Preview: Buffs play outside state's borders for first time, face UCLA

Scott Hood, Staff Writer
CU Sports Nation

Engaging the Enemy: UCLA

Staff Predictions: Colorado vs UCLA

Are the Buffs better off if UCLA throws the ball 50+ times?

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Wikipedia

What: Colorado (3-1, 0-1) at UCLA (2-2, 0-1)

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

When: Sat., Sept. 30, 8:30 p.m. MT

TV/Radio: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich); Colorado Sports Network (Mark Johnson, Gary Barnett).

The Colorado Buffaloes play a game beyond the state’s borders for the first time this season, traveling to southern California to take on the UCLA Bruins at the famed Rose Bowl Saturday night on national television. It is the first of five Pac-12 road games in 2017 for the Buffs.

SERIES HISTORY: UCLA leads the all-time series with Colorado, 9-3, including a 5-1 record in California (3-1 in Pasadena, 2-0 in Los Angeles) and 4-2 in Boulder. The two teams first in 1980, the second year of the Chuck Fairbanks Era. Mike MacIntyre is 1-4 against UCLA, 1-3 since taking over CU and 0-1 when he was at San Jose State.

MONTEZ LOOKS TO REBOUND: Even though he completed 21-of-27 passes (77.8 completion pct.), Buffs quarterback Steven Montez threw for a career low 171 yards in his seven starts, was intercepted three times and sacked four times in last week’s loss to Washington. One of the interceptions resulted in a Pick-6. The Buffs have committed 8 turnovers in 4 games, too many in MacIntyre’s opinion, and are even in turnover margin (8 takeaways, 8 giveaways).

“We've had too many (turnovers) on offense,” MacIntyre said. “That's the biggest key. The (UW game) was a prime example of that. We caused one for them and they caused three for us. The punt block could be one too the way I see it. They were four to one. We've got to be able to take care of (the ball) and do better. You have crazy ones every once in a while. Those types of things happen. We've got to change the turnover ratio."

Montez’s completions against UW averaged 8.14 yards and his longest pass went for 22 yards, meaning very few of the his pass attempts challenged the Huskies vertically. For the season, Montez has thrown for 1,029 yards and six TDs with six INT. He is averaging 8.0 yards per attempt. His 70.3 completion percentage ranks 11th nationally.

BIG NIGHT FOR LINDSAY?: UCLA has the worst run defense in the Pac-12 after four weeks of action (307.5 ypg), so should we expect a big night from the Buffs No. 1 running back, Phillip Lindsay? He is the Pac-12’s third leading rusher with an average of 111.5 yards per game, totaling 446 yards on 90 carries. Lindsay has been a workhorse so far this season. His 90 rushing attempts are second most in the conference behind Oregon’s Royce Freeman (97 carries).

THE ROSEN ONE: While the Bruins have lost two straight games, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has piled up impressive passing statistics as he strengthens his NFL resume. Most pro scouts have pegged him as a high first-round draft pick based on a skill set featuring a powerful and accurate throwing arm. Rosen enters Saturday night’s battle as the national leader in total passing yards (1,763), passing per game (440.8) and passing touchdowns (16) while placing 20th in passing efficiency (161.9), 32nd in completion percentage (.655) and 41st in passing yards per completion (13.46). Colorado’s secondary undoubtedly faces its stiffest test of the season.

"(Rosen’s stats) definitely jump out,” MacIntyre said. “When I was watching the tape I was saying, 'oh my goodness'. He's just so accurate right now. He's not missing anything. His pocket is clean a lot, which helps him to be accurate. He could probably start for half of the NFL teams right now, I think. He is definitely an NFL quarterback. Maybe he could leave Saturday and go play for somebody Sunday. He looks really good, he's healthy now.”

However, the defensive line would help matters by generating a pass rush against Risen. Last weekend, CU did not record a sack and had just 1 QB pressure against Washington. The Buffs rank third in the conference in opposing completion percentage (.512) and are giving up 199.5 yards per game through the air, also ranking third in the Pac-12. UCLA is the only school in the country with three receivers listed with an average of at least 100 receiving yards per game. Dissecting all the stats, something must give in the Rose Bowl when UCLA’s passing attack take son CU’s pass defense.

