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Opposition Research

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    By Stuart

    [h=3]Opposition Research – A look at the Buffs’ opponents for 2012[/h]For the first time in over a decade, Colorado plays a non-conference schedule which does not include a BCS conference opponent. With a late October stretch which includes consecutive games on the road against top ten contenders in USC and Oregon, if the Buffs are to make a run for a bowl appearance in 2012, a fast start is a must.
    Colorado has not swept its non-conference opposition since 2004, when the Buffs took out Colorado State, Washington State, and North Texas on its way to a Big 12 North title. How will Colorado fare this September against Colorado State, Sacramento State, and Fresno State?
    Let’s take a look …
    [h=3]Colorado State – September 1st – Denver[/h]Looking back… Colorado State will come into the 2012 season opener against Colorado riding*an eight game losing streak. The Rams turned a promising 3-1 start to the 2011 season*(with the only loss coming in a 28-14 setback against Colorado) into a 3-9 disaster. One ray of light -*in five of the nine*losses, the Rams*were within one score in the final quarter.
    The third consecutive 3-9 season was the last straw for CSU adminstrators, as head coach Steve Fairchild was shown the door. Fairchild was replaced by Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who has restored a sense of optimism and confidence in Ft. Collins.
    Personnel … Fairchild did not leave the Ram cupboard completely bare … but it was close. The offense is a major question-mark. The starting quarterback for much of 2011,*Pete Thomas, dealt a blow to the team when he transferred in January leaving the*quarterback position in question for 2012. Sophomore Garrett Grayson saw a little action last year (542 yds,*two touchdowns,*six interceptions) after Thomas got hurt but he didn’t have a great spring. The good news for Grayson is that he has a workhorse running back in Chris Nwoke. Nwoke had two eye-popping games last year when he ran for for 232 yards against San Diego State, then topped that*with*269 yards against Air Force. Nwoke finished the season with 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns, and will have three returning starters along the offensive line. Grayson will have a few targets to throw to, including tight end Crockett Gilmore, who led the team with 45 receptions, and senior wideout Marquise Law.
    As many issues as the Rams have on offense, the defense is in even worse shape. Colorado State gave up 31.3 points per game last season, and that was with stars Nordly Capi and Mike Orakpo in the lineup. Capi, who led the Mountain West Conference in sacks, and Orakpo, who was ninth in the conference in tackles, were both dismissed from the team this spring for off-field incidents. Linebackers Shaq Barrett and James Skelton are good ones, as is senior cornerback Momo Thomas. After that … it’s fill and hope for the new CSU coaching staff.
    Statistically … Ugly numbers abound, as you might expect from a team which will be looking for its first victory in almost 12 months come September 1st. Chris Nwoke was a bright spot, with his 94 yards per game average 32nd in the nation. The Rams, though, were not able to take advantage, though, finishing 87th in total offense and 101st in scoring offense. On defense, the Rams were 91st in scoring defense, largely due to the fact that there were only four teams in the nation (out of 120) which surrendered more rushing yards than Colorado State.
    Preseason*Prediction … If Colorado were opening up against any other*team with a resume close to that of Colorado State’s – eight game losing streak; three consecutive nine loss seasons; new head coach; defection of the starting quarterback; unexpected loss of two*stars on defense – Buff fans would be tempted to chalk the game up as a victory and move on to the next game. But Colorado State is not just “any other team”.*Colorado State*has other rivals (though, as only 14,107* and 17,207 showed up for home games against Air Force and Wyoming, respectively, to close out the 2011 season, that may be debatable), but make no mistake about it, the Colorado game in Denver is the Rams’ Super Bowl. The Rams’ focus on the CU game on the schedule, combined with the Rams’ ability to focus on the Buffs for much of fall practice, always makes this game closer than it should be on paper. If Colorado sticks to the game plan – a dominating run game; no big plays surrendered; take care of the ball – the Buffs should wear down the Rams in Denver. Colorado 24, Colorado State 13.
    [h=3]Sacramento State – September 8th – Boulder[/h]Looking back … Sacramento State finished the 2011 season with a 4-7 record, but the game which will make Colorado fans squirm in their seats just a little as they settle in to check out the new scoreboards in Folsom Field on September 8th is the result of the Hornets’ 2011 season opener. On September 3rd last fall, Sacramento State made the trip up to Corvallis to take on Oregon State, and came home with a 29-28 overtime victory over the Beavers. The Hornets also took out perennial Big Sky favorite Montana (for the first time ever), before settling down to a 2-5 record in October and November, with the only victories coming over Big Sky doormats Idaho State (2-9)*and Northern Colorado (0-11). The Hornets*have been good, but not great, under head*coach Marshall Sperbeck, who is 24-32 through five seasons in Sacramento.
    Personnel … Sacramento State welcomes back 40 players, including 12 starters, back from last season’s team. Most of the talent on offense,*though, including quarterback Jeff Fleming and running back Bryan Hilliard, have graduated. *The returners on offense include all-Big Sky receiver Morris Norrise and a veteran offensive line. This fall will mark the debut for new offensive coordinator Paul Peterson, who came to Sacramento State from Southern Utah. Peterson will choose between two candidates for the starting quarterback position,*sophomore Garrett Safron and Nevada transfer Mason Magleby. Safron appeared in five games last season where he threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 286 yards and three scores.
