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Breaking down the Buffs: Q&A with Ralphie Report

A Colorado expert discusses Friday’s matchup

NCAA Football: Arizona at Colorado Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats (4-5, 3-3) are playing on Friday for the second and final time this season, this time hosting the Colorado Buffaloes (5-3, 2-3). CU started the season 5-0, but is now on a three-game losing streak, including a devastating collapse against Oregon State last week.

Before the two teams hit the field, we talked to Jack Barsch over at Ralphie Report to see what to expect from the Buffs. Here’s our Q&A.

What’s your assessment of this team thus far in the season?

You picked the wrong week to ask that question. You know, before the epic collapse against a one win team at home, I would’ve said that the team has outperformed expectations so far this year. They were heading towards a 6-2 record with a chance at 9. Now, it looks like it’s going to be another 5-7 finish. The offense has been hot and cold all year, and the defense has exceeded preseason expectations, rising to mediocre.

How big of an impact does Laviska Shenault Jr. have, and will he be playing against Arizona?

He is the single most important player on the team. Shenault completely changes the complexion of the offense and the game as a result. More than just his production and physical capabilities, it seems like Steven Montez and Coach Chiaverini, the playcaller, calm down when he’s in the game.

As for if he is playing, no one will know except Coach MacIntyre until game time. They are not going to tip any information about his status until they have to. I would expect him to suit up.

Besides Shenault’s injury, what has changed during this losing streak?

The quality of competition is the main change. CU beat up on some real sorry teams on its way to 5-0, with most of them coming to Boulder. The Buffs got smacked in the mouth when they had to go on the road to face an extremely talented USC team that hadn’t lost at home in a long time. The losses against USC and Washington were to be expected, though the way they played out was disappointing. The complete self-demolition against Oregon State, however, was new. That was by far the worse loss in the Mike MacIntyre era. The entire team, including the whole coaching staff, fell asleep at the wheel in the second half. So not much changed with the team except for the measuring stick.

Who’s a lesser-known offensive impact player to watch out for?

KD Nixon made himself known last week with a huge performance. I would expect him to get another huge dose of targets this week. He is fast and surprisingly sturdy. Juwann Winfree is another receiver that CU fans love, but no one else has got to see much of. He has finally battled off a rash of injuries to start playing near the tail end of his senior year.

Who’s a lesser-known defensive impact player to watch out for?

With Javier Edwards’ status in question as the NT, watch for Terrance Lang. The DE is big enough to move inside, especially on passing downs, and he is freaky athletic. No. 54 could cause a ruckus in the backfield.

What, if anything, scares you about playing Arizona?

Quite frankly, everything scares me about playing Arizona. The Buffs just lost, at home, to the worst team in the Pac-12. So I would say that any team is scary at this point. Arizona has a great athlete at QB that could have run for 1,000 yards against CU alone last year and the Wildcats just put a beating on a better team than the Buffs. As you can tell, I am psychologically scarred from last week.

Lastly, what’s your score prediction for the game?

My prediction? Pain. But seriously, I don’t think this turns out well for CU. If they come out angry, they could make a game of it. But I’m more worried about a complete season meltdown at this point. UA wins.