The Colorado Buffaloes will be our last stop on our Q&A series. To get caught up on the rest I insist you go here. The Buffs had a great season last year, finishing 10-4 on the year with an impressive 8-1 record in conference play. They won the Pac-12 South title and became only the third team in history to have a 10+ win season following 10 straight losing seasons. Their only conference loss fell to the hands of the Trojans, where they were defeated 21-17 in the Coliseum. Colorado wants to avenge their loss, USC wants to take the title. We asked Ralphie Report their thoughts on the matter.
Brendan Kearney-Conquest Chronicles
Anthony Kazmierczak-Ralphie Report
Brendan: What needs to go right for Colorado to repeat as Pac-12 South champs?
Anthony: A lot needs to go right if CU wishes to repeat as Pac-12 South Champs. Whereas last year the defense was the strength of this Buffs team, this year it’s the offense. Despite losing all-time leading passer Sefo Liufau, nine starters return on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, its a different story. Gone are eight starters, including three talented defensive backs - Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon and Tedric Thompson - who helped the Buffs shut down opposing offenses last season. Colorado’s offense will be able to keep up with ANY team in the Pac-12, but if they expect to return to the Pac-12 Championship game this year, it’ll be an unproven defense that gets them there.
Brendan: What will we see out of QB Steven Montez? Will there be a drop off without Sefo Liufau? What do you expect from him?
Anthony: Don’t expect to see too much of a drop off at the quarterback position this season. Montez showed flashes of success when Liufau was injured at points last season. He’s slimmed down quite a lot and pound-for-pound, might just be more talented than Liufau. His arm strength and mobility are something Buff fans haven’t seen since Kordell Stewart back in the early 1990s. My only hesitation with Montez are his decision-making and leadership abilities. This is where Liufau excelled. Assuming Montez doesn’t try to force many passes, the Buffs offense should be one of, if not the BEST in the conference.
Brendan: What does new DC DJ Eliot bring to the table? What players are waiting in the wings to replace the studs (nine starters gone) from a talented defense last year?
Anthony: Yes, losing defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt hurt, but don’t expect to see too much of a drop off with D.J. Eliot. CU’s defense will run a 3-4 defense very similar to that of last year’s squad. With eight starters gone from last year’s defensive unit, there are plenty of players who who will become household names this year. In the secondary, which took perhaps the biggest hit, Isiah Oliver, who doubles as a track star for CU, is a shutdown corner who will be playing on Sunday’s someday. As far as the front seven, senior co-captain Derrick McCartney returns from a knee injury and will wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Plus, keep an eye on linebacker Drew Lewis, who is a freak in the weight room and ready to be unleashed this season.
Brendan: What makes Phillip Lindsay so good? How can the Trojans try to limit his production?
Anthony: Philip Lindsay reminds me a lot of former Buffs running back Hugh Charles, diminutive and elusive. To use a phrase from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Lindsay is a ‘high-motor guy,’ who’s motor NEVER quits. Beyond his playing ability, he’s the vocal leader for this Buffs team. USC may try to 'stack the box' in order to shut down Lindsay. Which may work, but that’ll just open up opportunities for CU’s many talented receivers like Shay Fields Jr. and Devin Ross.
Brendan: One bold prediction you have for CU this season.
Anthony: Maybe I’m drinking the cool-aid, but Colorado will upset either Washington or USC in Boulder this season. The Buffs were undefeated at Folsom Field last year, so home-field advantage will certainly help. Colorado’s offense can hang with any team in the Pac-12, maybe even the country, so I’m expecting a shootout with the Huskies and Trojans. The biggest question will be CU’s defense, and can they do enough to slow down two of the the top teams in the conference?
Special thanks to ralphiereport.com for talking with us. You can watch the Trojans and Buffaloes face off Saturday, November 11 at Folsom Field.