Preview: West Virginia - Colorado

West Virginia has redemption on its mind as it travels to Boulder for its first-ever meeting with the Buffaloes of Colorado.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: First Meeting
Thu 09/18/08 8:30 PM
Boulder, CO

Folsom Field
Record: 1-1
USA: 24th
Last Game
ECU L 3-24

TV: ESPN
Radio: Sirius, MSN
Web: BlueGoldNews.com

Record: 2-0
USA: 40th
Last Game
E Wash W 31-24
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule
First Meeting: 2008
Last Meeting: - - -
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

Click for Boulder, Colorado Forecast


INJURIES

WVU - Reed Williams (Shoulder) Probable, Brantwon Bowser (Knee) Doubtful, Zach Hulse (Shoulder) Out

CU - B.J. Beatty (Leg) Out, Jason Espinoza (Collarbone) Out, Bret Smith (Knee) Out, Luke Walters (Leg) Out, Keenan Stevens (Shoulder) Questionable

GAME OUTLOOK

WVU offense vs. CU defense

Colorado's defense is strong against the run but is vulnerable in the passing game. Colorado returns one of the best interior linemen in the Big 12 in first team all Big 12 defensive tackle George Hypolite. A great interior pass rusher with 6.5 sacks, he was also ultra-active against the run, making 51 tackles and ten tackles for loss despite missing one game with a hamstring problem. Hypolite is too quick for most guards and he demands to be double teamed on every play, and often it still doesn't matter. He will be a handful upfront for West Virginia, which struggled against a strong defensive front ifromEast Carolina.

Another player to watch on the inside for Colorado will be former Notre Dame transfer Brandon Nicolas, who was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection last year. He will help bolster the run defense after making 46 tackles last season (including 11 tackles for loss) while also racking up three sacks. The name of the game for the front four of Colorado is speed. Hypolite and Nicolas are both undersized as defensive tackles but are very active up front and can get into the backfield in a hurry.

At linebacker Colorado will start junior Marcus Burton at the weakside. Burton will be replacing Jordan Dizon who racked up 442 career tackles for the Buffs. Burton has good size at six feet and 255 pounds, but he is still largely unproven. Burton missed all of last year with academic issues, and missed all of 2006 with an injury. The other two linebackers will be former walk-on Jeff Smart who took the position early last year to finish with 77 tackles. On the strong side is senior Brad Jones who is strong open field tackler and another weapon for Colorado in stopping the run. The linebackers, much like the defensive line, are undersized but are fast to the ball and athletic.

The star in the secondary is strong safety Daniel Dykes, a 6-2, 210-pounder who showed he could be a great open-field tackler against the top competition. A former star for Idaho, D.J. made 141 tackles for the Vandals as a big, tough, intimidating force. Ryan Walters will play the free safety and is coming off an injury but he much like Dykes is a hard-hitting safety. The corner back position will feature two players who are unproven talents in Gardner McKay and Cha'pelle Brown. Both corners are small but extremely quick.

Colorado uses its overall team speed and athleticism on defense to make plays. Last week against Eastern Washington, Colorado allowed just 47 yards on the ground but also surrendered 303 yards through the air. In their first game against Colorado State they allowed just 71 yards on the ground. This matchup will all depend on which West Virginia team comes to play. Will it be the aerial attack we saw against Villanova or will it be the sputtering offense against East Carolina? Given the results last week against a good defensive front for East Carolina this could be a very long night for the Mountaineers but one game doesn't make a season. The key in this game will be how much time Pat White gets the throw and how well he can get the ball downfield.

By The Numbers
WVU Scoring Offense 25.5 ppg, Rushing Offense 164 ypg, Passing Offense 138.5 ypg, Total Offense 302.5 ypg

CU Scoring Defense 20.5 ppg, Rushing Defense 59.0 ypg, Passing Defense 245 ypg, Total Defense 304 ypg

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. CU offense

The Colorado offense likes to spread teams out and will run a fast-paced, no huddle, hurry up offense. Leading the team at quarterback is the coach's son, sophomore Cody Hawkins. Hawkins started immediately at Colorado and as expected made a lot of mistakes last season. Hawkins, however was much better taking care of the football toward the end of last year. Through two games thus far he has thrown two interceptions compared to four touchdowns and is completing 75% of his passes. Don't underestimate his ability to run the football, either. Hawkins is athletic and isn't afraid to tuck the ball and run for the first down.

The star at running back is true freshman Darrell Scott. Scott was a major recruiting victory last season and he has walked right into the starting role. Scott is loaded with talent but his college career is still very young. He is big at six feet, two inches and 215 pounds, but he can also get upfield in a hurry, as his 4.3 mark in the 40-yard dash attests. Through the first two games this season Scott is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on just 24 totes through the first two games.

5'10, 215-pound sophomore Demetrius Sumler isn't going to politely step aside to Scott, however. A star recruit as well, he came in and had a nice first year, running for 335 yards and four touchdowns as the team's second leading rusher behind Hugh Charles, but he didn't show much flash averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Thus far Sumler and Scott have been splitting the carries.

The offensive line for Colorado had a world of talent but is also extremely young and inexperienced. The anchor on the offensive line is senior center Daniel Sanders. Sanders is a good leader and tough run blocker and could take some snaps at guard as well. The other returning starter is sophomore Ryan Miller, a 6'7, 315-pound pass blocker who got started in the second half of last year at right tackle. Miller is the former Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year and has the potential to eventually be an All-Big 12 performer.

The player to watch out for on the outside is speedy receiver Scotty McKnight. McKnight returned last year from a broken ankle to lead the ream in receiving with 45 catches for 455 yards and four touchdowns. McKnight is coming off a big game last week, where he caught eight balls for 90 yards. Hawkins likes to spread the ball around at quarterback but McKnight is the main option in the passing game.

Colorado's offense is still a work in progress to a certain extent. It will take some time for the spread passing attack to hit full stride but Cody Hawkins is gaining experience and confidence with every game. This offense is still very young and prone to mistakes but they have talent to build on. The West Virginia defense did not play very well last week and had difficulty making open field tackles. Their poor tackling will not help them against athletic backs like Scott, who is a threat to rip off big gains when he gets the smallest of holes.

By The Numbers
WVU Scoring Defense 22.5 ppg, Rushing Defense 138.0 ypg, Passing Defense 254.5 ypg, Total Defense 393.5 ypg

CU Scoring Offense 34.5 ppg, Rushing Offense 121.5 ypg, Passing Offense 237.5 ypg, Total Offense 359.0 ypg

Advantage: Colorado

WVU special teams vs. CU special teams

Redshirt freshman Jameson Davis has a big leg, while Wyoming transfer Aric Goodman has an accurate one. Combine the two and you'd have a great kicker. Goodman will handle the place kicking while Davis will use his big leg on kickoffs.

Junior punter Matt DiLallo is back after averaging a decent 40.1 yards per kick with a whopping 22 put inside the 20. His average dropped after a tremendous freshman year, when he averaged 43.7 yard per kick, but his placements were better. This year, he is looking to put both aspects together to help the Buffs win the field position battle.

Gone are Terrence Wheatley and High Charles, who helped the kick return game to be among the best in the Big 12, but no one is crying in Boulder. Sophomore Josh Smith is a speedy option on both return teams, and he's already showed what he can do. Smith already has a 96-yard kickoff return for a score and is a threat whenever West Virginia punts or kicks off. The Mountaineer kickoff coverage team, which has been average at best this year, will have to have its best outing of the season in order to hold Smith in check.

By The Numbers
WVU Net Punting 41.3 yards per punt, Kickoff Returns 22.5 yards per return , Punt Returns 12.0 yards per return

CU Net Punting 39.1 yards per punt , Kickoff Returns 22.8 yards per return, Punt Returns 10.8 yards per return

Advantage: Push

PICKS TO CLICK

On Offense: Noel Devine

On Defense: Reed Williams

PREDICTION

This is going to be a difficult test for the Mountaineers. Traveling to a stadium they aren't use to playing in against a team they have little experience against is always a challenge. Colorado is loaded with talent but it is still a young team that will make mistakes. This game will be all about leadership for the Mountaineers. WVU was dominated in every aspect of the game against East Carolina, but I'm not ready to give up on this team and neither should anyone else. There is a reason they play 12 games in a season and the champion isn't decided just two games in. I expect to see the leaders of the team take charge and show everyone the type of team and the type of talent West Virginia has. It's going to be tough, but I look for West Virginia to get back on track and silence some of its critics.

WVU - 24 CU - 17


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