In order to get the perspective and insight of those who watch the Colorado Buffaloes the way we watch K-State, I posed five questions to Jon and Bob of the excellent SB Nation blog, The Ralphie Report. You can check TRR this afternoon for my answers to their questions. Thanks to Jon and Bob.
BOTC: In its first game after Dan Hawkins' firing, Colorado hammered Iowa State. Is that a sign of how bad Hawkins was, or did Iowa State just forget to show up?
TRR: I definitely think that last week's win was more due to the Buffaloes playing their most complete game of the season (even moreso than the Georgia game) than it was ISU not showing up and I think a big part of that is due to the coaching staff. Interim head coach Brian Cabral had this team fired up and ready to play and they dominated the Cyclones like we haven't seen a Colorado team do in a long, long time. Looking back, the Kansas debacle can certainly be attributed to a terrible game plan in the second half and arguments could be made that the losses to Baylor and Texas Tech could be as well. This Saturday's game will show whether the Buffs were just riding a wave of emotion against Iowa State or if this team has really underperformed throughout conference play.
BOTC: Colorado's defense has a huge split between its ability to stop the run (pretty good) and its ability to stop the pass (pretty bad). Given that throwing the ball is K-State's weakness, are you confident that the Buffaloes can shut down the K-State running game with Daniel Thomas?
TRR: I certainly wouldn’t say with great confidence that Daniel Thomas could be stopped by anybody. He obviously is one of the better talents in the Big 12, if not the country. That being said, the way the Buffs played defense last week against the run leaves some room for optimism. Iowa State finished with negative rushing yards, not bad against a player like Alexander Robinson who has killed the Buffs in previous games. The front seven has played very well this year so it will be interesting to see what happens. The Buffs’ offense also helped the defense last week, something we have not seen a lot of. Nothing helps the defense more than the offense scoring and forcing a team to become one dimensional. If the Buffs offense can put some points up like they against Iowa State, force Daniel Thomas into a lesser role, I like the Buffs chances to beat Kansas State.
BOTC: We're hearing all kinds of names associated with the Colorado coaching search. Who do you want to see hired, and why?
TRR: I battle with this daily. One day I wake up and love the idea of a Mike Bellotti coming to Boulder, instantly bringing credibility to the program and with his experience in the Pac-10, it would make sense. There are also days I think Bill McCartney and Eric Bieniemy joining forces in Boulder is the right move. That is what the former players want, I think both of those guys would rally the fan base, rally the boosters, bring in some excitement. My biggest concern either way they go is who each of these candidates could get to join them as assistants in Colorado. Whomever can convince the most talent to come to Boulder with them is who I want for the job. That is what will separate the candidates.
BOTC: I've already mentioned Stewart, who is the player I'm most terrified of on CU's offensive unit. Who else should K-State fans keep an eye on?
TRR: True freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson has really come into his own over the past two games. After totaling less than 150 yards through the first eight game, Richardson exploded for 262 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas and Iowa State. He's fast and he's a fantastic blocker and could be (fans are starting to worry that he might consider transferring after this season to be closer to Southern California, I don't see it happening though) a cornerstone for this Buffs team for the next 2-3 seasons. With Scotty McKnight in the slot and Michigan transfer Toney Clemons on the other side, Colorado has the best receiving core that they have had in years.
BOTC: Turnabout is fair play. Let's hear your prediction for this one, including what Colorado needs to do to win the final game played between these two teams.
TRR: 28-27 Buffs. I just have a feeling Colorado is a different team after Hawkins was let go. I think they have the talent to be a decent football team and with a new energy among the players, I like how this team is rallying late in the year. Key for the Buffs is to continue to get the ball to freshman phenom WR Paul Richardson who is turning into the Buffs best player already. He has been a big play threat this Colorado team has been missing for the past five years. And obviously from a defensive perspective, limiting the big play from Kansas State’s running backs is the main priority. I think the Buffs can have confidence in playing man on man against Kansas State on the outside with Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown & then loading the box to stop the run.