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Keys To The Game: Colorado Buffaloes Vs. Utah Utes

Tennessee Logo

2-10, 1-7
NR (Coaches Poll)

November 25, 2011
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Utah Utes
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium - Salt Lake City, Utah
1:30pm MT
TV: Root Sports
Radio: AM 850 KOA
Live Stats: ESPN
Line: Utah -22
Partly Cloudy, 48 degrees at kickoff

Tennessee Logo

7-4, 4-4
NR (Coaches Poll)

The Buffs finish up their first year in the Pac-12 against the Utah Utes, the other new team to join the conference this season. Both teams got off to a rough start but Utah responded and has rattled off four conference wins in a row while the Buffs have continued their downward spiral. Utah is in the driver's seat at home to win the Pac-12 South and play in the conference championship next week.

After a very disappointing loss last week to UCLA, Colorado has one last chance to snap the 23 road losing streak this year. If not, once again this team will be faced with the same questions about mental toughness, preparation and the desire to win this offseason. A win looks unlikely due to a Utah team that has developed a stellar running game and a defense that is ranked in the top three of the Pac 12 in all major categories.

Colorado_mediumMake Utah Win Through The Air

The last four weeks, Utah has won with a commitment to the running game. They have attempted at least forty rushes over the past four with two games over 200 yards. They have not thrown for over 200 yards in those four and have had under 70 in two of those games. Clearly, Utah wants to control the line of scrimmage, wear down the opposition's defense and control the clock. The Utes also have a great turnover margin so they don't beat themselves. Colorado needs to load the box and force QB Jon Hays to beat them. Hays has only completed 55% of his passes and has 7 interceptions to 8 touchdowns since taking over for former Colorado commit Jordan Wynn.

It doesn't help that the Buffs gave up 328 yards on the ground last week.

Colorado_mediumA Broken Record: Don't Lose The Game In The First Five Minutes

Not going to lie, it has been a while since I have watched a complete game on the road. Usually its is over by halftime, end of the third quarter at the latest. Last week, after guaranteeing victory and talking more than they should have the days before the game, CU was behind 14-0 less than four minutes in. It was over before the first adult beverage was consumed. That has been a common theme for this team over the past 23 losses. This squad isn't built to comeback. If Colorado gets behind early, chalk up loss #24 on the road. It would be nice to have a competitive game for four quarters.

Colorado_mediumPaging The Tyler Hansen To Paul Richardson Connection

The Cal game feels like a long time ago, doesn't it? The last three weeks, Richardson has five receptions for 36 yards and no scores. WR Toney Clemons has been more productive potentially with extra attention going Richardson's way but their has to be a way to get your best playmaker the ball more than six times (one rush over the past three games as well). Last week, the offense had no punch, no pop. Richardson can provide the pop if given the opportunity.

Colorado_mediumSet Yourself Up For Success

One of the great stats the Colorado SID puts out each week is a breakdown of third downs by distance. Against UCLA, CU went 3-13 on third down. As it has been all year and is usually the case for any football team, the Buffs are pretty successful on third and less than five and poor when faced with third and long. A week ago, Colorado went 3 for 4 on third down when the yards to gain was less than five. They went 0 for 9 when longer than five yards. Amazing stat but it tells you poor execution on first and second down coupled with penalties kills drives. Part of this is getting behind early and throwing the ball on first and second down unsuccessfully. Part is losing the battle in the trenches.

Colorado_mediumPlay With Passion

Just waiting for this team to respond to the new coaching staff on the road. Still looks like the same intimidated, lackadaisical, unprepared team when away from Boulder. A little attitude, a little fire on the road would be good to see.