Our Colorado Buffaloes currently sit at 0-1 and are preparing to face an opponent that just barely edged them out last year by a score of 52-7. This time around, it figures to be a different matchup, but will the outcome still be the same? It is a home game for CU (where we have been better) and a road game for Cal (where they have been worse), and changes in personnel and coaches. Will any of that actually matter in the end?
- The CU Offensive Line vs. A Whole Bunch Of Factors
- First (obviously) will be the Cal front 7. They are probably better than Hawaii's, but they aren't as good as they were last year. Our offensive line had a poor showing last year and last week, but there's a solid chance that they show some improvement from week 1 to week 2. Of course, a Cal fan will tell you that Coach Marshall's unit will only get worse (as their offensive line did the last two seasons under his watch). Hopefully we don't see that happen, and hopefully David Bakhtiari's knee is feeling good enough for him to play more than the few minutes that he did against The Warriors. I'm not kidding when I say his presence will make a huge difference.
- The Offensive Gameplan vs. Execution
- I think most of the playcalls were solid against Hawaii, but we couldn't execute well enough to make much happen. Things worked in spurts and our screen-passes worked very well, but there were still issues. Hopefully Coach Bieniemy will be able to spend the week focusing on improving at least a couple of areas that we weren't great in. I believe this team will get it at some point. Maybe not this week, but if they can improve on something-on anything-I'll be happy. Some of the things we did worked, and having Paul Richardson out there means that we'll be able to put some points on the board in any game. I think this coaching staff tried to fix too much on offense all at once.
- Tyler Hansen vs. His Composure
- For a fifth-year senior, he sure was uncomfortable in the pocket. He didn't step up when he could, he felt phantom pressure, and he held the ball too long. Of course, he had reasons to be rattled. Hawaii was getting pressure on him and there were plenty of breakdowns on the offensive line. But he was doing it before all of that happened. He needs to be a calming, intelligent force that give our other offensive players confidence. He needs to be the steadying force. I know the coaches will be making sure he knows that, so hopefully he steps up this week. He has reasons to get up for the game this week, but can he truly be the guy? Because we need him to be.
- The Secondary vs. An Incredibly Talented Duo
- Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones are two of the best receivers in the conference. They each had more than 100 yards receiving, with Jones snagging two TDs. Their QB doesn't have nearly the passing ability that Moniz did, but we held him in check pretty well. But while he isn't the passer that ‘Mighty Mo' was, the Cal receivers are far more athletic than the ones we saw. Obviously, our ability to pressure QB Zach Maynard will help, as will Coach Brown's gameplan...speaking of which:
- CU Defense vs. A QB That Is Known To Run The Ball
- After the first long run by Moniz, coach Greg Brown actually had guys in position to prevent the QB from beating us with his feet. They lost containment, which is something that will hurt us even more this week. Maynard is a dynamic runner (unlike Moniz, who is an opportunistic runner), and will make us pay dearly if we make the same mistakes we did against Hawaii.
- The Defensive players vs. An Offensive Meltdown
- One thing that we've seen happen before is the defense trying to do too much. If (and recently, it hasn't been an ‘if') the offense has been struggling, the defense starts to press too hard in order to overcompensate. It never works. The defensive coaches need to be able to keep these guys heads screwed on straight if our offense struggles again, and keep them focused on their assignments play-to-play. If they can do that, I do have faith in the talent we've got scattered around the defense.
Overall, this game looks tough. But I do know one thing: we can't start slowly like we did against Hawaii. There will be no time for us to find a rhythm, we need to establish it right away.