The Learning Curve of the Colorado Offense

The Longmont Times, CUBuffs.com and the Boulder Daily Camera all had stories today on "the armchair offensive coordinators", how much of a learning curve the new receivers are going through with this read-based offense and basically, how everyone needs to tone back their expectations of Andre Simmons, Will Jefferson and Anthony Wright until they get a firm grasp of the position.

I wish the amount of "learning" going on transferred onto the field more. The Buffs offensive ranking the last four years:

2006: 102nd
2007: 72nd
2008: 95th
2009: 79th

I think it is time to get the playmakers the ball, regardless of how it is done.

Buff fans saw first hand that a true freshman, someone who hasn't been campus for three years, can have success in an offense. Imagine that! His name was Eric Page, the Toledo Rockets true freshman receiver, that "learned" and was coached up in less than one month to torch the Buffs for 138 yards and a score. This year the true freshman has hauled in 21 passes for 320 yards, putting him on pace for 84 receptions, 1,280 yards and 8 touchdowns. All of those statistics against BCS teams - Purdue Boilermakers, Ohio State Buckeyes and the Colorado Buffaloes. You would think a freshman wouldn't be able to "learn and read" those complex defenses of BCS schools. By the way, the Buffs have yet to face a BCS team. That same true freshman named Eric Page is currently 14th in the entire NCAA in receiving yards. Eric Page was named the starter after only three weeks of practice. And just in case you were wondering, Page was a 2-star cornerback/running back/receiver coming out of high school, unranked at any position by the recruiting sites.

Toledo's offense has averaged 442 yards per game against BCS teams. Colorado has racked up 342 yards on non-BCS teams. "Learning curve" gets you every time playing those pesky non-BCS teams!

Anyone else find themselves saying, "how come so-and-so can do it but we cannot" all the time? Yeah, me too.

I am ready for the Buffs to one day surprise, exceed expectations, have someone "learn" faster than usual, have someone make a big play before they are supposed to be ready, have someone be a difference maker, take a chance, live on the edge, create a buzz, score 60 on Wyoming...I am ready for a player to be put in a position like Eric Page and make an impact. I am ready to not have a 70+ ranked offense against non-BCS schools.

Colorado_mediumThe Longmont Times-Call - CU Receivers Catching On

The big play has played a big role in Colorado’s season so far. Unfortunately, they’ve all been on the wrong side of the ball. Through the first three games of 2009, the Buffs have had just two pass plays go for more than 30 yards. It suffices to say that Andre Simmons and Anthony Wright, a pair of speedy CU receivers brought in to boost the Buffs’ receiving, will add to that total this season — but for now, CU fans will have to remain patient while the duo catches up to the offense. "There’s a learning curve, but I’m starting to pick up on things — like where to line up, little things like that," Wright said. "I really think this bye week will help me and Andre get caught up. "There’s a just a lot to learn."

Colorado_mediumLearning curve steep for CU receivers - Boulder Daily Camera

"I think the hardest thing for me is just to have confidence to know what I`m doing," Jefferson said. "You get these huge play books every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the whole week and you line up and it`s like, 'Wait a minute. I know this, but is it the right thing?` You just doubt yourself. You know that you know the play, but you just have to have confidence, which is really hard to gain as a true freshman."

Colorado_mediumThree Linemen Return To Practice - CUBuffs.com
More on the learning curve:

After being asked how hard it is for a wide receiver to come into the program and contribute right away, Hawkins explained that, "there's a lot that goes into it. Even if you try to use them only in certain situations, if we just had them line up in the same formation on the same side of the field every time, there's still adjustments based on coverages and audibles. Then it's a matter of making it not-mechanical where a guy is not a second behind."

Only if we can ever get past this learning curve!

Other non-learning curve and West Virginia Mountaineer links after the jump...

Colorado_mediumThe Buffzone Blog - After further review of the po…

After further review of the post-practice audio, coach Hawkins did say Bryce Givens will play against the Mountaineers.

Colorado_mediumRedshirting an option for CU guard : All Things Colorado Sports Colorado

Redshirting appears to be an option for Colorado redshirt-freshman guard Max Tuioti-Mariner, who is participating in some individual practice drills this week after returning from two ACL surgeries during the past 12 months. "I know that’s been discussed, with him and by him," CU offensive line coach Denver Johnson said Wednesday. "It’s a little bit above my pay grade to make that decision. But that is an option, I would think. But that’s not my call, so I’m not sure where that will go.’’

