1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

CU@Game CU At The Game: Oregon – A Preview

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
    Likes Received:

    Colorado at Oregon – A Preview … Buffs try to open Pac-12 play with an upset

    Five years.

    Five blowouts.

    For those with short term memories (or who are good at blacking out terrible memories), here is the ugly recitation of CU/Oregon scores since the Buffs joined the Pac-12: 45-2; 70-14; 57-16; 44-10; and 41-24 … an average score of 51-13.

    So, when it was announced that Colorado was a ten-point underdog against Oregon – on the road, no less – it was already a victory of sorts.

    Not a moral victory, but a victory in the sense that, at least in Las Vegas, there are those who are recognizing the improvement of the CU program.

    The Buffs opened the 2016 season by dominating Colorado State (finally!) and Idaho State, and were up in the third quarter – on the road, no less – against the No. 4 team in the nation.

    Then there was this …

    In an ESPN article posted on Monday, speculating about the wide open Pac-12 South division, there was the following:

    “Truth be told, Colorado has probably been the most consistent team in the South through the first three weeks. But their depth is shaky, and it’s unknown if they can sustain that level of play through an entire conference season.

    “So you see, the South has never been more ripe for the plucking for a team like Utah — or UCLA — or USC — or Arizona — or Arizona State — or, yes, even Colorado”.

    Heady stuff for a team which is 2-25 in Pac-12 play under Mike MacIntyre, and hasn’t been within three scores of Oregon since the Buffs beat the Ducks in Rick Neuheisel’s last game (the 1998 Aloha Bowl).

    Here are this week’s “T.I.P.S.” …

    T – Talent

    Both teams took major hits to their lineups last weekend.

    Oregon lost to injury wide receiver (and Olympian) Devon White, along with starting left tackle Tyrell Crosby.

    Colorado lost to injury kicker Diego Gonzalez and linebacker Derek McCartney.

    Two other major players remain question marks, with Oregon Heisman trophy candidate Royce Freeman and Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau in the dreaded “day-to-day” category, with both players likely to be limited in their mobility on Saturday (3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks), if indeed they are able to play at all.

    The loss of left tackle Crosby leaves the Ducks with four red-shirt freshmen starting along the offensive line. While that would seem to be good news for the Colorado defense, bear in mind that last Saturday, with Crosby out for much of the game, the Ducks were able to rush for 336 yards against the Nebraska blackshirts.

    The Cornhuskers were able to somewhat limit the effectiveness of former Montana State quarterback Dakota Prokup, who was held to 146 yards on 14-of-23 passes. Prokup, though, did rush for 97 yards on 20 carries, and it is Prokup’s mobility which will be of great concern for the Colorado front seven, even more so now with the loss of McCartney.

    On defense, the Ducks have made strides since last year, but remain vulnerable. Oregon is 82nd in total defense, giving up over 400 yards per game (and, lest you think that was all Nebraska’s doing, Oregon gave up 392 yards of total offense to UC-Davis and 388 yards to Virginia … the only winless Power-Five conference team in the nation).

    Oregon is giving up an average of almost 30 points per game, 84th in the country. So, if the Buff offense can get its act together – whether under a hobbled Sefo Liufau or a better prepared Steven Montez – there is a chance for the Buffs to keep pace with the Ducks’ high-powered offense.

    The game, as it did in Ann Arbor, may come down to special teams. There, the Ducks have a significant advantage. Colorado’s punting and kick return game is vulnerable to speed.

    This just in … Oregon is noted for its speed.

    And it is here that the loss of Diego Gonzalez may also be felt. True enough, any field goal attempt by the Buffs will be an adventure this week (and for the rest of the season), but when the Buffs kick off, they can no longer rely on a touchback (Diego Gonzalez was 16-for-19 on forcing the opposition to start at their own 25). This means there will be kick returns for the speedy Duck return men … a potential lethal problem.

    So, the game plan is clear.

    Run the ball (Oregon is 90th in the nation in rushing defense), controlling the clock on offense … Corral Oregon’s rushing attack, forcing Dakota Prokup to beat you with his arm and not his legs

    … And, above all, don’t screw up on special teams.

    Easy, right?

    I – Intangibles

    The thing about injuries, they can decimate a team – or inspire it.

    Anyone who watched the second half of the Michigan game knows which direction the Buffs went after Sefo Liufau went down. Sefo Liufau threw a 70-yard touchdown pass the play after he was injured, but Liufau left the game for good shortly thereafter, and the Buffs never recovered from his loss.

    After the touchdown, the Buffs only posted two first downs the remainder of the game – one on a Wolverine penalty, the other coming with less than a minute left in the contest. Steven Montez looked very much like a red-shirt freshmen seeing the first live bullets of Power-Five conference football, and it didn’t go well. “”I tried to do what I could,” said Montez, “but they were coming really fast and I made some mistakes”.

