Colorado has been one of the bigger surprises in the country for a few reasons and one of them has been the addition of former Texas Tech assistant Darrin Chiaverini as co-offensive coordinator.
Although he wasn’t an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Chiaverini has taken some of the uptempo passing schemes that the Red Raiders used and implemented them at Colorado with great success.
For comparison, last year the Buffaloes averaged 24.6 points, 5.1 yards-per-play, 3.7 yards-per-carry and 6.7 yards per pass.
This season, the Buffs are averaging 33.7 points, 5.87 yards per play, 4.31 yards per carry, and 8.16 passing yards per attempt.
Sefo Liufau is seeing the bulk of the action since coming back fro injury, but it has not mattered much who is behind center because Steven Montez has plenty of successful as well.
Liufau is one of the toughest quarterbacks Arizona will see this season and he is completing 66.7 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Colorado has run the ball 434 times to 294 pass attempts, but will often take what the defense gives it.
The run game will test Arizona’s ability to contain the edge, as Philip Lindsay’s strength is in space and Colorado will put him there as much as possible.
This season, Lindsay is averaging 90.9 yards per game and has scored ten times. While a good chunk of that is when he attacks the edges with sweeps, Colorado also is not afraid to run in between the tackles.
Liufau isn’t a breakaway runner, but his strong and smart enough for Colorado to use him to pick up an easy three or four yards.
In addition to those two, Kyle Evans will get his fair share of carries. At 5-foot-6, he obviously isn’t a power back, but can be dangerous with his legitimate speed.
Colorado also will send its running backs out wide to stretch the field and create mismatches, as evidenced by Lindsay’s 33 catches for 303 yards this season.
The Buffs have three receivers that will certainly give Arizona some fits. Devin Ross leads the team with 45 receptions and he has scored five times as well.
Ross will often line up in the slot, but Colorado will get him the ball quickly with bubble screens and slants in order to give him the opportunity to make plays in space.
Shay Field leads Colorado with 602 yards, but is third in completions, thus highlighting his big play ability.
Fields is a very strong route runner and Colorado trusts him to run a variety of routes deep down the field.
Bryce Bobo is the third main receiver used and he has 37 catches for 495 yards and two scores. He is most dangerous when Colorado uses him on short crossing routes and will test the linebackers throughout the game.
Players to Watch
#23, RB Phillip Lindsay: Arizona’s run defense has struggled this season and Colorado is going to use Lindsay to attack in numerous ways. Arizona will have difficulty accounting for him in the passing game and the Buffs have no issue continually throwing to him.
#13, QB Sefo Liufau: Colorado’s quarterback has actually struggled the past two games, though it is against strong defenses. He is fundamentally sound, but can struggle at times with the blitz. If Colorado is going to have success on offense, it will largely be due to Liufau’s effort.
#2, WR Devin Ross: The Buffs will get him the ball quickly and allow him to make moves on the defense. Arizona has struggled with slants to the middle of the field and if that remains the case on Saturday, Ross will have a big day.
Keys to the Game
1. Play for pride: That did not happen on Saturday. Washington State embarrassed Arizona in every way and now it’s a matter of playing for pride.
2. Hit Liufau early: Arizona isn’t going to sit back in this one. Liufau is as tough as they come, but he does struggle at times when he gets hit early. The Wildcats’ defense needs to attack early and often.