The Colorado Buffaloes have been the laughing stock of the Pac-12 since they joined the conference but that stigma may slowly be dying.
Although they've lost their last two games by large margins, new head coach Mike MacIntyre has Colorado trending in the right direction. If you don't believe me, then allow Jon Woods of the Ralphie Report to drop some knowledge on you:
Q: What has been your impression of Mike MacIntyre so far? And since coaches always say you learn more from loss than a win, what have you learned about MacIntyre as a coach from the last two losses?
Jon Woods: We have been very happy with Mike MacIntyre so far. He has come in and very quickly changed the culture and he and his staff have improved the football fundamentals side of things very quickly.
During the last two losses we've learned tang Coach Mac will lead teams that will always keep fighting and we can expect to see Buffs teams going forward continue to push even with a big deficit.
Q: What encouraging signs have you seen from Colorado's defense so far? Is the passing defense as bad as advertised (121st in the nation)?
Woods: Colorado's defense is significantly improved. The bad passing numbers are in large part to success against the run that has forced teams to go to the air. I'd imagine that any team that has played Oregon and Oregon State in two out of their four games is going to have a pretty awful pass defense ranking.
They still have a long way to go but this defense is leaps and bounds better than what we have seen the last two years.
Q: What was the difference for Christian Powell last week? Do you think he'll be able to take advantage of Arizona State's propensity to give up big plays on the ground?
Woods: There were multiple reports last week that the offensive coaches went to Powell and asked for his input into how he would be used in the ground game and it seems to have paid off. This is a guy that played fullback all throughout high school and hasn't had a whole lot of experience at the running back position.
Powell isn't a guy that should be expected to break off a whole lot of big plays on the ground but he is a guy who can wear down and soften up a defense and then allow a speedier back like freshman Michael Adkins to come in and take advantage.
Q: Of course, we have to talk about the great Paul Richardson too. How has his chemistry with Connor Wood been this season and why do you think opponents haven't been able to take him out of the game with something like bracket coverage?
Woods: They really clicked in the first two games when the pass protection gave Wood a bit more time to get him the ball. Wood has a great arm and when he has time and isn't rattled he and Richardson can really find a rhythm.
Richardson is just that good. He's fast, runs really precise routes and the coaching staff has done a good job at getting him open at times. There were times against Oregon and Oregon State that they should have gone his way even more.
Q: Although the final score doesn't show it, the Buffaloes' offense did hang with the Ducks for a quarter or so. While Arizona State is no Oregon, they do like to play a similar tempo-oriented type of football. With all that in mind, do you think Connor Wood is the type of quarterback that can keep pace in potential shootout?
Woods: It all depends on how confident he remains and how much time the line can give him. He really struggled for much of the game in Corvallis, his only true road game of the year so far. If he can get over the road nerves than he is definitely a QB that can do some damage.
Q: Arizona State is 4-0 all-time versus Colorado. What's it going to take for the Buffaloes to pull off the upset Saturday and what's your score prediction?
Wood: It would take a plus turnover margin and a very solid run game to keep the pressure off of Wood. The more that the Buffs can keep the Sun Devil offense off the field the better. On defense, they need to keep Grice and Strong in check and make sure that they aren't giving up the big plays and YAC chunks. I'll go with 38-24 Devils.
To learn more about the Buffaloes, head on over to the Ralphie Report.