5 Questions, Buffs-Bears

Inside, five questions about Colorado's matchup this Saturday with Baylor.

1) How will CU's secondary hold up?

Starting senior safety J.J. Billingsley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Thursday after injuring the knee in practice on Tuesday. Meanwhile, starting sophomore safety Ryan Walters' status is in question after he suffered a stinger in last week's game. Junior Lionel Harris will get the start in Billingsley's place, and sophomore Ben Burney should see a lot of action, whether or not Walters can go. After Harris and Burney, CU has no true safeties with game experience. (Corner Lorenzo Sims can slide over to safety, though).

One thing we do know: The defensive backs will be busy. Baylor averages 45 passes a game, and 10 yards per completion.

2) Does Thaddaeus Washington fit in this week?

CU's leading tackler through its first four games, senior linebacker and tri-captain Thaddaeus Washington, sat most of Game 5 last week at Missouri. At first it appeared it was because CU was facing Missouri's spread offense, and coaches wanted to get an extra defensive back into the game. But we later learned Washington was sitting for either disciplinary or motivational reasons. Defensive coordinator Ron Collins said Tuesday the Buffs need Washington in the lineup. Still, Washington's forte´ is stuffing the run, and Baylor's run game is anemic.

3) Can the Buffs break down that imaginary wall that has kept them out of the end zone too often this season?

CU has played against one bad, two decent and two good defenses so far. But it's gotten to the point where you can't credit opponents for the fact that the Colorado offense has scored just four touchdowns all season. More often than not, CU has failed to cross the goal line when they've gotten into the red zone. It's officially become a mental issue.

Last week, Dan Hawkins called for his team to go for the first down on fourth down twice when the Buffs were across the 50-yard line -- including once inside the 5. He explained later that he was trying to force the issue. Trying to get someone to step up and make a play. Could this be the week when the Buffs add points to their growing offensive production?

4) What about special teams?

Surprisingly, CU's special teams play has been mostly mediocre this fall. Besides punter Matt DiLallo's mishandling of a snap in the Missouri game, the Buffs weren't very good in punt or kick coverage, or return. Baylor's punter Daniel Sepulveda is one of the best in the country, and Baylor's kick returners are averaging almost 26 yards a return. This area could play a big role in Saturday's game.

5) Let's get down to it: Can the Buffs break through and get their first win of 2006?

Team morale has stayed remarkably high during the 0-5 beginning to the Dan Hawkins Era. But it's time to put an end to the skid, which currently stands at nine games, going back to last season.


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