“Hopefully our front four can rush him a little bit,” MacIntyre said. “The thing that makes them able to pass it so well is that their offensive line is very talented. They're excellent pass-protectors. Our guys up front are getting better and better at pass-rushing. We've got some guys that have a knack at it. Some of those guys are young.

LEWIS ON A ROLL: Inside (Jack) linebacker Drew Lewis has already become the first Buffalo player to record 10 or more tackles in the first four career starts since former CU great Greg Biekert accomplished the feat in 1990. Lewis is now aiming to become the first Buffs defender to start a season with five consecutive games of 10 or more tackles since Hannibal Navies in 1997. Navies had had 62 total tackles in the first five games of that season.

Here are the statistical leaders for the Buffs defense going into Week 5:

Tackles: Drew Lewis (35)

Tackles For Loss: Leo Jackson (5.0)

Sacks: Leo Jackson (3.0)

Interceptions: Isaiah Oliver (2)

Pass Breakups: Isaiah Oliver (7)

QB Hurries: Drew Lewis, Rick Gamboa (3)

Fumble Recoveries: Three tied with 1

Forced Fumbles: Three tied with 1

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NOTES

-- UCLA has declared a “white out” for Saturday’s game. The Bruins will wear all-white uniforms and have urged fans to wear white as well. The Buffs will don all black uniforms (helmet, jersey and pants).

-- Colorado is one of only three teams in the country that have three receivers who currently all have over 100 career receptions. Shay Fields is the leader with

168, and he was joined in the Texas State win by both Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo as they surpassed the century mark (becoming the 15th and 16th

Buffaloes in history to catch over 100 balls). This is the first time in Colorado history the Buffs have had three players on the same team hit the century mark in receptions.

-- Colorado is looking to start 4-0 for the first the since 1998 - Rick Neuheisel’s final year as Buffs head coach before moving on to Washington in 1999).

-- The Buffs snapped a five-game losing streak to UCLA with a 20-10 win on Thursday night in Boulder last Nov. 3.

-- The Buffs also travel to Oregon State, Washington State, Arizona State and Utah in 2017.

-- In case you missed it, MacIntyre announced Tuesday sophomore DE Frank Umu had been dismissed from the football program. Umu, 6-4, 295, is from Littleton, Colo., and played his prep ball at Heritage High School. He was named the most improved defensive lineman in the spring along with DT Lyle Tuiloma.

COLORADO DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

QB – Steven Montez (Noyer)

RB – Phillip Lindsay (Adkins)

Z WR – Shay Fields (Winfree)

X WR – Bryce Bobo (Shenault)

H WR – Devin Ross (Nixon)

Y WR – Juwann Winfree (Walker)(Utilized when in 4 wide set)

TE/HB – George Frazier (Bounds)

LT – Jeremy Irwin (Kaiser)

LG – Gerrard Kough (Tonz)

C – Tim Lynott (Huckins)

RG – Aaron Haigler (Lynott)

RT – Josh Kaiser (Haigler)

DEFENSE

LDE – Leo Jackson (Franke)

NT – Javier Edwards (Franke OR Tuiloma)

RDE – Chris Mulumba (Franke)

OLB – Derek McCartney (Sparaco)

JACK – Drew Lewis (Landman)

MIKE – Rick Gamboa (Jones)

OLB – Terran Hasselbach (Coleman)

BUFF – Ryan Moeller (Worthington)

CB – Isaiah Oliver (Wigley)

FS – Afolabi Laguda (Fisher)

SS – Evan Worthington (Moeller)

CB – Trey Udoffia (Blackmon)

INJURIES:

WR Jay MacIntyre – sprained foot (day to day)

TE Dylan Keeney – back spasms (indefinite – limited in practice)

OLB Shamar Hamilton – knee (Out for season)

WR Jaylon Jackson – ankle (Out for season)

S Jaisen Sanchez – torn pec (Out for season)

WEEK 5 PAC-12 SCHEDULE (Sept. 29-30)

Fri., Sept. 29

USC at Washington State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sat., Sept. 30

Arizona State at Stanford, 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Washington at Oregon State, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

California at Oregon, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)

Colorado at UCLA, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

(All Times Mountain)

Byes: Utah, Arizona

Pac-12 South Standings (After Week 4)

USC 2-0

Utah 1-0

Arizona State 1-0

Colorado 0-1

Arizona 0-1

UCLA 0-1

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