CU Buffs among college football’s most penalized |

CU Buffs among college football’s most penalized

Tom Kensler
The Denver Post

It could be said that the struggling Colorado football program has been consistent in at least one aspect of the game.


Flags have been flying all season, but the Buffaloes (3-7, 2-4 Big 12) have just about reached rock bottom. After committing 11 penalties for 110 yards Saturday in a 17-10 loss at Iowa State, CU is 119th in penalties among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly Division I-A) teams.

“That kills us,” CU sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen said Saturday when asked about penalties.

Colorado has been flagged 93 times in 10 games, an average of 9.3 penalties per game. Only Texas Tech has been penalized more often than Colorado. Texas Tech averages 9.7 flags per game.

Focus, or a lack thereof, continues to be a problem, CU junior wide receiver Scotty McKnight said Saturday.

“It’s not like guys don’t care,” McKnight said. “We have to find a way to make plays, not penalties. There were too many turnovers, too many penalties to win a football game.”

As for turnovers, Colorado committed three against Iowa State. The Buffs rank 116th among FBS teams in turnovers lost, with 27. Only Hawaii (28), Washington State (28), Purdue (29) and Miami of Ohio (34) have been sloppier with ball security.

Three CU penalties totaling 25 yards aided Iowa State’s first-quarter touchdown. And consecutive flags for a personal foul and then unsportsmanlike conduct against redshirt freshman offensive tackle Bryce Givens nullified a third-quarter scramble by Hansen inside the Cyclones’ 5-yard line.

Colorado coaches point to the youth of the roster. But those who witnessed the Buffs’ loss at Iowa State couldn’t find much evidence of improvement. CU’s defense played well enough in road games against Kansas State (a 20-6 loss) and Saturday in Ames, but the Buffs’ offense got stuck in neutral.

“Turnovers and penalties took the air out of our bubble,” sophomore wide receiver Markques Simas said Saturday.

Eliminated from bowl eligibility, Colorado plays Thursday night at No. 12 Oklahoma State. In four seasons under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs are 2-19 outside the state of Colorado, including the 2007 Independence Bowl loss. That’s a current streak of 12 straight road losses, dating to a 2007 win at Texas Tech.

“There’s something about this away thing,” CU offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said Saturday during postgame interviews. “I don’t know what it is. But we have to figure it out fast.”

Tom Kensler: 303-954-1280 or

Eye on: The Cowboys

Colorado at No. 12 Oklahoma St., 5:45 p.m. Thurs., ESPN

For the record: Oklahoma State (8-2, 5-1 Big 12) beat Texas Tech 24-17 on Saturday to remain in second place in the Big 12 South. The 12th- ranked Cowboys jumped five spots this week in the AP poll.

Streaking: The Cowboys have won at least seven games in four consecutive years for the first time in school history.

Who’s hot: Texas Tech tried to pick on Cowboys cornerback Perrish Cox. Big mistake. Cox intercepted two passes and had three pass breakups.

What’s not: Oklahoma State’s pass rush. The Cowboys entered last weekend tied for ninth in sacks among Big 12 teams with 18. They got just one Saturday even though Texas Tech called 59 passes.

Key stat: The Big 12 leader in rushing, OSU had 243 yards on 60 attempts Saturday.

FYI: Against Texas Tech, senior QB Zac Robinson had almost as many rushes as he did pass attempts, and he had better production on the ground. The former Chatfield High School star ran 19 times for 99 yards. He completed 9-of-21 passes for 90 yards.

Coachspeak: “He ran tonight somewhat like he did as a sophomore. Because of that, we were able to win the football game. His ability to scramble was the difference.” – Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, on Robinson

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