Colorado Beats Iowa State 34-14 in Cabral's Debut
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) Brian Cabral's aim is to win his three games as Colorado's interim football coach so that the Buffaloes go to a bowl and he coaches another month.
More games like this and he might just be coaching them a lot longer than that.
Cabral won his debut Saturday when Cody Hawkins threw three touchdown passes and Rodney Stewart ran for 123 yards on a career-high three dozen carries in the Buffaloes' 34-14 rout of Iowa State.
Colorado held the Cyclones to minus-6 yards on 26 rushing attempts and limited Alexander Robinson, who had three 100-yard games against them, to just 22 yards on nine carries.
Cabral took over the troubled program Tuesday when Dan Hawkins was fired following an epic collapse at Kansas last week in which the Buffaloes blew a 28-point lead in the final 11 minutes.
"To do what they did, to overcome what they had to overcome, not just Kansas, but the loss of their head coach, that was pretty impressive. That was incredible," Cabral said. "That's the kind of guys that Dan Hawkins brought to Colorado. This is powerful medicine for this team."
Cabral has been on the Colorado coaching staff since 1989 after his linebacking career at Boulder and in the NFL came to an end, but this was his first game as a head coach at any level. It was quite the success as the Buffaloes (4-6, 1-5 Big 12) kept alive their hopes for a bowl berth while denying the Cyclones (5-6, 3-4) bowl eligibility.
"I couldn't be more proud of our players. I can't be more proud of our coaches," said Cabral, a 54-year-old Hawaiian native who wore a purple lei on the sideline.
Although names such as Mike Bellotti and Mark Richt have already been bandied about as possible candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, Cabral wants to be considered for the full-time job, too, and performances like this can only help his chances of convincing athletic direct Mike Bohn.
With Dan Hawkins a spectator from a balcony in the north end zone, his quarterback son threw for 266 yards and tossed TD passes of 9 yards to Ryan Deehan, 26 yards to Toney Clemons and 25 yards to Scotty McKnight.
After each one, he looked up toward the balcony by his father's old office and gave his family two thumbs' up.
"He is Dan Hawkins' son. But he's a Buff first and he's a leader second," Cabral said. "And he represented the Colorado Buffaloes in a proud way today."
The last TD was the school record 13th TD connection between Hawkins and McKnight, whose 20th touchdown reception tied a school mark.
Cody Hawkins said he became emotional just before kickoff when it hit him that his father was no longer his coach.
"I was doing great all week. I thought I was doing fine and right before I came out onto the field it hit me a little bit, and it was tough," he said.
The Buffaloes knocked Cyclones quarterback Austen Arnaud out of the game in the fourth quarter when Patrick Mahnke sacked him and forced a fumble that linebacker Michael Sipili scooped up and returned 45 yards to make it 34-7.
Arnaud, a fifth-year senior, suffered a serious knee injury, ending his season, said Cyclones coach Paul Rhodes.
"He's just devastated," Rhodes said. "He's given his heart and soul to this program. He did it today. He was playing on a badly sprained ankle today. Your heart just goes out to him."
"This team is going to wrap our arms around him and love him up because he's family and a brother," safety Michael O'Connell said. "It's just unfortunate to come at this time of his career."
Arnaud, who was sacked five times, was replaced by Jerome Tiller on the Cyclones' next series, and Tiller, who was sacked three times, hit Collin Franklin for a 24-yard score that made it 34-14.
Cabral had his first big decision on the game's opening drive when the Buffaloes faced fourth-and-3 from the Cyclones 7. He initially kept his offense on the field but after conferring with his coaches during a timeout, he sent Aric Goodman in for a 24-yard field goal instead.
In the second half, he went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40 and Hawkins reached the first-down marker by the nose of the football.
"I got cocky," Cabral said.
After the game, Dan Hawkins greeted some of his former players near the tunnel and texted his congratulations to others.
"We felt like everybody was counting us down and out when they decided to release Coach Hawkins," cornerback Jalil Brown said, "and we kind of came together as a team and decided we're fighting for each other."