September 14, 2006

Ask the expert Q&A: Colorado Buffaloes

Throughout the remainder of the 2006 football season, ASUDevils.com will run a story previewing Colorado's upcoming opponent through the view of a beat writer from that team.

This week, Adam Munsterteiger from BuffStampede.com was kind enough to take time out to give ASU fans insight into their next opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes.

The Colorado defense appears to be playing very well, especially against the run. Who are the standouts on this side of the ball?

"Every member of the Buffs' front seven has played well so far this season but the main playmakers are defensive end Abraham Wright, mike linebacker Thaddaeus Washington and will linebacker Jordon Dizon. Wright was seemingly unblockable en route to a three sack performance last Saturday against Colorado State. Dizon and Washington have recorded 25 and 23 tackles respectively through two weeks."

Is Bernard Jackson going to get the start in this game at QB and how does he change the CU offense?

"Jackson is expected to start the game at quarterback, but there is still a good chance you'll see James Cox in some behind center. Jackson brings an added dimension to the offense with his athleticism. Under the former coaching staff, he spent time at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and punt returner. The problem is that Jackson has yet to prove himself as a passer. And until he can do that, opposing defenses will continue stack the line with eight men."

How has the transition gone with former ASU quarterback's coach Mark Helfrich coming on as offensive coordinator?

"This is a tough question to answer just because Helfrich does not have a lot of talent to work with on offense, particularly at wide receiver. The Buffaloes' top four playmakers in the passing game last season - quarterback Joel Klatt, versatile back Lawrence Vickers and tight ends Joe Klopfenstein and Quinn Sypniewski - were all lost to graduation. And starting tailback Hugh Charles has been limited so far this season with an arm injury.

"In the first two games, Colorado did a good job of moving the ball early on with their scripted plays. But as the games wore on and the opposing defenses made adjustments, the Buffs' offense began to struggle. Colorado has scored all 20 of their points in the first half."

What does CU need to accomplishing on the field to get things headed in the right direction?

"In the immediate future, the players just need to continue to get experience in the new system. If they continue to improve week to week, this should be a respectable team by season's end.

"In the long run, Colorado needs to improve their overall team speed and talent. That begins and ends with recruiting. The last three years under Gary Barnett, their recruiting classes ranked in the bottom half of the Big 12. Early signs indicate that Dan Hawkins and his new staff will be effective recruiters."

What are the keys in this game for CU on offense/defense?

"Offensively, Jackson needs to complete a few passes down field. As I said before, that is a key to keep the Sun Devils' defense honest. On defense, the Buffs will need a strong pass rush to help mask some of the deficiencies in their secondary. If Carpenter is given a lot of time back in the pocket, he will likely pick the Buffs' apart through the air."

How is the emotional state of this team after its two losses to start the season?

"Given the fact that Colorado is coming off two losses to a D-1AA program and their in-state rivals, their spirits are actually surprisingly high. The upperclassmen on the team have been through a lot during their college career, including the "recruiting scandal" and the coaching change. So the recent losses haven't rattled them as much as it might to some teams."

Are there any injuries affecting players on the two-deep?

"Under Hawkins, Colorado no longer releases injury information during the season. So if something happened during practice this week, we wouldn't find out about it until Saturday. Tailback Hugh Charles[/db[, who accounted for more than 1,000 yard of offense last season, has been limited with an arm injury so far this season. Backup cornerback [db]Gardner McKay was sidelined with a high ankle sprain the first two games."

What is your prediction for the game?

"The Buffaloes' suspect pass defense and the Sun Devils' ability to move the ball through the air creates a huge mismatch in this game. To top it off, Colorado has simply not proven that they can put points on the board so far this season. I'll go ASU 31, Colorado 13."


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