Has it only been a week since the Cal game? It feels like it's been a month.
Anyway, on to tomorrows game. The Warriors come to town after having spent the week in Las Vegas. On the surface, this sounds pretty good for the Buffs, but it actually makes life a lot easier on the Hawaii players. It cuts their travel-time way down, and they get to practice in a similarly dry climate for a week in preparation for playing in Boulder.
We play a team that is also 1-1, though they are a much more impressive 1-1 than we are. Their win at Army was clutch, and they put up nearly 600 yards on USC in their loss. Hawaii is a solid team. A solid WAC team, yes, but they are a solid team. This should be a very exciting game.
See my analysis after the jump.
We are about to face one of the most impressive Quarterbacks in the country. No joke. Bryant Moniz is great on the run, and he has an incredible arm. Seriously, he can hit just about any spot on the field. He is the perfect guy to captain a Run-n-Shoot offense. We will need to both put some pressure on Moniz, to take some air out of the Hawaii Offense, and keep an eye on him because of his running abilities. But fortunately, he's really their only running threat. They don't call a lot of rushes. We will have to deal with a talented group of Wide Receivers in Pilares, Pollard, Salas and Bradley. Salas is one of the best Slot Receivers around, and all of those guys can get separation. This will be a tough test for our Secondary, especially for a guy like Paul Vigo, who will log a bunch of snaps tomorrow. It helps that we've got a bunch of speed in the Defensive Backfield and rangy Linebackers. I expect both Michael Sipili and Jon Major to make a big impact. They both have pretty good speed, and that will limit Moniz's feet, and I expect them to blitz quite a bit. Our D-line will be playing against a pretty good Offensive Line, but I think our Defensive Tackles will have a good day.
Overall, I expect us to give up quite a few yards. I think we actually have some luck keeping the Warriors out of the endzone tomorrow. I also think our Defense gets a little help from the rest of the team this week. And the Warriors throw the ball so much, I think we get a few turnovers this week.
Matchups I'm Watching:
Greg Salas vs. Paul Vigo & the Colorado Safeties
-Salas had 1,600 yards last season. He is good. He will make some catches tomorrow. All we can hope is that Vigo, Polk and Perkins can limit his big plays. If they can keep Salas in front of them, Hawaii's Offense will be easier to handle. It will not be easy. Salas is a crafty Senior with much more experience than the guys who will be covering him.
Hawaii Skill Players vs. Jon Major in coverage
-Major did not play badly against Cal, but everyone is going to remember the TD reception he gave up to Shane Vereen (who is very good). Major will be forced to cover guys again this week, but I think he rises to the occasion. He is the man, and he is going to get better each week.
Run-n-Shoot vs. Colorado Nickel
-Notice a trend here? Yes, these are all about our abilities in coverage. Well, Hawaii is averaging 400 passing yards a game, and they would prefer to be averaging quite a bit more than that. Their Wide Receivers can run, and Moniz can hit them anywhere on the field. He has a rocket arm and is pretty darn accurate.
If there is a place and time for our Offense to get back on track, it is tomorrow against the Warriors. They have a Defense that plays hard, but is one that we can exploit in places. USC had a lot of success passing against their Corners and Safeties. USC has some impressive talent at Wide Receiver, but so (theoretically) do we. Our Receivers got open last week, but Hansen didn't have time to hit them. This week, the Receivers should get open again, but Hansen should have the time to get the ball downfield. On the outside, these guys are primed for a huge game. I still believe that we have one of the better Wide Receiver corps around. If you watch film from last week (but don't, because the game is too painful), guys were open all over the field. Not just one guy on each play, but two and three.
We will see another change along the O-line, with Adkins stepping back into the starting spot at Left Guard and Mike Iltis will start at Center over Keenan Stevens. They should have a solid game against the Warriors. Maybe not in the run game, but they'll have a better time in pass protection. Hawaii's Defense plays hard, but they definitely don't have the same caliber athletes as Cal did. Hopefully they figure out how to start getting a push in the run game, because it would be nice to take time off the clock and keep the Hawaii Offense on the sideline.
Matchups I'm Watching:
Hansen vs. the CU Offensive Line.
-Wait, David, why is this a matchup between two elements of the same team? Well, that was one of the biggest problems with the game last week. Hansen didn't have time and couldn't get comfortable. If the O-line doesn't get in Hansen's way, our Offense can explode. Hansen is no Matt Barkley (4 TDs against Hawaii in week one), but he can have some success.
Ryan Deehan vs. Eric Kiseau
-Almost comically, Deehan is still listed on the John Mackey award watch list. He has been under-utilized in the passing game (I don't count the receptions in the fourth quarter against Cal). He has been used as an extra blocker (only partly effectively), but I can see them going to Deehan more tomorrow. He has good hands, and I think Hawaii will play a bunch of deep coverage against us. I'm not sure they felt they had a chance againt USC, but we present a good opportunity for a win for them. I think they try to limit big plays to our Wide Receivers, giving Deehan opportunities underneath.
CU vs. itself
-Hey, another theme. The Buffs beat themselves on offense last week against Cal. Mistakes, penalties and poor play. Cutting down on each of those things will make a huge difference.
Colorado wins. It will be an exciting game, and it should be high scoring, but I think they find a way to put a few more points on the board than Hawaii does. It won't be a resounding win, but being back at home will make a difference for the Buffs. I think our Receivers finally get the chance to shine, and Hansen bounces back with a solid game. I also think Rodney Stewart will finally hit 100 yards, as Kiseau will try to keep Hawaii's powerful Offense off the field. Justin Torres may also get more carries early. I think they try to work him in more before we face teams like Georgia. My prediction? CU 44 - UH 37.