Let's face it. Graham didn't get it done in this game, and neither did Chris Todd. I wish I could believe that the team's problems could be fixed with a simple quarterback change, but I can't. We could argue all day long about who should be taking the snaps, but I honestly don't think our record would change much no matter who takes the snaps. As much as people like to blame the quarterbacks, our losses have been far more complex than that. Still, with our stable of quarterbacks and the hype surrounding them, it has been an extremely disappointing season from the quarterback position.
I can't thank Shannon Woods enough. Woods was arguably the only reason that we were able to avoid being shut out, with one shovel pass that was broken for a 54-yard gain to put us into scoring position. If our entire team was playing their role like Shannon Woods, we would without a doubt be undefeated. Shannon's play makes me proud to call him a Red Raider, as he has exemplified what it means to be a Red Raider in my mind with his heart and effort. The rest of the team isn't there yet, and until they get there, we will struggle as a team against any opponent that we face.
Blame Harrell if you must, but the receivers aren't making the plays. I will say that we are completely wasting Jarrett Hicks' talent. Hicks can't play like an All-American if he doesn't get the ball thrown his way. It's frustrating for me, so I can't imagine what Hicks is feeling. Furthermore, we can't have starters not going to road games for violating team rules. Not only does it hurt the cohesiveness of the team, which is already lacking, it hurts the overall talent on the field as well. If you ask me, the receivers have not even come close to earning the AFROS label this year.
The line played well, and did their job well enough to where our offense should have been able to dominate. With all of the blitzing that Colorado did, and how well it was picked up by our line, we should have been able to pick apart their secondary. I remember when we used to welcome the blitz, because it meant that there are bigger holes in coverage. Now, it just seems like we're scared of it, and it is both a coaching and player issue. Still, when our line offers the kind of protection that they did on Saturday, the loss is far from the fault of the offensive line.
The defensive line is good at touching people, but not at tackling them. The only consolation here were the two forced fumbles, which helped us try and mount a comeback. If the unit was better at tackling, we would have had a much better chance to win the game. Their story was kind of a bit of an up and down game, so I will give them a mediocre grade overall, That said, it was nice to see the unit force some turnovers, but it was infinitely painful and sadly familiar with the unit's missed tackles that could have put our opponents in tough positions.
The linebackers were doing a good job of run support, especially Brock Stratton. Stratton was in on 15 tackles, so don't try and blame the loss on him like so many people try to. If it wasn't for his run-stopping abilities, the game probably would have probably been much worse than it actually was. Paul Williams had a tough outing, but Kellen TIllman and Brent Slaughter played well. Much like the offensive line, I felt that the linebackers did their job well enough for us to possibly win the game. They were easily the best of the defensive units, and did a good job of handling the absence of Session.
I suggested in my keys to the game that we should watch the run. I was talking to the front seven, not the secondary. They were burned on several pass plays, as there were multiple instances where Colorado receivers were unaccounted for. This poor coverage is what put us in the hole early in the game and allowed Colorado to gain the momentum that carried them to victory. After that, however, the defensive backs played fairly well, but it was too little, too late. The secondary put us in a hole that we couldn't crawl out of, so part of the loss falls on their shoulders.
The Special Teams had their good and bad moments. The good was Reyes' great punting, kickoffs from Toogood, and L.A. Reed's forced fumble on punt coverage. The bad was Amendola's muffed punt and Morris' struggles on kick returns. I can't say enough about the job that Alex Reyes is doing with his punts, but the rest of the unit needs to provide a spark, and they didn't get it done for the most part. They can't be blamed for the loss, given their limited role, but they definitely could have showed us a little something extra. They need to be more special.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)