Time to Witness Dominance: Keys to the Game and Predictions

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This has been one of the more difficult pre-game write-ups to begin. I have re-wrote at least five times to try and describe the excitement of the season opener with a fair blend of urgency that the program must exhibit starting today. At first, I went at the post in an overly positive way but that didn't exhibit all of the feelings. Then, I added some negatives but who wants to be negative when you haven't even played a game yet. So I decided on keeping it simple, keeping it short and saying little other than what should be expected today.

Most Colorado Buffalo fans have a few different feelings going through their system this morning. Excitement is surely one of them, anticipation to see the black and gold run out of that tunnel is most certainly there, but for me, the overwhelming feeling is that desire to bear witness of something that we haven't seen in the past. That is where the nervous feeling comes from this Sunday morning.

 

It is time to bear witness to a team that can come out and dominate. Not necessarily dominant on the scoreboard with a forty point win but dominate physically, dominate by being the better coached team, dominate on special teams, dominate the halftime adjustments, dominate in preparation and dominate by being the more energized team. Basically, see a discernable difference over the team the Colorado State Rams put on the field today but also the Colorado teams that we have seen trot out the past three years.

 Just flat out dominant in the detailed aspects of the game.

The question is, are the Buffs ready to dominate?

Yes, if for no other reason than they better be. Will they? We will see soon enough.

Time to get things done and it starts today against the Rams.

Short, simple and easy, nothing but what is now the defined motto for the Buffs on the Ralphie Report: "Dominate and No Excuses." I like it better than "10 wins and no excuses" anyway.

Now on to the Keys of the Game & The Ralphie Report's 2009 first game predictions.

Colorado_mediumStick it to Stucker
The smell of fresh meat is in the air and it's coming from Colorado St. Rams' quarterback Grant Stucker. Stucker will be making his first start against the Colorado Buffaloes today at Folsom Field in front of a close to capacity crowd. What does that mean? Be aggressive & creative in your attempts to get to rattle Stucker. Make his life miserable all day long. Last year, the Buffs sacked first time starter Billy Farris five times and never let him get settled in the pocket. The Buffs went on to win by three touchdowns. It has been well documented that the Rams have a very experienced offensive line but I look for the Buffs to have prepared extremely well in creating mismatches and blitzes that will confuse CSU upfront to get to Stucker. Look for B.J. Beatty, Marcus Burton and Doug Rippy to lead the charge from the linebacker spot in constantly applying pressure on the Rams.

Clearly, Colorado State feels they have a few matchups that they can exploit the Buffs at and one is upfront. Nothing will dishearten the Rams more than showing them early that they don't have the advantage there and nothing will be a bigger detriment to the Buffs chance at victory today than letting Stucker get comfortable in the pocket and throw to his talented receivers.

Colorado_mediumSpecial Teams
If the Buffs are going to be a bowl team in 2009, drastic improvement in the specialties play must occur. Colorado cannot give the Rams points or field position in the special teams game. This goes back to the statement of dominance and being mentally tough football team. Special teams is a "want to", not a "have to" assignment for a good football team and its players. You have to have an attitude to play special teams and that attitude wasn't there a year ago. Colorado has better depth and talent than Colorado State and that should show through today in this aspect of the game.  

Colorado_mediumFinish in the Red Zone
Based on the last seasons results, Colorado fans hope to not see a field goal attempted today and because of that, efficiency is crucial in the red zone.  Substitute field goal attempts with strong execution for touchdowns.

Colorado_mediumPlaymaking ability
In 2008, it seemed the Buffs had zero playmakers on the field. Maybe they were all too young but I believe it was the fault of the coaching staff in not getting the right scheme offensively to feature talent. Coach Eric Kiesau has led the charge back to a more traditional pro-style offense but he will be tasked today with finding mismatches and featuring players that can be difference makers. Whether it is RB Brian Lockridge in the slot, WR Andre Simmons in a deep ball package scenario, RB Rodney Stewart in the screen game, RB Darrell Scott on the edge or one of the tight ends making an impact across the middle, it is time to have a plan to get these players in favorable situations; something that did not exist a year ago.

On the flip side, Colorado matches up extremely well against and the Rams two best playmakers in WR Rashaun Greer and WR Dion Morton. I expect corners Jimmy Smith, Cha'pelle Brown, Jalil Brown and Ben Burney to compete successfully against the duo of Morton and Greer especially with the graduation of TE Kory Sperry. The Buffs defense cannot let these two receivers beat them. Limit the big plays and Colorado should come out victorious.

Colorado_mediumWin the Turnover Battle
Cody Hawkins or Tyler Hansen cannot let Grant Stucker outplay them in this category. Be smart with the football.

Colorado_mediumMake the Rams Come From Behind
Colorado should not be considered a prolific offense yet so it needs help from the defense and has to exhibit precision when it has the ball. If the Rams get up on the Buffs, it might be a recipe for disaster if Colorado needs to rely on an unproven group of receivers to make plays. The CU defense has to be stout in the first few drives of the season, let the Colorado offense get in a rhythm and score a few points. Start well and the Buffs will be in a strong position to win the game.

Prediction Time:

Short, simple and straight to the point just like our motto: 28 - 13. Give us your prediction too!

Message to the fans: get up, make some noise and get it started off right!

Join us for the Live Game Thread during the game today. Go Buffs, Beat the Rams!

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