Friday’s Fast Five: Keys for Fans Vs. Texas A&M

CU defense


Neill Woelk, contributing editor

CODE – Colorado coach Karl Dorrell called Saturday’s game with fifth-ranked Texas A&M in Denver (1:30 p.m., Fox) a great opportunity for the Buffaloes.

But if the fans make the most of the opportunity, they will have to be on point or almost in the best of the three phases of the game. The Aggies are loaded with talent throughout their roster and have been ranked No. 5 for a reason.

Not to mention that Buffs can’t produce what would be considered a major nuisance (they’re smaller than double digits). But to do so, they will have to create some havoc on defense, be consistent on offense and eliminate some of the silly mistakes they made in their season-opening win over northern Colorado last weekend.

Sure, this is a formula for winning almost every week, but Saturday’s difference is a dramatically reduced margin of error. There will be little room for mistakes.

Therefore, our weekly Fast Five Keys for the Buffaloes:

1. Set a running game early. This may take a bit of patience, as the Aggies have a formidable front set that will focus on getting the Buffs out into the air. They will probably load the box and dare to throw CU.

But fans don’t want to be left behind and find themselves in third- and long-term situations. A&M had five sacks last week in their win against Kent State and would no doubt love to put CU in obvious step situations, especially with a freshman quarterback at the helm.

If the CU offensive line can get a steady early push and gather some time-consuming units, it will accomplish two things. One, will allow QB Brendon Lewis the opportunity to find a comfort zone. Two, it will take its toll on a team unaccustomed to altitude.

While A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he doesn’t expect altitude to be a factor, it was obvious he had researched the issue. (By the way, Fisher was an assistant coach at Florida State in 2007 when the Seminoles played Boulder). Fisher said the Aggies will have oxygen on the sidelines; if fans can make them go for their masks regularly, it will be a psychological advantage in their favor.

2. Force the Aggies to throw. This is much, much easier said than done. A&M has a great offensive line, anchored by U.S. attack Kenyon Green, who helped pave the way for a 303-yard rushing game by the Aggies last week. A&M also has a couple of outstanding runners in Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, both over 100 meters in their opener.

But the Buffs have to somehow get A&M to air. Agies freshman QB Haynes King has talent, but he also threw three interceptions last week, keeping the game closed until the third quarter. Colorado has to force the Aggies to pass past situations, then interrupt their pocket and hopefully create a turnover or two.

3. Win third-party battles. The Buffs were quite efficient in third place last week, successfully converting six of 10 attempts. The Aggies, however, were 9 for 13 in these situations and did not score even once last week.

The Buffs have to finish some A&M possessions early, force some points and get Aggies ’defense back on the field.

Again, this is where altitude can be an important factor. If Colorado can withstand some long, time-consuming units and force at least a handful of short A&M possessions, it will maintain the tempo in favor of CU and set the stage for a fourth quarter in which conditioning could be a difference factor.

The Buffs are trained at altitude. This is an opportunity to make the most of it.

4. Get game creators into space. After the CU threw just 15 passes last week, some fans (and media) rushed to wonder why the Buffs didn’t get the ball more often to their talented outsiders.

The simple answer is that they didn’t need and didn’t want to show more than was absolutely necessary.

But this will be a game when we offer opportunities to players like Dimitri Stanley, La’Vontae Shenault, Brenden rice i Montana Lemonious-Craig it will be crucial and could be a factor in establishing a crime that controls the terrain and consumes clocks.

CU receivers and runners are able to make great plays in quick hitting situations. If the Buffs can create these situations on the perimeter, they will keep the Aggies honest on defense and give the Colorado attack room to operate.

5. Avoid self-inflicted wounds. Sanctions occur. Errors occur. They are part of the game.

But it is unforced errors (penalties before closing and after the whistle) that can be fatal. Buffaloes can’t afford to expand any A&M record with silly sanctions; and they cannot afford to end their possessions prematurely.

This will be a game with a very small margin of error. If fans are given a chance to win this one in the fourth quarter, they should reduce those mistakes whenever possible.

This means not giving away cheap gardens with self-inflicted and easily avoidable mistakes.


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