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Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2001

Buffs bounced back from opener

CU follows up loss to Fresno State with routs of CSUSJSU

September 22, 2001

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Colorado football coach Gary Barnett admitted seeing Fresno State succeed was comforting, considering the Buffaloes lost to the Bulldogs in their season opener.

"Yeah, a little bit, but it doesn't do me much good," Barnett quipped. "That and 25 cents will get me a cup of coffee."

After being stunned by the Bulldogs, 24-22, at home on national television in their season opener, the Buffaloes responded by winning their next two games by a combined score of 92-29.

The back-to-back wins against Colorado State (41-14) and San Jose State (51-15) ensured Colorado of avoiding a repeat of last season's debacle. The Buffaloes' 28-24 loss to Colorado State in the season opener a year ago was the catalyst for a 0-4 start in a 3-8 campaign.

KU coach Terry Allen whose Jayhawks clipped CU, 23-15, last year said it's easy see the difference between the 2000 Buffaloes and this year's squad.

"The gruesome schedule that they played," Allen said. "I think that confidence plays a major factor with all football teams. Colorado lost some football games a year ago and lost confidence in themselves. I think the big game for them is after the loss (to Fresno State), coming back and winning convincingly.

"I think they've got that Colorado confidence in their strut right now that we probably didn't see a year ago and it makes a difference."

In the last KU-CU meeting, Kansas running back David Winbush had 181 yards total offense, including a three-yard touchdown run. The Jayhawks finished with 262 yards rushing compared to just 90 for the Buffs.

"We didn't play very well and got beat so I know it's a game our guys have been looking forward to," Barnett said. "It's a game we felt like we really played poorly last year and Kansas played well in a game we felt like we had a good chance to win last year.

"We've sort of vowed to play this game a little bit differently this year."

In their loss to Fresno State, the Buffaloes committed five turnovers and fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. Since then, Colorado hasn't thrown an interception and has lost just one fumble.

The Buffaloes also stampeded the Rams and Spartans with a combined 109 rushes for 578 yards, an average of 5.3 yards a carry.

"I think we have a great deal of confidence right now," Barnett said. "I don't think we lacked confidence even after the first game with Fresno State, we just turned the ball over.

"We all know what happens when you do that. We have been a confident team. We've got a team with a great deal of good chemistry right now as well."

CU sophomore quarterback Craig Ochs has rebounded from the season opener. Against the Bulldogs, Ochs was 31-of-51 passing for 346 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed two interceptions.

Since then, Ochs is 29-of-40 for 303 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.

While KU will trot out red-shirt freshman Mario Kinsey and sophomore Zach Dyer who have combined to complete just 36 of 74 career passes for 447 yards Ochs was 145-of-245 for 1,778 yards last season as a true freshman.

Senior linebacker Jashon Sykes leads the ferocious Colorado defense.

"Jashon Sykes is a lot like Algie (Atkinson) is for us, similar type football players," Allen said. "They'll put Sykes as a defensive end and use him as a pass rusher, similar to what we do with Algie. They're trying to take advantage of what Sykes does best as we are with Algie."

Both teams endured 14 days between games after last weekend's slate was wiped out in the aftermath of terrorist attacks.

One Colorado player, junior cornerback Joe Swift, is from Long Island and had a cousin who worked in one of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Swift's cousin escaped unscathed, but the CU player has learned some close friends have family members missing.

"I think we're just really anxious to play again and I think we're really anxious to play Kansas," Barnett said. "This is a team that's got a very talented defense. They've got changes of staff offensively and defensively. They're sort of trying to find themselves and doing a lot different things than they were a year ago.

"But we've got them at home and we're a very eager and hungry team right now. It should be a good ball game."

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