The Buffaloes don’t have many guys who jump out at you physically, but their style could make things interesting when the Buckeyes have the ball.
The defense is listed as a 3-4, but the base looks a lot like Ohio State’s 4-3 under with the weak side defensive end lining up on the line of scrimmage with his hands on the ground. They played mostly 4-3 over against Hawaii’s spread.
Ohio native Douglas Rippy is an active linebacker, but he seemed kind of reckless, too.
They showed a variety of pre-snap looks and brought pressure from a lot of different angles, so Mike Brewster and the quarterbacks will have to be on their toes to make sure they have the protections under control.
What I saw leaves me somewhat conflicted about whether or not this is a fitting team against which to unveil Braxton Miller as the main guy. I think there is a potential for a young quarterback to get confused, but there should be many opportunities to make big plays both by breaking the pocket against pressure and by hitting passes against man coverage. I wasn’t terribly impressed with either corner (one is a freshman), so there should be opportunities for the wide receivers to win some battles, and Hawaii’s athletic quarterback absolutely shredded the Buffaloes in week one. I don’t think they have great team speed.
But they are going to crowd the line of scrimmage to challenge the running game, so someone is going to have to make some things happen down the field. Of course, having Jordan Hall (and maybe Jaamal Berry?) could make things more interesting against a loaded box than it was two weeks ago against Toledo. Hall and Berry can beat the extra defender at times.
Offensively, Colorado is a power team with some interesting pieces.
Tailback Rodney Stewart is a joy to watch. He’s a smaller version of Hall – 5-6, 175 and built like a rock. He’s lightning quick and runs hard. They will put him in the I and give him the ball in a variety of ways, including swing passes and screens. He is effective between the tackles and on the edge. They’re mostly a two-back or one back, two tight end team. They also run some “open I” with three wide receivers. I don’t think their offensive line is anything special, but he can find holes in the zone running game. Draws are effective as well.
Quarterback Tyler Hansen can spin a good ball and is good enough to be dangerous, but he looks somewhat uncomfortable in the pocket. He’s inconsistent when he sets up, which hurts his accuracy, but he can sling it. I’m pretty sure he is a former spread quarterback adjusting to life in a pro-style offense. He is a good runner and will find open receivers when he breaks the pocket. He can pick up a first down with his feet, too. He kind of reminds me of Drew Tate, but I think Hansen is a little bigger and not a whiny jerk.
Tight end Ryan Deehan is enough of a threat inside to keep an eye on, and they are high on receivers Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons (a Michigan transfer who, if memory serves, played a bit part in the Terrelle Pryor recruiting saga). Clemons has the size and strength to beat man coverage, and he cane make a guy miss in the open field. Richardson is skinny but elusive.
They will throw a bubble to the WRs, a la Penn State and Wisconsin, so that is something to keep an eye on.