Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arizona Preview: Senior Day at last

How long has this season felt?   Like a marathon runner past the wall and unable to find the finish, the Colorado Football program has to be longingly searching for the end of the schedule.  Yet still there remain three games to play.  (Three games?  That's some bullshit, just end the misery now!)
The practical reasons to continue to fight on have been whittled to just two: experience for the underclassmen and to honor the fighting spirit of one of the more brutalized senior classes in CU history.  To that end, Coach Embree this week had the underclassmen players write letters, good old fashioned penned letters, to the seniors to allow the underclassmen to express their respect and gratitude to the seniors for showing the way.  A very classy and impressive coaching maneuver by a first-year coach.

The 28 seniors who stayed in Boulder, through coaching change bullshit and a mountain of losses as mighty as Mt Evans, deserve our respect and praise alongside that of their teammates.  Through four years of challenge, they stuck with it and tried their best.  While they may not have had it in them to bring victories to Boulder in any great number, they still donned the black and gold with the pride it deserves, and did their teammates and their university proud through their effort and perseverance.
Tyler will lead the large senior contingent onto the field Saturday.  From: the BDC
Names like Tyler Hansen, Rodney Stewart, Ryan Miller, and Josh Hartigan lead the class, but it's the entirety of the 28 that deserve a hearty round of applause on Saturday.  Show up early and show them that we're all Buffs, and that the herd always sticks together.


The final home game of the season kicks off at 12:30 Saturday.  Get your drinking in early and head to the stadium to cheer on those departing seniors.  If you can't make it to Folsom, and still care enough to watch, you can checkout the action on FCS-Pacific, which is 617 on DirecTV (you losers with Comcast are on your own)

Click below for the preview...

Speaking of that senior class, all 28 of them...  they're the remnants of the highly-touted '07 and '08 recruiting classes, a combined group that reached roughly 10% of the potential that was promised back on those February signing days.

It's kind of shocking, really.  Seriously, go look at that '07 class.  How many ended up having a lasting impact on the program?  Four? And '08, look at all of the names who left early or never factored in the least.
Most of the talent from '07 and '08 either never panned out, got kicked out of the program, or transferred away like these two.  I wonder how J-Fly's rap management degree is going?  From:
These two classes are why I refuse to follow football recruiting with any level of seriousness.  For how important recruiting is, you may as well just pull names out of a hat.  Holy hell that shit is depressing.

Opponents season so far -

Mired in a ghastly 10-game losing streak against FBS opponents, the Arizona Wildcats fired head coach Mike Stoops back in October.  Immediately after, they hilariously crushed the UCLA Bruins in Tucson before returning to their losing ways with double-digit losses in each of the past two weekends.

All told, they are 2-7 on the year, and a paltry 1-6 in Pac-12 play, not that I can really comment too much on losing.
They weren't even capable of containing Oregon St.  That team sucks.
Ostensibly, this game is for the Pac-12 basement.  Despite all the losing this season, a win on Saturday keeps hope alive that CU won't finish dead fucking last in the conference.  With 'Zona's lone remaining Pac-12 tilt coming against the feisty ASU Sun Devils in Tempe, CU probably wouldn't even have to win another game down the stretch to walk out with a 5th place finish in the Pac-12 South.

All I'm saying is that it would be nice to not finish in the basement.

Offense & Defense -

Offensively, these guys have one of the best passing attacks in the nation.  #1 in Pac-12 air yardage, and as we've seen, this league is no joke when it comes to aerial attacks.  They churn out just over 370 big yards per contest from passing.  They may not be able to run the ball much, but it's not really that big of a concern when they can throw the rock like that.  Overall, they're offense ranks in the top-20 in the nation, and should seriously challenge the porous CU defense.
Foles has looked good in a season of frustration for Arizona.
On the defensive end, would you believe that these guys are actually worse than that weak-sauce CU defense?  They are!  The Arizona defense is 106th in the country in both scoring and total defense, and they give up over 450 yards per contest (Yo!).  The Buffs are so much better, giving up only 447 yards per game (*sigh*).

Considering the defensive deficiencies, it's no wonder they're up there in pass offense as chasing 40 points each game usually forces you to throw like your life depends on it.

Star Players -

That potent Arizona offense is lead by 'Cat QB Nick Foles.  He has completed nearly 70% of his passes on the year while throwing for over 3,000 yards and 20 scores.  He just fill up the stat sheet, and in any other conference he'd be considered the crème de la crème.  As it stands in the Pac-12, he's just another in a long line of NFL-caliber throwers.
He can make it look easy sometimes.
Foles' primary target in passing situations is big wide-out Juron Criner.  The Las Vegas native, despite missing the Oklahoma St game with a medical issue, has had a big season.  He's hauled in eight TD catches and 50 total grabs.  He's not the only pass-catcher, however, as Foles likes to spread the ball around.  Five receivers have over 30 catches, with four of those five having at least 400 yards receiving.  Additionally, a grand total of 10 receivers have caught touchdowns this year for the Wildcats.
Criner is a fantastic wideout who will be a tough matchup for the reeling CU defense.
On defense, they're lead, such as it is, by senior linebacker Paul Vassallo.  He's reeled in 60 tackles, five of which were for loss, on the year.  Also on defense, look out for defensive back Shaquille Richardson, who has picked off opposing QBs three times this season.

Coaching -

Non-existant.  No, literally, they have no coach.  They fired his ass back in October for being the wrong Stoops brother.
"Wait, I can go golf now?  Sweet!"
The interim guy is Tim Kish, a 7-year veteran of the Wildcat coaching staff.  Last season he was co-defensive coordinator with CU's own Greg Brown.  At least we should know what we're getting with these guys.

His first game somehow ended up as a 48-12 victory over UCLA.  In a game that was mired by an inventive streaker and an all-out brawl, the Wildcats embarrassed a Bruin team which has gone on to miraculously find themselves at the front of the Pac-12 South.  The follow-up efforts haven't been as exemplary.

Interestingly enough, I've heard Dan Hawkins name floated from time to time for this job.  That'd be funny.  It's mostly a bullshit rumor started to stir up the pot, but it would be hilarious if CU got a shot at him each season.

Conclusion -

Well, it looked better last week.  Yeah, the defense still looked as strong as one of those banners high school teams bust through to get on the field, but CU remained 'competitive' all night long.  Specifically, the offense, which had been all but non-existent, found themselves a few plays away from making things interesting.  All told, it was the best performance in a month.

More to the point, Speedy looked good in his first action back on the field, and Toney Clemmons had his best game in a Buffs uniform.  The offense as a whole is no longer stuck in remedial class, and I'm interested to see how it handles a defense not loaded with the NFL caliber speed which litters the USC roster.

So, can CU carry that pseudo momentum forward into this game?  Can they honor those seniors by playing to a victory against the 'weakest' opponent left on the schedule?


This team is still miles away from competing with any sort of seriousness.  The month of October was the straw that broke the camels back, and there is no recovery in the 2011 calendar year.  The Buffs will finish the season 0-5 in the Folsom portion of their schedule.

Sure, I could see big games from the offensive seniors against that weak-ass 'Cat D, propelling the Buff offense into point totals which challenge to crack the 30 point barrier (has only happened once this year).  But that CU defense is still a wasteland, deprived of talent and will.  'Zona should march up and down the field on these guys.  The Wildcat offense is better than it's CU counterpart, so I have to give them the overall advantage.

Arizona 45 - CU 27

*sigh*  It's almost over...


No comments: