How did Cal's defense have enough oxygen to stop the Buffs in overtime?

During Colorado's 36-33 loss last Saturday at Folsom Field, Tyler Hansen guided the offense on scoring drives of 50, 46, 80, 86, 78 and 70 yards.

That doesn't include the opening drive of the game when CU had the ball for 13 plays and was stopped on downs after marching 66 yards.

The good news is the offense showed it is capable of moving the chains against a quality opponent. The bad news is the Buffs have had to cover a lot of ground this season when they get possession of the ball.

Through two games, CU ranks 120th among FBS teams in kickoff returns with a head-scratching average of 12.0 yards per return.

Tony Jones runs back a kick return during Friday’s scrimmage.Cliff Grassmick / August 19, 2011
Tony Jones runs back a kick return during Friday's scrimmage. Cliff Grassmick / August 19, 2011 ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

"Our kickoff return has been nowhere close to what I'm used to. That has been really disappointing," special teams coach J.D. Brookhart said. "There has been a multitude of errors that we've got to get right. Everything from the returners dropping balls to the blocking up front. We're going to keep trying to get it right."

Tony Jones (16.0 ypr), Toney Clemons (14.0), Brian Lockridge (12.8), Arthur Jaffe (10.5) and Evan Harrington (6.0) have all handled at least one kickoff this season.

"It's disappointing that we're not better at that, and kickoff coverage," head coach Jon Embree said. "Because those are big field position swings."

CU has only had one punt return in the first two games and ranks 85th nationally (Paul Richardson returned the punt 4.0 yards).


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The Buffs' opponent this Saturday, Colorado State, ranks 22nd in kickoff return (27.5 ypr) and 28th in punt return (11.17).

Tackles eligible

There was some good news along CU's injury-ravaged offensive line on Wednesday as starting left tackle David Bakhtiari and backup Ryan Dannewitz practiced.

Both players are recovering from sprained knees. Bakhtiari suffered his injury in the opener at Hawaii, and Dannewitz played through the pain against Cal.

"I guess we'll see how the guys are feeling (today) and kind of make a determination of who's in, who's out, or how close they are to being ready," Embree said after Wednesday's practice. "A lot of it to me will depend on how they're feeling (today)."

If both tackles are healthy there is a good chance Bakhtiari will start on the left side and Dannewitz would move over to the right side where the Buffs have lost starter Jack Harris indefinitely with a broken ankle.

Sione Tau, a fifth-year senior who saw his first action on offense against Cal, is penciled in as the starting right tackle on this week's depth chart.

Stats do lie

The Buffs' loss was tough to swallow considering Hansen and Richardson produced record-setting afternoons.

CU sports information director Dave Plati's exhaustive research notes that a combination of 400 yards passing, 500 yards total offense, not committing a turnover, and not allowing a quarterback sack had always been a winning combination for the program until the Cal game.

The Buffs gained 582 yards, 474 passing, and played turnover-free football while protecting Hansen (no sacks allowed after allowing seven in the opener against Hawaii).

CU still fell to 14-1 all-time when not allowing a sack or committing a turnover.

The Buffs also lost for only the 15th time in 315 games when scoring 30 or more points (299-15-1 when scoring 30 or more, 57-6 since 1985).