Monday, October 02, 2006

Who is Colorado?

Yeah, they are 0-5, but let's not beat our chests. We are a 2-3 team that dropped 3 games we should have won. Colorado is insanely close to having our record, including a win over a nationally-ranked opponent on the road. They lost two games by a combined 5 points. Our two close calls that could have been wins were 17 points away. Our sole win over a D1 opponent came by a mere 14 points, with some very lucky stops by the defense.

Long story short, we cannot take this game lightly. In fact, we are going into this game as an underdog, CU is favored by 5.5 points over Baylor this weekend.

So what does Colorado bring to the table?

Bernard Jackson, is CUs quarterback and is just above 50% passing, with 486 yards on 84 attempts (5.78yds/attempt). He has thrown 2 interceptions so far this year and is yet to pass for a touchdown this year. Jackson has improved every game in his passing abilities. He's gone from 70 to 190 yards, with incremental improvement each week. That's something that Baylor will have to keep in mind.

While he's still developing in the passing game, he is already dangerous on the ground. Do not underestimate him in that regard. We haven't faced a truly mobile quarterback yet this year, and while we've done well against the option attack, a mobile quarterback in the system that Colorado is running is a different animal.

Jackson has run for 218 yards on 66 carries (3.3 yds/carry), 95 yards behind their leading rusher, Hugh Charles (313 yards). And while he might not have the most rushing yards, he does have three rushing touchdowns to Charles' 0. Charles is averaging over 5 yards per carry, though and should not be ignored. Baylor will have a tough time covering both these areas.

The good news is that despite his rushing ability, and his increasingly successful passing attack, he has thrown 2 interceptions, one in each of the last two games. Baylor's defense has forced more than 3 turnovers a game so far this year, which is tied for first in the nation. One other bright spot in this is that while he is mobile and dangerous on the ground, he has been susceptible to being sacked. He has 15 sacks in the CUs last 4 games, for a loss of 80 yards. For comparison sake, Bell has been sacked 12 times in 5 games.

Colorado's offense as a whole is averaging less than 14 first downs a game, 134 yards on the ground, while only managing 119 yards through the air. Of course, CU has managed 165 yards through the air in the last two games, and as I said before have seen improvement in that area every game. Perhaps the worst facet of Colorado's offense is their 3rd down conversion rate. Colorado has only managed 19 third down conversions in 5 games, and only in 67 opportunities. That's 28.4% folks. Sad, sad, sad.

Colorado's defense hasn't had much success stopping people to this point. They've allowed 320 yards per game, have only forced 9 turnovers in 5 games, and they've been been very welcoming to passing scores in the redzone. They've allowed 13 scores in 18 opportunities in the redzone. 11 of those 13 scores have been touchdowns, and 9 of the 11 touchdowns have been through the air. If there was a game in which Bell and the offense wanted to get their redzone scoring fixed, this would appear to be the one.

As bad as the CU offense is at 3rd down conversions, the CU defense might be doing even less on their end in that area. They are allowing more than 45% success on third down conversions (34-75), which is even worse when you consider that the average "yards-to-go" for those third-down conversions was 8.1 yards. Baylor has been averaging a very healthy 39% conversion rate on their own, which hopefully will mean that we have a really good day on 3rd downs.

Further, Colorado's opponents have also lost another touchdown, brought back due to penalty.

The biggest thing to remember is that Colorado and Baylor are two teams that are going through the growing pains of a new offense under new leadership. The scary part is that we don't know which one is going to start to grow up first. Is it going to be the Bear Raid offense under Bell? Is it going to be Hawkins Boise St. offense going under Jackson? I have a hard time betting against our defense, but in that altitude if the offense doesn't give us enough rest, we are going to be hurting towards the end of the game.

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