Game Preview: Arizona Football vs the Colorado Buffaloes

Arizona Football looks to snap a 17 game losing streak and get back in the win column Saturday afternoon in Boulder against Pac-12 South foe Colorado.

The Buffaloes enter Saturday’s game at 1-4 overall, 0-2 in Pac-12 play, and are coming off of a Bye Week. The biggest storyline heading into the game is the loss of Arizona Football quarterback Jordan McCloud due to a knee and ankle injury suffered last Saturday night in Tucson against UCLA.

McCloud will miss the rest of the 2021 season. With McCloud out, Freshman Gunner Cruz will get the call  of duty at QB Saturday afternoon.

Cruz’s stats are 48/71 passing for 454 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs. Aside from picking up first downs on 4th and 1 situations using his 6-foot-5, 227 stature on QB sneaks, Cruz has struggled running the ball so far in 2021, accumulating -33 yards rushing. He has also struggled to get the ball out of his hands, it’s imperative that he makes faster decisions and gets the ball out quicker.

I like Cruz’s take-charge abilities coming out of the huddle, he’s not shy to get guys lined up at the line of scrimmage.

Head Coach Jedd Fisch and Offensive Coordinator Brennan Carroll should look to simplify an offensive game plan for Cruz who hasn’t started since the San Diego State game on 9/11/2021.

Arizona should rely heavily on the running game in Boulder. I hope the Cats use up to 4 Running Backs and pound the ball up the middle while not forgetting to capture the edge. I’d like to see Arizona give a dose of pulling guards to get out and smash defenders blocking for the running backs on the edge as well as running up the gut.

I’ve been waiting through five games to see Senior Fullback Clay Markoff, 5-foot-10, 240 get a chance in the Red Zone. The Wildcats have been dismal in the Red Zone. I say why not give the stout fullback a shot at pounding it into the end zone.

Key Buffalos Personnel Arizona should prepare for:

  • Defense – Senior Inside Linebacker, 6-foot-3, 235 Nate Landman, in 2020 named to 1st team All Pac-12, has been named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the week three times in his career. This season is on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award. He leads Colorado in tackles and is very versatile and even has speed.
  • Defense – Junior Outside Linebacker, 6-foot-4, 245 Carson Wells, in 2020 named 2nd team All Pac-12, His specialty is accumulating tackles for loss (TFL). Although Landman leads the team as of now in TFL. Both of these Linebackers need to be prepared.
  • Offense – Sophomore Tail Back, 5-foot-9, 185 Jarek Brousard, in 2020 named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year as a Freshman. This season is on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award. His stats in 2021 are 60/256 rushing, 2 TDs, a long rush of 30 yards.
  • Offense – Freshman Quarterback, 6-foot-2, 215, Brendon Lewis. Although his passing stats are not too impressive, 48/90 passing for 475 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, he does have foot speed and has broken long runs of 30 and 33 yards against Texas A&M and Arizona State.

Keys for Arizona to win the game:

  • A fast start on offense, if the toss is won, get the ball, get Cruz on the field and let him gain more confidence, then sustain long drives and win the time of possession.
  • Offensive Line needs to protect Cruz at all costs and further, it is imperative they get to the second level and block Colorado’s stellar linebackers.
  • Contain Brousard, cannot give up large chunks of yardage to Running Backs, as in what happened in the UCLA game.
  • Coaches should use the fact that Arizona’s last win came against Colorado in Boulder as a motivational tool.
  • Need to be more Disciplined – cannot win if they commit 12 penalties for 81 yards as they did against UCLA. Particularly the Offensive Line has to be more disciplined not jump offsides, this was a problem last Saturday.

Weather Report

The desert dweller Wildcats of Arizona will have to shake off a 37-degree morning heading into the game. After a cold morning start, temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-60s and clear. This is Arizona’s first day game of the season.

How to Watch the Game

TV – Pac-12 Network, 12:30 pm MST

Arizona Injury Report 

LB – Jabar Triplett (Knee) – Still recovering from offseason knee surgery.
QB – Jordan McCloud (Knee/Ankle) – Suffered last Saturday against UCLA, will miss the remaining 2021 season.

NOTE:Isaiah Rutherford, CB missed last week’s game due to illness, but is expected to play. JB Brown, DL who missed last week’s game due to personal reasons is expected to play.

Spread: +7.0 Arizona

I think Arizona breaks the losing streak and gets back in the win column. This game will be a thriller. Arizona 24 Colorado 23.

As always, Bear Down Arizona and GO Cats!