dramatically impacts their ability to move a pile or effectively get after the quarterback. If Colorado gets even a little more physical, behind the likes of rising DT Josh Tupou, it’ll have a direct and immediate impact on the numbers and the outcomes of games.

Last year’s four wins were Colorado’s most in three years, and it was done with a lot of pups in the lineup. With MacIntyre meticulously nurturing the development of his young kids, Colorado is poised to inch a little closer to respectability this fall.

What to look for on offense: Patching up the O-line. The Buffs were ineffective at the line of scrimmage last season. And now they need reinforcements at the two most important positions, center and left tackle. Colorado is set at guard with Daniel Munyer and Kaiwi Crabb, and Stephane Nembot has 19 career starts at right tackle. Sophomore Alex Kelley is the frontrunner at center after playing 97 snaps in 2013. Left tackle could come down to who’s healthier, junior Marc Mustoe or sophomore Jeromy Irwin. Mustoe broke his leg last year, and had yet to be cleared to lift weights in the spring. Irwin has a high ceiling that can’t be realized until after he’s fully recovered from foot surgery.

What to look for on defense: The need for a pass rush. Colorado had two defensive linemen with at least three sacks last season. Chidera Uzo-Diribe graduated and Samson Kafovalu missed the spring because of academic issues. The name to watch at defensive end is Derek McCartney, who was named Most Improved Defensive Lineman following spring. The 6-3, 240-pound redshirt freshman, and grandson of legendary Buffs head coach Bill McCartney, has shown the get-off and intensity that this D desperately needs.

The team will be much better if ... it starts faster. Yes, the Buffs improved versus the prior season, but not so much in the first half of games. The only quarter Colorado won in 2013 was the fourth, the proverbial case of too little, too late. The average halftime score of a game was 23-11 in favor of the other guys. The Buffs need to get out of the gate a little quicker this year, keeping the offense from having to operate in a frenetic hurry-up mode.

The Schedule: The Buffs have their share of tests, including the annual rivalry date with Colorado State in Denver to kick things off, but there are breaks. Missing Stanford from the North isn't bad, but they have to go to Oregon and also face Cal, Oregon State and Washington in interdivsional play. Even with two good streches of three home games in four, it'll be rough with road games at USC and Arizona to go along with the date with the Ducks. Fortunately, the non-confrence slate isn't bad with UMass and Hawaii to face as well as CSU.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Nelson Spruce. Every young quarterback needs a security blanket, either a clutch receiver or a back who can absorb some heat. For sophomore Sefo Liufau, that guy is Spruce. Spruce has already started 21 games, and he’s continuously improving as a polished pass-catcher. He does plenty of little things that help a battery mate, such as coming back for balls when the pocket collapses, and securing even bad balls. Spruce is ready to step up and assume a larger share of the passing game now that all-star Paul Richardson is in the pros.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore Addison Gillam. Colorado caught a break for a change. Gillam played at such a small school in the hills of California that other Pac-12 programs didn’t even know his name, allowing the Buffs to scoop up a budding star. Gillam is much more than a tackling machine from middle linebacker. He’s already a team leader, whose work ethic and quest for perfection is rubbing off on teammates around him. If Colorado takes another step forward in 2014, Gillam will surely be spearheading it on defense with his physical, vocal and emotional leadership.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Sefo Liufau. The Buffaloes are hoping to take the next step forward on offense, which is going to require Liufau to build on his solid debut out of high school. He started seven games in 2013 to lay the groundwork for the future. Liufau must not only evolve as a passer, but the staff is banking on him becoming a more dangerous runner out of the Pistol as well. The encouraging reality for Colorado is that Liufau is so mature and level-headed that he’ll embrace the challenge of being a team leader.

The season will be a success if ... the Buffaloes win two league games. It’s a modest pursuit, sure, but one that’ll mean Colorado is gradually climbing up the Pac-12 ladder. It defeated lowly Cal last year, yet was generally pummeled the rest of the time. Since the non-conference slate includes games with Colorado State, UMass and Hawaii, two Pac-12 victories positions the Buffs to have a crack at going 5-7. And progress is the buzzword in Boulder these days.

Key game: Nov. 29 vs. Utah. Colorado has already caught up to Cal in the Pac-12 pecking order. Its sights are now locked on to Utah, which had to hold off a Buffs’ rally last November to secure a 24-17 victory. MacIntyre’s rebuilding process will be gradual, with Colorado content to move up the ladder one rung at a time. The balance of the conference schedule is littered with teams that are out of the Buffs’ reach at this time.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Average score after three quarters: Colorado 14.6 – Opponents 32.4
- Yards per rush: Colorado 3.4 – Opponents 4.9
- Times penetrated opponent 20: Colorado 32 - Opponents 62

- 2014 Colorado Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players
 


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