Anybody who has concerns over CU’s football team getting too confident after their first win of the season has no reason to worry. Despite an emotional first win for the Buffs this past weekend against Texas Tech, the team is squarely focused on playing the Oklahoma Sooners.
“You want to be happy you won but you don’t want to celebrate 0-6. I think we’re just listening to (Coach Hawkins) and following his leadership right now,” said sophomore free safety Ryan Walters.
After weeks of trying to put the pieces together, CU (1-6,1-2) finally broke through in a big way this past Saturday, Oct. 14, with a dominant 30-6 victory over the Red Raiders. The win snapped a ten-game losing streak for the program. While the win was big for the players, they said Coach Hawkins hasn’t approached this week any differently.
“He has stressed that win or lose, you’re going to watch the game film on Sunday and learn from it and put it behind you,” said senior guard Brian Daniels. “(Coach Hawkins) said that the whole week of practice is getting prepared for the next game and fixing what went wrong with the last game, so this week’s been no different.”
When the coaching staff and the players look at the game film from Texas Tech, they are going to have plenty of reasons to smile. Against the Red Raiders, the Buffs put up season bests for points in regulation with 30 total offense (380 yards) and rushing yardage in regulation (228 yards). Coach Hawkins gives a lot of credit to his offensive line for the team’s offensive success against Tech.
“Yeah, they definitely have really done a nice job coming along,” Hawkins said at his weekly Tuesday press conference luncheon with the media. “Coach (Chris) Strausser has really done a good job, I think, of molding those guys.”
A big story entering the game this weekend will be the absence of Oklahoma’s preseason All-American running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was lost for the remainder of the regular season when he broke his collarbone this past weekend against Iowa State. Despite the loss of Peterson, Hawkins has downplayed any advantage for the Buffs.
“I just think that is the assumption sometimes. People think, ‘Oh hey, they are going to drop off.’ Well, it’s Division I football. There are scholarships, there are other guys that can play, and they will have other guys that can play,” Hawkins said. “So I think to make that assumption (is wrong), and again, if you watch their offensive line, they are pretty good up front.”
The loss of Peterson withstanding, the Buffs aren’t expecting OU to change its game plan.
“It’s hard to switch up your offense in a week,” Walters said. “They’ll probably come up with a few new wrinkles here and there, but we just got to react and play.”
The anticipated running attack of Oklahoma (4-2, 1-1) sets up a key match up for this weekend. Oklahoma, ranked No. 20 in the nation by the AP, is fifth in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game with an average of 171 yards. Walters and the rest of the Buff defense has been stingy against the run all year. The unit ranks second in the conference in rushing defense, allowing only 77 yards per game.
The trip to Norman will be the Buffs’ second trip this season into a large and hostile stadium. After playing the then ninth ranked team in the country, Georgia, down to the wire at Sanford Stadium, the Buffs feel confident they are prepared for another tough environment.
“Yeah, (the Georgia game) helps. It’s fun to play those big games and to be a part of those big games,” Daniels said. “Going into Georgia, we really should’ve won that game, so it does give us confidence.”
Walters echoed Daniels’ sentiments.
“(The Georgia game) helps us know what to expect, and you won’t be surprised by an environment like that,” Walters said. “You look forward to playing in a game like this. Oklahoma has a lot of tradition, and I know I’m looking forward to it, and our team’s looking forward to it.”