That's the task for the Buffs this week, as they try to rebound from last week's disappointing home loss to Washington State. Some Colorado fans liken the loss to WSU to the Buffs' loss to USC last season. Those same fans also recall how CU fought back the following week and upset the UCLA Bruins on the road.
Unfortunately, the test for the young Buffs this week is much more difficult than it was last season.
CU offense vs. Florida State defense
With Klatt and Purify out, it's anybody's guess what the Buffs will throw at the Seminoles. FSU possesses a quick front seven that has been dominant against the run this season. Maryland managed just 73 yards on 31 carries two weeks ago, and Georgia Tech was held to 112 yards on 39 carries last week.
The pass defense hasn't been too shabby either. The ‘Noles have yet to allow a touchdown reception this season.
Erik Greenburg gets the call out of the bullpen for the injured Klatt. Greenburg, who was on a Mormon mission at this time last year, got some time against WSU and was decent after a slow start. Florida State's defensive weakness lies in its secondary and the Buffs will look to exploit it every chance they get. D.J. Hackett and Derek McCoy have to be active from the start. That will allow Greenburg to gain some confidence,
The Buffs will look to running back Brian Calhoun to provide some of the magic he showed last year against Oklahoma and Nebraska. The sophomore has struggled early on this season, but the little back has speed and moves to break some long ones. Lawrence Vickers will get some carries, providing the power game usually handled by Purify. There's also a chance Brandon Caesar and true freshman Daniel Jolly will see a few handoffs.
The CU offense has to get out of the blocks quickly and hit the FSU defense with a powerful punch. The ‘Noles have yet to be tested this season and a solid drive to open the game might put them back on their heels. Calhoun must perform like he did late last season and, most importantly, the offensive line has to keep Greenburg clean and the holes open. Neither of which have been easy for the o-line this season,
CU defense vs. Florida State offense
The Seminoles have talent at all of the offensive positions, but the most skilled players are in the backfield. Before injuring his knee last season, Greg Jones was one of the best backs in the country. He rehabbed his knee in the offseason and has returned in solid form. He struggled last week, but he scored twice and ran for 88 yards against Maryland two weeks ago. Even with Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker hobbled, the Buffs have to be wary of the FSU running game.
The passing attack is not as star-studded as it has been in the past, but the ‘Noles can still throw the ball. Chris Rix is a capable quarterback, who can post big numbers, and receivers P.K. Sam and Craphonso Thorpe have proven to be solid threats downfield.
So how do the Buffs defend this offense? Easy, throw everything at Jones and the running game and leave the their bewildered defensive backfield on an island against Sam, Thorpe and Co.
Yes, we're serious.
Not only should the Buffs make Rix try to beat them by stacking the line, but CU should also blitz every chance they get. Give Rix a few seconds and he'll find the open guy. But slap some pressure on him and he'll fold like a cheap suit.
The FSU receivers are solid, but they're not the best the CU defenders have seen this season. One could argue that all three teams CU has played has a better receiving corps than these ‘Noles do.
Pressing the line will also put more stress on Jones, who will have to handle the majority of the load with his fellow running backs injured.
The Bottom Line
The FSU offense is not a juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination. Sadly, CU's offense isn't any better.
Given Florida State's speed on defense – which negates Calhoun's speed – and Greenburg's first career start, this could be an ugly game for CU.
Just like they did against UCLA last season, Gary Barnett's team will fight to rebound from a tough loss on the road. But unlike last season, they will probably not emerge victorious.