Buffs Set for Home Opener Versus UCLA

The Buffs enter their game with the UCLA Bruins this weekend at Folsom Field with a full head of steam. Colorado's 42-35 victory over Colorado State in the opener proved to be a coming out party for quarterback <b>Joel Klatt</b>. Can he keep it going and can CU's defense redeem themselves?

The Bruins, meanwhile, will be making their 2003 debut. It'll mark the head coaching debut for Karl Dorrell, a former CU assistant, and his group of former Colorado coaches. Eric Bieniemy, Jon Embree and Doc Kreis all headed to Los Angeles in the off-season.

With a game under their belts, the Buffs would seem to be the favorite, especially playing in their house. But the CSU game only served to help UCLA by providing a glimpse of what the Buffs might do against them. Gary Barnett and his staff have nothing on UCLA.

CU offense vs. UCLA defense

The Bruins' defense is clearly the strength of the team. The senior-laden group has a talented front seven and one of the best young secondary players in the country in Matt Ware.

That said, UCLA does have some defensive weaknesses. Outside of Ware, the secondary is a bit suspect on one side. That's good news for Klatt, who repeatedly made the Rams pay for lapses in the defensive backfield last week. Look for the Buffs to put pressure on the untested group with their taller receivers, especially against 5-9 corner Matt Clark.

For the passing game to be effective, Klatt will have to get good protection up front. The Bruins front seven is aggressive and will blitz every chance they get. The offensive line and fullback Lawrence Vickers have to give Klatt time to find his receivers downfield.

Colorado running back's will face a stiff test against linebackers Brandon Chillar and Spencer Havner, two of the best outside ‘backers in the Pac-10. Consequently, look for the Buffs to pressure the middle of the field and crack several runs straight up the gut. As was the case against CSU, Bobby Purify and Bobby Calhoun will split the duties.

CU defense vs. UCLA offense

Colorado's poor defensive showing against the Rams might be the best thing that happened to them. For months, the unit was being touted as one of the best Colorado defenses in recent memory. Then they got torched by Bradlee Van Pelt and Co. Ya think Defensive Coordinator Vince Okruch had a thing or two to say this week?

That lackluster effort will have the defense ready to go against the Bruins.

Sophomore Matt Moore will start at quarterback for the Bruins. He'll benefit from an experienced, but thin offensive line and a solid group of skill position players. Wideout Craig Bragg stands 6-2 and he'll test a Colorado secondary that's still licking its wounds. On a positive note, for the Buffs anyway, UCLA will be without receiver Tab Perry.

As Dorrell wants to establish a balanced attack, the running game will have equal opportunity against CU. Tyler Ebell is the lead back and he'll get most of the carries. Look for fullback Manuel White to also show some power inside.

With a green quarterback, look for Colorado to stuff the line and dare Moore to send the ball downfield. That'll put a premium on the play of Phil Jackson and Sammy Joseph.

The Bottom Line

The Bruins' coaching staff knows a thing or two about the Buffs. Colorado has to mix things up – on both sides of the ball – to keep the Bruins on their heels.

Yes, the CSU game provided the Bruins with some valuable game film. It also gave the Buffs the chance to get their feet wet and see where they stand after weeks of butting heads with teammates. That game should not be underestimated, nor should the location of the game.

Colorado's offense may not look as impressive as it did against CSU, but CU should squeak out a victory this weekend.

BuffStampede Top Stories