Keys to the Game - Colorado Buffaloes vs Colorado State Rams

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 04: Running back Rodney Stewart #5 of the Colorado Buffaloes picks up yardage as he eludes line backer Alex Williams #51 of the Colorado State Rams during the the Rocky Mountain Showdown at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 4 2010 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tennessee Logo

0-2, 0-0
NR (Coaches Poll)

September 17th, 2011
Colorado Buffaloes vs.Colorado St. Rams
Where: Mile High Stadium - Denver, CO
11:30am MT

Radio: AM 850 KOA
Live Stats: ESPN
Line: Colorado -7
Sunny, 68 degrees at kickoff

Tennessee Logo

2-0, 0-0
NR (Coaches Poll)


Colorado_mediumSend a Message Early, Keep the Pressure Up

Colorado has fallen behind early in both contests this year. Against Hawaii, CU didn't score until the second half and not before the Warriors put up 17 points. A week later, California took a 16-6 lead into intermission. The Buffs need to start well today, the offense needs a good first drive against a Colorado State team who is missing their best defensive player in LB Mychal Sisson.

We have talked all week about how the Buffs need to be the more physical team when they line up against Colorado State today. Colorado would be wise to get to Rams QB Pete Thomas and not allow him to get in a groove. He has completed 73% of his passes this season. Allowing him to get into a rhythm against a shaky secondary would be trouble.

more after the jump

Colorado_mediumPass Protection Improved, Now Let's Get the Run Game Going

The unit that improved the most from the Hawaii game to the Cal game was the offensive line. After allowing seven sacks to the Warriors, the offensive line responded with two starters out, not allowing one quarterback take-down. This week, let's hope the offensive line brings it all together and gets the run game going. With WR Paul Richardson establishing a big play threat other than RB Rodney Stewart, the CSU defense should be forced to honor the passing game. That should create room for Stewart, who is the only Buff running back with a carry this year.

CU has only averaged 62.5 yards per game on the ground with a very low 2.0 yards per carry. That ranks the Buffs 114th out of 120 in the run department nationally.

Colorado still might be without starting LT David Bakhtiari who is recovering from a sprained knee and listed as questionable. Starting RT Jack Harris is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his leg. With potentially two starters missing, their is always worry about the productivity of the offense. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will have to call a strong game if that is the case.

Colorado_mediumRedzone, Redzone, Redzone

The Buffs scored 33 points last week but still failed to score touchdowns when they got inside the 20 yard line. CU went 0-4 in the redzone scoring touchdowns, making three field goals on those drives and turning the ball over on downs on the other. It was truly the biggest difference in the game. Cal scored five touchdowns on six redzone attempts. Bieniemy has to get more production out of his guys inside the 20.

Colorado_mediumLimit the Mental Mistakes

Mental mistakes and penalties were a deciding factor in the Cal game last week. Look at the penalty numbers: 12 for 98 yards. In overtime, the Buffs' defense had Cal at first and 30 from the 35 yard line. The defense allows WR Keenan Allen to get behind them for a 32 yard gain down to the Colorado three yard line. Cal went on to score two plays later. These are just a few of the reasons why Colorado outplayed and out-gained California but still lost.

The penalties need to stop and the ticky-tack ones like false starts and offsides are on the players to figure out. This has been an issue under Dan Hawkins and now under Jon Embree. It needs to get figured out now.

First drive of the game for Colorado. Buffs are down to the California 18 yard line, 1st and 10. A false start penalty puts CU back to 1st and 15. The Buffs are forced to throw three times, end up in 3rd and 15. Hansen completes a 14 yard pass to Tyler McCulloch. Fourth and one in the redzone, first drive of the game, an opportunity to capitalize on a good CU defensive stand and take a 7-0 lead. Rodney Stewart cannot get the one yard and Cal holds, turning the Buffs over on downs. One penalty sends the Buffs into a 1st, 2nd and 3rd and long. Colorado can't get one yard and leaves the first drive with no points. Missed opportunity.

Cal's third drive of the game. The Buffs had the Bears to third down twice and two pass interference penalties kept the drive going. California went on to score a touchdown and take a 6-3 lead.

First drive of the second quarter, Buffs get a first down then a six yard run by Stewart. Next play, another false start which put the Buffs back in second and long. Two plays later, punt.

You get the point about the penalties. It affected the Buffs in the redzone and forced turnover on downs and field goal attempts instead of touchdowns.

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