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Colorado v. Central Arkansas: The Return of Folsom Field

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by allbuffs, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. allbuffs

    allbuffs Administrator

    Nov 12, 2010
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    by: Mat Smith

    “….Here comes Ralphie….!” Cue the band, open the gate and turn her loose!​
    The Colorado Buffaloes Football program is set to play their home opener on Saturday night at 6:07pm when the Central Arkansas Bears visit Boulder. UCA enters the game ranked fifth overall in the FCS Coaches Poll and seventh overall in the FCS Sports Network Poll. On the opening weekend of the 2013 season, seven FCS teams beat FBS teams, including Eastern Washington’s 49-46 last minute victory over fellow Pac 12 member, #25 Oregon State. CU is 1-2 against FCS teams all time, including last season’s embarrassing home loss to Sacramento State, 30-28.
    UCA went 9-3 on their way to a Southland Conference Championship including impressive wins over teams like national runner-up Sam Houston State. The Bears return 16 starters from a year ago including Southland Conference (SLC) Player of the Year, Senior QB Wynrick Smothers (pronounced Win-Rick). Out of the 11 starters on the defensive side of the football, only two are underclassmen. At the helm sits 2012 SLC Coach of the Year, Head Coach Clint Conque (pronounced Conk). He is the school’s all-time head coaching leader and is one win shy of 100 for his career at UCA, 99-54. Central Arkansas started off their season last week with a 58-7 thumping of SLC newcomer, Incarnate Word at home. Smothers completed 27-31 for 267 yards and one touchdown in UCA’s 13[SUP]th[/SUP]-straight home win.
    The Buffaloes are coming off their best performance in years, reclaiming their state and tasting the sweet elixir of victory, 41-27 over Colorado State in the 2013 Rocky Mountain Showdown. Prior to kickoff, even those who had been around the team closely leading up to the contest did not have a feel for the game. Some people who have been around the area 50 to 60 years, with absolutely no idea what to think about the game they were about to watch. The Buffs would make their debut under Head Coach Mike MacIntyre in triumphant fashion, setting records along the way. Junior QB Connor Wood, making just the second start of his collegiate career would set an all-time single game school record with a QB efficiency rating of 166.3, the highest number ever for a CU QB with at least 40 pass attempts. This was the same guy who many had concerns about, questioning his mental toughness and confidence. After not having played in a game since 2011 and coming off ACL surgery that eliminated the entirety of the 2012 season, WR Paul Richardson looked better than ever on his way to earning Pac 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Buffs would return a recovered fumble for a touchdown for the first time since the 2011 campaign.
    Coach Mac could not have scripted the game any better than what transpired on the field last Sunday.
    If you did not watch the game then you did not see it, but The University of Colorado made a statement not only in the win but also in the manner of doing so. CU led CSU 23-17 late into the third quarter. After the third of Will Oliver’s four field goals on the day, the Rams returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to CU’s own 16 yard line. State scored three plays later, going up 24-23 with 2:51 left in the third. Then came the moment of truth, would this be the Buffs team of the recent past that would start strong and struggle to be competitive as the game wore on? Or would this be a team with a sense of resolve and the will to play until every had second had come off the game clock? The Buffs were in a very similar position to where there were during the first two games of the season last year, giving up double digit leads and losing in both. However, this time, the feeling that momentum had completely shifted and things were about to take a turn for the worse that was felt many times last season, was no longer there. As Coach Mac said after the game, “When I went into the offensive huddle I said to them, ‘Wasn’t that a great kickoff return?’. We knew that was going to happen. They were going to come out and make some great plays and we are going to go right back and make great plays.”
    When kickoff arrives, the true test comes with it. Can you put the Centennial Cup behind you and shift your focus to the task at hand. Coach Mac and the Buffs received praise throughout the local media this past week, including from this reporter, and deservedly so. This football team is trying to find its identity and in the process develop consistency. CU has not won back-to-back games since they did it twice back in the 2010 season. A win would mean that the effort displayed against a CSU team that, in all fairness, did not play up to its full potential would be in question. Developing consistency is key and is much easier said than done. The Buffs will have to beat a very talented veteran laden team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, this has all the makings for what we in the industry, call a trap game. However, this time, the Buffs approach it with the proper intention and behind the leadership of Mike MacIntyre.


