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The Colorado Buffaloes continued their historically horrendous 2012 season in an ESPN primetime, blackout Thursday night matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils that ended in another blowout with a final score of 51-17.
Thursday’s game was historic for CU in that it marked the 88th anniversary of Folsom Field. Thursday also offered more CU history with the induction of John Wooten to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. He became the sixth Colorado player to be inducted.
Going into the game against Arizona State University, now 5-1 and first in the Pac-12 South, the Buffaloes looked to make a statement in trying to salvage what little hope they had left for their season. Although they played hard and gave all they had, it wasn’t nearly enough, and the embarrassment of losing on national television was frustrating for the team.
“[It's hard to lose], especially on ESPN,” said junior Terrel Smith in the post-game press conference. “It’s what we talked about [as a team], and it’s very frustrating having our families and fans watch us lose. I take that to heart. I didn’t come out here from New Jersey to lose.”
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Although it was a blowout loss for the Buffs, there were a few glimmers of hope. In the first half, the Buffs played the Sun Devils very tightly and created an incredible atmosphere in front of a packed, all-black clad crowd at Folsom Field.
With less than a minute left in the first half, the Buffs pushed down the field and were stopped with a 4th-and-4 play that was converted for a big gain by tight end Nick Kasa who ran the ball down to the 20-yard line. Two plays later quarterback Jordan Webb found Kasa again for a 20-yard touchdown pass that brought the score to 20-14 in ASU’s favor.
On the following kickoff, the Buffs recovered a fumble on the 19-yard line, giving them another shot at scoring as time expired. After two attempts at the end zone and a near turnover, the Buffs settled for a 36-yard field goal by Will Oliver to bring the score to 17-20 going into halftime.
“I thought we mixed the run and pass well [in the first half],” said head coach Jon Embree after the game. “Nick Kasa is continuing to play better each week, which is encouraging. We were able to convert some third downs and stay on the field, and that allowed us to get opportunities.”
The Buffs converted two out of eight of their third down conversions in the first half, while the Sun Devils completed five of seven. Going into the halftime break, the Buffs had all of the momentum, but it wouldn’t last for even a minute into the second half.
“We played a very good first half,” Embree said. “We talked about coming out in the second half and doing a good job at covering the kicks, and obviously, we didn’t do that.”
On the opening kickoff of the second half, ASU’s Rashad Ross returned the kick for a touchdown, giving ASU a 10 point edge right off the bat and putting the Buffs back on their heels where they stayed for the remainder of the game.
The Buffs only gained 89 yards for the entire second half and failed to find the endzone even once, while ASU racked up 31 points and 290 yards of offense in the final two quarters.
“That kickoff return really killed us,” said sophomore tailback Tony Jones. “We just have to keep our heads up, and we got to keep fighting. We just let the score get ahead of us.”
Though the kickoff return thwarted a good amount of momentum for the Buffs, it wasn’t anywhere near the deciding factor in how Thursday’s game played out. The Buffs played a horrendous second half on both sides of the ball, and there’s really no one person or group of players or coaches that can be blamed, but the entire program as a whole.
Improvements on both sides of the ball are necessary for the Buffs to be competitive in the Pac-12, and they have a long way to go on the improvements that need to be made, according to Embree.
“We need to get better in all phases, obviously,” Embree said. “I have to get better, and our coaching staff has to get better. So we’ll just keep grinding away at it.”
Usually when a collegiate sports team does so badly, the coach is the source of the blame. But with the Buffs, it’s not Embree’s fault, it’s the players. It’s not that the Buffs aren’t trying; it’s just that, as a group of players, the Colorado football team does not have the same caliber of talent that any other school in the Pac-12 has.
“Our kids – and I really mean this – I’m proud of how they compete and how they fight,” Embree said. “And I really do believe that they don’t look at the scoreboard. They really do go out and play hard and play hard every play and the next play like you would want as a coach.”
But that’s exactly where the problem with the football team lies; a good team simply hates losing and seeing an unfavorable scoreboard so much that they win, and the Buffs are blatantly complacent with losing.
“This is already behind us,” said junior linebacker Derrick Webb. “We went out there and played our hardest and gave our best. Unfortunately we lost the football game. Starting tomorrow everything is towards USC.”
The Buffs record now goes to 1-5, and the next few weeks will be very tough for the Buffs as they face three of the Pac-12’s finest programs with games against University of Southern California on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles, Calif., against University of Oregon on Oct. 27 in Eugene, Ore. and against Stanford University on Nov. 3 back at Folsom Field.
Who knows, maybe CU just isn’t ready to be good at football.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Joe Wirth at Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org.