CU takes on West Virginia on national TV
The Colorado Buffaloes take on the West Virginia Mountaineers this Thursday on ESPN, looking to upset the team that is ranked 21st in the AP top 25 poll.
The Buffs come into this game 2-0 while the Mountaineers are 1-1 after a stunning upset by the East Carolina Pirates two weeks ago.
The Buffs say they are looking to get out on the right foot and improve on their no huddle offense that struggled at times against the Eastern Washington Eagles last week.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times last week,” quarterback Cody Hawkins said. “This week, we are really working on tempo and communication. When we talk enough, the faster we play, and the faster we play, the better the offense will be.”
Hawkins threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles.
The Buffs are averaging 359 yards a game, but the rushing game hasn’t been quite up to par as they are averaging 121.5 yards on the ground.
Head coach Dan Hawkins said he is pleased but not quite satisfied with the offense.
“We haven’t lost, which is good, but I don’t think it’s where we thought it would be,” Hawkins said. “The rushing numbers are a little behind.”
Hawkins said the rushing game will look to get back on track, but it will be facing an uncommon defense, as West Virginia runs a 3-3-5, with three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.
“Their defense is really complicated, but they have the athletes to do it,” Cody Hawkins said. “It requires stout defensive linemen and a lot of defensive backs that are physical and fast. We have to be prepared for them to bring a lot of different blitzes from a lot of different angles. They are going to give us a lot of different looks as far as fronts and coverages and a lot of that stuff happens after the snap, so I think for us we just have to prepare and react to whatever they do after the snap.”
East Carolina Pirates that defeated the Mountaneers two weeks ago have allowed 393.5 yards a game so far this year, nearly a hundred more than the Buffs defense.
The Buffs defense will focus on quarterback Pat White, the Mountaineers’ Heisman trophy candidate.
The Mountaineers have an explosive offense with White in the game, and linebacker Jeff Smart, who leads the team with 20 tackles, said he has taken notice.
“Pat White puts pressure on all of us,” Smart said. “He is a dual threat and is real good at passing and rushing. We need to contain him, have the defensive linemen stay in their lanes and close the pocket down. [West Virginia] plays fast and always are a threat to break off a big play.”
East Carolina held the Mountaineers to only three points, and they held White to only 72 passing yards. This was a surprising loss for the Mountaineers, as White and crew were ranked 8th in the country at the time. The Mountaineers have not lost back to back regular season games since 2004.
The Buffs’ defense against Eastern Washington was tough in the second half, allowing only three points. Cornerback Cha’pelle Brown’s interception put the Buffs ahead for good, and it was one of two picks in the game, the other coming from safety D.J. Dykes.
Smart said forcing turnovers will be a huge priority to keep this high powered offense off the field.
“Eastern Carolina forced a lot of turnovers and we have to do that,” Smart said. “Also, they made West Virginia a one dimensional team, and that helps tremendously.”
Cody Hawkins said the game is exciting for everyone, players and fans. It is a Thursday night game, and for the second year in a row, the Thursday game is a blackout game.
“We are really excited about it,” Hawkins said. “Getting to play in front of a national television crowd, especially when you are the only game that evening, is an awesome opportunity. And of course the blackout game always adds a little extra spice to it.”
After playing on national television eleven times, Jeff Smart said he is used to big, exciting games.
“We expect to play in these games at the University of Colorado, and we just take it as business,” Smart said. “It’s a lot of fun- it’s exciting and there is a lot of electricity in the air.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Atherton at firstname.lastname@example.org.