Colorado Buffaloes Vs Stanford Cardinal: The Key Matchups

You may not know his name yet, but I bet you'll be very familiar with Stepfan Taylor after our game.

This week, our Colorado Buffaloes hit the road (*shudder*) to take on the Stanford Cardinal. Unlike our Buffs, Stanford gets better each and every week. This game is likely to not be pretty, but Stanford does have some weaknesses that the Buffs can exploit. Of course, they pale in comparison to the weaknesses of our Buffs, but we can only keep making the same mistakes so many times in a row before they get figured out.

So now, without further ado, this week's KEEEEEEEEEEY MATCHUUUUUPS!!!!!!

On Offense:

- The Colorado Buffaloes vs. Starting Slowly

Follow the jump to see if I add extra vowels to more words that don't need them!

  • There are many things we need to fix to make this a good game, but this one is a big one. I'm serious when I say that our defense is looking pretty good this year. It's time that our offense help them out. Stanford started slowly on offense in its first three games (they did break out of it last week, but it's still a concern for them), so we need to come out of the gates faster than we have in a long time. An early lead in this game would do wonders for our defense, and maybe it would allow us to hold onto the ball, keeping it out of the hands of Andrew ‘Peyton Manning of the college game' Luck.

Paul Richardson vs. The Dropsies and Fumblies

  • There were many problems last week, but you can't deny that Richardson dropped a number of big passes throughout the game in addition to having the ball knocked out to end it all. He gets open. He'll get open this week. With the ball in his hands, we have the ability to move the ball in large chunks and score. We need to get the ball into his hands. A few things need to happen for that to go right: We need to call plays to get him the ball. Did we do this last week? Yes. He needs to get open. Did he? Yes. Hansen needs to put the ball on target. Did he? Mostly, yes. Richardson needs to catch the ball. Did he? Not really. After he caught the ball, did Richardson keep possession of it? Except for that last play, yes. So, in the end, we need to do exactly what we did last week, only Richardson needs to come up with the ball, and he needs to protect it with his life.

- Colorado's Offensive Line vs. Blitzing 3-4 Defense

  • Stanford brings pressure from a variety of places. CU's offensive line is still figuring out it's protection calls and how to deal with unconventional pressure. If they can protect Hansen and give him enough time to get the ball out, we have a shot to move the ball. Of course, how we do in the redzone is what matters, so we'll see how that goes...

On Defense:

- Knowing What's Voming vs. Stopping it

  • Stanford's offense is fairly unique in college in this way: They run on running downs and they pass on passing downs. Teams line up on defense essentially knowing what's coming, but they still can't stop it. Of course, it's not that simple, because Stanford has a talented QB and RB duo, an ever improving offensive line, and some offensive sets that give them the ability to run a number of plays with the same personnel. But really, they run the ball early, they pass to their tight ends in the redzone, they are almost predictable. So, we have to be able to deal with that, because better teams than us have been unable to stop them. I do like our defense, but they're going to have to play out of their minds this week.

- Colorado's Linebackers vs. Stanford's Tight Ends

  • This should be one of the most interesting matchups to watch this week in any game. We have a pretty darn good group of linebackers, and Stanford has an EXCELLENT group of tight ends. They are good blockers and very dangerous threats in the passing game. Sure, it won't be all on the LBs to cover them down the field, but the middle of the field will be a battle worth keeping an eye on.

- Our Pass Rush vs. Andrew Luck's Comfort Level

  • I believe we can get to the Heisman candidate. That doesn't necessarily mean we'll sack him, but I believe we can get guys through Stanford's protection schemes. Now, that won't be enough to slow down Stanford's offense, especially because Luck is almost as dangerous with his feet as he is with his arm, but keeping him from getting too comfortable back there will be key to keeping Stanford from just running up the score at their will.

Special Teams/Rest of Team:

Rodney Stewart vs. Special Teams Gaffes & His Workload

  • I know we're all worried about him getting too beat up, but it's hard to argue that we aren't a better team with the ball in his hands more. But he has to use those touches intelligently. He can't keep calling for fair catches inside the 8 yardline. He needs to hit the gas earlier on kickoff returns. And he needs to keep kicking butt in the screen game on offense. If he plays smart, he can be an impact player for us in a number of phases of the game

Jason Espinoza & Brian Lockridge vs. Improvement

  • I'm pretty sure Espy is the only guy in CU history to have had a 100 yard receiving game and a sack in his career**, in the same way that I bet Lockridge is the only guy to have recorded a sack and a 100 yard rushing game in his career. That's novel and interesting, sure, but they needs to play well as defensive backs against The Tree. They won't be on the field quite as much because Stanford doesn't run an offense like WSU that will keep us in our nickel or dime sets the whole game, but I'm certain they will both get their snaps. And when they do, they have to play like they've been DBs their whole careers.

- The Colorado Buffaloes vs. Being Competitive

  • Are they really sick of losing? Has it been enough? I don't expect them to come out and dominate The Tree in this game (because I would be crazy to expect that), but they have the ability to come out and be physical and to make it a game. If they come out believing that they can win, this will be a fun game to watch. If they come out with a bad-loss hangover this game, it will be a tough one to watch.

Okay, folks, we face the #7 team in the country this week. What are your expectations for our Buffs this week? What do you want to see?

**EDIT: My mistake, Espinoza only has a QB Pressure.

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