Know Your Foe: Colorado

Even at 0-2 in Pac-12 play, there is little doubt that the 2013 version of the Colorado Buffaloes are a much improved squad from last season. What areas have they progressed in the most and what challenges can they present to Arizona State this weekend? Publisher James Bryant answers those questions and more by Sparky's Huddle members.

Granted, coming into 2013 expectations were low for Colorado. Therefore, do you view the 2-2, 0-2 Pac-12 current record as a disappointment or just what about you expected? Do you feel the team has truly improved since they joined the Pac-12?

BuffPlayBook Answer: This is definitely an approved ballclub from last years. Last season this team lost to a FCS school and its in-state rivals Colorado State, things couldn't get much worse. This season they have won the games they should have won, they are still showing signs of not playing well on the road, which they did against Oregon State. Even though the Buffs were way outmanned by Oregon this past week, they play a lot better against the Ducks than they did the Beavers.

What is your impression of the job that Mike MacIntyre is doing as a first-year head coach, let alone his first job at a BCS conference school? Anything surprised you for good or for bad thus far?

BuffPlayBook Answer: The rebuilding and turnaround job he did at San Jose State was simply amazing. It's easy to see why he is good at what he does. He goes to a down trodden program and builds it from the ground up. He and his coaching staff are very positive teachers of the game. He builds each player's confidence, he makes each player expect more out of themselves and out of each of their teammates. He is a very detailed oriented coach that doesn't leave much out in his master plan for the program.

Even though Connor Wood has almost as many touchdowns (eight) as he has interceptions (six) he's averaging 274 passing yards a game and Colorado is ranked 26th nationally in passing yards. Has that been the biggest surprise on offense and what do you attribute those numbers to?

BuffPlayBook Answer: Connor said it best this summer that this offense was so much easier to understand, more user friendly that last year's system. He threw for 400 yards against Colorado State and has shown that he can throw the deep ball. He had confidence issues in the pass, his performance on the road at Oregon State was not very good, but that was aided by the weather. He must continue to improve and need to show improvement away from Boulder.

On the other hand the Buffaloes have yet to score a rushing touchdown and are ranked 110th in rushing yards. Was that expected and does playing a defense like ASU give Colorado confidence that they break out of their slump here?

BuffPlayBook Answer: Last year's premier back Christian Powell has been banged up some early on and hasn't been himself until perhaps last week against Oregon. MacIntyre has turned to true freshman Michael Adkins to give the Buffs a spark at this position. Adkins has good vision, an extra burst and some better moves than the other backs have shown so far.

Wide receiver Paul Richardson's is overall having a good year but his productions has dropped dramatically in Pac-12 play. Is it just a matter of struggling against better competition or do other factors come into play?

BuffPlayBook Answer: Richardson's performance numbers were down for Oregon State, a big part of that was the fact that Wood wasn't in sync and it showed. After having 21 days off it did seem to affect the Buffs chemistry between Wood and Richardson. Richardson had better numbers against Oregon, shows why he is one of the best wide outs in the country.

Overall, what aspects on Colorado's offense can give ASU the most problems? Who are some of the key players to look out for on this side of the ball?

BuffPlayBook Answer: If Wood and Richardson can get in sync early, they definitely can be considered offensive weapons. Colorado needs to establish a running game at Arizona State this weekend, if they can then expect Powell and Adkins to play a key role there. D.D. Goodson and Nelson Spruce have shown that they can be a threat offensively as quick wide receivers.

The Colorado defense is surrendering 38 points a game. Do you attribute that to a weak unit or do the struggle on offense and turnovers play a big part?

This defense can fool you. They have caused some key turnovers at times and this unit is led by true freshman middle linebacker Addison Gillam who is leading the conference in tackles. Keys for this defense are to get pressure on the quarterback and for the secondary to make key turnovers.

If you are the ASU offense what aspects of the Buffaloes' defense can you exploit and what areas should be a concern for the Sun Devils?

BuffPlayBook Answer: I'm sure the Sun Devils will come out shooting in their passing game to make a statement early. Greg Henderson and other young defenders must answer the bell. Pass rush is key and they continue to get outstanding play out of linebacker Gillam will be key for the Buffs.

Colorado is such a beautiful state and Boulder has a real College atmosphere. Yet, the program is obviously in rebuilding mode? Do those factors cancel each other out and make it harder for the program recruiting wise?

BuffPlayBook Answer: I think having several coaches in the last few years is the key to the Buff's demise. MacIntyre has already proven that he has an eye for talent, see Addison Gillam as an example here. Getting prospects on campus is key, keeping a coach for a few years is key here also. Look for MacIntyre and staff to surprise people with their recruiting classes and then watch them have success developing them.

What are the keys for a Colorado victory and what is your prediction?

BuffPlayBook Answer: Connor Wood must have a great game and throw more touchdowns than he does interceptions.

Big explosive plays to Richardson and other offensive weapons will be key.

Getting a pass rush on ASU's quarterback, causing turnovers and playing solid special teams will play critical roles if the Buffs are to pull off a key road win in Tempe.

Prediction ASU 42-35 over Colorado

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