All of a sudden, this game looks like it might be our best bet for a conference victory. Despite being one of the best passing teams in the nation, the Wildcats are struggling. Their defense is nearly as depleted as ours, and they are suffering from similar miscues all over the field. Both the Buffs and the Wildcats are limping into this game, so hopefully a little Folsom-magic can help the Buffs pull of the win here. Lets look at the key matchups according to me:
- Paul Richardson vs. Having the Ball in his Hands
- No, this isn't a reference to his big fumble early in the season. This is referencing the fact that he's our most explosive playmaker. Getting him the ball is key for our offense to put up enough points to outscore the Wildcats. The Arizona secondary is almost as embattled and beat up as ours, and P-Rich is they guy who can best take advantage of that. Hopefully a couple of good games by Toney Clemons on the other side will help open things up for him, and he in turn can open things up more for Clemons (and the running game).
- Nobody here will argue that Hansen is one of the most talented QBs in college football, but he has shown the ability to make most of the throws that they want him to in this offense. We need him to play under control and to own this offense against the Wildcats. Their secondary is ripe for torching this week, and only one guy on our team is capable of putting the ball into our receivers hands where they can do something with it. Tyler Hansen, help us to cheer you on in your final game at Folsom Field.
- I'm of the opinion that our offense will work best if Speedy is able to notch 100 yards on the ground AND 100 yards through the air. If we can get the screen game going early, plus keep holes open long enough for Stewart to nab one or two of those 8+ yard rushes, I think we'll be able to move the ball as well as we have all season for the rest of the game against 'Zona. He came close earlier in the season, but fell just short. That would also be a nice way for us to say goodbye to you, Mr. Stewart.
- Nick Foles is a good quarterback. He's big, has a strong arm and they give him a lot of options to throw to. But he is human, and early pressure can knock him out of a groove. It's been the key for beating them all year, and we need to exploit the same weakness everyone else has. Their offensive line was replacing just about everybody this season, and it still shows. Greg Brown needs to use all of the creative blitzes he's got up in that noggin' of his, and get to Foles in the first few snaps. If we can throw off his internal clock and get him to start forcing throws, we can keep them from abusing our secondary as badly as other teams have.
- Anyone else happy to hear that Orms will be starting at cornerback opposite Greg Henderson this week? I certainly was. Embree said that the suspension may have even helped him to finally get healthy. If he has been able to shake some of the rust off over the last two weeks, our secondary will be much improved. I'm not saying it'll be great all of a sudden, but Orms is a guy with good instincts who has played defensive back for more than a few weeks. Arizona tends to play 3, 4 and 5 WR sets, so we'll have some of the other guys out there too, but having Orms back will definitely help.
- We're dealing with a bunch of injuries at safety right now. It would be really nice if Kyle Washington could shake off his concussion symptoms and play, or if Ray Polk's many maladies would allow him to see the field this week. And Anthony Perkins is a guy who deserves to be able to play in his final home game. And if none of them can play, we need Terrel Smith, K.T. Tu'umalo and whoever else takes snaps back there to catch some breaks and play well in their stead. It would be nice to have the ball bounce our way for once this season, and maybe the ju-ju of Senior Day and the final game in a short home schedule will help.
- "Don't you get on that bus, Will Oliver! Don't you do it!" He's been good all season, but last week he let his technique slip for whatever reason and loosed two low kicks right into the arms of the waiting USC blockers. He needs to keep his head up (though not literally, literally he needs to keep his head down and his eyes on the ball!) and not let those mistakes get to him. He's gone through most of the season looking like a veteran, and now he needs to think like one too. He has to be able to let those go, and play like he was earlier in the year.
- Interesting tidbit: I was talking to a guy who is a professional gambler. He was telling me about how there were only two bets he takes every time in college football: two teams with statistically significant homefield advantages. They were the Hawaii Warriors, and our Colorado Buffaloes. Now we're on the cusp of the first season in Folsom Field history that didn't see a single home victory. That cannot happen. Not because my friend is sure to bet on us at home. These Buffaloes must protect their field, and they must show these fans that there's something to come back for next year. They certainly don't want to be the first team to not win a game at Folsom.
- Yes we're overmatched, yes we're less talented, yes we're suffering from injuries at key spots. So what. If teams weren't able to overcome things like that, sports wouldn't be interesting. You wouldn't have Appalachian State over Michigan. You wouldn't have cinderella teams in the NCAA Tournament. You wouldn't have Boise State over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl (sorry Jon). It is absolutely possible to win under the circumstances that we're facing. These coaches need to figure out how, and they need to get these players to believe that again.