Arizona goes on the road this weekend to take on a Colorado squad that – like the Wildcats – has struggled to find its way in the Pac-12. In the Buffaloes' first season in the conference, they have yet to pick up a victory against any of their new rivals and have only beaten lowly Colorado State this season.
CU's offense has had trouble moving the ball as well as putting up points. The Buffaloes currently rank dead-last in the Pac-12 in points per game with an average of only 18.6 per contest.
Colorado's best bet to move the ball is through the air, but it isn't the most potent passing attack. The Buffaloes rank ninth in the conference averaging just a shade over 245 yards per game.
The rushing attack doesn't give the Buffaloes much support. CU ranks 11th in the conference with an average of 94.4 yards per contest on the ground.
The offense is led by quarterback Tyler Hansen, who has been solid at times, but hasn't been able to move the Colorado offense consistently. The senior has completed just 55.5 percent of his passes for 2279 yards with 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Hansen doesn't have a habit of turning the ball over through the air, but his accuracy leaves a lot to be desired as a passer.
Hansen does have as few receivers to work with though. Colorado's top target on offense is sophomore Paul Richardson, who has caught 32 passes for 506 yards and five touchdowns. Richardson has also missed three games, which makes his numbers that much more impressive. He will test the depleted and inexperienced Arizona secondary throughout the contest.
Running back Rodney Stewart is utilized frequently in the passing game. The senior has caught a team-high 34 passes for 502 yards, but has yet to catch a touchdown pass. Stewart provides CU with some versatility out of the backfield and should see plenty of opportunities through the air on Saturday.
Senior wideout Toney Clemons has been the veteran leader of the receiving corps. The receiver has caught 31 passes for 413 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. The duo of Richardson and Clemons has been impressive in an otherwise stagnant offensive attack, so expect to see plenty of both this weekend.
Other targets such as wide receiver Logan Gray, tight end Ryan Deehan and running back Tony Jones could all play valuable roles in the passing game Saturday.
Stewart and Jones are the two players who get the majority of the carries in the rushing attack. Stewart has 561 yards on 134 carries and a touchdown. He has a solid rushing average of 4.2 yards per carry, but has only one 100-yard rushing game and just three games where he carried the ball over 20 times.
Jones has been Stewart's primary backup this season, but has been inconsistent in that role as a freshman. He has carried the ball 61 times for 212 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns. Jones didn't receive a carry this past weekend against USC, but had been showing improvement as the season progressed leading up to last weekend.
Colorado's offensive line leaves a lot to be desired as well. The unit has surrendered a Pac-12-high 29 sacks and its run blocking has been suspect as the team averages a league-low 3.2 yards per carry. The Buffaloes' offensive struggles can be directly attributed to problems along the line and CU will need the group to show up Saturday to finally come away with its first Pac-12 victory.
1. Blitz: The only way Colorado has been able to move the ball consistently is through the air. If Arizona can successfully blitz Hansen, then Colorado is going to find it difficult to move the ball.
2. Pay attention to Richardson: Despite the Buffaloes struggles on offense, Richardson is one of the more deadly receivers in the conference and has the ability to make a big play against the UA secondary. If the Wildcats lose sight of him, he will make their defense pay.
3. Force Colorado into third-down situations: CU is 11th in the conference in third down conversion percentage, succeeding only a little over 1/3 of the time. If UA can stop Colorado on first and second down then it will put a dent on CU's chances to move the ball efficiently.
4. Neutralize the passing game: The Buffaloes haven't ran the ball well, so if UA can stop the CU passing attack, it leaves them with virtually nothing to work with.
5. Force the Buffaloes into mistakes: Colorado doesn't have the ability to overcome mistakes on offense. If Arizona can force turnovers, take advantage of penalties and force Hansen into making bad decisions with the ball, it will have a much easier time stopping the Buffaloes' offense.
Colorado Offensive Preview
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