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Colorado vs. Arizona: Q&A with Buffs experts at the Ralphie Report

Jack Barsch of The Ralphie Report gives us the lowdown on the Buffaloes.

Justin Edmonds

1. How much has Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau developed from last season to this one, and how high is his ceiling looking to next year and beyond?

1. I think, despite the stupid throws every game, Sefo has actually progressed a lot from last year. He still locks on to his reads and makes poor decisions, but his feeling for the game is much better. His TD-to-INT ratio is better than last year's, and he has been able to carry this offense at times. The main worry with Sefo from this fanbase is that he has hit his ceiling. While I mostly disagree, a lot of people think he can be a game-manager and nothing more, and right now he is doing a pretty bad job at game-managing. I think his ceiling is a top 3 QB in the PAC-12. While he can't run like Miles or Solomon, he sure as hell can sling it, and if he can break the habit of locking on to his first read or the read he chose, this offense is tailor made for him to put some huge numbers and points on the board.

2. The Buffs have yet to win a conference game this year but have certainly come close several times. Is there any Achilles Heel to this team or have the losses come in different ways?

2. *sigh* This team is frustrating to watch. So many times after a game, I find myself thinking, "we'll get the next one, that one was so close." But it never happens. I've had to find many ways to say this. 90% of the game is played well, and the Buffs have yet to find that last 10%. Be it a costly turnover, flag, 3rd down incompletion, or even injury, the finish has eluded Colorado all year. The reason there's two wins on the board is because the opposing team was bad enough that there was no need to close the game out. This team is the best bad team I have ever seen, and make no mistake, that is massive improvement. Unfortunately, there's a ways to go, more than I and a lot of other Buff faithful expected.

3. Liufau and receiver Nelson Spruce got off to a strong start to the year. What other offensive weapons will be a threat to Arizona's defense?

3. Spruce will be the main threat, and at times probably the one and only threat. However, if things go the Buffs' way, I expect any one of the three smaller backs could have a big game. Michael Adkins is the most likely candidate, as he has been running very well the past few weeks and has the most natural talent, though Tony Jones or Phillip Lindsay could both just as easily go off. I expect CU to rely on the running game more than usual. On the outside, Shay Fields has the speed to hurt the PAC-12 but he's very young. T.Y. McCulloch is a big body WR that can light up the seam and D.D. Goodsos/Donovan Lee can move the defense around with their speed. Honestly, if I were Arizona, I would focus on Spruce and Adkins, and force the others to win 1-on-1.

4. Coach Mike MacIntyre has said the defense might be the youngest in the nation. What are its strengths and weaknesses, and which names on that unit should we know?

4. If they aren't the youngest in the nation, which I bet they are, they sure play like they are. They should be fun to watch as they mature, but right now they make it hard. The strength used to be the secondary, but right now with the rash of injuries, that unit is paper thin. They should still be solid on the outside, with Kenneth Crawley making a name for himself as a prospect and Greg Henderson keeping his in the ring (barely), but safeties should be easy to pick on, as a potential true freshman might start at FS. The weakness is most definitely the linebacker unit. Addison Gillam has not been himself this year, due to sickness, being super thin, injury, or all three, and Kenneth Olugbode has been learning on the job, which is just starting to pay off. Also, CU might be the only team in the country with two Kenneths on defense starting. Anyways, Brady Daigh will play a lot on Saturday, and he does not have the quickness for the PAC-12, but he is a run stuffer. The defensive line has been average the past few weeks, and while that may not sound great to anyone outside the program, it's a step up from awful. Look for Derek McCartney to get after the quarterback, he's been doing work recently.

5. Give us three quick keys from Colorado's end that give the Buffs a good chance of winning in Tucson.

Control the line of scrimmage. This is true every game, but only achievable in some (no offense). if they can get the run game on one end and pressure on the other, which has happened exactly 0 times this year at the same time, this could get exciting real quick.

NO TURNOVERS. Sefo, I'm looking at you. Hold on to the football and give yourselves a chance to win. It's been a while since Liufau hasn't thrown a pick, so let's break the streak Saturday.

Pressure on defense. CU is not going to a bowl this year. There's a still a lot to compete for, but there's also a lot less to lose. I want to see Kent Baer dial up those blitzes, play press man, and make a big mistake or a big play, no middle ground. There's a much better chance at a win if Solomon is rattled and his receivers remember the hits, so play loose, have fun, and fly around the field. All in with the playcalls.

6. How do you think this game in Tucson plays out?

It's been a while since the Buffs have beaten Arizona, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. I think 42-30 sounds about right for a score, but the beauty of college football, especially night PAC-12 football, is anything can happen. And CU will need EVERYTHING to happen for a win in Tucson.