Bob Bell of SB Nation's excellent Colorado blog, Ralphie Report, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Buffs in advance of Saturday's game. Enjoy!
Rule of Tree: Five games into Jon Embree's first season at the helm, what is there for Colorado fans to be optimistic about and what remains a major concern? It seems the team could just as easily be 3-2 as 1-4.
Ralphie Report: Tough question. We knew this was going to be a long season due to a difficult schedule and the fact that this program has lost for five straight seasons. There is still optimism about this coaching staff. We like their energy, their Colorado roots and how they want this program to be great.
There are things that have frustrated Buff fans, though, under Jon Embree that we were hoping left when Dan Hawkins was fired. Colorado is the most penalized team in the country this year, something we saw with Hawkins at the helm. Other than K Will Oliver, CU's special teams continues to be a liability. See the Ohio State game where the Buckeyes started seven drives in Colorado territory mostly due to special teams errors.
Embree has a tough job ahead of him. He has to get players in here that are winners and he needs to teach this current group of players how to win. Colorado has lost 19 consecutive games on the road and has lost winnable games like California and Washington State where the Buffs are literally one big play away from victory but this team fails to come through in the clutch.
RoT: Tyler Hansen's TD-INT ratio (11-2) is impressive, but his completion percentage is down quite a bit from last season. What gives?
RR: Hansen has made a few big throws for touchdowns as well as been the beneficiary of some great runs after the catch by Paul Richardson but overall, his completion percentage is a better indicator of his level of play so far. He has these streaks of inconsistency especially early in games that hurts the Buffs. In fairness, most of the year, the running game has been poor so defenses have had the ability to key on Richardson, who is Colorado's main threat.
RoT: Despite all of the injuries in the secondary, the Buffs' passing defense seems to have played pretty well, at least statistically. How do you think that unit will match up against the Cardinal's TE-heavy offense?
RR: Not well. The passing defense stat is misleading considering our game against Ohio State where Braxton Miller rarely passed the ball. Colorado's secondary, especially at the cornerback spot, is full of injuries and it's safety play has not been stellar. I expect Stanford to have a good amount of success attacking the middle of the field and taking advantage of the secondary. To our surprise, Washington State didn't attack the secondary as much as I thought they would early in the game. They started to in the fourth quarter but I expect Andrew Luck to have no problem identifying the mismatches.
RoT: Besides Hansen and Paul Richardson, who has been a stud at WR, who else should Stanford fans -- and the Cardinal defense -- look out for when the Buffs have the ball?
RR: RB Rodney Stewart is probably the only other player who can be considered a big threat. He was an all conference player a year ago who hasn't had the rushing stats like last season but is one of the nation's leaders in receiving yards out of the backfield. He had over 120 yards last week against WSU which is a positive sign. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has a lot of screen passes in the playbook that Colorado uses quite often.
RoT: What's your prediction for Saturday's game?
RR: I think it is going to be ugly - 49 to 17 Stanford.