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Crossfire: Colorado Q&A

This week's edition of Crossfire welcomes our SBN colleagues from The Ralphie Report to RMN for a taste of what we can expect when the Buffaloes roll into Columbia at 5:30 on Saturday.

RMN: We've got to start with the big question right now: What's brewing with the quarterback situation in Boulder right now? How does the Colorado offense differ from Hawkins to Hansen?

RR: Well, I would say it is far from a controversy. Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins are going to split time against Mizzou even though Dan Hawkins hates to have rotating quarterbacks. But he knows that Hansen offers something more dynamic to the Buffs offense . As far as how the two quarterbacks are taking the news, Cody Hawkins is a true team player. He honestly only cares about winning so I don't see him disowning his dad anytime soon. Hansen is just along for the ride.

The Colorado offense is better with Hansen in it for a couple reasons. First of all, the Buffs are decimated on the offensive line losing two starters this year already and four reserve players to injury, suspension, defection etc. The offensive line is very inexperienced so they need a quarterback who can make a play with his feet and the 4.6 forty quarterback in Hansen offers this poor man's version of the spread offense a little more variability. Second, Hansen is taller and has a better arm so he has the ability to throw from the pocket, something that the Buffs couldn't do with Cody Hawkins and not come out of the game with 5 tipped balls at the line of scrimmage. Cody still brings good experience to the table and frankly, we might not be 4 - 3 if he doesn't complete a big 3rd down pass with about 2 minutes to go last week.

RMN: Colorado is dead last in the Big 12 in scoring offense and total offense. Who's to blame for the offensive inefficiency?

RR: You name it, we have a problem. I wouldn't put the blame on anyone in particular. There is enough blame to spread around:

  1. See my note in the first question about the youth and injuries to the offensive line so far this year. The Buffs are currently starting two red shirt freshmen and a sophomore who was a tight end last year. The offensive line is so decimated right now that the Buffs have started to move defensive lineman over to the offensive side of the ball (DT Eugene Goree) and actually playing him in the game.
  2. Cody Hawkins - he has not gotten it done this year, partly because of the offensive line problems and partly because he just isn't elite. He doesn't have the physical tools. Basically, Cody hasn't been a consistent playmaker hence the change at quarterback. If Cody makes plays, the Buffs beat FSU and it is a different season.
  3. Lack of Offensive Playmakers - WR Josh Smith and RB Rodney Stewart are the only playmakers on this team right now. There is no Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin or Chase Coffman for CU. QB Tyler Hansen can be a playmaker but he is a true freshman.
  4. Play Calling - it got better last week with Hansen in the game but it still isn't good and doesn't feature our limited playmakers enough.

More questions after the jump

RMN: For two straight weeks, Missouri has been exposed in the trenches. How do you expect Colorado to matchup with Missouri on the lines?

RR: The CU offensive line had its best game against Kansas State but who hasn't. They are too young to handle guys like Sulak. I expect the Buffs to have some success on the ground against Mizzou but this is not a strong unit. I would definitely give the Tigers the edge in this area.

The CU defense has played relatively well all year. Look at our schedule. There are some pretty good offensive teams/talented teams on there so the Buffs shouldn't be surprised by anything Mizzou throws at them. Last week CU blitzed Kansas State from snap one and got a ton of pressure on Freeman forcing him to a less than 50% completion percentage. I don't know how much the Buffs can afford to blitz on Mizzou without getting toasted but the front seven for the Buffs has been playing well. Look for LB Brad Jones to flex up and rush a lot. If DT George Hypolite and DT Brandon Nicholas can continue to be relatively solid against the run and force Mizzou to be one dimensional, the Buffs might be able to hang around for a while. But there is a reason Mizzou is the #5 ranked offense in the nation.

RMN: What type of scheme do you expect from the Colorado defense? Can Missouri fans keeping praying for the Cover 1 they saw in Boulder last year?

RR: I think CU learned its lesson from last year. Will that make the result any different this year? Who knows. The Buffs played very aggressive last week. The week before against Kansas, they played ultra conservative with a three man rush and an eight deep zone. Reesing tore'em up doing that. This week, they probably won't be as aggressive as they were against KState. At least I hope not because I think that is when TE Chase Coffman gets going and tears defenses up. I expect the Buffs to bring five most of the time to try and get pressure on Daniel but not over committing leaving the field open for Daniel to operate. The Buffs' cornerback play has been better than expected this year so I don't think 55 points will be on the board Saturday. I still think you will see more man that zone with extra help on Maclin but the emphasis will be on stopping the run early and getting pressure on Daniel.

RMN: What's the general feeling from players and fans about this game? Has anyone taken Missouri's two losses as a major sign of vulnerability or does Missouri still carry the same respect it did two weeks ago?

RR: Most Buffs fans still think this is a definite loss. At the beginning of the year, if you were to name one for sure loss, this game Saturday would have been it. The Buffs don't match up well with Missouri. They have a hard time with the Coffman/Maclin combo that can attack the entire field and Missouri still has enough playmakers on defense to make bad offenses like CU look bad. We know Mizzou is better than the Buffs so the respect is still there. Still with two losses in a row, you wonder how a team will respond especially one who had National Title aspirations. The best thing the Buffs can do is get up early on the Tigers and see what happens. That is the only hope us Buffs fans have for a possible upset if Mizzou doesn't respond.

RMN: Finish the following phrases:

-- Colorado will win if... the Buffs can get an early lead, win the turnover battle by three or four and get constant pressure on Daniel. Or Colorado wins if Maclin, Daniel and Coffman get massive food poisoning.
-- Mizzou will win if... they don't turn the ball over.

RMN: Give us a prediction.

RR: 31 - 13 Mizzou. Buffs defense will be better than most think, Buffs offense will continue to disappoint. Missouri gets a win to get back on track.