After a 27-23 loss to UCLA last week, the Colorado Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) return to Boulder to host the Arizona Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) Saturday. Will the Buffs contain Arizona dual-threat quarterback Brandon Dawkins enough to earn their first conference win? RalphieReport.com managing editor Jon Woods and contributor Jeff Hauser joined me via Slack to breakdown the game against the Wildcats.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:02 PM]
We're back! The Colorado Buffaloes host the Arizona Wildcats Saturday still seeking their first conference win. Let's start with initial thoughts on this game.
Jeff Hauser [9:06 PM]
I like Colorado's chances for win in a return home. The Buffaloes are still searching for their first conference win of the season and can still pull positives from the losses against Washington and UCLA. It's time for a statement win and for MacIntyre to shake off the preseason jitters.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:08 PM]
Couldn't agree more Jeff. Buffs are 6.5 point favorites at Folsom. Perfect time to right the ship. As for the game itself, Arizona enters the game averaging 296 rushing yards per contest, most of which is coming from their dynamic dual-threat quarterback Brandon Dawkins. How will the Buffs try to slow this Wildcats rush offense?
Colorado coach Mike Macintyre said that Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins reminds him of Colin Kaepernick in terms of his athleticism.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) October 3, 2017
Jon Woods [9:16 PM]
Back to the first question for a sec, this is a huge game for Montez to improve on the steps he took in the UCLA game. A game where he played very well but didn’t get the support he needed from the rest of the offense, specifically the offensive line and wide receivers. Turning to the Arizona rush game I think you have to look to the Utah game plan we saw in Tucson. Hold the big gains and let the Cats make mistakes.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:19 PM]
I'm not too concerned with the Wildcats passing offense. Buffs may want to stack the box and let Dawkins beat them with his arm.
Jeff Hauser [9:24 PM]
Dawkins has been a phenom since starting as a true freshman two years ago. He's a dual-threat quarterback, but faces a dramatically different looking Buffaloes defense from last season. Colorado has given up the third least amount of rushing touchdowns in the Pac-12 this season with a total of five. Forcing pressure on Dawkins will be the key. It was the game plan Utah used and Dawkins went 24-of-42, 248 yards passing, one touchdown and three interceptions. The flip side of that is he'll take off and run at least ten times a game. Colorado will have to minimize "garbage yards" after contact.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:28 PM]
Jon brought up Montez earlier, so let's switch gears to the Buffs offense. Obviously, the dropped passes were an issue last game, but did you guys like the different play-calling vs. UCLA? Do you think we'll see something similar vs. Arizona?
Jon Woods [9:31 PM]
I don’t think we SHOULD see different play calling. That was, in my opinion, the best game plan we’ve seen from the Buffs so far this season (outside of that phenomenal drive against the Huskies). But the execution just wasn’t there. I think you make some slight tweaks and if it’s executed well I don’t see Arizona slowing the offense down.
Jeff Hauser [9:33 PM]
No, not at all. Stick to the basics of Montez and his style of play. He'll face a learning curve with any offense, but it's time to air it out and use the talented receiving corps more. Jon, the first drive in the Washington game looked perfect because it was the first set of scripted plays. Maybe it's time for the Buffaloes to script more drives? With a young quarterback like Steven Montez, it will build confidence and provided a structure.
Jon Woods [9:37 PM]
I just don’t know how much you can get away with that if it’s not the first drive of either half.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:40 PM]
Would love to see Montez air it out. That's what this offense has really been missing this season, the big play. Just going to throw this out there, is this a MUST win for the Buffs?
Jeff Hauser [9:46 PM]
Colorado needs momentum after dropping two straight. Wins over Arizona and Oregon State would give the extra boost needed going into Oct. 21's meeting in Pullman with No. 11 Washington State. For the current bowl picture, this game is a must win.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:47 PM]
Finish this sentence. Buffs defeat the Wildcats if_______?
Jeff Hauser [9:49 PM]
The offense rolls and Montez plays mistake-free.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:51 PM]
Couldn't agree more Jeff. Ok, before we end this, let's get final predictions for Saturday's game.
Jeff Hauser [9:51 PM]
Colorado wins big and makes a statement.
Anthony Kazmierczak [9:52 PM]
I like the Buffs big as well, 37-14.
Jon Woods [9:54 PM]
It’s absolutely a must win. Colorado loses this game and we have to re-examine all of our expectations and really begin to wonder if there might be a tailspin. However, I don’t think there’s much of a change of that happening. I go Buffs 34-24 with the game not really seeming as close as the score.