Rule of Tree (RoT): Ralphie the Buffalo: "best live mascot in the country" or "%@#$! yeah! It's the best live mascot in the country"? Share with us your best story about the 1,100-pound live bison that is Colorado's mascot:
Jack: Definitely the second one. It is as magical of an entrance as you’ll see. My best Ralphie story is predictably the first time I saw her run. Growing up, I watched CSU much more than CU, so I got used to a ram trotting out to midfield with mild applause. Very fun, still pretty cool, but the first time I remember seeing Ralphie run was like getting punched. So much energy and raw power, and the audience obviously responded. To this day, I am enamored every time. Best mascot in the country, best entrance in the country, now if only we had speakers that could put out a song to match.
Also, I petition to change the song to "Bulls on Parade."
RoT: Prior to this season, Colorado's won only five conference games over the past five years combined, and has won only one conference game over the past two years combined. Colorado also spent all of its first five years in last place of the Pac-12 South. Now, however, Colorado suddenly looks like a very real contender for the Pac-12 South title. To what do you attribute this amazing turnaround?
Jack: Slow, painstaking work by Mike MacIntyre, his coaches, and this team. MacIntyre has made the right coaching changes at the right time, recruited the right type of player, and we are seeing as fans the magic of an organization solely focused on one goal. Todd Graham made a good point at the end of the last game- the personnel hasn’t changed dramatically (though there is real size out there now). But every ounce of these players goes into every play on both sides, and it is an absolute joy to watch. MacIntyre has successfully changed a toxic culture (with help from the admin), and as he likes to say, no conflict, no story. In more concrete football terms, the offense has sped up the pace, thanks to co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, and the play calls are much more focused on getting athletes in space. On defense, the turnaround is nothing short of miraculous, and Jim Leavitt, the defensive coordinator, certainly had a big hand in that. Leavitt has stressed turnovers and aggressiveness, which has lead to a D that makes plays rather than trying to prevent them.
RoT: Bill Connelly (S&P) currently has Colorado's passing offense as the best in the nation. What makes the Colorado passing game so lethal, and whom should the Stanford secondary most be concerned about?
Jack: Well, obviously, the quarterback play certainly helps. Steven Montez and Sefo Liufau have both been wildly successful this year, but Liufau is a little more seasoned. He conducts this offense masterfully, and makes the right read most of the time. The receivers can’t be ignored, either. They can create separation in short order, and Devin Ross and Shay Fields have elite speed. Bryce Bobo will punish the DB across from him and provides a great frame to throw to. The play calls allow for quick hits, which helps the O-line in pass protection and doesn’t allow the defense to react. However, the line has done a great job on its own. The success of the deep ball this year is largely owed to them. It’s a perfect storm of a great QB play, tough WR play, and an O-line that blocks well.
RoT: WR Bryce Bobo threw a 67-yard touchdown pass against USC two weeks ago. Is this the best trick play Mike MacIntyre has drawn up? What else is in the running?
Jack: The WR pass is by far the most common, and that was the most successful that I’ve seen that play. There’s been a few triple end-arounds, but those haven’t worked too well. I’m always fond of the pass to Sefo, because he always looks to level someone and makes me very nervous. I don’t know if this counts as a trick play, but three years, Nelson Spruce returned an attempted onside kick for a touchdown, so that was pretty sweet.
RoT: Give us a crazy, off-the-wall prediction that is nonetheless plausible and just might come true in the Stanford-Colorado game. Explain why your crazy prediction could happen. (Feel free also to give a more realistic prediction and game score, too, if you like.)
Jack: Crazy prediction? Hmm… CU could have two quarterbacks throw touchdowns on Saturday. Sefo Liufau runs a lot, and Stanford is nothing if not physical. Solomon Thomas could lay a few licks on Sefo and take him out for a series or two. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, Steven Montez is a very competent backup, and he could lead a touchdown drive or two.
Realistic prediction? It will be a close game. Stanford’s offense seems to be struggling, and CU’s defense is stout this year. However, the offense has struggled a bit on the road. I bet Stanford wins by 3 due to some special teams mishaps by the Buffs.