Colorado_mediumWoelk: CU needs to consider risk-reward of scheduling - Boulder Daily Camera
I didn't know their was an agreement to play Colorado State the opening Thursday of the season:

There was a tentative agreement at one point for Colorado and Colorado State to open the season on the Thursday before Labor Day (Sept. 3). That date would have allowed the game to still be televised by FSN (the Rockies had an afternoon game that day), and it would have given the Buffs more than a week of preparation instead of just four days. But the Thursday game was quashed because of faculty concerns, and thus the Sunday-Friday set-up.

Colorado_mediumInjured Colorado running back Scott makes progress - The Denver Post

Scott won't go through full contact in practice until next week. But he says he'll be ready to go when the Buffs face West Virginia on Oct. 1. Scott has played in two of the Buffs' three games, but has carried the ball just 13 times. However, he has made the most of those carries, rushing for 86 yards, a team-high 6.6 yards per tote. Scott is also looking forward to getting back to returning kicks. "Oh, yeah," Scott said. "I love it."

I hate it! Put Lockridge or someone else back there. We don't need our horse returning kicks after he has had health issues in the past.

Colorado_mediumBig 12 internal affairs: CU's Stewart provides RB depth - College Football Nation - ESPN
It was certainly good to get Rodney Stewart back last week. He has done nothing but play well, when healthy, in his short collegiate career. Darrell Scott or no Darrell Scott, it is going to be hard to keep him off the field.

The performance of running back Rodney "Speedy" Stewart last week against Wyoming was an obvious indicator of why Colorado’s biggest offensive strength is its deep backfield. And Dan Hawkins has shown no hesitancy to go with different backs as his featured runner depending on game situations. Darrell Scott will get his chances after he becomes healthy, but Stewart is a consistent substitute if the Buffaloes need another feature back.

Colorado_mediumThe Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia - WVU getting ball to speedy playmakers Devine and Sanders
West Virginia does a good job getting the ball in their playmaker's hands

West Virginia has had success with its two playmakers on offense, Noel Devine and Jock Sanders. Devine had 128 yards rushing and three touchdowns in last Saturday’s 41-30 loss at Auburn, one fewer than he had all last season. His five through three games is one more than the four he had in 2008. And Sanders is catching the ball at an alarming rate, with 29 in three games, and he is well on pace to break the record for receptions in a season (77 by David Saunders in 1998). His 12 against Auburn tied the game mark, last done by Saunders that same year.

Colorado_mediumWest Virginia must address turnover plague - Big East - ESPN

The Mountaineers currently are last in the Big East in turnover margin at minus-7. That ties them for 116th nationally, ahead of only three other teams in the FBS.....The main culprit, statistically speaking, in the turnover spree has been quarterback Jarrett Brown. Though the fifth-year senior rarely if ever threw picks in spring or fall practice, the regular season has been a different story. He has five interceptions and two lost fumbles his past two games...Yet Brown is still completing 68.5 percent of his passes and has a knack for making big plays even when flushed out of the pocket. Stewart pointed out that the Auburn game was just the quarterback's fifth career start, and his first one on the road.

Colorado_mediumWest Virginia looks to heal after Auburn loss

Quarterback Jarrett Brown, who threw a career-high four TD passes a week earlier against East Carolina, was limited to one TD toss at Auburn, threw four interceptions and bruised his left, non-throwing shoulder when he was slammed to the ground while being tackled late in the fourth quarter.  Stewart said. He didn’t indicate whether Brown would start against Colorado (1-2) on Oct. 1. ‘‘As tough as Jarrett Brown is, he would play if he could,’’ Stewart said. ‘‘He’s that kind of tough.’’

Colorado_mediumScout.com: Stew's Views: Evolving Offense

Whether those have been the result of the development of big-play receivers like Alric Arnett and Bradley Starks or the gun-slinging ability of quarterback Jarrett Brown, the deep pass has been seen more often through the first three games of this season at WVU than perhaps at any other point this decade.

Colorado_mediumMSNsportsNET.Com -- West Virginia University Mountaineers

On Colorado I see a lot of talent from this Colorado team. A lot of misfiring, but a lot of talent and it was shown this week against a very tough Wyoming team. They played very hard against Colorado State and Toledo, but they were just misfiring. So I see a talented group of people that beat us last year. They have good running backs, quarterback and receivers says Bill Stewart (West Virginia Head Coach)

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