Front Range Report: Week One

Colorado State

Week One Result: 14-10 win over New Mexico in Albuquerque

(Photo Courtesy Don Reichart for the Fort Collins Coloradoan)

Nordly Capi made a huge impact in week one for the Rams. (Photo Courtesy Don Reichart for the Fort Collins Coloradoan)

This game was hard to watch in the first half. Both teams looked like JV high school squads for most of the first three quarters. The Rams offense was stagnant throughout the game but managed to put a nice touchdown drive together in the fourth quarter. The defense looked pretty good throughout, but the secondary seems to have some holes. E.B. Smith and Shaq Bell need to improve in coverage. The Rams managed to put plenty of pressure on agile New Mexico QB Tarean Austin, recording ten sacks. The play of the game came when defensive end Nordly Capi forced a fumble with 23 seconds left and New Mexico driving toward a game-winning touchdown in the Red Zone. Capi set an NCAA record (think about that) with four forced fumbles and was named the Mountain West defensive player of the week.

My take:  Having watched the Rams over the past several years, I am encouraged by this win, despite the Rams, really not looking very good. These are the kinds of games that CSU finds a way to lose. Even against bad teams. Especially on the road. I can’t recall the last time an opposing team was putting together a serious threat and CSU stood their ground and made a big play. If this team continues to improve, it could have a nice season (thanks to that soft schedule).

Up Next: Northern Colorado at Hughes, Saturday at noon (the ol’ hangover special).

The first meeting between the Rams and Bears since 1986 shouldn’t be close. UNC just lost to an NAIA team named Lindenwood, which according to my in-depth research, does exist. The Rammies will be wearing their orange threads to celebrate ag-day, which usually excites dozens of people.

Colorado

Week One Result:  34-17 Loss to Hawaii in Honolulu

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The Buffs couldn't stop Bryant Moniz in Jon Embree's first loss. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The Buffs couldn’t contain the Warriors’ do-everything quarterback Bryant Moniz. He ran for 121 yards and threw for 178. Hawaii jumped out to an early advantage, leading 17-0 at the half and CU couldn’t recover. The Buffs made things interesting when the lead was cut to 7 points early in the fourth quarter, but Hawaii was in control from that moment forward. Rodney Stewart was a bright spot for CU. He only had 52 yards rushing, but also had 98 yards receiving.

My Take: People are pumping the brakes on the Embree lovefest a little bit. Right now Colorado is still a bad program. One offseason won’t change that. Patience is required to turn an entire program around. Embree could still prove to be a great hire, but the people who thought he was going to come in and lead this team to eight or nine wins in 2011 are delusional. Hawaii looks like a pretty decent team, but this was still probably one of Colorado’s more winnable games this season. (Colorado State, Washington State and maybe Arizona look like the others).

Up Next: California at Folsom, Saturday at 1:30.

The last line I saw had California as 7 point favorites. CU will have to play much better this week to beat a Pac-12 team in a non-Pac-12 game. That’s confusing. Anyway, Cal beat Fresno State 35-21 at home last week. I think the Buffs keep it interesting but I’d be surprised to see them pull off the upset.

Air Force

Week One Result: 37-20 win over South Dakota in Colorado Springs.

Photo courtesty Christain Murdock, Colorado Springs Gazette

Tim Jefferson and the Falcons had no problems with South Dakota, but Texas Christian comes to town Saturday. (Photo courtesy Christain Murdock, Colorado Springs Gazette)

The Falcons literally ran all over the Coyotes and this game was never really close. Tim Jefferson and Co. racked up 391 yards rushing. That’s impressive regardless of what conference your opponent plays in (South Dakota is in the FCS Great West by the way).

My Take:  This game was actually closer than most people thought it would be, but don’t be concerned with Troy Calhoun’s team. They’ll be just fine. They weren’t going to lose this one and they knew it. The Falcons seemed to let up a little when they took a 37-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Up Next:  #25 TCU at Falcon Stadium, 1:30 Saturday.   TV: Versus

One of the games of the year in the Mountain West happens early this season. The Frogs are 2 1/2 point favorites after losing 50-48 at Baylor. TCU’s always-stingey defense got lit up by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, leading some to believe Gary Patterson’s 2011 squad isn’t quite as talented as they’ve been over the past few years. You can bet Air Force had this date circled on their calendar after losing 38-7 last season in Fort Worth– the only time they really got their asses kicked in 2010. Look for Air Force to pull off the minor upset and enter the top 25.

Wyoming

Week One Result: 35-32 win over Weber State in Laramie

Brett Smith and the Wyoming offense looked fine against Weber State. The defense? Not so much. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Andy Carpenean)

The Cowboys needed a touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to pull out a home win over FCS Big Sky opponent Weber State. Wyo’s defense gave up 541 total yards. That’s a lot. The Cowboy’s led 21-10 in the second quarter but found themselves down 32-28 until the dramatic, go-ahead score. The quarterback position was a bit of a question mark for the Wyoming coming into the season, but Brett Smith racked up 294 yards passing and two touchdowns.

My Take: This is an unimpressive win. It can be a little silly to invest too much into the first game of the season, but the ‘Pokes have some work to do if they want to impress anyone and make moves in the Mountain West. A home game against a Big Sky team should not be so dramatic. It looks like Dave Christensen has a good offensive system, but that won’t do much if they can’t stop anyone.

Up Next:  Texas State at War Memorial Stadium, 4 p.m. Saturday

Another cupcake at home. The Bobcats played Texas Tech last week and lost 40-10. Wyoming is hoping it can treat their FCS Independent the same way Tech did. If they don’t, things will look very bleak north of the border all year long.

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