Back Concentrated Colorado Against Declining Arizona

Colorado Buffaloes player in action

Rainman M.

Friday, October 6, 2017 4:22 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 4:22 PM GMT

Colorado (3-2) hosts Arizona (2-2) on Saturday at 8 PM ET. The Buffaloes opened as 7 point favorites, but that number has dropped to 6. Join expert capper for a complete preview and get your college football picks ready.

Arizona Wildcats vs Colorado Buffaloes  

Colorado has dropped from 29.2 points per game last year to 21.8. The only substantial difference is that sophomore Steve Montez is the starting quarterback. 

Montez is struggling to live up to his potential. He has a live arm, is adept at throwing down the field and can make plays from within and outside the pocket. However, he often tries to do too much. Poor decision-making leads to interceptions.

The solution for Colorado's offense is simple: rely less on Montez. Last season, when Phillip Lindsay ran 20+ times, Colorado was 5-0 SU. In two wins this season, Lindsay ran more than 20 times. In two losses, he ran less than 20 times.

Phillip Lindsay is a reliable back with respectable speed and a physicality that is impressive considering his lack of size. He is not a game-changer, but his versatility also makes him effective while catching balls. He is a competitive workhorse who grinds out every yard. His max-effort strategy leads his yards per carry to be highest earlier in the game.

Montez enjoys playmakers at wide receiver. Devin Ross makes it difficult for the defense to adjust to his routes because of his superb speed. Bryce Bobo complements the speed of Ross and Shay Fields with his physicality.

Colorado's offensive line had been called out for lacking toughness. The Buffaloes' protection seems to be rediscovering its potential, however: against UCLA last week, Montez was not sacked or hurried a single time.

Arizona's defensive line is also anemic. They are 104th in team sack percentage. Their two defensive ends are vastly undersized. Their new defensive tackle has one career sack, achieved in 2015. Their depth is also thin. They can't count on support from the largely unproven and inexperienced linebacking corps, which has lost three of its five top tacklers from last season. Their primary hope, DeAndre' Miller has yet to practice this season and is currently listed as 'questionable.'

Colorado, by relying on Lindsay and an improving, high-potential offensive line, should run over Arizona's mostly undersized and inexperienced defense.

The key question for Arizona is whether their rushing attack will suffice on offense.

Arizona is a run-first team under coach Rich Rodriguez's zone-read option attack. Quarterback Brandon Dawkins is extremely athletic but produced a completion % under 60 in three of four games this season. Dawkins is the team's leading rusher, but his inaccuracy and inability to locate the open receiver are worrisome.

Arizona's top running back is redshirt freshman J.J. Taylor. Taylor is largely unproven. He had one good game last season, against a Washington defense that was unusually sloppy and ridden by missed tackles and missed assignments. He is able to break out the occasional 20-yard run. He tries to make up for his lack of size with his speed and explosiveness, which makes him dangerous in the open field, and his ability to absorb contact. 

Two years ago against Colorado, Arizona put in a dual-threat quarterback and scored 21 points in the 4th quarter. Last year, Colorado was ready for Arizona's offensive style and led 42-10 after 3 quarters.

Colorado's defense lacks size, which makes it a bad match-up for a physical team like Washington.  But they match up well against Arizona with their speed, versatility and tackling ability.

Colorado's defensive line boasts two explosive and agile defensive ends in Leo Jackson and Chris Mulumba. Javier Edwards is a strong interior tackle whose respectable mobility helps him to collapse the pocket. 

The strength of Colorado's defense is its experienced linebacking corps. The upperclassmen excel at stuffing the run because they ably take the correct angle to the ball carrier. Rick Gamboa is the communicative leader whose football IQ is invaluable. Derek McCartney boasts solid strength that allows him to advance past opposing blockers but also speed with which to contain runs to the outside and the intelligence with which to read the offense. Drew Lewis, the former Washington Husky, is noted for his speed, athleticism, and adeptness at blitzing.

 

The Verdict

Arizona's program has suffered from coaching staff turnover, diminishing performances and careless from recruits. Colorado's players, after losing their first two conference games, have openly emphasized the seriousness of this game: they cannot lose anymore. They will come out with the greatest concentration and will have the most success in the first half against Arizona's rushing attack. Lindsay is at his best earlier in the game and Colorado's playmakers on offense can procure the team a solid lead on our NCAAF picks.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Colorado 1H -3.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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