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CU Football – Writing Their Own Ending

It reads like a Hollywood script.  A new coach comes to town to take over a loveable, but losing team full of misfits, cast-offs, and no-names.  Individually they are overmatched.  But collectively, the team finds a way to work as one, defy the odds, and shine in the biggest moments.

As the Colorado Buffaloes hit the field for their opener against the UCLA Bruins, the movie Major League flashed through my mind.  With a new quarterback, an unknown running back, and a bunch of wide receivers that I’ve never heard, I thought of the scene where the Cleveland Indian fans are reading about the obscure lineup for the start of the new season that included ex-con Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) and undrafted Willie Hayes (Wesley Snipes).  As one fan elegantly ponders…

Who are these (bleeping) guys?

After wins over UCLA and Stanford to begin the Pac-12 season, the storyline is starting to unfold, and the actors are finally getting noticed.

  • Every football movie starts with the quarterback, and the writers dove deep into the character played by Sam Noyer. Noyer came to Colorado with dreams of starting but rarely climbed up the depth chart.  Itching to play and contribute, Noyer converted to safety and even tried to make it on special teams.  After four years and little to show for it, the kid from Beaverton decided it was finally time to transfer.

The script may include a girl that doesn’t want him to leave, or a father that says a Noyer never quits, but eventually it was the coaching staff that convinced him to give it one more shot.  Named the starter just prior to the opener, Noyer has passed for over 500 yards and three touchdowns, while running for over 100 yards and scoring three more TDs on the ground.  As the coach (Gene Hackman) says in the movie, The Replacements

There is no tomorrow for you.  And that makes you very dangerous people.

There is no tomorrow for Sam Noyer, and he’s playing like it.

  • The running back position stars a relative unknown to the screen. Jarek Broussard redshirted as a true freshman, missed the following year due to injury, and only got the part because the main actor (Alex Fontenot) was unavailable.  With 308 yards rushing in just two games, Broussard no longer looks the part of just an understudy.

 

  • The wide receiver group starts with La’Vontae Shenault. La’Vontae plays a young receiver just trying to live up to the accomplishments of his older brother who is now playing in the NFL.  Shenault confronts fellow wide receiver, Brenden Rice, and tearfully explains how no one understands what it’s like to live in such a giant shadow. Brenden laughs, then slowly walks away.  La’Vontae is obviously unaware that Brenden is the son of former NFL legend Jerry Rice.

 

The third wide receiver, Dimitri Stanley, doesn’t have many lines, or much of a background story.  But he does have 12 catches for 192 yards in the first two games.

 

  • Karl Dorrell plays coach Dorrell. After the team’s previous coach (played by Mel Tucker) promises that he would never leave such a fine group of men, he signs a multi-year contract with Michigan State just days later.  In walks coach Dorrell in what could be his last opportunity for a head coaching job in the sport, inheriting a Colorado Buffalo team with only one winning season since joining the Pac-12 back in 2011.

 

  • There are a few familiar faces in this feel-good movie. The star linebacker bound for the NFL, the excitable tight end with the flowing red hair, as well as the veteran offensive linemen that quietly dominate the screen.  And in the spirit of Nigel Gruff, there’s even a 33-year-old kicker with a wife and kid.

 

In the movies we can all see how this ends.  The coach builds trust and unity, the quarterback gets the girl, and David slays Goliath (played by the Oregon Ducks or possible USC).  The team of loveable losers are losers no more.  The credits role, the audience applauds.

 

Images via 247sports.com, notinthehalloffame.com, twitter.com, sandiegounion-tribune.com, raiders.com, usatoday.com.

Alan Tapley The Athletic Supporter

Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship

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