Thursday, September 30, 2010

Throttling Down

Yesterday we popped the clutch on offense. Today let's throttle down with the defense.

This Colorado offense is more perplexing than the defense. Although I would argue that the defenses Aaron Murray and company have faced are inarguably tougher, the Buffaloes' offense seems to have series of hits and misses very similar to the Dawgs' this season. 
Some of the same old problems that have led to four consecutive losing seasons have tripped up this season`s team, including penalties, missed assignments and players trying to do more than what they have been asked to do. Then there have been moments of brilliance featuring the athleticism and determination fans have hungered to see.
McKnight and quarterback Tyler Hansen correctly pointed out Tuesday that the offense and special teams have generally put the defense in bad situations in the early going this year. If the Buffs can play better in those two phases of the game, they should be in position to win more games because the defense is playing well enough to win.
At quarterback, it's all Tyler Hansen. He's thrown all 85 passes this season, completing 54 of them (63.5%) for 558 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's also thrown 4 INTs in three games, most of which came in their loss to California.

At running back, Rodney Stewart (#5) is the workhorse with 67 carries for 253 yards, including 106 yards in the win against Hawaii. But Brian Lockridge (#20) is their burner. After getting little in the way of carries the first two games, Lockridge exploded on Hawaii for 109 yards on 14 carries. At 5'7" and 185 lbs, this Carlton Thomas sized back seems to be a good set up for a screen pass. But ironically, he is seldom used as a receiver. He had one catch in '07 (for 22 yards) and just 3 last season. So far this season he has one for -2 yards.

And at receiver, Scotty McKnight (#21) and Toney Clemons (#17) are the go to guys as they have accounted for nearly half of Hansen's completions and 3 of his 4 TDs. But the Buffs have a total of 11 players with at least a reception. For the most part, Colorado uses "groupings" when substituting, meaning they send in packages of players for specific situations or play calls. They have two TEs with catches, but it appears that Walters (#81) is used to block primarily while Deehan (#34) also has 7 catches for 83 yards.

All in all, Coach Hawkins wants balance in the play calls. However, their difficulty running the ball has proven to be an obstacle that Dawg fans are all too familiar with. California was able to hold the Buffs to 73 yards on 42 carries. If Georgia can come close to replicating that and force some third and longs, Hansen may help us with some turnovers.

Along those lines, one thing I'll be paying particularly close attention to is our d-line rotation. I'm still curious as to why Geathers didn't play in Starkville. Garner I'm sure would rather go with Tyson's experience, but Kwame has matched him in tackles in fewer snaps. Plus he just seems to get in the backfield more so I'd like to see him get in the mix in Boulder given our lack of pressure up front.

Colorado's o-line isn't the largest we'll see, but they definitely have SEC size (average 304 lbs) and plenty of experience. Right Guard David Bakhtiari (#59) is the only underclassmen who isn't buried on their depth chart. He's a RS Freshman who stands 6' 4" and weighs 290. The rest are juniors and redshirt seniors. So we don't get any favors this week in the trenches.

However, I still feel like our defense should match up well against CUs offense. Hopefully Grantham can avoid the early scores that have hurt us the last 3 weeks. If we can do that and successfully stop the run with seven guys, that should bode pretty well for a victory in Boulder.

No comments: