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Colorado Buffaloes Vs UCLA Bruins: The Key Matchups

Ahhh, the UCLA game. One I've been waiting for all season. It's the only game I get to see in person this season, so Buffaloes, you had better win this one for me! Lets look at the key matchups for the showdown between the UCLA Bruins and the Colorado Buffaloes!

On Offense:

- Eric Bieniemy vs. Keeping the Mojo Coming!

  • I'm sure you all noticed, but our offensive coordinator called an absolutely PERFECT game against the Wildcats! He's had his moments all season, and the Wildcats defense isn't one to write home about, but he also made great calls throughout the entire contest. He needs to keep his playcalling mojo going this week. He's never called the plays before, so it's understandable that he's had to settle into a groove, I just hope he's found it. We have talented skill players in Speey, P-Rich, T-Clem & Co., he just needs to keep putting them in positions to be successful. I like this trend to continue this week!
Rodney Stewart vs. The 200 yard game
  • I was incorrect about how he had to do it last week, but I was right in saying/predicting that he would need to go for 200 yards from scrimmage for our offense to be successful. Now I imagined that more of his yards would be through the air, but I'm just fine with 180+ yard rushing days, believe me. But our offense has been best when he's hitting the 200 mark in total yards. We went away from the screen game finally, because teams were keying in on it, so maybe the fact that we abandoned screens all together last week will open that facet of the game up for us against the Bruins. Or maybe it will disappear for another game...we'll see!
Toney Clemons vs. Beast Mode
  • I know I'm stealing 'Beast Mode' from a certain former Cal RB, but Clemons laid claim to the title against the Wildcats. Not only was he untouchable one-on-one, but he was an absolute monster blocking down field both on runs and on passes to his fellow wideouts. He played well in all facets of the game, and was huge for our offense. As Paul Richardson continues to work his way back from the knee injury (and hopefully we'll see him this week after he suffered a concussion against 'Zona), we need Clemons to keep playing at this level.
On Defense:

- The Defensive Line vs. Their Best Utah Impression
  • Why should they impersonate the Utes this week? Besides the fact that Utah has one of the best run defenses in the conference, they absolutely manhandled UCLA's offensive line and threw their offense into disarray. Now we don't have the horses (or the football players...) up front that the Utes do, but our guys have shown the ability to be effective. We need Will Pericak, Curtis Cunningham, Conrad Obi, David Goldberg and the defensive ends to play a perfect game to disrupt UCLA's potent running game. Their pistol offense isn't the easiest to defend, but they also have been inconsistent this season. While that has mostly meant that they're good at home (where we play on Saturday) and bad on the road, that isn't the cause. We need our boys up front to really step up.
- The Middle of the Defense vs. Tall Tight Ends...
  • Stanford had an easy time attacking the middle of the field with their tight ends (and their wideouts), and UCLA boasts another tall and talented pass-catcher at the tight end position. Joseph Fauria, the nephew of a certain former Buff, also happens to be a pretty good tight end. I guess it runs in the family. But he's every bit of 6'8", and keeping him from having a big day will be a tall task (pun intended). Having injured defensive backs returning to the field helps, but he will still pose a matchup issue for us. We need to be very tight in our coverages up the middle of the field, so guys like Jon Major, Patrick Mahnke and whoever plays safety for us (Ray Polk? Anthony Perkins? Travis Sandersfeld? Terrel Smith? Kyle Washington?) need to stay close to UCLA's big TE when he's trying to get open.
- Greg Brown's Deception vs. Kevin Prince's Bad Decisions
  • Coach Brown, I'm depending on you to disguise your coverages and to create pressure and penetration all game. Because Prince has shown the ability to effectively run the pistol, but he also has shown the ability to make bad decisions and succumb to pressure. If we can slow down their running game with some very gap-disciplined play and the more-than-occasional Buff in the backfield, we can take away UCLA's offense.
Special Teams & Whole Team:

- CU Buffaloes vs. Having Fun
  • It looked like they were having fun for the first time all year last week, and I'm not just talking about late in the game. From the very start, they played with energy, focus and the kind of swagger we haven't seen around the program very often lately. They need to keep "playing loose," as Coach Embree puts it. They look like a totally different team when they have that energy. And that is a very, very good thing.
Darragh O'Neill vs. His Coaches
  • Darragh, this one's just for you. If a coach tells you to rugby punt, all you need to do is tell him to "MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Please, for all of us, tell them to stop. I think you're a very talented punter, Darragh, so I feel like the coaches would be okay with you calling a normal punt instead of those stupid, "much less cool than the sport they're named after" kicks that never actually work. Just kick the ball out of bounds if you're worried about the returner, though you don't have to be against UCLA. On punts, Taylor Embree fields the kick (yes, that Taylor Embree), and he will remind you of an easier to tackle Jason Espinoza. For as great as Espy has been for us this season in switching positions and everything, I don't think anyone anywhere would have you believe he was a good punt returner. Anyway, my point is this: please, CU, no more friggin' rugby punts. ****Late Night Addition: I watched Jon Embree's Tuesday presser and he was asked about the rugby punts: They're going to reevaluate the use of them (or having them at all) this offseason. Thank goodness!
- Colorado vs. The Road Losing Streak
  • JUST DO IT ALREADY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!! JEEZ!!!!!!!!!
...Sorry for all of the yelling