Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
A first look at ASU's next opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes
What do you get when your next game is against arguably the worst team in a BCS conference, you are a 22-point favorite, and the game after that is a massive showdown against No. 2 Oregon?
The potential for this.
As lopsided as this game appears to be, the Sun Devils can take nothing for granted against Colorado. The Buffaloes have some talented players on the roster, and ASU has yet to prove they can be consistent winners on the road.
Let's take a first look at the Buffs and what the will bring to Thursday's game.
Colorado's Season to Date: The season got off to a terrible start when Colorado lost their rivalry game to Colorado State. It got worse when they lost to Sacramento State of the FCS...at home. As bad as that was, things took an even more horrific turn when the Buffaloes lost to Fresno State 69-14. They managed to beat Washington State on a last minute score, but returned to their losing ways against UCLA, falling 42-14
Colorado's Last Game: The Buffaloes, like ASU, had a bye week in advance of their match-up this Thursday. They previously took the field on September 29th, when they hosted UCLA. The Bruins jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back, as they piled up 492 yards in a decisive 42-14 win.
Colorado's Stat Leaders
- Rushing: Christian Powell - 294 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TD
- Passing: Jordan Webb - 961 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT, 121.6 rating
- Receiving: Nelson Spruce - 24 receptions, 260 yards, 2 TD
- Tackles: Kenneth Crawley & Terrel Smith - 40
- Sacks: Chidera Uzo-Diribe - 5
Colorado on Offense: A look at Colorado's national rankings on offense tells the tale: 104th in rushing, 72nd in passing, and 100th in both total and scoring offense.
Leading the offense is former Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb. The 6-foot-1 junior has been better over the last two games, including his Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week performance against Washington State. However, he lacks any top-level tools and can be prone to turnovers.
Having lost leading rusher Rodney Stewart, the team has turned to the duo of freshman Christian Powell and sophomore Tony Jones. The 235-pound Powell is a converted fullback and has supplanted Jones as the lead back, and brings a power element to complement Jones' speed and elusiveness. Jones is also a solid receiver, ranking third on the team with 12 catches. Powell's status is in question due to a hip injury,
With the loss of Toney Clemons and Stewart to graduation and Paul Richardson to an ACL injury, Colorado is without their top three pass catchers from 2011. A few young players have stepped up. Nelson Spruce, a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman, leads the team with 24 catches from his Z receiver spot. Spruce runs good routes and has good hands to add to his deceptive speed, and is backed up by another effective freshman in Gerald Thomas (10 receptions). With Spruce running the shorter routes, Tyler McCulloch strikes further downfield and presents some match-up difficulty at 6-foot-5. Tight end Nick Kasa has good size at 6-foot-6 and is a danger around the goal line.
Adding to Webb's struggles has been a very ineffective offensive line. Despite the presence of David Bakhtiari, a second-team All-Pac-12er last year, Colorado has allowed the second-most sacks in the nation. Things are no better on the ground, where they average just 3.37 yards per carry. The unit will have a tough time combating ASU's dynamic defensive pressure.
Colorado on Defense: As bad as things are on offense, they're even worse on defense. The Buffaloes rank 71st against the run, 115th against the pass, 107th in total defense and 115th in scoring. They run a base 4-3, but also will show a three-man front.
Defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe has been the unit's star this season, racking up five sacks and seven tackles-for-loss. The junior is a very disruptive force, able to beat blocks with quickness or strength. Tackle Josh Tupou is a massive 325-pound freshman and holds down the middle, while Will Pericak and Kirk Poston (three sacks) attack from the outside.
It's typically a bad sign when your top two tacklers are defensive backs, and that is the case for Colorado, with cornerback Kenneth Crawley and strong safety Terrel Smith each having 40 on the season. Cornerback Greg Henderson is their top player and is very good in coverage, but the inexperience elsewhere should make an inviting target for ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly.