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Arizona vs Colorado: First look at the Buffaloes

Colorado is 0-2 in Pac-12 so far

Washington v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are coming off a bye week and are traveling to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes for week six.

Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Networks.

Reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year Mike MacIntyre looks to beat Arizona for the second time in as many seasons.

Here’s a quick look at the Buffaloes:

A look at the Buffaloes

2017 Record – 3-2 (0-2)

Key Games — Week one win versus Colorado State (17-3), week four loss versus Washington (37-10), week five loss at UCLA (27-23)

Key Offensive Players — Steven Montez (QB), Phillip Lindsay (RB), Shay Fields (WR) Jeromy Irwin (OL)

Key Defensive Players — Leo Jackson III (DE), Derek McCartney (LB), Rick Gamboa (LB), Drew Lewis (LB), Ryan Moeller (SS)

Colorado is coming off a season in which they won their first Pac-12 South Division Title and had their first 10-win season under MacIntrye.

What changed from last season? The Buffaloes will be without Sefo Liufau under center for the first time in four years. They are replacing also eight starters on defense, four of whom were First or Second Team all-conference.

Quarterback Steven Montez saw a fair share of playing time last season as Liufau missed multiple games due to injuries. So far this season, Montez has recorded 1,272 passing yards while completing 65.2 percent of his passes.

However, his six interceptions suggest he is far from mistake-free. Montez is also the second leading rusher on the team with 213 yards which means he has the ability to run if the opportunity presents itself.

Montez has plenty of playmakers on his side of the ball. Running back Phillip Lindsay is on pace for his second consecutive season of 1,000+ rushing yards. Wide receivers Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo present serious issues for any secondary. Through four games, they combine for 73 receptions and 878 yards while reaching the endzone five times.

As for the defensive side of the ball, they are currently allowing an average of 18.2 points per game. This is very respectable but also skewed by their nonconference performance.

When you break out their first five games by nonconference versus conference, their average allowance is 9 points and 32 per game, respectively.

Most Arizona fans are curious about their rush defense and it’s a very similar story to their allowed points per game. So far this season, Colorado is allowing an average of 152 rushing yards a contest. However, when you break down nonconference versus conference, those averages become 105 and 223, respectively

Despite the roster turnover on defense, Colorado still finds themselves with several experienced and talented players. They run a 3-4 scheme which requires three down linemen and four linebackers (two inside and two outside).

On the defensive line, keep an eye on No. 52 Leo Jackson III. He is the most experienced lineman and has tremendous size for a defensive end at 6-3, 275 pounds.

Also look for linebackers Derek McCartney, Drew Lewis (a transfer from Washington) and Rick Gamboa as they will be all over the field on Saturday night.

The secondary may have suffered most from the offseason turnover as Colorado had to replace three of their four starting components. The good news is they return strong safety Ryan Moeller who can be used as a hybrid linebacker and may appear lined up in the box or dropped back.

Colorado’s front seven will be another strong test for UA’s running game but the Wildcats may find success in this aspect of their offense. The real matchup to watch will be how the young and improving defense handles all of Buffaloes’ offensive talent.