    Run the football. TB’s Christian Powell and Tony Jones combined for 28 carries for 69 yards on the ground against CSU. Given Colorado State stacked the box frequently, and for some reason made it easier for CU to pass the ball, they need to develop a ground game. Powell took a shot to the hamstring early in the game and would later return and convert three of four third down opportunities in total. While those numbers are not bad, other than D.D. Goodson’s reverse end around for 31 yards, CU’s longest rushing play was 7 yards. Colorado has more talent and depth at receiver than they have had in the past ten years, however they will need more balance as the season progresses. Central Arkansas also features two very solid pass rushing defensive ends in Jonathan Woodard and Markeith Gaines, Woodard is 6’6” 271lbs. CU’s offensive line did not allow a sack and looked much improved in Sunday’s game compared to last season where the Rams were able to sack the QB five times (officially CSU registered one sack on an intentional grounding play, but we won’t count that). Tackles Jack Harris and Stephane Nembot did a good job at the point of attack and CSU Head Coach Jim McElwain even gave credit to an O-Line he thought was much better in the postgame press conference. Wood, Richardson and the rest of the passing game go up against a secondary that is comprised of all Seniors with the exception of one Junior. Freshmen WR’s Devin Ross and Jeff Thomas (suspended for the last game due to violation of team rules) did not even get to see the field against CSU. WR Keenan Canty filled in for Richardson on several plays but had no targets. This could be a game that a guy like Junior-College Transfer WR Wesley Christensen makes a name for himself with. With so much depth and experience at corner the Buffs may not experience the early and immediate success they did against Colorado State. One area that was surprising was the production CU had out of the Tight End position. Wood had four completions to TE Scott Fernandez and TE Kyle Slavin combined and made good use of both of them. If Wood can play with the composure and poise he did against CSU, the Buffs will have truly rounded the corner.


    Control QB Wynrick Smothers. The 2012 Southland Conference Player of the Year is a dual-threat passer. He’s very athletic and can make plays on the ground with his feet. Central Arkansas runs a spread offense and has the ability to utilize the entire field with their playmakers. WR Dezmin Lewis is 6’4”, 212lbs, and another athletic playmaker that will provide the Buffs with matchup issues. CB Kenneth Crawley, 6’1”, who played well against CSU, will have his hands full with a three inch height disadvantage and a versatile opposition. The Rams had a very good offensive line, yet the Buffs were able to provide pressure on the QB, especially in crucial moments. The most important being DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe’s strip/CB Greg Henderson fumble recovery return for touchdown. The D-Line will have to get pressure and contain Smothers from exploiting any areas of weakness, i.e. coverage from the safety position. CSU did not target their talented TE’s as much as they should have so the CU defense did not have their hands full nearly as much in the passing game. Making his first career start, True Freshman MLB Addison Gillam led the team with 14 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one pass broken up. With a full game of tape on him Central Arkansas will plan for CU differently. Especially in the run game, you have to put a hat on him, find a way to limit his effectiveness in any way possible because this kid is the real deal. LB’s Derrick Webb, Woodson Greer, Paul Vigo and Gillam will have their hands full with a very capable passing threat and a solid ground game. The Buffs will have to tackle well and play well in space. Against a team like this, no one gets behind the last line of defense, because otherwise you might be in for a long day.

    CU’s Pass Offense v. UCA’s Pass Defense = Advantage CU.

