Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) – The 21st-ranked Arizona Wildcats limp home
this weekend for a Pac-12 Conference clash with the Colorado Buffaloes.
Colorado isn’t exactly one of the elite teams in the Pac-12, which is good
news for Arizona. In fact, the Buffaloes are the conference’s worst squad, at
least in terms of wins and losses. They are just 2-7 overall and winless in
six tries against league foes. They enter this contest riding a five-game
losing streak, which was kept alive by a 38-23 setback to Washington last
Arizona certainly needs an easier test, following a 17-7 loss to UCLA, during
which the Wildcats looked completely out of sync offensively. They have really
fallen off since a 31-24 upset of Oregon in the beginning of October, dropping
two of their last three games to fall to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in league play,
good enough for a tie with Utah for fourth place in the South Division.
The last two seasons, Arizona has not had much trouble with Colorado, posting
wins of 56-31 and 44-20, respectively. In fact, the Wildcats have won three of
the last four meetings. It has been a historic change of pace, considering
Colorado won the first 12 matchups between the programs.
After getting out to a 20-17 lead at halftime against Washington, Colorado
appeared to have a shot at pulling off the upset. However, the Buffaloes only
scored three points in the second half, as their offense slowed down. CU is in
the middle of the Pac-12 pack in total offense (473.1 ypg), while scoring a
healthy 30.9 ppg. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to create many wins.
“We have to keep finding a way to be an all-around football team. It was
disheartening,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said of the loss. “We had all of
the momentum in the world when we were up 23 to 17 and we were moving. We had
that unfortunate fumble and they got some momentum back, and that’s how we
really started to give them the game.”
Sefo Liufau threw for 314 yards against Washington, boosting his season total
to 2,590 yards. He also had a pair of touchdown passes in the loss, while
connecting on 36-of-52 passes, although he was intercepted once. He now has 12
picks on the season, despite completing a solid 65.2 percent of his throws.
Just about every time Liufau drops back to pass he is looking for Nelson
Spruce. The Colorado receiver leads the country in receptions (90), ranks
second in touchdown grabs (11) and fifth in receiving yards (1,002). He was
stellar yet again versus Washington, totaling 138 yards on 13 catches. D.D.
Goodson (37 receptions, 374 yards, two TDs) had a strong game as well, with
70 yards and a score on seven receptions.
Michael Adkins II (397 yards, three TDs), Tony Jones (338 yards, three TDs)
and Christian Powell (309 yards, TD) form a committee of sorts in the
backfield. Adkins II was the best of the three against Washington, compiling
109 yards on 13 carries.
On defense, Colorado has also been a mediocre team in comparison to the rest
of the Pac-12. The Buffs are eighth in the league in yards allowed (441 ypg),
but they are letting up an astounding 38.7 points per game. The cause has not
been helped by the absence of Tedric Thompson, who sat out last weekend and is
listed as questionable this week with a leg injury and a concussion.
Arizona was surprisingly ineffective on offense against UCLA. The Wildcats,
who are fourth in the Pac-12 in total offense (506 ypg) currently, but at one
point led the league, managed only 255 total yards and a measly seven points
in the loss.
“I saw a lack of execution. There were so many things we could have done
better and there are always calls we would like to have back as coaches,”
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I didn’t sense on the sidelines that our
guys were confused, and they felt comfortable with what they were doing, it
was just a matter of UCLA making some plays and us not making them.”
Anu Solomon was extremely erratic with his passes for the first time this
season against UCLA. The redshirt freshman has far exceeded his class, but his
youth showed against the Bruins as he threw for only 175 yards on 18-of-48
passing. It was a major step back for Solomon, who has averaged 325.6 yards
per game, while tallying 21 touchdowns against only five interceptions. He had
one of each against the Bruins.
The running attack was slowed as well against UCLA, with the Wildcats managing
only 80 yards on 31 carries. Nick Wilson (610 yards, seven TDs) and Terris
Jones-Grigsby (456 yards, three TDs) are normally effective rushers, but they
tallied only 18 and 50 yards, respectively.
Cayleb Jones did add his eighth touchdown reception of the season in the game,
but he had only 46 yards on four receptions. Jones has 716 yards on 50
receptions overall this season, so bigger numbers are clearly expected. Austin
Hill (30 receptions, 413 yards, four TDs) also had a rough game, posting just
five yards on a single catch.
Rodriguez has never been called a defensive guru and the Wildcats are still
nowhere near the top of the Pac-12 in slowing down opposing teams. They rank
ninth in total defense (449.4 ypg) and seventh in points allowed (26.9 ppg).
However, Arizona is fortunate enough to employ linebacker Scooby Wright (97
tackles, 18.5 TFL, 12.0 sacks), who has won back-to-back defensive player of
the week awards in the league, and may just be the best defender in the