SB Nation does have a Colorado blog named "The Ralphie Report" so obviously this week's Q&A is with them. I'm guessing the Q&A we did for them will be published roughly the same time, so you might check over there to see what kind of responses our answers got from their fans.
(Remember that your CN login will work at their site as well, as long as you join RR. If you do respond, please remember to keep a sense of humor.)
On to the Q&A!
This year hasn't gone well for the Buffaloes. Can the lack of success be attributed largely to injuries, or what other factors are at work?
There are a lot of excuses, more than we care to hear anymore. Yes, the Buffs have lost about 120 player games to injury and lost 9 players on the two-deep roster for the year. The Buffs are young and decimated on the offensive line, have injury problems at the running back position and will probably be without both of their starting safeties against Nebraska. Another excuse is youth. The Buffs are one of the youngest teams in the nation especially on the offensive side of the ball. I did a story a little while back that showed 99% of our offense was generated by underclassmen, tops in the Big 12.
Another concern has been the overall offensive and defensive scheme put out there by the coaching staff. Those pro-Hawkins supporters say that the Buffs have so many injuries that a scheme that works is not feasible. Those CU fans who are realists think that by now the Buffs should have been able to establish something they are good at on offense and work with it. The Buffs are a very erratic team when it is all said and done. Yes, part of that is youth and injuries, the other part is coaching. Everyone takes a portion of the blame.
Do you see a conflict of interest with Cody Hawkins at quarterback, or is he good enough to be the starter at CU?
No, I don't think it is a conflict of interest. Coach Hawkins will pull Cody when it is needed. By no means has Cody played well but it's not like Coach Hawkins has John Elway sitting on the bench. He has a true freshman who doesn't have a great understanding of the offense yet. The offense is bad from the coaching to the players. They're young, they're injured. The entire blame doesn't belong on the quarterback.
What players should we be looking out for (i.e., who's left?)
On offense, no one. You shouldn't worry about anyone. RB Darrell Scott is capable but he is just as likely to sprain an ankle then run rampant through your defense. The wide receivers are slow and they don't play their best playmaker, Josh Smith, for a variety of reasons. Colorado doesn't use the tight end in their passing attack. The quarterback position has only played one half of one game well. When you are the bottom of every statistical category on offense, there is nothing to highlight. It's a sad state.
On defense, DT George Hypolite has played better of late and has gotten some pretty good pressure on the quarterback. His real attribute is the ability to stop the run. He will be key in trying to make Nebraska one dimensional.
At the linebacker position look for your "I don't care player" LB Shaun Mohler. He is third on the team in tackles and has been the Buffs most consistent linebacker. LB Brad Jones will be used primarily as an outside pass rusher if the Buffs decide to get aggressive.
At cornerback, Cha'pelle Brown has been the best defender on the team but look for Jimmy Smith to also gain some of the spotlight. Husker fans should remember him from last year. This part of the Buffs team has been better than most thought at the beginning of the season. They will be key if the Buffs want to pull an upset.
As for special teams, don't ask. the Buffs kickers have missed a lot more than the have made this year. I did a post that showed the Buffs special teams had cost the Buffs an average of at least 8.1 ppg. They are putrid. KR/PR Josh Smith is having a strong all purpose season but he hasn't broken anything for a while now. Getting a big game from him would be helpful.
Feeling confident yet?
Is Dan Hawkins going to be a successful long term solution at Colorado?
Ask me next year after the West Virginia game next year, which should be enough time to know. I will tell you this, though, no more excuses next year like injuries, youth, global warming, the economy, a democrat in the white house…next year it's time to show progress. Hawkins better channel that Boise State offense as the Buffs need about 20 points more a game just to be respectable in the Big 12.
What does it irritate Colorado fans so much when we say you're not our rival?
I'm going to take the high road on this one and not get into a flame war even though I really want to tell you how I feel! To Buffs fans, this game means more than it does to Nebraska fans. It has since McCartney was the coach. Its' just like when the Raiders play the Broncos and the Red Wings play the Avs. It is just an exciting aspect to the game.
Apparently, Nebraska is too good for us Colorado folk to have a rivalry. I can see that being the case when Nebraska football becomes an obsession. Its okay with me, with all these other sports in Denver and Colorado, we have other things to do and get worked up about.
Where do you see Colorado in 2009?
Tough question. The Buffs still have a question mark at quarterback. The Big 12 knows what a good quarterback can do for you. Take a look at McCoy, Bradford, Harrell, Daniel, Robinson and Ganz's teams are: at the top of the conference. No shocker there. The Buffs will be getting back a few playmakers and getting healthy will be a big help.
The defensive line is a question mark and so is the wide receiver position. I am still skeptical on whether next year will be the breakout season. The Buffs will still be young.
Does Dan Hawkins need a 7 or 8 win season? Without question. Like I said above, no excuses next year.
Finish these sentences…
Nebraska wins if they…
play like they have been playing the past couple of weeks. If Ganz continues to be solid and the defense plays strong assignment football, this game has the chance to get out of hand early.
Colorado wins if they...
do a number of things. First things first, play aggressive. Your 17 point dogs on the road. Get pressure on Ganz early and often, try to make him throw one of those pick sixes like last year and like we have seen against Kansas State and Oklahoma this year. The Buffs will need to hold Nebraska to under 20 points to have a shot at this one. CU's offense cannot turn the ball over. And one final thing, a strong special team's performance would be helpful as well. That ought to lead to a Buffs win!
Simply put, the Buffs will have to play 10 times better than they have played all year to beat the Huskers.
Nebraska 27 – Colorado 17. Dan Hawkins has only won two games on the road since he has been at Colorado. CU will play better than expected.
Subject to change the closer we get and the more I hear how much better Nebraska is than the Buffs!