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Pac-12 Football Seasons: Colorado Buffaloes Week 10

https://unafraidshow.com/pac-12-football-seasons-colorado-buffaloes-week-10-2019/

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Watching the Colorado Buffaloes in Week 10 left fans teetering on the edge and get to the breaking point. A bad start and inconsistencies in all three phases doomed the Buffaloes, as they left the Rose Bowl with a 31-14 loss to the UCLA Bruins in College Football Week 10? The Buffaloes did get good news via Mel Tucker’s Twitter:

Bad Start Dooms the Colorado Buffaloes

The offense looked out of sync all night. Alex Fontenot, the starting running back, was inactive. The offense received the kickoff. Hoping for a first-possession jolt they have rarely got on the road in Pac-12 play, they went three and out.

The defense came into the game as the worst third down defense in the Pac-12, letting opponents convert 49.5% of the time. They got gashed on the first drive, and did not look ready to play. This start was frustrating considering how they played in their previous two road games against Oregon and Washington State, getting outscored 86-13.

Steven Montez Buffaloes 2019 seasonSteven Montez Buffaloes 2019 season

Before anyone could blink, the Buffaloes were down 10-0. Matters got even worse as Steven Montez threw an interception. UCLA scored on the very next play to take a 17-0 lead. This interception was increasingly frustrating because K.D. Nixon looked to be open earlier in the route. Montez decided to wait until he had met up with UCLA defenders to throw it.

It was still the first quarter, and the Buffaloes looked like they had not fixed what has caused their terrible road starts in Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes did not pick up a first down until there was 3:35 left in the first quarter, and looked like they were going to get pummeled. In fact, they would not cross midfield until early in the second quarter. The Colorado Buffaloes have too much offensive talent for this to be acceptable.

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Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Inconsistencies

Laviska Shenault did not have nearly the same impact he had a week ago against USC (9 receptions, 172 yards, 1 TD). Against UCLA, he had three receptions for 16 yards and a 15-yard run on a wildcat play. Injuries have limited his availability, but it is frustrating when the star of the team has such a limited impact even when he is out on the field.

Trailing 17-0, Montez would have a rushing touchdown in the 2nd quarter to put the Buffaloes on the board. He would add a passing touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was inconsistent the whole night, as there were aspects of his game that simply not good enough. The running game was effective in spurts, but backup running back Jaren Mangham was never able to take over the game.

Colorado buffaloes week 10Colorado buffaloes week 10

The offense drove into UCLA territory to end the first half, and had a chance to cut the lead to 17-10. However, James Stefanou missed a 47-yard field goal, and the Buffaloes were unable to keep the momentum they built off of the touchdown drive where Montez scored. 

Buffaloes Defense Improves Throughout Game, But Can’t Get Rid of Dubious Streak

The defense held their own after the first quarter, as they forced UCLA to punt on three straight possessions in the second quarter. It looked as if the Buffaloes would have a chance to get back into the game. If the defense played well, the offense would get their opportunities to get back into the game. Carson Wells got an interception in UCLA territory to start the 2nd half, but James Stefanou would miss another field goal, this time a 29-yarder.

Consequently, the defense could not get rid of their dubious, now 14-game streak of allowing 30+ points to opposing teams. Sure, some things went better after the first quarter for the Buffaloes. Despite their effort, the first quarter set them back in every regard. They were unable to establish their presence even if one might consider them equal to UCLA as far as talent is concerned.

Bad Pac-12 Conference Road Losses Put 2019 Buffaloes Season On Brink

Overall, this game was hard to watch. It was a rehash of road losses in the Pac-12 from previous seasons and this season alike. There was never really a moment where it felt like momentum could completely swing in the Buffaloes’ favor. Unfortunately, the same miscues that led to two consecutive 5-7 campaigns in 2017 and 2018 have bled over into this season. Even worse, this talented Buffaloes team may finish with an even worse record than their two predecessors.

