I'm not going to in-depth, as our own Matt Sparkman did a wonderful job of that here. I will say this: The Buffaloes were steamrolled. Call it Dee Hart, call it horrible run D, or call it a little bit of both, but CU was embarrassed on national television. All is not lost, however. There were quite a few bright spots from that game, especially in the first half. Starting in the 1st quarter, the offense was moving up and down the field. Consistent yards on the ground, deep shots connecting, the Buffs were firing on all cylinders. Life was so simple back then. We had control of the game and the ball at the two yard line, and then BAM! everything changed. Max Morgan stuffed Christian Powell on 3rd and goal. CSU crunched life back into its team. The rest is history. Dee Hart ran through and around CU for most of the 2nd half, CSU scored 24 straight points, and Buff faithful were sent into an uproar. This week, things should return back to normal.
Mark Whipple was brought in again to coach UMass back to respectability. He had great success there in his previous stint, winning the FCS (Div. 1-AA, whatever it's called) championship his first year there in 1998. He bounced around the NFL as a QB coach, was the OC for Miami for a bit, and now he's back where he's most revered. He makes his money as a coach on the offensive side of the ball. He is known as a good mind for putting the ball in the end zone, and his "Whiplash" offense did well for the Minutemen last time. (Side note: Why don't we have a dope name for our offense? It should be really easy, given the words we have to work with. Buff offense for strong packages, The Herd for spread (or multiple backs), and Stampede for the overall concept. *sigh* another day.) In his first game of his second stint, UMass showed a little life at the end. Tajae Sharp made some nice plays on his 77 yard TD catch and J.T. Blyden made some nice plays in the 4th quarter. Their QB, Blake Frohnapfel, is a bit of a wild card. His completion percentage last game was dismal, and he didn't make the best decisions, though he seems to have talent and that counts for something. UMass's bright spot is its offense, however dim it may be.
The defense for UMass is not super exciting right now, as they are just starting to feel out their new scheme. Their 3-4 gave up 5.5 yards per rush against BC, and while CU would gladly take that last week, most functioning CFB teams would call that undesirable. Maybe they get more situated against CU, but they looked like a team that was confused and out-of-place. They have some athletes on that side of the ball, highlighted by Randall Jette, and they could cause CU some problems. Not much information is available on this side of the ball, but they seem to have no one group that is better than others. If I had to pick one group, I would say their secondary is their best group, with an interesting blend of talent and experience. Overall, this group is very non-descript and not easy to write about. I would say that CU should be able to move the ball against them, but we all know what kind of team we are dealing with here. Fun Fact: UMass currently leads college football in tackles. Take that as you may.
Quick Hitter Predictions
CU's Oline vs. UMass's Dline - Advantage: CU. The offensive line showed well for CU against CSU, and it should be no different here. UMass generated no sacks last week, so at least to the rudimentary eye they have some work to do up front.
UMass's Oline vs. CU's Dline - Advantage: Push. I refuse to give CU's line any benefit of the doubt, no matter who the opponent is. They must prove they can push back and play hard. If they do that, a lot of my doubts are alleviated.
CU's QB vs. UMass's DB's - Advantage: Slightly CU. Sefo Liufau played well last week, and Nelson Spruce even better. UMass's strength of the defense is arguably in the secondary, but I doubt they can stop Sefo from picking his spots on the field. Jette may make this interesting.
UMass's QB vs. CU's DB's - Advantage: This is just not fair for Blake Frohnopfel. He didn't do so hot last game, and now he is going up against one of the better secondaries he will face all year. I don't give him much of a chance in this one.
CU's Skill Players (WR, TE, RB) vs. UMass's Back 7 (LB's and DB's) - Advantage: CU. Nelson Spruce should toy with these DB's on Saturday, and that is more of a praise of Spruce than an indictment on the Minutemen. Another prediction from a shameless Adkins fanboy: his first 100 yard game this year comes now.
UMass's Skill Players vs. CU's Back 7 - Advantage: Slightly CU. Tajae Sharp looks great so far (again), and Blyden has potential. However, neither will match up to Gillam and Henderson. I think CU's superior talent wins out here, but I really like Sharpe.
Special Teams - Advantage: UMass. We did not look super on ST week, and some out of the endzone kickoffs would be appreciated. UMass does have a pretty good return game and the Buffs should be wary.
The Buffaloes got stampeded in Week 1. No way around it. I 'm looking for a sign that Coach Mac can get his team to fight again. As you can see above, I think the Buffs have no excuse not to win. They should come out fast, they should come out loose, and they should come out passionate. I want so badly for Colorado to roll from the get-go, but I think after we score early, we let up around halftime and let them creep back in the game. I think CU wins 31-20, and I think CU fans can breathe easy through most of this game. It's the breath of fresh air that we need.