Ladies and Gents, your Colorado Buffaloes travel to Pullman, Washington to take on some Cougars coached by a pirate. There is a slight chance that the Buffs are historically bad. Also, the Cougars aren't great, but they seem to be less bad than the Buffs. But of course, we won't know until Saturday afternoon rolls around. Let's take a look at the key match-ups, eh?
- The Coaches vs. Running an Offense - I'm not talking about one specific coach, I'm talking about EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. I can't think of a single unit that is playing at a satisfactory level. It starts up front, where the offensive line has underperformed, while shuffling through lineups because of injury and because they haven't gotten the job done. If there was one positive from that last game (and there were ZERO positives...), it was that guys like Jeromy Irwin and Stephane Nembot got some playing time. I'm hoping they get more. Also, playcalling. Eric Bieniemy will be moving from the booth down to the field, where he can hopefully keep the players focused and excited and from getting down on themselves. Because they've been serially unfocused, unexcited and down on themselves. So that may actually help a lot. Let's hope, because these coaches really need to get this whole 'coaching' thing figured out soon.
- The Colorado Quarterbacks vs. Playing Football - Our quarterbacks haven't been good this season. It sounds like we may stick with some sort of QB rotation. I can't say I'm in favor of that, but it boils down to this: whoever is out there for us at QB needs to play better--SIGNIFICANTLY better--than any of the guys who have taken snaps for us so far this season. They may not have thrown any interceptions before last week, but that doesn't mean they were playing well, and we all know how last week went. It really doesn't matter who it is, they just need to be better.
- The Colorado Receivers vs. WSU's Defensive Backs - Washington State isn't great on defense, and they're particularly susceptible in the back seven. I know we don't have the most talented group of wideouts, but these guys should be able to do some damage in Pullman. Gerald Thomas is a guy who could easily go for 100 yards against this unit, and every single one of them needs to make sure they actually catch the passes that are thrown their way. They need to get over the collective-dropsies that have plagued us, and soon.
- The Cougar Receivers vs. CU's Youth in the Defensive Backfield - I have seen some nice plays out of each of Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley and Marques Mosely, but they haven't done a great job as a unit (plus Orms and Smith). It's partly a coaching problem, but it's also a confidence and execution problem. They're going to be facing a unit that includes one superstar, and a bunch of other guys who can make them pay, and they're going to need to be on every single play. They won't get a break all game, and we saw just how vulnerable the Buffs can be down the field against Fresno State. If these guys can start putting all that talent to use, it's going to go a long way towards improving this team.
- The Entire Colorado Defense vs. The Middle of the Field - This was an issues last season as well, but it's become painfully obvious in 2012, but we can't defend the middle of the field. It's mostly a shared failing of the linebackers and safeties, but there is some blame that can be thrown at the defensive line as well. Basically, our defense never seems to leave anyone in the middle of the field. It's been a curious thing for a while and we haven't fixed it. It can't be our defensive strategy, because it keeps killing us, so I don't know what the answer is. but I'm hoping that they all get this figured out soon.
- The WSU Offensive Line vs. CU's Youth in the Interior of the Defensive Line - Josh Tupou, Tyler Hennington, Jusin Solis, Nate Bonsu. One of those guys has seen some time before this year, but it's been a while since he's been effective. The other three are true freshmen that are all being asked to step up at a position where it generally takes some time to adjust to the change in level. And so far, they haven't got it all figured out. After the WSU game, we face a string of teams with offensive lines that are pretty darn good. This may be our last chance to get these guys on track, so hopefully that's exactly what happens. This defense (and entire team) really needs this to happen.
- I said it last week, but we could really use some big, momentum shift type plays from our special teams. We got one last week (though there have been few stronger cases of 'too little too late') on our punt coverage unit, but we're going to need more. Better field position would at least help our confidence a little bit