Mel Tucker is tasked with the challenge of creating a new norm. He has been able to coach the players up well, and they have shown up in front of their home fans. However, the team has always struggled on the road in Pac-12 play since joining the conference, and they have only had one true breakthrough win on the road in the Pac-12. In 2016 against Oregon, they won 41-38 and catapulted themselves to a Pac-12 South title. That was supposed to be the new normal, and everyone thought the rise of Colorado football was real that season. The more this Buffaloes team loses, the more that season looks like an anomaly in 15 years of inferiority regardless of the conference the Buffaloes have been in.

Looking ahead to Colorado Buffaloes Week 11

In College Football Week 11, the Buffaloes will be back home for homecoming week against the Stanford Cardinal. They are currently 3.5-point underdogs for this game, but the Buffaloes could certainly win this game. This game presents another opportunity for the Buffaloes to show they belong on the field with one of the name brands in the conference of champions. Stanford has had an up-and-down season, sitting at 4-4. The game is of the utmost importance as far as bowl eligibility, as the Buffaloes need to win out at this point to make a bowl game sitting at 3-6.         

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Brett Lee urges Australia to give Pat Cummins the new-ball in Test series against Pakistan

https://sport360.com/article/cricket/international-cricket/338221/brett-lee-urges-australia-to-give-pat-cummins-the-new-ball-in-test-series-against-pakistan

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Babar’s Azam maiden series as Pakistan’s T20I captain proved to be a chastening experience with the Men in Green comprehensively turned over by Australia (2-0) in the three-match series.

The visitors were thoroughly outplayed in all departments by the Aussies and would most definitely have lost their current No1 ranking as well, had rain not stopped the first T20 in Sydney.

While Babar has only just taken over the T20 reins, the side’s woes very much predate his appointment with just one win and nine defeats to show for from 10 outings in the current year.

For head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq, the record is now five defeats in six T20I clashes. The mandate for the former highly respected skipper on his appointment after the 2019 World Cup, was primarily to shore up Pakistan’s dwindling Test and ODI fortunes. However, just a few months into his tenure, Misbah now finds himself with the unenviable task of having to fix all three set-ups of the national team.

With less than a year remaining for the T20 World Cup to take place in Australia itself, Pakistan have plenty of holes to plug in a side which has been ranked No1 for two years and running now. Very few positives, if any, can be taken from a shambles of a series with the individual display of Babar and the emergence of Iftikhar Ahmed as a viable lower-order aggressor just about covering it.

The question marks, though, are aplenty for Misbah and Babar.

Asif Ali’s time has run out

Could be curtains for Asif as Pakistan's designated finisher.

Could be curtains for Asif as Pakistan’s designated finisher.

Pakistan’s search for an explosive hitter for the death overs has been a longstanding one and it is Asif Ali who has been given the long rope in that regard.

However, that rope is now running out with the right-hander failing to come good despite umpteen chances in the T20 setup. While much of the focus has been on opener Fakhar Zaman’s disastrous T20 form, Asif has been equally culpable with an average of just over 10 in 2019.

The middle-order batsman has a high score of only 23 in his last nine innings for Pakistan and his latest displays in Australia should all but confirm his impending axing from the squad.

He hasn’t really been able to cut it at the international level, in both ODIs and T20s, despite some promising signs in the Pakistan Super League.

Misbah’s botched selections not helping matter either

Khushdil barely got a chance to prove his case.

Khushdil barely got a chance to prove his case.

Misbah had been criticised for recalling Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad in the 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka and the head coach responded by pointing to a lack of batting talent in Pakistan’s domestic pool.

While there might be a hint of truth in Misbah’s reasoning, the fact that he quickly discarded the two top-order batsman after the series whitewash while continuing to give others a long run, does not pain him favourably.

Fakhar Zaman has continued to be persisted with, despite his horrendous T20I form, while the same has been the case for Asif Ali. Khushdil Shah was the fresh face called up to the squad for the Australia tour but the middle-over batsman was only given an opportunity in the final T20.

In the bowling department, Usman Qadir was a surprise call-up to the squad by Misbah with the leg-spinner barely creating an impression in his Big Bash League stint earlier this year. While his selection turned plenty of heads, Misbah then made sure it hardly mattered by not giving the spinner a single appearance in Australia.

