Okay, maybe it's not as big a statement as saying it is the biggest game of the year but I firmly believe that this weekend's game against the Florida State Seminoles has more implications on the Colorado Buffaloes' season than the Texas Longhorn game. I realize Texas is a Big 12 game and conference play is very important. I also realize that their is a good amount of Buff hatred towards Texas (I am one of those people) but I have a feeling that the outcome of the Texas game may hinge on this Saturday's contest in Jacksonville. After the FSU game, Buffs fans will have a good idea as to what this team will be able to accomplish, even more so than after the West Virginia game or the Texas game. Here is why:
1) It's game four. All of the offense should be in. Buffs fans saw the "I" formation last week and now teams will have to prepare for both the shotgun and under center style of offense. Teams will have to honor the straight at you runner in Darrell Scott and a slashing runner in Rodney Stewart. The Buffs should now be relatively comfortable with offense by now.
2) The freshman on the offensive line have three games of experience under their belt. Both freshman running backs have shown they can handle the load and be successful. It is now time to see it all come together against a tough defense. This will be a great judgement game for how good our offensive tackles are. FSU will bring athletes from all directions. How well our line communicates and works together will be instrumental in the offenses' success.
3) Let's face it, this is a game the Buffs should win. I realize the line is 6 points in favor of FSU but this is an offensive team that shouldn't push the Buffs around and, if anything, the Buffs should have the advantage in the trenches when the Seminoles have the ball. They scored three points at home against a team in Wake Forest that was missing field goals (3) and turning the ball over (2). I count the missed field goals as turnovers so when it is all said and done, the Demon Deacons gave Florida State plenty of chances to win. To be consider a good team, you need to win games against mediocre teams.
4) Dan Hawkins has had zero success on the road. I guess not zero but the two wins that Hawkins has had while at CU are canceled out by horrendous loses to Kansas State and Iowa State last year. This is a confidence game for the Buffs. I will listen to the argument that in 2006, Hawkins didn't have the talent to compete. I will also listen to the argument that he beat Texas Tech on the road last year and almost pulled out a true shocker at Georgia in 2006. But if this program is to be successful it cannot lose to programs like Kansas State and Iowa State on the road. The only way we as Buffs fans should believe that this program is truly back to being contenders is if they are able to win games on the road. Here is how Hawkins at CU on the road:
|2006||Georgia||13 - 14||Couldn't close the deal, should have won|
|2006||Missouri||13 - 28||Mizzou was a superior team|
|2006||Oklahoma||3 - 24||OU was a superior team|
|2006||Kansas||15 - 20||Kansas was 3 - 5 at the time with only 1 respectable Team (South Florida)|
|2006||Nebraska||14 - 37||Nebraska was a superior team|
|2007||Arizona State||14 - 33||Buffs came out strong, wore down against a better team|
|2007||Baylor||43 - 23||Hawkins first road win against a bad team|
|2007||Kansas State||20 - 47||Probably the second worst loss in the Hawkins era|
|2007||Texas Tech||31 - 26||Best road win of the Hawkins era. Maybe the worst game of Harrell's career|
|2007||Iowa State||28 - 31||I take back that Kstate statement. This is the second worse loss of the e|
5) With the West Virginia style of offense and defense, not many questions were answered about this team. Florida State runs a scheme that will provide answers to our questions. They will come after you from all directions on defense. And on offense, FSU will try to run and pass the ball consistently. The Ralphie Report will be looking for the following answers:
-Is our defensive backfield adequate? Although they might not have a great quarterback, the Seminoles will try to throw it and they have talented WR's with speed and size.
-Is the defensive line the best unit on the team like Dan Hawkins said in training camp? The Seminoles have a pedestrian offensive line and that is being kind. Is the Buffs defensive line pedestrian or a strength of the team?
-Do the Buffs have enough players to pull off this style of offense against a good defense? The Seminoles should have the best defense the Buffs face this season. Can they serve notice to the rest of the Big 12 that they can put up some points?
-Is Cody Hawkins the quarterback of the future? Can he lead a team on the road against a good defense and demand results from his teammates. As the leader of the offense he needs to lead by example and demand that his teammates play as the aggressors, not the team on the road.
6) Finally and maybe most important, how tough is this team? The weather will be hot and muggy. The forecast calls for 86 degrees and 94% humidity. The crowd will be pro-FSU. Many Buffs will have built in distractions with family members and friends currently living in Florida with many possibly in the stands. And I realize that the Seminoles are down compared to their hay days as one of the most dominant teams in college football, but many Buff players grew up idolizing the Florida State Seminoles and their powerful presence. How will the Buffs react to the garnet and gold...how will they respond to the impressive athletes FSU brings out of the tunnel...how will they respond when the going gets tough and they start playing the tomahawk chop...how mature are the Buffs to not make excuses about this game?
I am extremely excited for Saturday. I love to find out about the makings of a team. The Buffs will be tested both mentally and physically. If they can challenge the Seminoles early and hit back when FSU tries to intimidate, I think they can win. If the youngsters become awe struck, the Buffs may make a bad offense look good and allow the fast defense of FSU destroy the confidence of the offense. I can't wait.