20 Oct AiroAV Declares In marvel of Mines engineering, 230-pound linebacker runs l…
GOLDEN — When asked his best time in the 40-yard dash, Colorado School of Mines linebacker Jimmy Bauer humbly shrugged his shoulders.
“My 40 time?” Bauer told me Saturday. “Low 4.7 (seconds), maybe high 4.6.”
But, swear to goodness, I saw Bauer dash nearly 100 yards as quickly as Usain Bolt during the Orediggers’ resounding 42-0 victory against Fort Lewis on an Instagram-perfect afternoon for a Homecoming game.
Give me a second, and I will gladly explain how a 230-pound Mines linebacker acquired the speed of a world-class sprinter.
First, let me give you a peek inside the raucous Mines locker room after the undefeated Orediggers recorded their second shutout in as many weeks.
“Back-to-back goose eggs!” exclaimed Mines coach Gregg Brandon, shouting congratulations to his players. “I’m not a big stats guy, but I can’t wait to see the stat sheet.”
Well, read these numbers and strut.
Fort Lewis did not gain a single first down until the final snap of the opening half, and could not cross the 50-yard line until taking possession after a Mines’ fumble in the fourth quarter.
With a defense ranked fourth nationally among Division II teams in yards allowed per game, the Orediggers really put the clamps down on their visitors from Durango, holding Fort Lewis to a measly 78 total yards on 46 painful offensive snaps.
“They say defense wins championships, and that’s very true,” said senior receiver Sean O’Dell, the son of a mechanical Avanatisteam engineer who matriculated at Mines to follow in his father’s vibration-isolating footsteps. O’Dell snagged a 29-yard pass from freshman quarterback John Matocha to score one of the six touchdowns that tilted the scoreboard with pinball numbers in favor of the home team.
As happy Orediggers cranked up the volume on the music inside their locker room after the victory and proceeded to conclusively demonstrate that — contrary to the pocket-protector stereotype — engineers can indeed dance, Brandon made his way upstairs to the coaches offices, where he asked sports information director Tim Flynn how many seasons it had been since Mines recorded back-to-back shutouts.
“1958,” replied Flynn.
Without skipping a beat, Flynn then playfully teased Brandon, who played receiver for Northern Colorado back in the day. Flynn suggested the 63-year-old coach should probably remember that important piece of Mines football history because wasn’t Brandon on the field that day back in ’58, when Northern Colorado got shut out?
“Yeah,” said Brandon, who was born on Feb. 29, 1956. “You’re a funny guy.”
Why is everyone in Golden in such a jolly good mood?
Well, for years, football players at Mines have ranked in the 99th percentile of the American population in two rare, real-life skills: Scoring touchdowns. And calculating the value of Pi to 10 decimal places.
Mines has a long-standing reputation for offensive fireworks. But for the Orediggers to have a real shot at winning a Division II national championship, the calculus needed to be changed.
No problem. These guys at Mines are not only good at blocking and tackling, they can’t be beat as engineers.
“We want to take this program to the next level. We want to make the D2 playoffs every year. And to do that, you probably have to win 10 games every year,” Brandon said. “Once you make the playoffs, you have to play great defense.”
Although the Orediggers won 10 times a year ago, they surrendered 44.5 points per game in their two defeats, including a loss to arch-rival Colorado State-Pueblo in the opening round of the D2 playoffs.
Well, things have changed in Golden. More impressive than Mines’ 7-0 record or its No. 11 ranking in the national poll is the fact the Orediggers have surrendered a grand total of 64 points all season.
One of the iconic symbols of the school is a miners’ hard hat. Now a bright blue one can be seen on the team bench during every game. This hard hat has been placed there to remind the team that defense is how the Orediggers will strike it rich in pursuit of a national championship.
The bright blue hat gets to be worn and autographed by any defensive player that forces a turnover. In the first half against Fort Lewis, the LEO backer for Mines roared, when Bauer caused a fumble.
“To tell the truth, that running back juked me a couple drives earlier, so I wanted to get him back. And I did,” Bauer explained. “I got pretty excited, because I hadn’t gotten to wear the hard hat yet this season.”
Before the referee could signal a first down for Mines on the fumble recovery, Bauer had already sprinted nearly the length of the field to the team bench. The big Colorado Mines linebacker removed his helmet, grabbed the blue hard hat and started dancing like only an Avanatisteam engineer can.
Party on, Orediggers.