It would be all well and good if there were more opportunities waiting down the line for the likes of Qadir, Khushdil and even young pacer Muhammad Musa. The problem, however, is that there aren’t many with Pakistan not set to play a single limited-overs clash until July, next year.

So what exactly was Misbah saving these players for?

Babar needs time but is there any?

Babar has hardly got any time on hand to settle in as skipper.

Babar has hardly got any time on hand to settle in as skipper.

“We have learnt a lot from this series and we’ll take the positives and come back hard in the next series,” a crestfallen Babar stated after the Perth humbling.

“I have learnt a lot, there is a lot to learn as well. Hopefully, I’ll apply it in the future.”

There is no denying that there are many tricks to learn for Babar as captain after his side’s lopsided defeat in Australia. But, with just five more T20Is to come for Pakistan ahead of next year’s World Cup, the team management might have left him with too little time to learn the ropes.

The batting prodigy is not even the captain of his Pakistan Super League (PSL) outfit Karachi Kings, with his national team-mate Imad Wasim leading that franchise instead.

While he has welcomed the captaincy publicly, the fact that the burden of leading has come at a time when the team is already so reliant on his batting is not a great situation to be in for Babar.

Time is not on his side, or Pakistan’s, with the World Cup fast approaching, and the team management will now have to blindly hope that their gutsy decision will bear fruit ultimately.

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Newly established Girls Community Football preparing for debut tournament

https://sport360.com/article/football/uae-football/338223/newly-established-girls-community-football-preparing-for-debut-tournament

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UAE coach Bert van Marwijk defended his decision to play poster boy Omar Abdulrahman for three quarters of the Whites’ 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Thailand – nearly a year to the day since his last start for the national team.

The 28-year-old Al Jazira playmaker played 72 largely inconspicuous minutes in the 2-1 defeat in Rangsit, although there were occasional flashes of the trademark brilliance and vision that have hallmarked the career of the exalted ‘Amoory’.

Fears arose post-match that Van Marwijk might have “exposed him to exhaustion” but the Dutchman said his decision to start the talismanic former Al Ain and Al Hilal midfielder was justified, labelling him “one of the best players” in Asia.

“I am a big fan of the player who is one of the best players at the Asian level and among the best I have trained during my career,” said 67-year-old Van Marwijk, who suffered his maiden defeat as UAE coach.

“And when I made a decision for him to participate, essentially I had goals from that participation, which means I made the right decision.

“I took him out after 70 minutes for more goals and a substitute can make a difference, and indeed the team had several chances to win the game.”

It is the most action Abdulrahman has been exposed to since returning to the UAE with the Pride of Abu Dhabi after an ill-fated spell at boyhood club Hilal, cut short following a devastating knee injury towards the end of 2018.

In five previous outings since missing 10 months of action, Amoory has only played sparingly in UAE qualifying wins against Malaysia (17 minutes) and Indonesia (31) and three Jazira games – totalling 103 minutes – as he eases back into action.

Van Marwijk expressed sadness and frustration at defeat to the War Elephants – their first in three Group G games, the second round of Asian qualifying, which leaves them a point adrift of them and Vietnam, the joint leaders.

It was also a first defeat for Van Marwijk in seven games since taking the UAE reins in March – having opened with five wins and a draw.

“I am not satisfied with the performance,” he said.

“However we almost won, especially from the opportunities in the second half and the final minutes of the game.

“The result is normal, especially after the performance of Thailand, who deserved to take the lead and win.

“And although I was happy with the goal scored by Ali Mabkhout at the end of the first half I was saddened after they scored their second goal, which frustrated me. We have not managed to translate the opportunities that we had into goals.”

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India v Bangladesh LIVE: Stakes high in T20I series decider in Nagpur

https://sport360.com/article/cricket/international-cricket/338216/india-v-bangladesh-live-stakes-high-in-t20i-series-decider-in-nagpur

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Babar’s Azam maiden series as Pakistan’s T20I captain proved to be a chastening experience with the Men in Green comprehensively turned over by Australia (2-0) in the three-match series.

