Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Game at a glance
Matchup: Idaho State Bengals (1-0) at Colorado Buffaloes (1-0)
Kickoff: 3:37 p.m. MDT
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder. Capacity: 50,183; Turf: Grass
TV: Pac-12 Mountain
Radio: KDSP (760 AM).
Odds: No line
Coaches: Colorado – Mike MacIntyre (11-27, 4th season); ISU – Mike Kramer (17-41, 6th season; 94-116 career)
Series: First meeting
CU secondary vs. ISU receiver KW Williams
Since the start of the 2014 season, Williams has caught 121 passes for 1,727 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had four catches for 121 yards and two scores in the Bengals’ opener. At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, he’s a big target and a key to the ISU offense. CU’s secondary is one of the best in the Pac-12, however, and if they can neutralize Williams, they can slow down the Bengals’ offense.
Late in the first half of the season opener on Sept. 2, Colorado receiver Bryce Bobo dropped a pass that hit him in the hands.
Two plays later, Bobo raced down the sidelines and made a miraculous one-handed catch for a 46-yard gain that set up a CU touchdown.
“We hold each other accountable to one snap and clear,” Buffaloes co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said. “That means if you make a mistake, OK, one snap and it’s over; next play. If you make a great play, OK, one snap and it’s over; next play. One snap and clear has been our motto and we’re going to carry that the whole year.”
One of the reasons for that motto is that CU no longer has much time to dwell on the past. Once a play is over — good or bad — the Buffs are ready for another one, pushing the pace more than they ever have before.
During the 44-7 victory against Colorado State, the Buffs ran 89 plays in 34 minutes, 36 seconds of possession time. That’s one play for every 23.33 seconds, despite slowing the pace in the second half after building a big lead. The Buffs ran a play every 19.86 seconds in the first half, building a 31-0 lead.
College football fans have seen plenty of teams in recent years run high-octane offenses, such as Oregon, Baylor, TCU and others. Add CU to the mix now, and get used to seeing the up-tempo pace from the Buffs (1-0), who will host Idaho State (1-0) on Saturday in the home opener at Folsom Field.
“A lot of teams, you can’t practice that tempo, that speed,” quarterback Sefo Liufau said. “You can’t get your scout teams to go over there and run at that kind of tempo and pace. I think that’s the biggest thing and the biggest challenge for teams. Teams coming into Folsom this year, I think it’ll be a bigger challenge for them, given the altitude. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”
Idaho State plays at a similar pace, so it may be tougher for CU to gain the advantage. Last week, however, the Buffs wore down CSU with that pace, and by using four-receiver sets throughout the night. Until going more conservative late in the game with a big lead, the Buffs used four-receiver sets on 66.1 percent of their first 59 plays.
“That’s our offense,” Chiaverini said. “What you’re seeing out there is what we do.”
Chiaverini has had a first-hand view of how good a fast-paced offense can look, having spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders run the Air Raid offense as well or better than most teams.
Defenses have struggled to stop the offense because, when its clicking, the offense has so much control of the game.
“I tell our players all the time, it doesn’t matter who we play, we control tempo, we dictate tempo, we control what we want to do on offense,” Chiaverini said. “It doesn’t matter which team we’re playing.”
The Buffs have played up-tempo football in the past. Co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren brought a fast pace to Boulder when MacIntyre hired him in 2013, and in 2014, the Buffs were one of the faster teams around.
Adding in the Texas Tech concepts brought in by Chiaverini, however, the Buffs are now a bit faster and more efficient.
“We’ve implemented a couple of things that help us go a little faster, communication and signal wise,” MacIntyre said, “and then our kids are in excellent shape and keep pushing at it.”
CU stresses that the key to the offense is getting the initial first down of a drive. Do that, and it keeps the defense on its heels as the offense marches down the field.
Chiaverini and the coaches were pleased with how the players adjusted to the pace during the offseason, but seeing positive results, to the tune of 578 yards and 44 points last week, was satisfying.
“It’s always great as a coach when you see all the hard work that you do as coaches and you do as players and then you start having success together,” Chiaverini said. “When you see that happen in a game, it’s great for building confidence and it’s also good for the coaches to see it because now they believe in it.
“Now they see where this thing can go and see where it can go to the next level and be a very good offense. But, we’ve just scratched the surface. We’re not even close to where we want to be.”
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.