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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats look to avoid Buffaloes stampede

Alex McIntyre
Arizona running back Zach Green (34) dives into the endzone for a touchdown against Colorado at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. The Buffalos beat the Wildcats 49-24.

Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado Buffaloes football team entered conference play untested and rarely challenged. The Buffs cruised through a middling non-conference schedule beating Colorado State, Texas State and Northern Colorado.

Pac-12 play hasn’t been a bed of roses for the men from Boulder, Colorado was demolished by Washington and lost a heartbreaker to UCLA. With an 0-2 record in conference play, the Buffs are desperate to get back on track. Even though it’s down, Colorado is far from out and has a chance to get back into the south division race.

Tailback Phillip Lindsay is famous for his retro hairdo, but it’s his versatility that caught the attention of defensive coordinators. Lindsay is a complete player, he is a force on the ground and deadly weapon on pass downs. Look for the senior to be the focal point of the CU offense.

Offensive playcaller Brian Lindgren will look to Lindsay on key downs to take pressure off sophomore quarterback Steven Montez. Montez has struggled with his decision making as evidenced by his six interceptions and isn’t a polished passer. Montez has issues with identifying complex coverages, but the young passer is a threat with his legs, size and speed making him dangerous on the edge. Montez also uses his athleticism to extend plays, so it is imperative that Wildcat corners play to the whistle.

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Bryce Bobo will be Montez’s primary target, as he is an imposing target. Bobo has caught 25 passes this season, with only four coming in conference play. Jay MacIntyre is a handful in the slot, the head coach’s son is averaging sixteen yards per catch. MacIntyre is at his best in the middle of the field and the Buffs love to get him matched up against linebackers.

Shay Fields is tied for the team lead in receptions with Bobo, and is yet another player that the Buffs use to create favorable matchups. The Buffs are stout up front with four returning starters, including 2nd team All-Pac-12 guard Jeromy Irwin. Irwin can play both the guard and tackle positions and will be tasked with neutralizing Arizona’s undersized defensive tackles.

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has been tasked with rebuilding what was a dominant unit. Only three starters return from last season including linebacker Rick Gamboa. Gamboa was the Buffs second leading tackler last season with 77. Heading into the UCLA game, the junior had 36 tackles, averaging nine stops per contest.

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Gamboa is joined on the second level by leading tackler Drew Lewis. Lewis isn’t new to the Pac-12 conference, he began his career at the University of Washington and following a stop at a junior college to find his way to Boulder. Lewis is a physical linebacker that can diagnose and fill running lanes efficiently.

Physicality is a common theme on the CU defense, tackling is emphasized. Even players in the secondary are expected to maul opposing ball carriers. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver is strong in man coverage as his length can be problematic for smaller receivers. Oliver will be tasked with covering Arizona speedster Shun Brown.

Safety Ryan Moeller had 64 tackles last season and so far he is on pace to replicate that performance. Moeller is a run stuffing safety and will be utilized as an additional linebacker.

The Buffs may be undersized up front, but they can harass the quarterback. Leo Jackson leads the team in sacks with five relying on speed and hand placement to get around the edge. Nose guard Javier Edwards was a highly touted player in the junior college ranks last season and has sixteen tackles on the year. Edwards, despite lacking prototypical size, is extremely active in the middle.

Follow Nathan Skinner on Twitter

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