CU opponent glance
Opponent: Arizona Wildcats
Game time: Saturday, 6 p.m. MT, at Folsom Field in Boulder
Coach: Rich Rodriguez, 6th season (38-31; 158-115-2 career)
Record: 2-2, 0-1 Pac-12
Last week: Bye
Key players: DL Justin Belknap, So. (6 tackles, 1 sack); QB Brandon Dawkins, Jr. (66-of-105, 670 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT; rushing: 52 att., 341 yards, 6 TD); WR Tony Ellison, Jr. (14 catches, 182 yards, 2 TD); LB Tony Fields II, Fr. (23 tackles, 2 sacks); S Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Jr. (19 tackles, 3 INT); RB JJ Taylor, Fr. (48 att., 229 yards, 1 TD); RB Nick Wilson, Sr. (34 att., 171 yards, 1 TD).
Notable: Arizona lost its Pac-12 opener, 30-24, at home against Utah on Sept. 22. … The Wildcats’ two wins came against Northern Arizona and UTEP. They also lost to Houston. … With Dawkins leading the way, Arizona is averaging 296 yards per game on the ground, ranking eighth nationally. … Dawkins’ 85.25 rushing yards per game ranks sixth nationally among quarterbacks. … Arizona is the only Pac-12 team the Buffs will face coming off a bye week. … The Wildcats beat CU, 38-31, in their last visit to Folsom Field, on Oct. 17, 2015. Since then, Arizona is 2-13 in Pac-12 games, with both wins coming in Tucson.
PASADENA, Calif. — The Colorado football team opened September with a load of confidence.
The Buffaloes closed the month with their backs against the wall.
Following Saturday’s 27-23 loss to UCLA, the defending Pac-12 champion Buffs (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) are looking up at the rest of the division. They’ll aim to snap a two-game losing streak when Arizona (2-2, 0-1) comes to Folsom Field on Saturday.
“The only way to go is up,” quarterback Steven Montez said. “Hopefully we get back on Monday, get back to the drawing board, get prepared for a good U of A team. We like to make it pretty tough in Folsom to get a win, so hopefully we can get that done.”
For the first time since 2015, the Buffs are dealing with a regular season losing streak, yet they walked out of the Rose Bowl maintaining confidence that they’ll get going in the right direction soon.
“(The players) know we’re getting better and better,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’ll start clicking off some wins here. That’s what we plan on doing.”
In both of their losses, the Buffs have made critical mistakes that have cost them points and chances to seize momentum.
Against the Bruins, the Buffs dropped two potential touchdown passes in the end zone, as well as dropping other passes. They also got stuffed on a fake field goal try. Defensively, the Buffs were pretty good against a high-powered offense, but struggled to get off the field on third downs, and couldn’t get a much-needed stop in the final minutes.
“We just didn’t execute,” senior safety Afolabi Laguda said. “We have to get back to the drawing board and move on. It’s in the past now. We just have to worry about that next Pac-12 game.”
As he has said after most games this year, MacIntyre believes the Buffs are barely missing out on opportunities to make big plays.
“We’re right there and we’ll keep getting better and we’ll have happier days ahead,” he said.
For the happy days to come, the Buffs will have to figure out a way to make the plays they haven’t been making this season.
As far as Laguda is concerned, it starts with the veteran players.
“The leadership has to pick it up and lead this team,’ he said. “We’re not executing. We’re not getting victories. It falls on leadership. We have to step up as leaders.”
Despite digging a hole in the early part of Pac-12 play, the Buffs still believe they’re one of the best teams in the conference, and they’re determined to prove it.
“We know how good we can be,” cornerback Isaiah Oliver said. “We know that we’re just one step away from being really good and we feel like we can step up this week and we can start clicking off wins from here on out the rest of the season.”