With much of the heat regarding football in Colorado being focused on the Broncos’ woes with Tim Tebow, maybe people will forget that the Buffs have gone 1-8 this season… but probably not.
While enduring one of the hardest schedules in college football, the Buffs have not won a game since September when they beat CSU, and things may only get tougher from here.
Next up for CU (1-8, 0-5) is former powerhouse USC (6-2, 3-2). Though the Trojans may be a far cry from the beasts they were from 2003-2006, they will still prove to be a juggernaut against the Buffaloes. After a gut-wrenching triple overtime loss against Stanford, USC might be looking to CU as an outlet for their anger.
Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the country, has nearly matched Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in almost every category this season, and has proved to be a legitimate passing threat. A weakened Colorado secondary
may have as many issues against him as they did against Luck, who got the best of the Buffs in a 48-7 blowout.
“[Barkley] is to me – following the kid a little bit, and I say kid from when he was in high school and being aware of him – he reminds me a lot of Mark Sanchez, just with a bigger arm,” CU head coach Jon Embree said at his Tuesday press conference.
“I remember watching Mark when he was coming up and he had all of the intangibles,” Embree said at the press conference. “He had the ‘it’ factor from the leadership standpoint, from how he prepared, all of those things, and you can see that this kid has that. His passion for the game and all of the little things that go into being a great quarterback, he has it.”
So far, Barkley has passed for 2,290 yards this season. With his favorite target wide receiver Robert Woods, he has thrown for 22 touchdowns.
“They have great chemistry, great connection with each other,” Embree said at the press conference. “They are the best combination in the conference, those two guys.”
Colorado’s defense has been pounded these past few weeks due to a slew of injuries that have had the Buffs fighting an uphill battle against the trigger-happy teams of the Pac-12.
Because of the injuries, many freshmen have been seeing more field time than they’ve expected. In a conference boasting the likes of Stanford, Oregon and USC, a young and inexperienced defense is a huge burden.
It’s one the Buffs have been forced to deal with all season.
Veteran players like linebacker Derrick Webb have helped to hold the defense together while guiding the younger players.
“Those guys have to get experience,” Webb said via CU Buffs. “A lot of the freshmen played some of their first games these past few weeks. We got a lot of inexperience back there, but we have to bring those guys along. Even though they’re young, nobody cares. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us since we’re playing with a lot of freshmen. We’re just going to bring them along and prepare them.”
If anything, this season has served as a reality check for the younger players who may have never gone through a season as hard as this one. Offensive lineman Ethan Adkins said the will to fight and get better each week is something they are constantly reminded of.
“We’re just telling them to don’t [sic] take things for granted,” veteran Adkins said via CU Buffs. “It’s not your right to be here, you’re allowed to be here. Embree says it’s a one year contract and you have to make the most of that one year. You have to play like it’s your last play every down and keep doing things the right way.”
With that in mind, the youngsters may be able to slow down Barkley and the Trojans.
On a brighter note, Colorado’s offense may see a boost in production as its top tailback and receiver may make their returns to the field this Friday.
Rodney ‘Speedy’ Stewart, who was said to be out for a month with a knee injury he suffered against Washington, practiced a bit for the first time on Monday. Stewart is the team’s leading rusher and plays a large part in its leadership.
Paul Richardson has been out the past four games also with a knee injury. Even missing four games, he still leads the team in receiving yards.
Having playmakers like these two return is something the Colorado offense needs.
“Both those guys are great impact players,” Adkins said. “They could definitely help us when they get healthy. Without having them there, it has been a hindrance on offense. I think that when they’re ready to come back and play for us they’ll be great assets.”
It’s uncertain whether or not they’ll be able to play but if they do, the team expects them to make a splash.
The Buffs will face the USC Trojans on Friday at 7 p.m. at Folsom Field and will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 3D.
Quotes and statistics courtesy of CUBuffs.com and ESPN.com
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Shay Knolle at email@example.com.