Maybe now we know why the media and fans were prevented from seeing the last couple of Colorado scrimmages.

CU`s coaches were apparently afraid the truth might get out.

But they couldn`t keep the secret safe forever. Sooner or later, the Buffs had to play in front of the public, and their effort left CU fans slackjawed Sunday night at a stunned Folsom Field.

Simply, Dan Hawkins` Buffs were seemingly uninspired, definitely unprepared and certainly unable to do anything to stop underdog Colorado State on Sunday night.

The Rams, meanwhile, clearly outcoached, definitely outplayed and certainly outworked the hosts, leaving the Buffs out in the cold for what suddenly has all indications of a very, very long season.

A week ago, I predicted eight wins for the Buffs. Time for a revision. Unless they fix a whole lot of problems in a hurry -- not impossible, but nothing I`m willing to bet on this morning -- they`ll be lucky to hit half that number.

The Buffs, however, were already lucky in one respect on Sunday: the final score could have been worse. Had CSU`s Rashaun Greer not dropped a likely touchdown pass in the first half, the Rams would have taken a 27-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. And, had CSU coach Steve Fairchild not chosen to run out the clock on CU`s doorstep in the waning seconds, the final tally would have been worse than 23-17.

(Quick question: Was it actually more of a nose-rubbing when Fairchild showed a little mercy rather than running up the score?)


But the Rams didn`t need either of those scores. And thus, as you read this today, the Buffs and Hawkins are being skewered in the papers, in chat rooms and on talk shows around the state as major disappointments. Conversely, Fairchild is being hailed as a coaching miracle worker — ahead of schedule, ahead of the curve and quite obviously ahead of CU and its coaching staff. 

    Both are legitimate observations. 

    For a team whose coach challenged them at the end of last season to win 10 games, there is simply no excuse for the performance it put forth at Folsom. At the beginning of what was supposed to be a turnaround season, CU fans were instead forced to watch far too much of what has frustrated them over the last couple of seasons. 

    • An anemic running game, despite the presence of a highly touted offensive line and a stable of equally highly touted running backs. There’s no excuse. CU finished with 29 yards rushing; that’s barely a fourth of what a halftime streaker managed against CSU’s band. 

    Most glaring was CU’s inability to pick up a single yard on fourth down when the Buffs were threatening to make a game of it. Buff guard Ryan Miller is 6-foot-8, 320 pounds and being touted as a future pro. But instead of getting a yard behind Miller, the Buffs went wide and were stopped for no gain. 


    • A spotty passing game. The Buffs dropped too many balls, allowed too many sacks (four) and threw too many incompletions (16). Dan Hawkins said Cody Hawkins won the starting job because he was more efficient. Efficiency is no way to describe what transpired on Sunday. Cody Hawkins had his hot streaks, but there were also far too many three-and-outs. Efficient is nice; effective wins games. The Buff quarterback was neither on Sunday. Cody Hawkins did not lose the game for the Buffs on Sunday, but the quarterback who made the difference wore a CSU uniform. 

    • A defense prone to giving up big plays. Three different CSU receivers had catches of 43 yards or more. Running back Leonard Mason ripped off a 44-yard run and wide receiver Dion Morton had a 26-yard gallop. That means that more than 57 percent of CSU’s offense (376 yards) came on five of its 62 total plays.

    • A coaching staff that appears to panic early and adjust too late. CSU’s Fairchild and defensive coordinator Larry Kerr had masterful game plans; CU’s coaching staff found itself reacting instead of dictating the tempo. It’s a familiar story line that is wearing thin in the fourth year of the Hawkins era.

    In years past, I’ve been willing to give Hawkins and his staff the benefit of the doubt. They faced a tremendous rebuilding project when they arrived. They’ve recruited well and built what at least had the appearance of a solid foundation.

    But a coach in his fourth year should not put a team on the field that played the way the Buffs played in the first half on Sunday. It is unacceptable for the fans and boosters who have been patient up to this point.

    Before the season, CU athletic director Mike Bohn dismissed any talk of Hawkins being on the hot seat. Certainly, the season is a long way from over. Technically, Sunday’s embarrassment was just one game.

    But in reality, it’s more than one game. It’s a game CU fans detest losing and an ominous cloud over what Buff folk had hoped would be a sunny future.

    Hot seat? After the game Sunday night, Bohn certainly didn’t sound like a man who had loads of patience left. He’ll have a hard time convincing CU faithful today that his football program is still headed in the right direction.

    Certainly there is time for the Buffs to change directions. But if Dan Hawkins is going to cool things off, his Buffs will have to reverse their fortunes in a hurry.