Focused Buffs Follow the Script

There is a different feeling around the Colorado Buffaloes in the early stages of Mike MacIntyre’s fourth season. Over the course of their development, specifically the past season-and-a-half, these Buffs started to believe that they could compete with teams as the underdog. There was a general feeling that they should be able to beat the teams that they were supposed to.

As Colorado turns their focus toward the first away game of the season against the 2-0 and #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines, their belief in “could-and-should” has morphed into a trust that they can-and-will. The maturation of this team is palpable, even if not yet fully tested.

For the second week in a row, the Buffaloes matched or exceeded expectations in a convincing 56-7 rout of the undermanned and overmatched Idaho State Bengals. While the result was exactly what they wanted and needed, this performance simply cannot be presented as any indication of how good this CU team is, can be or will be.

In a game that was 42-0 by the time Sefo Liufau took his final snap, a game that saw Colorado rack up nearly 600 yards of offense and one that showcased a defense yield less than 100 total yards, the Buffs did exactly what everyone not wearing Bengals’ orange hoped to see.

The test in Folsom today was not one presented by ISU. Rather, it was a test of their ability to focus on themselves and their continued development. Would they come out and pick up where they left off last week against their in-state rivals, or would demonstrate lapses of focus with an eye toward their upcoming B1G opponent?

Despite what they offered up in soundbites over the past seven days, the Colorado players and coaches were fully aware of the differences in the two teams’ abilities and capabilities. What they, the just shy of 40,000 fans in Folsom and those watching at home wanted to see was a team that came out fast and focused on taking care of business early. There were different reasons for that desire, depending upon which side of the locker room door you reside.

For everyone, this was a game about getting the starters a game’s worth of execution and stats in the first half of the contest, seasoning the future with meaningful snaps and rewarding the unknown and invisible (to the public) contributors whose performance and statistics usually only show up in how well the household names perform under the spotlight.

The Buffs talk a lot about coming together as a family with a singular focus. Following the game, so many of the regulars confirmed that one of the best parts of today’s game was the opportunity for them to watch so many of their brothers; the young players, walk-ons and scout team contributors play extended minutes and generally play well.

For every Steven Montez, Kabion Ento, Drew Lewis, Beau Bisharat and Tony Julmisse that both the coaches and fans wanted to see perform, there was an equally important teammate that the team was thrilled to watch take the field.

Little used Chris Hill made an appearance halfway through the second quarter when Liufau quickly hit him for the team’s fifth score and gave Mike MacIntyre the confidence that he’d seen ample focus from his starting senior quarterback.

Junior college transfer Ento also made a name for himself as he connected with backup quarterback Steven Montez for two touchdowns in the first significant action for both players. By virtue of those 69 and 19 yard scores, Ento led the team in receiving with 88 yards.

Just as important to the team as the debuts of Montez and Ento, were the contributions of names that in some cases weren’t even printed on the game day roster. Names like Daniel Talley, Joey Hall, Danny Galloway, Andrew Bergner, Justin Jan, Troy Lewis, Xavier Cochrane, Lucas Cooper and Aaron Howard saw their first extended action as Division 1-A college football players.

After seeing limited action over the course of the 2015 season, center Sully Wiefels understands how meaningful that opportunity is. Despite getting the start today, the highlight for Sully was “Being able to see all of these guys that don’t get to get in quite as much as we do, or very often. Just to be able to see them get out there and play; and play pretty well. I think that they went out there and they performed. They prepare as much as we do. They’re in the same meetings we are and the same practices that we are, so the most rewarding thing in the second half was to see those guys get in there and play the game they love”.

To be sure, there was some sloppy play, there were freshman mistakes and there was a general bogging down on both sides of the ball that made the second half tough to watch. Things like Beau Bisharat’s third quarter fumble that led to a short field short field for the Bengals will be a point of emphasis going forward. Lack of field awareness as demonstrated by Tony Julmisse’s personal foul penalty on the ensuing ISU scoring drive will most certainly be addressed.

But for one day, it will be first catches by Johnny Huntly, Joey Hall and Chris Bounds, a first touchdown by Chris Hill, multiple carries for Bisharat and Troy Lewis, an interception and exciting punt return by Julmisse and defensive contributions by Howard, Bergner, Cooper, Talley and company that were the best takeaways from a day that went down just as scripted.

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