Saturday, September 19, 2009

Buffaloes take it to Cowboys, critics

By Wyoming

Showing that the first two games were not indicative of their team, the Colorado Buffaloes jumped on the Wyoming Cowboys from the start and finished with a dominating 24-0 win Saturday at CU’s Folsom Field in Boulder.

With that said, the Cowboys impressive play in the first half last week against No. 2 Texas was not analytic of their team … at least on Saturday.

The Buffs had struggled on defense in season-opening losses to CSU (23-17) and Toledo (54-38). Despite rampant media speculation about his job this week, CU head coach Dan Hawkins said Saturday’s win was reflective of his team’s character.

“It's easy to stand outside of the arena and say you're not good enough and be negative. But when you're in the arena and you're scraping, it's little things that decide the game,” Hawkins said. “Until you've gone through it a time or two and done some things and succeeded and failed, people don't get that it's the little things.

“We got gashed a couple times on the defense the last couple weeks. It wasn't massive things. It was little things, just like in life. I'm proud of Ron Collins and the defensive staff and our guys of defense for hanging in there. They did an awesome job."

The CU defense held the Cowboys to just 230 yards of total offense, as Wyoming was never able to get into a rhythm. The Cowboys had a couple of opportunities to get into the end zone, but settled for field goal attempts and missed them both.

“We couldn't get anything going offensively in the first half,” Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said. “Our defense was playing pretty well, we had two big plays in the first half and we figured it was going to be hard on them. We played a well-coached football team. We had a lack of discipline, two personal fouls. I'll take responsibility.

"All losses are tough. I know our football team's hurt right now. They're down. We thought we'd come in here and have a chance to win this football game, and we didn't do it.

"I don't know if they're shocked, just disappointed we didn't play well. But I thought they came back in the second half, and said all the right things at halftime. We get the ball, and can't sustain a drive and put our defense back out there. We've got to do a better job on both sides and all areas including our kicking game. We've got to come up with answers offensively."

Quarterback Cody Hawkins returned from a concussion and directed four scoring drives, and Rodney Stewart returned from a hamstring injury to carry 32 times for 127 yards and a two touchdowns.

Colorado (1-2) simplified its defensive game plan after allowing 77 points and 1,000 yards in opening their season with losses to Colorado State and Toledo. Wyoming (1-2) went three-and-out six times in the first half, when they managed just three first downs and 61 yards of offense.

The Buffaloes spent the week defending their coach and hearing about their poor play from fans and media.

"There was no speculation from my boss,“ Dan Hawkins said. “There was no speculation from the big hitters. All that speculation came from (the media). I love these guys and I've said that many times before. When you have kids you love them up. And you hang in there. When you're a true parent of teacher you hang in there and keep believing in them and keep working on things. And eventually it turns around."

The Buffaloes quickly scored a touchdown on their opening drive Saturday, but it took a heads-up play by wide receiver Scotty McKnight, who scooped up tailback Demetrius Sumler's fumble at the 2 and barreled into the end zone.

The Cowboys then had their chance to get on the board, as CU center Mike Iltis snapped the ball over Hawkins' head on the Buffs' next possession, and Cowboys linebacker Brian Hendricks recovered at the Colorado 18. The cowboy offense however, again failed in the red zone and sophomore placekicker Austin McCoy But was wide right on a 35-yard field goal try.

CU then took advantage of a failed fake punt by the Cowboys, giving the Buffs the ball at midfield. Colorado made it 10-0 on a 20-yard field goal by former Cowboy Aric Goodman, who transferred to Boulder in 2007.

Stewart's 2-yard TD run made it 17-0 after cornerback Jalil Brown recovered Wyoming running back Darius Terry’s fumble at the Cowboys 27 in the second quarter.

The Buffs stalled on their next five possessions before making it 24-0 on Stewart's 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys reached the Buffs' -yard line, but went backward from there and McCoy was wide left on a 37-yard field goal attempt.

The Cowboys will now prepare for their Mountain West Conference opener Saturday when they host UNLV at 1 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.

Christensen said they will have a busy week in trying to right the ship.

"We analyze everything we do from the end of the last game until the start of this game. We'll look at that and see if there are things we need to do and get the kids prepared,” he said. “I don't think this is the game that is going to show us how good we are. We didn't play very well today. I know one thing; we are going to be a better football team. We took a lot of steps forward, but we took a step back, unfortunately."

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