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Oppo Notes: Colorado Offensive Preview

A look at the offense of the Colorado Buffaloes, who take on the UCLA Bruins this Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacific 12 Conference has not been kind to the University of Colorado. They're off to another tough start in conference, dropping their first 4 Pac-12 games this season with big losses to Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State. They are coming off of a victory, against Charleston Southern as a replacement for their cancelled Fresno State game.

Bellerophon previewed the Buffaloe's (Buffalo's? Buffs? I am not a fan of words that can be singular and plural.) coaching and special teams and AHMB looked at the Colorado defense.

Today, I'll be previewing the offense that will have to deal with the likes of Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, Myles Jack and (hopefully not too much of for injuries-sake) Eric Kendricks.

Overall, Colorado has not had a ton of success on offense this season, they rank 88th in total offense at 377 yards per game and 81st in scoring offense at just under 27 points per game. These are steps up from last season, but still near or at the bottom of the Pac-12 in most offensive categories.

Their rushing offense ranks 101st in the nation at 127.9 yards per game and that is good for 9th in the Pac-12 (ahead of WSU and OSU, the two worst rushing teams in the NCAA and also UC Berkeley).

The passing offense is 74th in the NCAA is passing efficiency and 54th in passing offense, both fairly mediocre numbers. Their yards per completion is much higher at 33rd (13.23 YPC) and that is 3rd in the Pac-12 (behind only Oregon and Stanford). The deep threats on Colorado are a real concern, but if the big play is taken away, their offense is not intimidating through the air.

Their third down conversion rate tells a lot of the story as to why they've struggled so much on offense, as Colorado has converted just 33 of their 101 3rd down attempts, ranking 104th in the nation and 10th in the Pac-12 (only Utah and Southern Cal are worse).

Offensive Line

The numbers that can be tied to the offensive line aren't awful. They are tied for 47th in pass sacks allowed at 1.71 per game (4th in the Pac-12), though they have played 2 FCS teams which reduces that number by a bit. 35th in tackles for loss allowed at just 5 per game (4th in the Pac-12).

It's been a healthy unit with all 5 starters playing the majority of snaps in every game. Kaiwi Crabb (6'3". 300), Gus Handler (6'3", 290), Jack Harris (6'7", 295), Daniel Munyer (6'2", 290) and Stephane Nembot (6'7", 305) have carried the load up front for Colorado all year. Expect to see freshman Alex Kelley (6'2", 310), as he has gotten snaps in all but one game. That group of 6 is made up of 2 seniors, 2 juniors, 1 sophomore and 1 freshman for an experience comparison to UCLA's front 5.

Running Game

There are three players with more than 40 carries on Colorado's offense. Michael Adkins II, Tony Jones and former UCLA fullback commit Christian Powell.

The leader has been the true freshman Adkins, who has rushed 65 times for 369 yards (5.68 YPC) in just 5 games and also scoring 5 touchdowns. He's decently explosive, leading by far with 14 runs of 10 or more yards (Powell 4, Jones 3).

Powell (6'0", 235 pounds), who was run out of Westwood because of the Pistol offense, is a bruiser and leads Colorado in carries with 82 for 279 yards (3.4 YPC) and 2 TDs. Jones (5'7", 190) has added 44 carries for 175 yards (3.98 YPC) without scoring a touchdown.

This is a nice matchup for the Bruins. While Adkins could become one of the better RBs in the conference, UCLA has the experience, athleticism, speed and size up front to contain this running game.

Passing Game

Colorado recently underwent a change at the quarterback position, with junior Connor Wood losing his position in the first quarter against Arizona State to true freshman Sefo Liufau. Liufau has prototypical size at 6'4", 215 pounds and has been up and down through his brief time as the Buffs QB, throwing for 579 yards and 3 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. He's been fairly accurate at 62.8% (49-78) and has only been sacked once in his 3 games as starter. No matter who the QB is, there is one unchanging part of the Colorado offense and it should be very familiar to anyone who has followed UCLA football.

Paul Richardson (6'1", 170, junior) has been arguably the best WR in the Pac-12 this season, catching 50 passes for 914 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's caught 15 passes that have gone for more than 20 yards and been one of few true deep threats in the conference. Richardson was one of the backpack/laptop thieves from CRN's last season as coach (along with Shaquille Richardson and Josh Shirley, both of whom are impact players from Arizona and Washington). Those three players all left UCLA to go to fellow Pac-12 schools and are showing why they were such big-time recruits. The Bruins could desperately use a deep threat of RIchardson's caliber, having a guy like that might have been enough to get past Stanford or Oregon.

Other than Richardson, the passing game has been much less impressive. Nelson Spruce (6'1", 205, sophomore) has caught 26 passes for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyler McCulloch is a huge target at 6'5", 210 and has caught 13 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown, keep an eye on the potential mismatch of Ishmael Adams on McCulloch because opponents with larger receivers have exploited Adams' size.

On the complete opposite end of the size spectrum, D.D. Goodson (12 passes for 203 yards and 2 TDs) comes in at just 5'6" and 170 pounds. He's a threat for a big play with a 75 yard reception on the year and 7 other 10+ yards plays.

The Buffaloes do not use their RBs or TEs very much in the passing game, so the linebacking core of the Bruins should be able to key the run and freely rush the passer. Would not be surprised for this to be UCLA's biggest sack day of the season for players not named Anthony Barr.