Colorado Buffaloes vs. UCLA Bruins: Key Match-Ups

Doug Pensinger

Colorado, still winless in Pac-12 play, heads to Los Angeles to take on a reeling Bruins squad

An ugly second half against Arizona nearly caused Mike MacIntyre to lose his temper in his postgame press conference. Fortunately, MacIntyre collected himself before he had a chance to deliver a Dan Hawkins-esque "it's division one football!" sound bite. This Saturday will almost assuredly be another long day at the office for MacIntyre. After playing toe-to-toe with No. 2 Oregon for the better part of three quarters, No. 17 UCLA gave up 28 unanswered points in the final 17:57, suffering their second loss of the season. After falling to No. 12 Stanford and Oregon in consecutive weeks, the Bruins will be desperate to return to the win column.

Offense:

  • Michael Adkins II & Paul Richardson vs. Injury - The second half of the Arizona game took a turn for the comically tragic in the fourth quarter when Richardson picked up 20 yards on a catch and run, only to stay down on the field, grabbing his ankle. A day later, he tweeted a picture of his ankle in his boot, while MacIntyre called him day-to-day in his Tuesday press conference. However, Wednesday, Richardson tweeted that he got rid of the leg boot, and that he would play. Adkins suffered a concussion against the Wildcats, and was also listed as day-to-day. The loss of Adkins would be a huge blow to an already struggling offense.
  • Sefo Liufau vs. Locking Into His Target - After a pretty impressive first quarter against Arizona, where he completed 9-of-11 passes, Liufau's evening headed south. He began to lock into his target, resulting in a significant decline in his completion percentage and a second-half interception. That being said, I was really impressed with the job Liufau did in the first quarter (when the running game was averaging under two yards per carry). He's just got to avoid mistakes that you might expect from a true freshman quarterback.
  • Jack Harris & Stephane Nembot vs. Anthony Barr & Myles Jack - The Colorado offense has been pretty dismal (105th nationally) on third down. The Buffs have only moved the chains on 32.5 percent of their third down opportunities this season, which coincidentally, is the same percentage the UCLA defense gives up on third down, good enough for 20th in the NCAA. According to MacIntyre, a huge part of the Bruins' third down success can be attributed to Jack and Barr, both linebackers. "They come off the edge and they wreak havoc and they cause problems," said MacIntyre. Harris and Nembot will have to be solid if Liufau has any hope of bailing the Buffs out in third down situations.

Defense

  • Colorado Secondary vs. Brett Hundley - Hundley has as much to do with UCLA's turnaround over the past two seasons as anyone. In his freshman season, Hundley set school records for passing yards, total offense, and completions. Hundley already sits in fifth place in UCLA career passing yards, and will likely catch record-holder Cade McNown for the top spot, if Hundley remains in Westwood for two more seasons, which could become a big if. Hundley will be eligible for the NFL draft after this season. Oregon and Stanford may have brought Hundley back to earth a little bit, but Colorado's secondary will have their hands full.
  • Greg Henderson vs. Shaquelle Evans - Evans has made an immediate impact since his 2010 transfer from Notre Dame. A dynamic combination of explosiveness and consistency, Evans has recorded a reception in each of his last 22 games. Last year, CU held Evans in check (only three catches for 30 yards). They'll need to do the same this year in Los Angeles.
  • Colorado Pass Defense vs. Xavier Su'a Filo - Colorado might actually have an opportunity here. Su'a Filo, an outstanding guard, was moved over to left tackle last week after Simon Goines' MCL injury. Last week, UCLA gave up three sacks against the Ducks. Perhaps the Buffs can benefit from Su'a Filo's lack of experience at the left tackle position.
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