Hawkins says stopping the run is key to a Buffs victory
While the bout between the Colorado Buffaloes (1-7, 1-3 Big 12) and the Kansas Jayhawks (3-5, 0-4 Big 12) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium isn’t exactly a marquee, prime-time match-up, the game features two evenly matched opponents going head-to-head in a game that could alleviate some disappointment that has surrounded both teams’ seasons.
The Buffs have suffered a one-point loss this season, 14-13, at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs, and a triple overtime defeat, 34-31, thanks to the Baylor Bears. Compare that with the Jayhawks five losses being by a combined 27 points, including a one-point and three-point loss, plus two overtime defeats, and both teams have suffered their share of narrow defeats.
“I just try to get those guys to kind of focus on that, and understand there are reasons why that happened, and reasons why we have to prevent that from happening in the future,” Head Coach Dan Hawkins said, in reference to the narrow defeats. “I don’t know, at least for me, I don’t look back on it and lament ‘holy cow, what if we had done that and done that,’ you kind of take it for what it is.”
The Buffs are coming off a defensive struggle against Oklahoma, a 24-3 loss that featured only 113 total yards of offense from the boys in black and gold. The Buffs will have to improve their offensive effort in order to defeat a Kansas team that features a solid running attack from tailback Jon Cornish and a pass-and-run threat in Jayhawks quarterback Kerry Meier.
“(Cornish) has got very good speed, and he is a physical guy, too,” Hawkins said. “He has a nice combination of size and speed, he’ll wear on you, he’s a good back. He might be the best that we have seen this year.”
While the Buffs have been solid at stopping the run all season (they are currently ranked 15th in the nation in rush defense), stopping Cornish is a key to the defense’s game plan since Kansas features the nation’s 23rd-ranked rushing offense.
“You always want to be able to stop the run,” defensive coordinator Ron Collins said. “We have really made that a focus this week, because they do a lot of play action and things like that off of the run.”
Sophomore defensive tackle George Hypolite has been a key contributor in the Buffs’ ability to stop the run this season, and he emphasized the ability to stop the run, especially against the Jayhawks.
“They will run the ball on you,” Hypolite said. “Anytime you face a team that runs the ball like (Kansas), you have to look at the film hard and find a weakness. We are confident we can do that.”
In spite of the Buffs’ poor record this season, they still cling to a minimal shot at winning the Big 12 North and have not been mathematically eliminated from a BCS bowl berth. The Buffs will have to win out and Nebraska and Missouri will have to lose twice for the Buffs to get the North crown, and a win in the Big 12 title game garners the Buffs the Big 12′s guaranteed bowl berth.
“Obviously, this season hasn’t gone like we planned,” junior linebacker Jordon Dizon said. “But our goal is still available to us, and we will pursue it and fight for it these last few games and look forward.
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