    WR Paul Richardson was the Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Week last week totaling 10 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. It is very hard to seeing him replicate those numbers again. However, do not rule out the big play. Expect it. Richardson led the nation in receiving yards after Week 1 and looked better than he ever has coming back from ACL surgery. The Buffs will have to attack this team with variety. From last word, the team was being patient with WR Tyler McCulloch’s sore foot, and if that becomes a factor expect a fresh face to step right in and provide the offense with great versatility. The Buffs receivers have a height advantage but the Bears’ secondary is very experienced and will give the Buffaloes a true defensive test. QB Connor Wood will not be able to pick apart the defense with nearly as much ease as he did in the Showdown. If Coach Mac began to experiment with WR D.D. Goodson and WR Wesley Christensen in somewhat of a slot formation, the Buffs passing attack will be very formidable.
    MATCHUP TO WATCH: Senior LT Jack Harris v. Sophomore DE Jonathan Woodard
    END OF THE DAY: In P-Rich’s return to Folsom Field he will find a way past a defender or two and into the end zone for a long scoring play at least once. This secondary will provide good competition for the Buffs offense that moved with ease last week.

    CU’s Rush Offense v. UCA’s Run Defense = Even.

    TB’s Christian Powell & Tony Jones did not have the best games. Despite the fact that Powell was slightly injured and CSU loaded the box, the Buffs will need a solid rushing attack to help bleed the clock and keep QB Wynrick Smothers and the UCA offense off the field. It comes down to the play of the offensive line and whether they can create the opportunities and open some holes for CU’s backfield. TB Donta Abron looked decent in his two carriers but we’ll see if Coach Mac decides to give him anything more than that. Rush Defense is not one of UCA’s strong suits so a productive day on the ground could be in store. UCA’s defense allowed 87 yards rushing last week on 24 attempts.
    MATCHUP TO WATCH: Colorado’s Front 5 v. UCA’s Front 7.
    END OF THE DAY: Colorado will establish more of a balanced offensive attack because Central Arkansas’s secondary is quite good. Christian Powell gets his first touchdown of the season and hopefully at least 60+ yards.

    UCA’s Pass Offense v. CU’s Pass Defense = Advantage UCA.

    It starts and ends with 2012 SLC Player of the Year, QB Wynrick Smothers. He completed 27 of 31 passes in UCA’s first game and his first 11 straight. He is an athlete and arguably the best QB at the FCS level. The Buffaloes linebacking core has to be up for the challenge of keeping him contained and making plays in space. WR Dezmin Lewis is 6’4”, 212lbs and one of the players that Coach Mac made note of in his Tuesday Luncheon Press Conference. Look to see if the Buffs use more DB’s as a way of keeping guys fresh. CB Kenneth Crawley played very well against the Rams, solidifying his playmaking ability. True Freshman starter CB Chidobe Awuzie playing nickel back is a great addition to this defense. If it were not for him chasing down the 84 yard kickoff return in the third quarter that would have been a touchdown. Keep an eye out for CB Yuri Wright, DNP for CSU, who some publications named to their Preseason All Pac-12 Conference teams. Creating pressure on the quarterback will be key. DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe will have to build upon the performance he had against CSU, he has struggled with consistency in the past. If he could find a way to establish himself and keep things uncomfortable for Smothers then the Buffs have a much better chance of securing the win.
    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: MLB Addison Gillam v. QB Wynrick Smothers &
    CB Greg Henderson/CB Kenneth Crawley vs. WR Dezmin Lewis.
    END OF THE DAY: Smothers will have a solid day. It would not surprise me to see around 250 yards once again. This game isn’t as high scoring as the last one for either teams but Wynrick’s efficiency must repeat itself on the road in such a big stage. Do I hear the Buffaloes first interception of the season? I think so! Chidobe Awuzie gets the action rolling for the Buffs in the turnovers column.

    UCA’s Rush Offense v. CU’s Rush Defense = Advantage UCA.

