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Colorado expert previews the Arizona game, makes a score prediction

arizona-wildcats-colorado-buffaloes-preview-q&a-owen-mccown-ralphie-report-karl-dorrell-pac12-2022 Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats have much of the past few seasons being every opponent’s punching bag, but now comes a chance for them to do the smacking.

Saturday’s opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes, are 0-4 and have lost by an average of 31.5 points. They’re the first power-conference team in 65 years to lose their first four games by 25 or more points, and with a 17.5-point spread another such margin is possible.

Is Colorado really that bad? To better understand the Buffs, we reached out to Jack Barsch of SB Nation sister site Ralphie Report. Here are his orderly answers to our directionless questions.

AZ Desert Swarm: To say Colorado is off to a rough start to the 2022 season would be putting way too lightly. If you had to sum up what have been the biggest issues, what are they, and can they be fixed?

Jack Barsch: “I’ll answer your second question first. No, this year, Colorado’s issues cannot be fixed. There is an overall lack of talent on this roster and this lack of talent is not currently being coached up. On both sides of the ball, there is a distinct lack of explosiveness and athleticism. Additionally, head coach Karl Dorrell is not putting the athletes that are on the team in a place to succeed. When you combine a lack of top-level talent with a coach that is not prepared to coach an undertalented team, you get a team who’s best performance this year is a 25-point loss to TCU.”

It looks like the Buffaloes may have found their quarterback in true freshman Owen McCown, whose 258 passing yards last week were the most for a Colorado passer in almost two years. What does he bring to the table?

“Oh god, when you say it like that, it’s so much more depressing. McCown is a fun player to watch. He’s a true freshman, but as the son of a long-time NFL QB, he is further ahead than many expected. Owen is a true gunslinger, who never found a window too small. In this offense, any sort of spark is worth seeing, so Owen is a welcome addition to this QB carousel.”

Arizona’s run defense has been terrible the past two games. Who, if anyone, in Colorado’s backfield figures to be able to take advantage of this?

“Well, the original starting RB, Alex Fontenot, will likely be out again this week. That leaves Deion Smith, who is thoroughly average, and Charlie Offerdahl, a walk-on. True freshman Anthony Hankerson also saw his first action last week and showed some spark. In general, you will see an unexplosive rushing attack, with the RBs running for their lives right away.”

Colorado’s run defense is even worse than the Arizona’s, with opponents scoring a touchdown once every 11.6 carries. How much of this is scheme and how much is personnel?

“When it’s this bad, who can parse it like that?! No matter what it is, they are in the wrong place at the wrong time A LOT. I do not expect this to change for the better. Sorry for the short answer, but that’s where we are.”

There’s got to be someone on the defensive side of the ball who’s stood out in a positive way to this point. Who is the leader on this unit?

“Quinn Perry has been the best player on this defense, or at least the most noticeable. The team captain and MLB has his misses, but he has also cleaned up a lot of messes for this CU team. Keep an eye out for Trevor Woods, one of my favorite players. The safety plays really fast and his football senses flash.

Prediction time. Does Colorado finally get into the win column, or does Arizona add to the Buffs’ 2022 sorrows and avenge last year’s 34-0 loss in Boulder?

“Arizona will absolutely win this game, and may send Karl Dorrell packing. You are talking to a DEJECTED fan who has watched 4 hours of CU football this year. That makes a man insane. Is it basketball season yet?”