(Sports Network) - The Colorado Buffaloes kick off the home portion of their 2010 schedule this weekend when they invite the Hawaii Warriors to Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday afternoon.
The Buffs opened the season a couple weeks back with a 24-3 rout of the Colorado State Rams in the annual in-state battle, held yet again at Invesco Field in Denver. However, Colorado took a huge step back last Saturday when the team was crushed by the California Golden Bears, 52-7, in Berkeley.
As for the Warriors, they went from fighting a tough match versus 14th-ranked USC at home (49-36) back on September 2nd to traveling to the other side of the country to face off against the Army Black Knights in another non- conference showdown. The battle with the academy came down to the final seconds, but in this case Hawaii came out ahead in a 31-28 final at West Point.
This game marks just the second meeting all-time between the two programs and the first in 85 years. Back in 1925, the Buffs paid a visit to the islands and were turned away in a 13-0 final by Hawaii.
A 31-yard field goal by Scott Enos with a mere seven seconds left on the clock proved to be the difference as the Warriors slipped by Army over the weekend at Michie Stadium. Quarterback Bryant Moniz got the visitors off to a quick start with three touchdown passes in the first 19 minutes of action and still it came down to the wire. Moniz, who was injured in the season opener versus USC, made it through the entire game as he converted 25-of-36 passing for 343 yards, with Greg Salas collecting seven passes for 63 yards and Kealoha Pilares six balls for 104 and a score. Salas is off to another start this season with a team-best 15 catches, resulting in 187 yards over two games, but the end production is clearly better when Pilares touches the ball because he has taken four of his 11 receptions into the end zone. Completing close to 60 percent of his pass attempts, Moniz has the group moving the ball at a quick pace, even of the group can't seem to gain much yardage on the ground. Again, even though it has been just two games, the disparity between the Warriors running the ball (69.5 ypg) and the opposition (248 ypg) is too great to completely ignore.
Against the run last season the Warriors were one of the worst in the nation, giving up better than 200 ypg and over the weekend the squad was again exposed by an opponent on the ground as Army dialed up 250 yards and four touchdowns on 26 attempts. However, giving up so many yards to an academy is not that unusual so the final numbers from week two might be a bit deceiving. The same can be said about Hawaii's pass defense because the Black Knights attempted a mere six throws, completing four for 58 yards. Corey Paredes registered a team-best 14 tackles and Kamalu Umu came up with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble for the Warriors in New York. Even though the Warriors so very few balls put in the air by Army, after just two weeks the defense still ranks last in the nation in pass efficiency defense with a mark of 208.23, basically because the group was ripped apart by Matt Barkley in the opener. Clearly the secondary falls somewhere in between the efforts they had versus the Trojans and at Army, but for now the numbers are what they are and permitting 38.5 ppg isn't helping matters much.
Tyler Hansen got the start at quarterback for the Buffaloes over the weekend versus California at Memorial Stadium, but he probably would have preferred to have been anywhere but the Golden State given the final results. Hansen converted 18-of-34 for 166 yards, but was picked off three times and suffered six sacks, the latter taking the team's overall run production down to only 75 yards on 42 attempts. Hansen did record a touchdown on the ground, but that was little consolation in the end. Hansen, who saw action late last year and finished 2009 with eight touchdowns through the air, but also seven interceptions, has the 2010 version of the offense generating a mere 273 ypg overall and not only is that last among teams in the Big 12 Conference, it is also 111th in the country at the moment as well. Had the opponent not been Colorado State in the first game of the season perhaps Colorado would not be anywhere near scoring 15.5 ppg (tied for 108th) so that has to be a major concern for head coach Dan Hawkins and his staff.
Against Colorado State in the opener the Buffs had little trouble on defense, but the same could not be said for the squad's meeting with future conference mate California on Saturday. The Golden Bears averaged close to six yards per play and made it look easy with almost as many points (52) as offensive plays (60). Anthony Perkins was credited with 11 tackles for the Buffs, the only player with double-digit stops, while Will Perciak tallied seven tackles and one sack for a unit that failed to force a single turnover. Through two games Perkins is averaging nine tackles per contest, one of the top efforts in the Big 12 in the early going, and that's a marked improvement from last year when he was second on the team with 6.4 stops per contest, so at least one person on defense is moving in the right direction. As a group, Colorado is tied for 28th in the nation in sacks (2.5) and TFLs (7.5) per game so hopefully that effort will lead to more success this year.
Colorado is hoping to rebound after last week's embarrassing loss at Cal, while Hawaii wants to keep the good times rolling after its win at Army. Expect the latter to happen as the UH passing attack will get the better of the CU defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 37, Colorado 31