The California Golden Bears are back on this road with a trip to the Colorado Buffaloes. Let’s learn a little more about our Southern foes with Jack Barsch of Ralphie Report.
Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
Jack Barsch (JB): Phillip Lindsay, easy. The second-best running back in the conference is pissed. He’s already over 1,000 yards for the season and in the double digits for touchdowns. He is about the only consistent part of this offense—or this team for that matter—and is trying his best to carry the rest of the team to wins. His style of running is a joy to watch. Someone who is 5’8” and 190 should not be able to push the pile like he does or shrug off tackles. The quickness is still there, too. Enjoy #23 while you can.
Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
JB: CB Isaiah Oliver is the player to watch, if he’s available for the game. He is a high-level NFL prospect, but he may not be involved in the game all that much due to the fact that opposing teams have decided to avoid him for the most part. He is all of 6’1”, solidly built, and freaky athletic. His wingspan allows him to disrupt passes and his ball skills give him an advantage on 50/50 balls. He isn’t too bad in run support either.
Who's one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for Colorado?
JB: A 3-4 defense depends heavily on the man in the middle, but CU’s man has yet to find his footing. Javier Edwards is a mammoth, but he has been handled since the CSU game. It may be due to conditioning (he came into CU at 380 lbs), technique, or an adjustment from JuCo ball, but Edwards needs to get it together for the defense to get back to average/above-average. If he can get back to healthy and active against Cal, it will change a lot of what Beau Baldwin will want to do on offense.
What does Colorado need to do to win the game?
JB: Move the ball on offense consistently. Unfortunately, it’s not rocket science. Find solid QB play, let the OL run block for the most of the game, and get to the red zone as much as possible. When you get there, please finish. The Buffs need to treat every drive like actual babies rather than the fake babies you get during Home Ec class in high school. They are precious, carefully handled, and all-important.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
JB: Score on offense. It’s a fair bet that Cal’s D will do just fine against CU, but their offense needs to play like the Golden Bear offense against WSU and not Golden Bear offense against Oregon. Let Patrick Laird get some run, give Ross Bowers easy decisions to make, and pillage the line of scrimmage.
How do you see the game going?
JB: Not great, Bob! Defense travels and Cal has a pretty good defense. I suspect that Cal will move the ball just well enough to take the game away from CU. Confidence is at a season-low for fans in Boulder. Morale is dropping fast. Please send aid.
Suddenly a mid-season QB battle is brewing in Boulder. What's wrong with the Colorado passing game?
JB: I guess I’ll start with the pass-blocking. Steven Montez has been consistently pressured in every game that CU has played thus far. The OL generally does fine run blocking, but it just struggled with pass blocking for whatever reason. So when CU does pass, it generally doesn’t have long to do so. Next, we’ll move to the QB. Montez has generally been OK, but has really struggled the past two weeks with accuracy. His deep ball has been off all year and now the intermediate throws are off target as well, leading to a QB change in Pullman. It is technically an open competition this week for the starting job and MacIntyre is not saying who the winner is until about noon on Saturday. In short, Montez has some accuracy issues, which I’m sure isn’t helped by the fact that he has to scramble a lot. Now, let’s go to the receivers. The timing is off on some of their routes. This was a hyped group coming into this year, but only Bryce Bobo has gotten the chance to live up to the billing. Shay Fields and Devin Ross, both deep threats as well as short threats, have struggled with the deep ball issues that Montez has and also have dropped a few passes. Everything is just a bit off and in a passing game like CU’s that requires timing, that’s a big deal.
Some regression was to be expected from last year's senior-laden Pac-12 South champs. How does this season's performance compare with preseason expectations for the team?
JB: It’s shaky at best. About six games through, it was on pace to what CU was supposed to be. Four wins, two losses, and heading into the soft underbelly of the schedule. Now, every team is a total threat to blow the doors off of the Buffs. The inconsistency week to week has led to exasperated fans and coaches—and the downright poor efforts are disappointing. Realistically, CU would need to win two or three of the next five to barely clear the bar set coming into this year. It’s doable, but tough.
Expected to be the strength of the team, the Colorado defense is struggling. Is this a personnel issue? A result of losing Jim Leavitt? Something else?
JB: I would argue that the offense was thought to be the strength of the team going into this year. The defense lost eight starters, three coaches, and a whole lot of leadership—and the Buffs are not in the position where they can just reload every year. Players are growing into their roles and it seems that the coaches are, too. Jim Leavitt is obviously a good defensive coordinator and he had some great personnel to work with last year. This year, CU has neither. It shouldn’t be a complete rebuilt, either. MacIntyre is a defensive coach by trade and the cupboard wasn’t completely bare. The basic problem, other than the Arizona game (Khalil Tate is the worse), is that they are a little light up front. Leo Jackson is a good Pac-12 player, but the rest of the DL are unknowns and it shows. Week to week or snap to snap, it’s an adventure. There is plenty of potential, but with such spotty play up front, the rest of the D is playing catch up. This leads to a lot of headaches.
How hot is Coach MacIntyre's seat right now? What does he have to do to restore the right trajectory to this program?
JB: It is extremely cold. He literally won Coach of the Year last year. Some fans have been rooting for him to be fired since 2013 and those same fans are coming out in full force now. Essentially, he needs to show progress again. Fans expected a bumpy year, but the problems that have cropped this year were unexpected. Now, he has tried to catalyze some change—especially this week—so Cal may see some personnel or packages that haven’t been there all year. But it all boils down to progress. Are they getting better every week? Are the young guys getting better? Is a bowl game possible? These are all important questions.
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
JB: The stupid frog bosses in the first part of Cuphead.
Thanks to Jack for helping us out here and be sure to check out all of Ralphie Report’s coverage for the Cal game.
How do you see the game going?
This poll is closed
Big Cal win
Close Cal win
Close Colorado win
Big Colorado win