The visitors were thoroughly outplayed in all departments by the Aussies and would most definitely have lost their current No1 ranking as well, had rain not stopped the first T20 in Sydney.

While Babar has only just taken over the T20 reins, the side’s woes very much predate his appointment with just one win and nine defeats to show for from 10 outings in the current year.

For head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq, the record is now five defeats in six T20I clashes. The mandate for the former highly respected skipper on his appointment after the 2019 World Cup, was primarily to shore up Pakistan’s dwindling Test and ODI fortunes. However, just a few months into his tenure, Misbah now finds himself with the unenviable task of having to fix all three set-ups of the national team.

With less than a year remaining for the T20 World Cup to take place in Australia itself, Pakistan have plenty of holes to plug in a side which has been ranked No1 for two years and running now. Very few positives, if any, can be taken from a shambles of a series with the individual display of Babar and the emergence of Iftikhar Ahmed as a viable lower-order aggressor just about covering it.

The question marks, though, are aplenty for Misbah and Babar.

Asif Ali’s time has run out

Could be curtains for Asif as Pakistan's designated finisher.

Could be curtains for Asif as Pakistan’s designated finisher.

Pakistan’s search for an explosive hitter for the death overs has been a longstanding one and it is Asif Ali who has been given the long rope in that regard.

However, that rope is now running out with the right-hander failing to come good despite umpteen chances in the T20 setup. While much of the focus has been on opener Fakhar Zaman’s disastrous T20 form, Asif has been equally culpable with an average of just over 10 in 2019.

The middle-order batsman has a high score of only 23 in his last nine innings for Pakistan and his latest displays in Australia should all but confirm his impending axing from the squad.

He hasn’t really been able to cut it at the international level, in both ODIs and T20s, despite some promising signs in the Pakistan Super League.

Misbah’s botched selections not helping matter either

Khushdil barely got a chance to prove his case.

Khushdil barely got a chance to prove his case.

Misbah had been criticised for recalling Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad in the 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka and the head coach responded by pointing to a lack of batting talent in Pakistan’s domestic pool.

While there might be a hint of truth in Misbah’s reasoning, the fact that he quickly discarded the two top-order batsman after the series whitewash while continuing to give others a long run, does not pain him favourably.

Fakhar Zaman has continued to be persisted with, despite his horrendous T20I form, while the same has been the case for Asif Ali. Khushdil Shah was the fresh face called up to the squad for the Australia tour but the middle-over batsman was only given an opportunity in the final T20.

In the bowling department, Usman Qadir was a surprise call-up to the squad by Misbah with the leg-spinner barely creating an impression in his Big Bash League stint earlier this year. While his selection turned plenty of heads, Misbah then made sure it hardly mattered by not giving the spinner a single appearance in Australia.

It would be all well and good if there were more opportunities waiting down the line for the likes of Qadir, Khushdil and even young pacer Muhammad Musa. The problem, however, is that there aren’t many with Pakistan not set to play a single limited-overs clash until July, next year.

So what exactly was Misbah saving these players for?

Babar needs time but is there any?

Babar has hardly got any time on hand to settle in as skipper.

Babar has hardly got any time on hand to settle in as skipper.

“We have learnt a lot from this series and we’ll take the positives and come back hard in the next series,” a crestfallen Babar stated after the Perth humbling.

“I have learnt a lot, there is a lot to learn as well. Hopefully, I’ll apply it in the future.”

There is no denying that there are many tricks to learn for Babar as captain after his side’s lopsided defeat in Australia. But, with just five more T20Is to come for Pakistan ahead of next year’s World Cup, the team management might have left him with too little time to learn the ropes.

The batting prodigy is not even the captain of his Pakistan Super League (PSL) outfit Karachi Kings, with his national team-mate Imad Wasim leading that franchise instead.

While he has welcomed the captaincy publicly, the fact that the burden of leading has come at a time when the team is already so reliant on his batting is not a great situation to be in for Babar.

Time is not on his side, or Pakistan’s, with the World Cup fast approaching, and the team management will now have to blindly hope that their gutsy decision will bear fruit ultimately.

Continue Reading

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