    On defense, linebackers Jeff Badger and Tood Davis*will be joined by defensive backs Ryan McMahon and Osagie Odiase and defensive tackle Matt Lawrence. Davis (with 96 tackles), McMahon (86) and Badger (85) were the top three tacklers on the team from a year ago. The team will be bolstered by several transfers (as is common with FBS teams), with Nebraska safety Dijon Washington, UConn cornerback Christopher Lopes, and UCLA linebacker Jared Koster joining the*Hornets this fall.
    Statisically … Sacramento State posted mediocre numbers last season, which you might expect from a 4-7 team. The Hornets were 73rd in total offense in the FBS; 75th in scoring offense. On defense, Sacramento State was 77th in total defense; 70th in scoring defense. If you are trying to read the tea leaves, and predict what new offensive coordinator Paul Peterson might bring to Boulder, Southern Utah last season was 23rd in passing offense*… but 115th in rushing offense.
    Preseason Prediction … The Sacramento State*game is the only “lock” on the Colorado 2012 schedule. Yes, it is true that the Hornets upset Oregon State on the road last season. And yes, it is true that Colorado has struggled in its only two games against 1-AA Big Sky teams (losing to Montana State in 2006; having to rally to defeat Eastern Washington in 2008). Still, there is no way Colorado can lose this game (if the Buffs do, it will be part of an historic 0-12 season). Sacramento State opens on the road against a New Mexico State team which went 4-9 last season, so we’ll have a pretty good idea of how good the Hornets are before they come to Boulder. Colorado may be sluggish early, with the Buffs coming off of its emotional battle against Colorado State, and with Sacramento State having a few extra days to prepare (the Hornets open the season on Thursday, August 30th), but Colorado should ultimately wear down Sacramento State in the 2012 home opener. Colorado 31, Sacramento State 14.
    [h=3]Fresno State – September 15th – at Fresno[/h]Looking back … Fresno State went 4-9 in 2011, with a 3-4 record in Western Athletic Conference play. The Bulldogs were out-manned, but hung tough on the road against Cal (36-21) and Nebraska (42-29). Fresno State also gave Mississippi all it could handle before succumbing, 38-28, in late*September. While those losses might have been forgiven, what might have been the beginning of the end of the tenure of long time head coach Pat Hill was an embarrassing Friday night home loss on ESPN against Boise State. The Broncos made the Bulldogs look bad, coasting to a 57-7 victory from which Fresno State did*not recover. The Bulldogs, with Hill’s job potentially on the line,*lost close games to San Jose State (27-24) and San Diego*State (35-28) to close out*the season.
    Personnel … *On July 1st, Fresno State, along with Nevada and Hawai’i (football only) became members of the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs join the MWC with a clean slate and a new head coach, Tim DeRuyter. Along with new offensive coordinator Dave Schramm, Fresno State is adopting a no-huddle, spread offense. Junior quarterback Derek Carr (yes, brother of David) did just fine under Pat Hill, throwing for 3,544 yards last season, with 26 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. He should do even better under DeRuyter. Carr has many of his top receivers back, though John Saunders, who had 13 touchdown catches in 2011, announced after spring practices that he planned to transfer. The running game will be ably manned by returning senior starter Robbie Rouse, who was ninth in the nation in rushing in 2011, averaging 119 yards per game.
    The defensive picture does not look as rosy, however, as DeRuyter attempts to install the 3-4 defense DeRuyter ran as the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. The defensive line resembles that of Colorado’s – a work in progress. Coming out of spring practices, the Fresno State defensive line had been re-shuffled to the point where none of the three projected starters has ever started a college game. All-WAC linebacker Travis Brown returns, but he sat out spring practices with a shoulder injury.
    Statisically … Going up against a team with a new head coach and a new philosophy, it’s hard to impose 2011 statistics upon the 2012 Fresno State team. Still, the numbers from last season give a fair indication of what to expect from the Bulldogs in 2012. Fresno State was good on offense last year -*ranking 27th in passing offense and 37th in total offense – but was not as proficient on defense – ranking 100th in total defense and 106th in scoring defense. As Fresno State makes its transition from the Wacky WAC to the point-a-minute Mountain West, it will likely put up similar numbers. The Bulldogs have stars returning from a great offense, and have few returning starters from a porous offense. Look for more of the same in 2012.
    Preseason Prediction … We will know a great deal about the 2012 Fresno State Bulldogs the week before Colorado heads out to central California for a night game on September 15th. After opening the 2012 season against*Weber State from the Big Sky Conference, Fresno State takes on Oregon in Eugene. Pat Hill’s Fresno State team was known for taking on all-comers in non-conference play, and for playing very well against top competition. How well Tim DeRuyter’s Bulldogs survive the trip to Oregon will tell us a great deal about how the returning players are responding to the new coach. Colorado could – and should – enter this game with a 2-0 record. The long road losing streak monkey is also off the Buffs’ backs. Still, this is a night game, on the road, against a team which can pass the ball with great efficiency. Scoring shootouts are not what Jon Embree’s Buffs are all about. I would very much like to be wrong about this, but … Fresno State 37, Colorado 27.
    Up next week … the first three games of Pac-12 conference play – at Washington State; UCLA; and Arizona State – will be previewed.

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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