I have been in contact with with guys from Colorado's SBNation site The Ralphie Report. They are good folk and answered some questions I had about Thursday's game. Enjoy...
There are times where Cody Hawkins looks good running the offense and other times where he looks completely lost. He is in the top 10 of a lot of Colorado's all-time passing records but is Cody Hawkins a legit FBS QB or is he just getting playing time because his dad is the coach?
Like the Pat White question for West Virginia, I wish the "he's the coach's son so he plays" statement would go away. My main response to that is: What quarterback on the current Buffs roster would be a better option? We saw a little from Tyler Hansen last year but in no way shape or form did he light the world on fire when he was in there. This spring and fall, from the practices many saw, it looked like Cody was the best quarterback.
That does not take the fault off of Cody's father Dan Hawkins, though. It is his responsibility to recruit players and he did not land a quarterback in his first two years at the helm and the Buffs are paying for it now. Cody Hawkins is a great leader and a high character guy but he has physical limitations. He is also hampered by a lack of playmakers on the edge but he is probably the best the Buffs have right now, which isn't good enough.
You have some extremely talented running backs that seem to be underutilized this year. I thought Dan Hawkins was a more run oriented coach? What are your feelings on the lack of a running?
Dan Hawkins was supposed to bring that fun Boise State offense to Boulder but as you can tell by our offensive rankings the last few years, it hasn't happened. I honestly cannot tell you whether the goal of this team is to run the ball or throw the ball the majority of the time. There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the plays should be on the ground, though.
The argument that the coaches have used this year for the lack of a running game is that the first two games they got behind early and were forced to pass the ball to play catch-up. Against Colorado State, the coaches abandoned the run too early in my opinion, they were never down that much to begin with. Against Toledo, the Buffs defense was blasted right out of the gate after the offense ran the ball successfully with Darrell Scott the first half. The coaches felt they needed to throw the ball to try and get back in the ball game.
Darrell Scott was also hurt last week and the second half of the Toledo game and Rodney Stewart was not active due to injury against Toledo as well. Both will be healthy for West Virginia. The key is to limit the Mountaineers offense early and get the running game into a rhythm. If West Virginia gets up on the Buffs early, the coaching staff will probably freak out again and start throwing the ball all over the field like the first two weeks.
Was there a change in your defensive personnel or philosophy that helped you hold Wyoming to so few yards rushing? Who are your playmakers on defense?
First, let's not make Wyoming out to be an offensive powerhouse. Coming into the Colorado game, Wyoming hadn't scored an offensive touchdown in five quarters which was extended to nine after the Buffs were done with them.
But after the shellacking Toledo put on the CU defense it looked like a pop warner team was going to be able to put up 60 on the Buffs. Colorado's defensive coordinator, Ron Collins, does deserve some credit in simplifying the defense last week and making a significant effort to bring pressure from the linebacker spot. Linebackers Marcus Burton, BJ Beatty and Jon Major had their best game of the year. Collins also improved up a weak spot on the defense in placing senior cornerback Ben Burney at safety. Burney will be there for the game on Thursday as well. He adds leadership to the defense and showed two weeks ago that he is physical enough to patrol the field from that spot.
It all comes down the defensive front, though. Last year, West Virginia kept running right into the Buffs supposed strength in defensive linemen George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas and that allowed Colorado to be successful. Those two are gone now. The current front four are very inexperienced and have been less than productive in 2009. The linebackers will be counted on a lot the rest of the year to stabilize the front seven.
Last year I heard "Buffaloes" more aptly described your co-eds than your mascot. Do you have any pictures of hot girls from Colorado?
I might have to send those over to you later since I am doing this Q&A from work!
West Virginia wins if – they can get the lead early and force the Buffs into playing catch-up football. West Virginia should have a big speed advantage so if they don't turn the ball over and HCBS doesn't shoot himself in the foot again, it should be a W for the Mountaineers
Colorado wins if – A lot will need to happen. It wouldn't hurt if Jarrett Brown repeats his Auburn turnover performance and the Buffs are able to capitalize on all of those turnovers. Winning the turnover battle by 3+ would go a long way. That and if Bill Stewart coaches like we saw at Folsom last year.
Final Score : 30 - 17 West Virginia
Check out my answers to their questions at The Ralphie Report.