Buff Run Game Faces Tough Task

Colorado hopes to get its offense back on track Saturday when it hosts Kansas. That will be a challenge because the Jayhawks boast the nation's fourth-ranked run defense.

Through six games, the Kansas Jayhawks have given up just 69.8 yards per outing on the ground. That's the fourth stingiest number in the country, second in the Big 12. No opposing player has put up 100 yards rushing on the Kansas defense this fall.

Those numbers may be a bit misleading, however, as KU has played just two teams you could consider run threats — Kansas State and Oklahoma. OU was without its best runner, Adrian Peterson, in that game, and the Sooners managed just 96 yards on 49 rushes in the 19-2 Oklahoma win.

Still, Colorado coaches have been telling their players Kansas is as good a defense they will face this season. Sophomore Byron Ellis is a believer.

"This is probably one of the best defenses in the league right now," Ellis said. "We're going to have to bring our A game. I'd say they're as good as Texas' defense. They've got a lot of experience. The execute good as a unit."

Kansas doesn't do anything fancy when they line up and stop the run out of their 4-3 base defense.

"But when you look at that team, they just look like they love to play," CU running backs coach Shawn Simms said. "Wherever the ball goes, you see 10 or 11 people around it."

KU linebacker Nick Reid leads the Big 12 in tackles with 61, and tackles for loss with 12.5.

Simms said he's been preaching not only the strength of KU's defense this week in practice, but challenging his players to play up to the form they were showing prior to last weekend's loss at Texas.

"Our big challenge is we want to get our mind right, and get that feeling we had (before the Texas game)," Simms said. "In that sense, we can't wait to get out there and play and get our swagger back. On the other hand, you've got a tough defense to do that against."

As they have all fall, expect Colorado to run a lot of Hugh Charles, season that with some Ellis and sprinkle in some Lawrence Vickers, as well. Charles has proven he's a home run threat and is averaging 87.5 yards a game. He's also been effective as a receiver, catching 15 passes through six games.

Simms hasn't hesitated to use Ellis when Charles gets winded.

"When I go in I don't want the tempo to fall off," Ellis said. "I want to be just as good or better than (Charles) was when I go in."

Ellis has rushed for 161 yards on 48 carries. He's shown some patience as a runner, and, according to Simms, has even been more effective than Charles at times at waiting for the play to develop behind CU's zone-blocking schemes. Ellis is a smart player who doesn't miss assignments, and is a reliable receiver.

What he needs to work on most is his overall physical strength, Simms said.

"As he gets more (physically) developed, you'll see him breaking more tackles," Simms said.

Ticket Update
4,400 tickets remained as of Wednesday evening for Saturday's game with Kansas (5 p.m. kickoff).

Iwuh and Dizon Practice
Linebackers Brian Iwuh (foot) and Jordon Dizon (flu) practiced Wednesday and are expected to play Saturday.

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