The Colorado Buffaloes defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday 41-38 in front of a crowd of over 10,000 roaring fans. Buff fans have something to feel good about after the opening punishment from the Colorado State Rams. Hey, Your team is .500, something the Washington State Cougars can't claim. While it's always great to come out victorious, there have been two glaring issues in the first two weeks that will keep the Buffs at the bottom of the Pac-12 this season.
This defense is going to force the offense into shootouts every game. That's of course assuming the CU offense doesn't stall against some of the better defenses in the conference. Looking over the remainder of the Buffs' schedule it's difficult to find a team that won't put up over 30 points on the defense. It has only been two weeks, but every offense in the Pac-12 appears to be in position to put up a lot of points. Even Colorado's week four opponent the Hawaii Warriors put up 30 points in a losing effort to the Oregon State Beavers. There's not much confidence in a defensive unit who gave up 31 points and 38 points against offenses no where near the caliber of their Pac-12 foes.
The run defense in particular is a glaring issue. Just looking at the statistical angle it doesn't appear to be devastating; the Minutemen only ran for 104 yards yesterday, but there was no push from the Buff's defensive line. Massachusetts couldn't move the ball last week against the Boston College Eagles, only averaging 2.5 yards a carry, 202 total yards of offense and only scoring 7 points. This week against the Buffs, They were able to push forward with almost a yard more a carry on the ground, totaling 104 rushing yards, which was more than half their total offense against the BC.
The defense might be put in a lot of short yardage situations. This could have just been a bad day on the field, but UMass began their drives within their own 30 yard-line five times, and even started within their own 40 three times. There was a stretch in the second quarter and early into the third quarter where the Minutemen had three drives start on their own 30 twice and 39 once. These three drives resulted in 17 points for the Minutemen. The UMass offense stalled on a few other drives where their offense stared at , or above their own 39, but we can be sure offenses within the Pac-12 won't stall as often.
Sefo Liufau is the perfect quarterback for this offense. Though it was against a team that is only in its third season as an FBS member, the Buffs' offense put up 474 yards on 89 plays, averaging over five yards a play. Colorado may not be as good as they want to be running the ball moving forward. The ground game was only responsible for 3.2 yards per carry on 47 attempts. Now, there was an odd sequence at the end of the game where the Buffs' coaching staff decided to run the clock out by running backwards 26 yards on three plays, but in no way did the offensive impose their will on UMass. They didn't exactly blow UMass off the line.
The passing game has been fun to watch. Liufau has been able to spread the ball out to numerous receivers, in an effort to wear down opposing defenses with the constant threat of fresh legs. Five different Buffs were responsible for a total of 318 yards and three TDs through the air. Nelson Spruce (10 catches for 145 yards & two TDs) and Shay Fields (6 receptions for 93 yards and a TD) have become a great duo for Liufau to rely on.