Behind Enemy Lines: Colorado

Oregon State travels to Boulder, Colorado for their PAC 12 opener on Saturday, and as we do each week, we check in with an expert who covers the opponent in our weekly "Behind Enemy Lines" feature at BeaverBlitz. Today we check in with Adam Munsterteiger from BuffStampede.com.

Q: Colorado is off to a 3-1 start and is coming off of a huge win at Oregon last week. What has finally happened in year four for Coach MacIntyre that has helped the Buffs turn the corner?

Adam Munsterteiger: There are a number of factors for the rise of Colorado's program this fall, but the biggest factor is unquestionably experience. The returning players had 412 combined starts entering the 2016 season, the most in program history. These now juniors and seniors battled the last two years and suffered a lot of close, heart-breaking defeats. But instead of quitting, they used it as motivation to get better.

The addition of defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt last year, and the hiring of both co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini and strength coach Drew Wilson this past off-season, has upped the level of coaching on the Buffaloes' staff.

MacIntyre certainly needs to be commended here, as well. He stopped the revolving door the CU program had for far too many years, with players transferring out at the first sight of adversity. MacIntyre is not a used car salesman type of coach. He is a genuine, emotional person that does a good job of getting players to buy in. Four years into his tenure, it is finally paying off.

Q: The Buffaloes are in a similar situation to the Beavers going into Saturday as both starting QB’s are questionable with injuries. Redshirt freshman Steven Montez went into Autzen and led the team to victory and earned PAC 12 POW honors as well. Is there any controversy brewing in Boulder regarding who the quarterback should be?

AM: Not really. Sefo Liufau is a four-year starter and a three-year captain. His experience is invaluable and he gives Colorado its best chance to achieve its goals this season. And Liufau was playing really well before he got sidelined with the ankle injury. He ranks sixth in the country in passer efficiency. But given how much this staff asks the quarterback to run, Liufau has to be close to fully healthy before they will insert him back in the starting line-up.

Liufau has participated in practices in a limited capacity this week, and did as well last week. My guess, and this is only a guess, is Montez starts against Oregon State this weekend and Liufau is back in the line-up the following week at USC. Colorado's coaches will not make any announcement prior to the game, though.

Montez certainly has a bright future. He used his excellent physical tools to rack up 468 yards of offense against Oregon, but let's be frank, the Ducks have a swiss cheese-esque defense. So he is not a polished quarterback by any stretch.”

Q: After a huge win against the Ducks, do you see the Buffs having any sort of hangover going into this week against the 1-3 Beavers?

AM: Colorado defeated its first two opponents 100-14, then had a fairly sizeable lead early against No. 4 Michigan in The Big House before special teams woes buried them, before upsetting the Ducks in Eugene. Following all the heartache they've felt in recent seasons, this appears to be a team on a mission. The Buffs' defensive players were genuinely upset they gave up a touchdown in each of the first two games. They expected a shutout. So all that said, I just don't see Colorado overlooking anyone.

And to be honest, they don't deserve to feel a sense of entitlement. Sure, it is nice to start out the season the way they have, but this is a program that hasn't been to a bowl game since 2007. They have to treat every opponent with respect. And the sense I get this week is they respect Oregon State. Heck, they needed a late interception to beat the Beavers just last season so it shouldn't be too difficult for the Buffs' coaches to keep the players on edge leading up to the game.

Q: Who are the playmakers on both sides of the ball that Beaver fans should be aware of?

AM: The Buffaloes have good depth at receiver. Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo have all made big plays in each of Colorado's first three contests. Bobo now has two one-handed touchdown grabs that have gained serious air time on SportsCenter. At running back, junior Phillip Lindsay is not a homerun threat but he is a tough runner that enjoys contact and almost always picks up positive yardage.

Defensively, senior Chidobe Awuzie spends time at both nickel back and cornerback, and he shines in both roles. His versatility and playmaking ability allows defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to make some calls he otherwise wouldn't. Awuzie was second-team all-Pac-12 last year and honestly would have been a first-team selection had Colorado won more games and garnered more respect in the conference. He has elite closing speed and is a sure tackler. Senior nose tackle Josh Tupou does a good job of taking on multiple blockers, and inside linebacker Kenneth Olugbode has seemingly put it all together as a senior and currently leads the team in tackles.

Q: What is your prediction for this game, including a score?

AM: I have tempered my expectations for this Colorado team up to this point, largely because of the program's past failures. I have seen enough now, though, to think with their home crowd and a confidence level that is through the roof right now, this should turn into a lop-sided victory for the Buffaloes. I'll say Colorado 48, Oregon State 20. And now I will duck for cover anticipating flying debris from Beaver fans. If I am wrong, I will gladly take a heaping helping of crow. Welcome to the Scout network, BeaverBlitz.com! Excited to have your site on the same network as our site again.


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