While the Bears come in after a solid win against Fresno State, Colorado is limping home after being soundly defeated by Hawaii. Colorado, like Cal, is known for being much more effective at home (to an inexplicable degree – they have an 18 game road losing streak but beat Georgia at home last year). Colorado’s homefield, the fact that Cal has been iffy on the road itself recently, the altitude and early start could mean Cal is in for a game Saturday. Let’s take a look at the Colorado Offense and get you prepared for this game.
QB Tyler Hansen didn’t have a terrible game against Hawaii, but the offense was never in synch either. He had an awful day against Cal last year, throwing 3 picks. He missed the end of last year with a ruptured spleen but is experienced and has some athleticism. While we didn’t see it in Berkeley, he was a 68% passer last year.
The offense is shifting to a more pro-style attack. While Hansen isn’t a Dennis Dixon (did I just date myself?),this may be a good move to optimize his mobility, as he has the athleticism to move in and out of the pocket and to scramble for a first down here and there.
Hansen is backed up by Nick Hirshman and Brent Burnette.
Rodney Stewart also returns from last year’s CU team, and he’s a playmaker. He ran for over 1300 yards on 290 carries, and added another 29 receptions – not bad durability for a guy who weights 175 (listed). While his O-line didnt provide him much room last year (or against Hawaii), Cal would be advised not to let him get into open space.
Stewart is backed up by another 5’7″ back, the 185 pound Brian Lockridge. He also possesses great speed. The unit does lack a powerful physical runner, which can mean trouble for CU in close and/or defensive games.
Colorado loses Scotty McKnight, its most productive receiver last year, and otherwise possesses a solid if unspectacular unit. The corps. is led by 6’2″ Toney Clemons, a great all-around receiver who can work both inside and outside. He does lack explosion, averaging less than 9 yards per catch last year.
Paul Richardson is the other starting wideout. He’s much slighter than Clemons (165 pounds as opposed to 205), and as you’d expect is much more explosive. He catches everything, but you won’t see him going over the middle often. At Tight end, CU starts the 6’5″ Ryan Deehan, an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection last year. He is expected to improve upon 25 receptions last year. Depth behind these three is an issue.
I was amazed to hear that the Buff’s had a first round pick on their line last year – my lasting image of the their offense would have been the sight of the entire Cal front 7 in the backfield in a pile half a second after the snap, with the CU line and QB somewhere below, to be mined out later. I saw very little push in either the Cal or Hawaii games.
Ryan Miller starts at RG, and Ethan Adkins starts at LG. Both are 300 pounders, with plenty of strength. Miller wsa an All Big 12 honorable mention and has played every snap in his 2+ years in Boulder. Both Daniel Munyer and Shawn Daniels will see time at center.
David Bakhtiari replaces the first round pick (Nate Solder) I alluded to earlier at left tackle. He moves over from the right side and could struggle with the increased responsibility. He is an athletic, finesse blocker (Steve Marshall must be giddy). At right tackle, Jack Harris will start, with Sione Tau (all 350 pounds of him) provides depth.
Biggest Strength vs Cal:
Have to say Stewart is, even if he faces a potentially long day against Cal’s front 7. He stands alone as a gamebreaker on this CU team.
Biggest Weakness vs Cal:
Tough to see the OL that got pushed around by Hawaii, and by Cal last year, having much luck this time around.