Support your Buffaloes. This team needs your continued support, folks. Times aren't great right now as a fan of the CU football team, but things will get better. They absolutely will. Yes, it's possible we come out of this season without another win, but that isn't a good reason to stop caring. This team has been on a downward spiral the last five years, and this coaching staff will get things turned around. But they need our support while they do it. 13 True freshman have played, and that number looks like it will rise. The kids are getting their chances to show us what they can do, and that is yet another reason why we need to stick with them.
We are about to face another top 10 team this week in the Ducks from Oregon. They will probably put up some ridiculous numbers against us (after giving up an average of 50 points the last two weeks, I know that is a sickening thought...), and they are far more talented than we are. This is a team that reached the Nat'l Championship game last year, but we absolutely have to keep watching.
OK, I'm getting off my soapbox, so lets move on to the Key Matchups!
Follow the jump because I rant less in the rest of this article!
-CU's Offensive Line Vs Running the Damn Ball
- We still haven't quite figured out how to do this well early in games. We need to be able to sustain drives, and that means gaining more than a yard or two each time we run the ball. If we can do this more effectively, we can keep opposing offenses off the field, which will help our defense out immensely. We are not a smash-mouth team, which is what the coaches want. Our offensive line isn't punching anyone in the mouth. They don't get consistent push and they continually leave guys unblocked. These guys are the key to this offense, and they aren't holding up their end of the deal.
- Oregon will let us move the ball against them. They do that. They allow teams to to use the middle of the field, but they stiffen up pretty well when you get close to the endzone. We haven't been great in the redzone this year, and this would be an excellent time to fix that problem. It'll be a tall order against the Ducks, but better utilizing the talents of guys like Tyler McCulloch (read as: height) when there's less space to operate in will be a big boost to the offense. And being able to run the ball in is great too! We were able to do that against the Huskies, but figuring that out early against Oregon would be absolutely huge.
- I think Eric Bieniemy will prove to be a GREAT offensive coordinator. His playcalling has been, for the most part, very good. He just hasn't gotten great execution from his players. This is a week where mistakes will put the game out of reach very early. We cannot--again, CANNOT keep making the kinds of errors that we have been. Guys need to sustain blocks, routes have to be perfect, balls cannot be dropped, ball-carriers cannot slip and go down without contact, and guys have to be aware of the down-and-distance. If we are able to play mistake-free, we can do some things. There are talented players on this offense, even without Rodney Stewart and Paul Richardson, they just need to do their jobs.
- Really? Of all the problems to have, tackling is at the top of the list? That's not the way you get things done, Greg Brown. This defense is hurting enough without missed tackles entering the equation. Now without Doug Rippy, our best defensive player so far, these guys have to make sure they figure out the basics of defensive football. The Ducks are the best at getting the ball to their playmakers where they can do something with it. We already had a speed problem out there, so no tackling means this won't even be a contest for Oregon. If the guys can tackle, can slip blocks and can stick to their assignments we might have a chance against their second string QB. But we need our guys to be able to bring players down when they are in the right spots. Can we count on that? I sure hope so.
- Greg Henderson is at times, playing very well for us. He's got good speed, but this is Oregon we're talking about. There's only one person on our defense with the kind of speed that the Ducks possess, and that's Ray Polk. He's regressed as a Safety, so that cancels out his speed. We really need our defensive backs to play with their heads up and to know EXACTLY what their assignments are in coverage, otherwise this could get messy. I already am having trouble sleeping when I think about what will happen when Oregon ball- carriers reach the second level against us. And they will, because that's what they do. Henderson is a pretty solid tackler when guys are in front of him, as is Anthony Perkins, but what happens when they're chasing someone down? How many big plays do we give up? Hopefully none, but that's not a realistic expectation. These guys need to do something, because playing like they have been will absolutely not get the job done.
- You know what we need on defense? Big plays. And I don't mean the kind I talked about in the last key matchup, I mean the kind that benefit the defense. A sack/fumble (hello, Chidera Uzo-Diribe), an interception (hello, Ray Polk), or a big tackle for a loss (hello, ...who's left?). We need those plays that we look back on and point to after the game. Those have been few and far between for the Buffs lately. If a guy like Brady Daigh can step in and make something happen, or a Juda Parker or a Terrel Smith, or even one of the older guys can make a play or two like that, things could be interesting for us. Anything that can disrupt their juggernaut of an offense will be amazing for us. Is it too much to ask? Possibly. But someone on this team has to be able to dig deep and find the ability to make it happen. Is this the game that we surprise people? It will happen this year, and it sure would be nice if it happened this week.