Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Week in the Dawg House: Colorado Offense

WARNING: This post could contain up to 1437 lame Dan Hawkins jokes. If such jokes offend you, you need not read this preview. At some times it may become unbearable for even the most seasoned intramural players, but bear with me as we take a journey through the mind of "The Most Interesting Man in College Football". He doesn't always drink soft drinks, but when he does, he prefers Mountain Dew Code Red.  

Before I get into this, lets talk a little about The University of Colorado's football program. If you haven't noticed there is a running joke around here called the Gary Barnett VIP Club. If you're unaware of why this is a joke you need to read THIS. The story behind why he was fired is far from funny but why they kept him around after so many AWFUL losses. Well, they kept him around because they couldn't afford his buyout, and when they still couldn't afford it, they had to get loans to do it anyway (the total, most of which was due to Barnett was right around $8 million). Most of this has not been paid. 

The reason Dan Hawkins still has a job is purely because of money, cause it ain't about big wins. The Daily Camera in Boulder figures it would cost another $3 million to fire Hawkins and hire a new coach as of last year. To say their athletic department is a train wreck is an understatement at this point, and they also have what you could consider a lame duck coach.

Enough on that, though. I'll make no bones about it, the way we've played, the altitude, and Ralphie worry me a little bit when thinking about this game. As all of you know, the Dawgs get the much ballyhooed A.J. Green back this week and look to get back to .500, wait, er... .400. Colorado's offense really lights up the scoreboard, as they average a paltry 332.7 yards per game- good for 11th in conference, right ahead of the red-headed step sister of the Big 12, Iowa State. Just to put that in context, if they were in the SEC that would also rank 11th. In a conference with A LOT of spread offenses, that doesn't say much for the Buffs. 

Before I start trying to call my parents to complain about Coach Hawkins, lets get into the preview.

Apparently Dan's son Cody hasn't gotten the message that it's Division-1 football, because #9 Tyler Hansen is the starter. Colorado has given Cody the oppotunity to take the reigns so they could redshirt Hansen, but after trying and failing to do that the last two years, Tyler has earned full-time status this season. #9 is completing about 64% of his passes and is 10th in the conference in attempts with 85. He's thrown for 558 yards, which is good for 186 yards a game and ranks 8th in the conference. Hansen has thrown 4 touchdowns (9th in the Big 12) to go along with 4 interceptions. No other quarterback has seen snaps this season.

Hansen is a more mobile quarterback than Cody, but as they now have a more "pro-style" attack that isn't so important. It's pretty evident that despite his experience, he isn't in the top-half of Big 12 quarterbacks. I can say he has been a lot better at home, where he hasn't thrown a pick and the Buffs have looked ok. I say this and he'll probably throw for 400+ on Saturday.
Grade: C

Running Backs:
Junior #5 Rodney Stewart also doubles as a garden gnome. He is listed at 5'7 175, and Carlton is also listed at pretty much the same size. I'd say Carlton goes about 5'6 165 and Rodney probably does too. He rushes about 22 times a game for just under 84 yards, which is 3.75 per carry. Stewart is not a huge receiving threat, only accounting for 50 yards on 4 catches thus far. The primary backup is JR. #20 Brian Lockridge, who is also very small at 5'7 185. Lockridge has 19 carries for 110 and 0 TD. #29 Justin Torres provides depth.

The biggest thing that sticks out to me is the size of these guys. Colorado has, basically, two Carlton's in the backfield. This may have something to do with their backs averaging 4.19 yards per carry, which wouldn't be that bad if it was your starter. Stewart's 3.75 per attempt isn't very good. Of the six backs in the conference that receive over 17 carries a game, he ranks dead last with 83.76 ypg. James Sims at Kansas is the closest competitor with 17.67 carries and 96.67 yards per game. All of the guys who receive over 20 carries average at least 112 yards per game.
Grade: D+

#21 Scotty McKnight is the Buffs number one receiver and has accounted for 14 catches, 157 yards, and 2 TD. Last year McKnight caught 76 balls for 893 yards and 6 TD. He's a white guy, or "possession receiver" and goes about 5'11, 185. He only had one other D-1 offer, which was Boise. #17 Toney Clemons, #17, is the number two target for Hansen and has made 9 catches for 146 yards and 1 TD. The next closest receiver is  Sr. #2 Travon Patterson, with 6 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Markques Simas was the second leading receiver last year, but was dismissed from the team this spring. His 43 catches and 585 yards will have a hard time being replaced it looks. The Buffs will be looking for underclassmen #80 Paul Richardson and #16 Will Jefferson to step up and shoulder some of the load.

Colorado's TE position has been pretty much nonexistent this season, much the same as UGA's. That position has only accounted for 9 catches and 92 yards. Junior TE #34 Ryan Deehan has account for 7 of those catches for 83 yards. #81 Luke Walters is a senior and #43 Matthew Bahr is a junior and both provide depth.

The Buffalo's wideouts aren't setting the proverbial woods on fire. They are averaging around 10.3 yards per catch, which would put them 2nd from last in the SEC above Florida and LSU. They rank ahead of only Iowa State, Missouri, and Texas in the Big 12. This statistic actually could be more telling under the running back break down, as it really isn't truly indicative of the superior quality of your receiving corps. The TE's, well it's more of the same. Colorado ranks 89th in the country in pass offense, which is pretty much excpected for this group. Sorry, but there isn't a lot of shining spots here.
Grade: C-

Offensive Line:
The Buffs have a lot of talent returning and the o-line is anchored by preseason All-American LT #78 Nate Solder. He is absolutely massive at 6'9 315 and looks to be a top-20 pick, according to Rumpelstiltskin, I mean Mel Kiper. Those returning are LG #63 Ethan Adkins, 6'8 320 pound RG #73 Ryan Miller and C #64 Mike Iltis. Iltis overtook returning starter #56 Keenan Stevens' spot after the Cal game. True freshman #59 David Bakhtiari mans the RT spot, and is a gaunt 6'4, 245. This group is 7th in the conference with 8 sacks allowed, after finishing last a year ago with 43 allowed. Ouch. They also only allowed for 3.99 yards per carry.

Even though Colorado seems to have a good talent pool, they have struggled mightily to protect the passer and open holes for Rodney Stewart. Much the same as UGA, they can't seem to put things together. Even though the line has seen some shifting around, it hasn't seemed to help. Solder has underperformed vastly, and like Boling, has been exposed at times when dealing with more adept pass rushers. Keenan Stevens has been benched and has obviously looked less than stellar. Look at the rushing stats and you'll get the idea.
Grade: Potential B+

#13 Aric Goodman is a senrior with two varsity seasons under his belt. He is 7 of 7 on PAT's and is 1 for 2 on field goals. He ranks 6th in the conference with 5 touchbacks on the season and a good kickoff average of about 67 yards.

Aric's parents certainly wanted to differentiate their son from other regular "Erics". He looks like a serviceable kicker, but doesn't get the opportunity to kick much. Hopefully, this will be an advantage our way.
Grade: B-

So here's how the lineup looks:

QB: #9 Tyler Hansen
RB: #5 Rodney Stewart
WR: #17 Toney Clemons
WR: #2 Travon Patterson
WR: #21 Scotty McKnight
TE: #34 Ryan Deehan
OT: #78 Nate Solder
OG: #63 Ethan Adkins
C: #64 Mike Iltis
OG: #73 Ryan Miller
OT: #59 David Bakhtiari

K: #13 Aric Goodman

Lest we forget, we got less than a month. And I'm a little bummed out about it:

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