The Buffs welcome the Nicholls (State) Colonels to Boulder this weekend and Nicholls is not a very good football team. They haven't won a game since October 12th, 2013. On that day, the Colonels romped over the Northwestern State Demons 33-21. Since, they've lost 20 straight and have struggled mightily in every phase of the game.
Now, we all know damn well that under no circumstance should any team ever be taken lightly. Wisely, the Buffs elected to watch some terrifying found-footage of the Sacramento State debacle this week so now there's nothing to worry about. Here are three ways players, coaches, and fans can make the most of Saturday's scrimmage-that-counts.
Guys who usually don't see a high number of reps or are buried beneath the two-deep should get plenty of run on Saturday. The starters will probably play the first quarter and into the second. I don't expect them to be on the field for much, if any, of the second half. This will be a great live-game opportunity for guys in the so-called skill positions such as Kyle Evans, Jordan Gehrke, Lee Walker, Donovan Lee, and Dylan Keeney to get some work in and make some plays out on Folsom Field. Up front, in addition to some of the younger linemen who will get some burn, I'd look for Vincent Arvia and Ed Caldwell to get playing time. Both are senior walk-on linemen and each saw a few snaps against UMass, they'll enjoy some time in the sun on Saturday.
Defensively, this gives guys more live work in Jim Leavitt's scheme and that can only be a good thing. There's only so many times you can line up against your own teammates before the gains level off. Encountering different looks and seeing varied skill sets helps further this emerging unit's growth. Importantly, it also gives Rick Gamboa and N.J. Falo more time on the field, and Gamboa was already making plays filling in for Addison Gillam against CSU. Really, this is better than a true bye week (provided everyone stays healthy, I knocked on wood and ran around my chair, it's fine.) Games like this one simultaneously keep the team in a weekly rhythm while allowing for key guys to get some rest. This contest will also provide valuable situational work in scenarios that count, and should help to continue to build this group's confidence.
As for the coaches, they'll no doubt want to keep things fairly vanilla with a massive test looming just a week away and the gauntlet only just beginning. But, they can try some things and plug some guys in other positions and see more of what they're working with. The staff has already announced they'll be moving Donovan Lee to tailback, a shift made more out of necessity than experimentation sure, but it signifies they're willing to see how far their depth goes and to mix things up.
There's no substitute for game action, even in what promises to be a lopsided contest, and this staff can use this game to fine tune and make adjustments before embarking upon Pac-12 play. Football mostly comes down to execution and timing, two things that can be developed by playing games no matter the opponent. Matching up against Nicholls provides an opportunity to focus on technique and positioning as well. CU is still a young team and every second of playing time makes a difference. Even though the Buffaloes would still require four conference wins to go bowling without this game, I think the coaches would agree that there is a great deal of value in actually playing the thing.
Soak It Up
In high school, during a heated game against a cross-town rival in late October, our band director made an odd decision. In the fourth quarter, on a chilly night, with the game still very much on the line, he struck up the 2002 Sheryl Crow hit "Soak Up the Sun" during a timeout. This was a wildly inappropriate move. Tomorrow, it would be an acceptable decision. Encouraged, even. So if you're having trouble getting motivated for this game, just get on up, make yourself some tasty breakfast tailgate treats and take a leisurely stroll through campus as the leaves start to turn. Soak up some Colorado sun at #CasualFolsom, and be home with plenty of time to catch the late afternoon games and what promises to be a rousing edition of #Pac12AfterDark. CU wins have been all too rare of late, enjoy each one as it comes.