Despite starting 0-4 in conference again, Colorado has been much more competitive (and entertaining) this season. Colorado is scoring over 30 ppg, and putting up over 460 yards of offense per game, and offense has not been the problem in Boulder.
Maybe it is a coincidence, but Colorado's offensive resurgence is coming in a year where they return 4 key members along the offensive line; Alex Kelley (6'2", 310), Kaiwi Crabb (6'3". 300), Daniel Munyer (6'2", 290) and Stephane Nembot (6'7", 305) all played last year, and the lone newcomer is Jeromy Irwin (6'5, 395) at LT. The line has paved the way for a balanced running game that is gaining nearly 160 yards per game.
Colorado's rushing attack is led by bruising Christian Powell. At 6'0 230 lbs., Powell is definitely the thunder in Colorado's backfield, and he leads the team with 61 carries for 285 yards. Powell has really surprised me with his ability as a running back. If you recall, he was recruited by UCLA, but he shows good instincts and ability at the RB position, and he's an absolute load to take down. The lightning in the backfield is a three headed monster of scatbacks, which includes Tony Jones, Phillip Lindsay, and Michael Adkins II. The biggest of the three is Adkins, who weighs 195 lbs. Jones and Lindsay tip in at 175 lbs. each. Jones is second on the team with 49 carries for 255 yards, while Lindsay adds 43 carries for 186 yards and Adkins adds 50 carries for 181 yards.
In addition to the backfield, quarterback Sefo Liufau has shown the ability to get out and move. His numbers are not that impressive, where he has 42 carries for 122 yards, but he's a capable runner and has to be accounted for by the defense. Of course, Colorado prefers that Liufau pass the ball rather than run it, and Liufau has really improved this year in that regard. Liufau is averaging 290 passing yards per game, has a 65.3% completion rate, and has thrown for 21 touchdowns. He also has 9 interceptions, 6 of which have come in conference play, but Colorado has thrown the ball 345 times this season so the number is somewhat understandable.
Of course, Colorado lost Paul Richardson to the NFL this offseason, but Nelson Spruce has stepped in quite nicely as his replacement. Spruce may not have the pure speed or talent that Richardson had, but he's already tallied 71 catches for 801 yards. Spruce will likely be matched up against Fabian Moreau on Saturday. The rest of the receiving corps is made up of Tyler McCulloch, a huge target at 6'5", 210 lbs., Shay Fields, and D.D. Goodson. Fields and Goodson will work inside and often match up against either Adams or one of our linebackers, while McCulloch will likely face Adams in our base package and Rios/Willis in our nickel package. Of all the matchups, McCulloch on the outside in base packages seems like the most glaring mismatch, where McCulloch will have a huge size advantage over Adams.
That concludes Part II of the Colorado preview. Fire away with any additional thoughts and comments, and be sure to check back in tomorrow for the defensive preview.