    Sure, it would have helped if George Frazier had hauled in that touchdown pass in the third quarter, but the reality is that Montez went 0-for-7, and the Buffs, who had generated 28 points in the first 31 minutes of the game, were shutout the remaining 29 minutes.

    With a week to digest having Montez behind center (or a limited Sefo Liufau), the Buffs can either rally … or rise to the occasion.

    “We feel like we can win every game we play,” said wide receiver Jay MacIntyre. “It’s not really about Oregon, it’s about us and that’s how we go into every game. Coach MacIntyre has been preaching that since day one; that’s how we’re going into this game against Oregon. It’s no different than going into the Michigan game or the Idaho State game. It’s just us, and if we do our thing we think we’ll be able to win the game.”

    The Buffs may rally around Montez, but that may not be enough.

    Two years ago, another CU quarterback made his starting debut in Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

    In 2014, Jordan Gehrke got the first – and to date only – start, and went 9-for-18 for 64 yards against the Ducks, with six carries for minus-three yards.

    The result? Oregon 44, Colorado 10.

    P – Preparation/Schedule

    The Buffs and Ducks have had similar starts to the 2016 season.

    Both jumped out to 2-0 records; both did so with relative ease.

    Both then went on the road in Week Three to face a Big Ten opponents, with both coming home with their first losses of the season.

    Both also limped home with significant losses in personnel.

    While the potential loss of Sefo Liufau may prove devastating to the Buffs in the long term, it could prove helpful to the Buffs in the short term.

    Just like Colorado State refused to name a quarterback for the opener, forcing Colorado to prepare for several different options behind center, Oregon now faces a similar dilemma.

    The Ducks must now prepare for the possibility of Sefo making a successful return. They must also prepare for the wildcard which is Steven Montez.

    It’s no different than the tendency of Oregon to go for two-point conversions with regularity. “One of the reasons that Oregon does that is that you’ll spend time working on that as a defense”, explained MacIntyre. “You’ve got to spend time in practice every day which takes away working on things with their offense”.

    Hopefully time spent by the Oregon defense in preparing for two different quarterbacks will give the Buffs a slight edge in preparation.

    S – Statistics

    The stats sheet for the Buffs is not as stellar after week three as it was after week two … but it ain’t bad.

    A quarter of the way through the 2016 season, Colorado remains highly ranked nationally in several important categories …

    — 4th nationally (and first in the Pac-12) in total defense (239.3 ypg.);

    — 5th nationally (and first in the Pac-12) in pass defense (119.7 ypg.);

    — 20th nationally (fourth in the Pac-12) in scoring offense (42.7 ppg);

    — 21st nationally (fourth in the Pac-12) in turnover margin (+1.0); and

    — 22nd nationally (fourth in the Pac-12) in passing offense (304.7 ypg.)

    Meanwhile, there are several disconcerting numbers which bear noting …

    — Oregon is 13th in the nation in kickoff returns … Colorado is last in the Pac-12 in kickoff coverage;

    — Oregon is 22nd in the nation in punt returns … Colorado is last in the Pac-12 in punt coverage;

    Also … Oregon is 8th in the nation in rushing offense; 10th in the nation in scoring defense; and 19th in the nation in scoring offense.

    That being said, as noted above, Oregon is 82nd in total defense and 84th in scoring defense.

    Translation: the Ducks are going to score. To beat them, the Buffs will have to have their offense at the top of its game, and not making any mistakes on special teams.

    A tough task in Autzen …

    Prediction … In a parallel universe, Sefo Liufau doesn’t get hurt in the first minute of the third quarter against Michigan. The Buffs go up 28-24 and the game is a fight to the end, with Diego Gonzalez (who goes also magically goes uninjured) kicking a game-winner as time expires.

    If that were the case, the Buffs would be a darling of the national media, with Colorado likely a ranked team for the first time since 2005. Colorado would be a fashionable pick to defeat Oregon for the first time as a member of the Pac-12.

    Thing is, Oregon fans would like to be in a parallel universe as well. If a perfect green-and-gold world, Heisman trophy candidate Royce Freeman doesn’t come up lame early in the game against Nebraska, going on to run all over the Blackshirt defense in Lincoln. The Ducks pull away from the Cornhuskers, and Oregon enters Pac-12 play with a 3-0 record and a top 20 national ranking.

    Neither team got what it wanted last week.

    Both teams are now counting on a victory this weekend as a springboard to the Pac-12 conference season.

    It would be nice to say I believe that the Buffs will pull off a win over the Ducks in the last game the teams will play until the 2019 season (barring a meeting in a Pac-12 championship game).

    But the average score between the two teams as members of the Pac-12 – 51-13 – can’t be ignored. I’m actually surprised the Buffs are only ten-point underdogs.

    If Sefo can go, the Buffs have a puncher’s chance. If not, it will be a very tough game for the Buff Nation to watch.

    My heart is with the Buffs … but not my head.

    … Oregon 34, Colorado 21 …


    Continue reading...

Share This Page