David Zalubowski / AP
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Of all the events that happen during a college football game, the pregame coin toss would seem to be rather inconsequential.
There are not, after all, coin toss statistics readily available. Yet, it’s easy to find out who leads the Pac-12 in rushing, pass defense, turnover margin, average field position, etc.
Does it really matter who gets the ball first, anyway?
Maybe not, but for 21st-ranked Colorado (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12), winning the coin toss has often led to a tone-setting start in victories.
CU is 7-1 on the coin toss this season, and every time the Buffs win a toss, they defer to the second half. That puts the Buffs’ defense on the field first.
“It just feels natural for us to go on defense first,” receiver Bryce Bobo said. “We have a great defense, one of the best defenses in the nation. They go out there and get a stop and our offense comes out and it’s just fast pace from there on out. It is more routine.”
Every time the Buffs have won the coin toss, the defense has forced the opposition to punt on the opening possession of the game.
“As a defense, we always want to set the tempo and hit them first,” defensive tackle Jordan Carrell said. “It’s great going three-and-out the first series.”
Five times, the offense has capitalized on that opening punt to march down the field for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.
“If we score on that first possession, that boosts our confidence tremendously,” Bobo said. “Then we just keep going out there and we’re like, ‘OK, let’s keep feeding the beast.'”
Feeding the beast early has helped CU become one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams in the first quarter. And, those strong starts have often led to CU seizing momentum early and rolling throughout the game.
“It gets you in the flow quicker, and you can kind of get comfortable quicker, but we’ve bounced back, too, when we’ve had a rough start a couple of times and just kept fighting,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said.
That’s true, but CU’s most impressive performances and most productive days on offense have come when the Buffs get that opening stop and turn it into points.
“I’d rather get a fast start and get rolling,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve had a knack when we’ve got a fast start to keep playing.”
CU has built double-digit, first quarter leads in five of its eight games.
More than anything, the quick starts have helped the CU offense get in rhythm, and when the Buffs are in rhythm, they’re tough to stop.
On Thursday, the Buffs host UCLA (3-5, 1-4) at Folsom Field, where they’ve been explosive all season.
Counting the season opener at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CU is 4-0 in the state of Colorado this season, outscoring the opposition, 187-36. The Buffs won the coin toss before each of those four games.
“Especially at home we’ve gotten off to some really good starts,” MacIntyre said. “We love to get going fast in the state of Colorado and keep it going.”
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.