    UCA ran for 156 yards against Incarnate Word in the 58-7 win. TB Blake Veasley led the Bears with 85 yards on the ground. However, this week starting TB Willie Matthews returns to action after being one of five players who were suspended for last week’s season opener. Matthews was the only one who did not receive a two-game suspension, the suspensions were handed out by the team for undisclosed reasons. CU held CSU to 94 yards on the ground on 28 carries and looked markedly better in the run stoppage department. DT’s Josh Tupou & Nate Bonsu had statistically unattractive games but improved over where they were last year, we need to see that continue as the season wears on. LB Derrick Webb played well, but did not have an eye-popping performance to say the least. The Buffs will need more out of him if they want to be competitive this year in a very talented Pac 12 Conference. True Freshman MLB Addison Gillam led the team with 14 tackles against the Rams, recording 11 in the first half. Now teams have game tape on him and he will have to make adjustments as he will certainly be accounted for in the scouting report on CU. Gillam was nominated for Pac 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
    MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kent Baer (CU Defensive Coordinator) v. Brooks Hollingsworth (UCA Offensive Coordinator)
    END OF THE DAY: UCA will most likely rush for around 100 yards. They have enough talent and versatility in the backfield to do so and who knows exactly what the return of a guy like TB Willie Matthews will do for this offense. CU needs more from the big boys upfront to make a positive impact in the run stoppage game.

    CU’s Special Teams v. UCA’s Special Teams =
    Advantage UCA

    CU’s Punt and Kickoff coverage units had huge gaffes against CSU. Coach Mac took the blame after the game but it comes down to tackling and on both the long return plays by CSU, Colorado had players down inside the 20 yard line. So it’s not a matter of getting there, it’s a matter of making the tackles and I’m sure that will come into play at some point in this game as well. UCA Freshman Jatavious Wilson return a kick 93 yards during the 58-7 romp over Incarnate Wood near the end of the game as well. With that in mind the Buffs need to make adjustments and it sounds like they have. Mac said this week that changes have been made, some guys have been shuffled around and placed in better spots where they have a chance to succeed. KR Marques Mosley who finished last season 20[SUP]th[/SUP] in the NCAA in kick return average and second in the Pac 12 only had one chance to return a kick on Sunday. More importantly, it was a chance he probably should not have taken, only netting 19 yards on the return and nearly missing a large collision. WR Nelson Spruce was returning punts for the Buffaloes against CSU and had 4 returns for 34 yards, averaging 8.5 a return. The coaching staff might want to explore a faster, more dynamic option in the punt return game. P Darragh O’Neill had a solid game, punting the ball 8 times and may very well be a factor again as he was able to pin CSU down on their own 2 yard line late in the game. PK Will Oliver was four for four for field goals, tying a career long 52 yards on two of them. Oliver was nominated for Pac 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
    MATCHUP TO WATCH: KR Jatavious Wilson v. CU’s Kickoff Coverage Unit
    END OF THE DAY: This game could very well come down to a play made on special teams. It would be a shame if Colorado cannot shore up their kickoff coverage unit, but Coach Mac says he has addressed the issue this week and has made a step forward in that regard.

    As the Buffaloes ride the Rocky Mountain hangover, they come back to Boulder for the first time in over a year, win a game at home! WR Paul Richardson has 100+ yards and at least 1 touchdown. The Buffs utilize much more of their playbook and become more creative with their decision-making and play calling. One of the guys who did not play a significant role in the CSU game will step up in this one and his name is Christian Powell. Powell & Tony Jones combine for 150 and two touchdowns. 28-21, Colorado. It’s a journey, a step-by-step process that takes another move forward when Ralphie takes the field.



    Mat Smith is the Senior Sports Correspondent and Voice of the Colorado Buffaloes for KVCU. Mat is a featured writer for Allbuffs.com. Catch him as the Host of News Underground on KVCU Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday’s from 6-7pm MT!

    Follow Mat Smith on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RealMatSmith
    Like Mat Smith on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheMatSmith

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  2. allbuffs

    allbuffs Administrator

    Nov 12, 2010
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    Guys pardon the formatting working from my phone.
  3. Burrito Palazzo

    Burrito Palazzo AnalExplosionDeathMatch Club Member

    Oct 8, 2010
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    The Junta is mobile!

    Semper Gumby

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