There are many ways to lose a football game. What Colorado State did on Friday night should not be one of them.
Colorado State, coached by Steve Addazio, was down two to Utah State with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 15-yard line, the Rams managed to get all the way down the field in just 33 seconds, setting up a first-and-goal with 11 seconds left.
Here's what was supposed to happen next: The offense was supposed to stay on the field to spike the ball and stop the clock. Here's what happened instead: The "fast field goal" team (as Addazio later described them) for some reason rushed onto the field to set up for a field goal. You could almost feel the confusion coming from the Colorado State players on the field. Several members of the offense had to frantically run off the field as time started ticking down.
If Colorado State had made the field goal, you wouldn't be reading this right now. But they didn't, handing Utah State the win.
Instead of spiking it on first down and stopping the clock, Colorado State rushed their field goal unit onto the field.
With the clock running, they then missed the potential game-winning field goal. Utah State wins the game. pic.twitter.com/vw3sXclgDP
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 23, 2021
You know it's bad when one of the commentators says "you don't need to do this."
Coach blames players
Addazio had an explanation for what happened during that chaotic final play. According to him, the players acted on their own and did things he didn't tell them to do.
"So, we had fast field goal ready down by where the ball was and the guys took off on the field, the fast field goal team," Addazio said via Kevin Lytle of the Fort Collins Coloradoan. "They weren’t sent, but they went and it created that confusion at the end, which is just a shame. We really got set up, it wasn’t like we weren’t set up to kick the field goal. We were set up to kick the field goal, we just didn’t strike it. That’s what happened at the end there. No one sent them in, but they took off on the field."
While Addazio first blamed the players, he eventually took some responsibility for what happened.
"Yeah, I would say to you that they got caught up in the emotion of the game and took off on the field. I'm telling you that's what I think, I can't tell you for sure because obviously I'm like, 'Who sent them on?" and no one sent them on. So, it just happened, which means it's my responsibility because that can't happen but it did happen. So, I'll take responsibility for that. Having said that, we were perfectly set up, ready to kick the field goal. So, um, I don't believe that had any impact on that field goal whatsoever."
Another Addazio game ended with baffling confusion
Addazio's decision to blame the players first would be slightly more understandable if something like this had never happened before in his entire career. Except it absolutely has.
The mistake in the Colorado State/Utah State game might not even be Steve Addazio’s worst clock mismanagement of his head coaching career.
Wake Forest at Boston College was just as bad back in 2015 pic.twitter.com/beRzu1POAi
— Ben Cary (@Ben_Cary_) October 23, 2021
Six years ago, Addazio's Boston College team lost to Wake Forest due to more last-second confusion. Down 3-0 (yikes), the Eagles were unable to get the touchdown with the clock running out in the fourth quarter. Out of timeouts, they had to get back to the line of scrimmage to stop the clock so they could either tie it with a field goal or go for the touchdown and the outright win.
Instead, the BC players continued to wrestle with Wake Forest as the clock ticked down, down, and down some more. They finally started lining up with five seconds left, but couldn't stop the clock before time ran out.
Different players were involved, but the end of that game had the same chaotic, frenetic, "oh god what are we supposed to be doing" vibe as Friday night's wild ending. The common factor is Addazio, who may want to reconsider the leadership strategy of blaming his players first.