There have been some very exciting games during my time at the University of Colorado (namely those in which the Buffs beat ranked opponents), but a late-season game between two average teams is the one that will stick out in my mind.
The reason for this is not the scoreline, nor much of Saturday’s CU-Kansas State game itself.
It was the electricity. There was a feeling of belief that surged through every Buff player and fan.
Up until this point in the season, the highlight of CU home games was seeing “O” tumble the width of the field. And while that itself is a worthy reason to cheer, on Saturday the football team gave fans something else to cheer about — hope.
I will be the first to admit that despite being a die-hard Buffs fan, I had low expectations before this season even started. I was also a member of the “Get Rid of Dan Hawkins If They Don’t Win the Next Game, I Guess” club, as was much of the state of Colorado.
This season has been particularly frustrating for all fans — close losses, blown leads and blowouts. Unfortunately, these three things became staples of the Hawk era, along with fickle fans and lackluster players.
In the two games that Brian Cabral has lead the team, the atmosphere has completely changed. It started against Iowa State.
I went into that game thinking we would be blown out at home — ISU had done so to Texas earlier in the season and had very nearly upset Nebraska the week before, the same week the Buffaloes blew a 28-point fourth quarter lead in Kansas. I went to the game because I had paid for the ticket. What I saw was not what I’d expected.
I saw a team that was re-energized, as if a giant weight had been lifted from its shoulders. I left Folsom Field thinking, “Not bad, let’s see how they do next week.”
The next week came around. The CU players were like nothing I’d ever seen. They played well (mostly). They were excited to be playing that game. In the three seasons I’ve been attending CU football games, I’ve never seen the team desire to be on that field as much as they did on Saturday.
One of my biggest beefs with our team is their seeming lack of interest in the fans. They were there to play football. Against Kansas State, however, they were there to play for the crowd.
It started with Jimmy Smith. Before every play he was waving his arms at the crowd, asking for more noise. Players on the sideline got into it, too. The players wanted the fans’ attention, and they got it.
A wave of excitement spread through Folsom Field, culminating at the end of the third quarter, when the CU defense took the field while clapping and dancing to the beat of the CU drumline. At that point, I was certain that it was no longer the crisp air giving me chills.
I’m not sure what flipped the switch for the Buffs, but whatever it is needs to glue that switch to “On.”
If Cabral has inspired his team to play with that kind of enthusiasm, then maybe we do need to keep him on as head coach.
I know a 2-0 record is nothing special, but it’s how they got those two wins that is important and should be considered in the search for a new coach.
CU doesn’t need a big name — it needs a big heart.
Matthew Jenks is a student at the University of Colorado.