There is disappointment in the locker room after every loss, but there was an added layer on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
With a 44-20 loss to UCLA, the Colorado Buffaloes were officially eliminated from having a chance to play in a bowl game this year.
“(The players) are disappointed about that,” head coach Karl Dorrell said during his weekly press conference on Monday, “and that was part of what they were feeling at the end of the game on Saturday.”
With two games to play, however, Dorrell believes the Buffs (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) will continue to fight, starting with a Saturday matchup against Washington (4-6, 3-4) at Folsom Field (1:10 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Network).
“We still are a team that wants to compete, wants to have a better taste in their mouth or a better feeling going into the offseason about making progress for this year,” Dorrell said. “So the attitude is still pretty good, still pretty strong. I think the biggest motivation right now is for our seniors to feel like they made a great impact and it’ll be great to have a great showing in this last home game.”
CU has just five players who are technically seniors in their final year of eligibility: defensive linemen Jeremiah Doss and Mustafa Johnson; offensive lineman Kary Kutsch; inside linebacker Nate Landman; and tight end Matt Lynch.
With all players being granted an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, however, it’s unclear how many players will take part in the senior day ceremony. Numerous players are listed as juniors, but they are in their fourth or fifth of college and have already graduated.
“We’ve got a number of juniors that are graduating that have years of eligibility left, but for the most part, it’s mostly our seniors that are going to be down there with the ceremony before the game,” Dorrell said. “It’s always a difficult week, particularly when it’s their last time playing on Folsom Field, so it’ll be pretty emotional. But hopefully, it’s a great thing that they will be able to feel throughout the whole experience of the day.
“That’s really our goal is to play a really, really good football game against a very good team and play well and send these guys off the right way.”
To do that, the Buffs need to play a more complete game than they did on Saturday.
CU led 20-7 late in the second quarter but got outscored 37-0 over the game’s final 31 minutes.
“We felt good at the halftime break with the things we were doing on both sides of the ball,” Dorrell said. “We felt like we had some decent adjustments being made in terms of what we needed to do going into the second half, but unfortunately, it was a different type of second half.”
In the first half, CU seemed to have carried over the momentum from a 37-34, double-overtime win against Oregon State the week before. That win against the Beavers and the first half against UCLA were encouraging to Dorrell.
“On a positive note, when we’re playing football pretty well and everybody’s executing at a high level, we feel we can play with anybody in this conference,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate that we haven’t had the consistency to do that for a 60-minute ball game. So we’re going to keep working at it.”
The Buffs have two more chances to figure it out. While they can’t get to the postseason, they can take some positive vibes into the offseason with a strong finish.
“I feel like we want to get back to playing pretty solid this last home game, and this two-game stretch that’s left in the season,” Dorrell said. “Their attitudes are still pretty good about competing and getting better. They know that they want to finish the season on a positive note and we’re going to work to like hell to do that.”