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Arizona at Colorado: Q&A with The Ralphie Report

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Jon Woods of the Ralphie Report reached out to us to trade some questions and answers about these two struggling flat-out bad teams that will battle it out on Saturday in Boulder. I answered some questions over at RR and Jon also posted a fitting podcast with his brother, who is an Arizona alum.

Colorado's record and lopsided scores don't look very promising. But with Jon Embree in his first season, what have you seen that gives you hope that there's improvement ahead?

We knew when the Buffaloes brought Jon Embree aboard that this was not going to be a quick turnaround. The two things that give us hope for the future are the consistent improvement that we saw from the team from week to week (before injuries and the schedule kind of derailed that) and the large number of freshmen and sophomores that have gotten a good amount of important experience this year. Unfortunately a lot of those guys are playing due the vast amount of injuries this team has faced, especially on defense, but it will help their learning curve over the next few seasons. I believe we only have 4 or 5 freshman who still have their redshirts at the moment.

It being your first year in the conference, do you notice any major differences between the Pac-12 versus the Big 12 as far as style of play goes? And how did you guys take the switch when it came about?

Answering the second part of the question first, the support for the move was nearly unanimous amongst Buffs fans/students/alumni. Nothing that has happened this football season has effected that in any negative way. In fact, the media moves that Larry Scott has pulled off over the last few months has only strengthened that support. The biggest change that we have seen from the Big 12 has got to be the overall team speed. It does seem to be an improvement.

What's the biggest problem on the defensive side of the ball? Arizona can throw it around, but do you have faith the Buffs can stop the run and keep the Wildcats from scoring in the red zone?

Faith in the Colorado defense? No, not really. The biggest problem on that side of the bar has been the injuries and suspensions in the secondary. The return of cornerback Parker Orms from suspension will help, but the biggest mismatch on the field on Saturday will be the Arizona passing game against the CU pass defense. I've watched nearly every minute of every Arizona game this year and, to be quite honest, I am not very worried about the Wildcat rushing attack. If Antolin and Carey are getting their yards on Saturday, then the Buffaloes are in a huge amount of trouble and it could be a very long day for Buffs fans.

From what I gather, Colorado and Arizona have a lot of the same troubles on both sides of the ball. That said, Arizona probably has an advantage talent-wise on offense. Do you think that will be the difference in the game?

It could be and it should be. But don't underestimate the Colorado offense and the advantage that the Buffs have playing in Boulder. While the weather really isn't going to be a factor and the crowd most likely won't quite be at their best, the altitude can make a big difference. The intensity of the CU schedule and injuries to Tyler Hansen, Paul Richardson and Rodney Stewart over the last few weeks has made the Buffaloes offense look much worse than it actually is. Arizona fans should expect to see an offense much closer to the unit that put up 27 and 33 points against Washington State and Cal. The difference in this game is going to be red zone performance. As you mentioned, both teams have had huge struggles inside the 20's this year and I feel that the team that executes the best will win this game.

Arizona mistakes aside, what reason do you think would give the Buffs a chance to win on Saturday?

Last home game of the season. Last home game for a large senior class. The team has heard all week that no Colorado team has ever gone winless at home for an entire season and I think they will be very motivated to leave everything on the field. I also wonder what will happen to the Arizona psyche should the Buffs somehow be able to start with a 10-14 point lead early.

How about a score prediction?

In effort to maintain consistency, I'll use the same prediction that I had on our site, even though I'm starting to think it will be even closer. 38-31 Arizona.