Colorado will face a tough challenge on Saturday, as it tries to run the ball against an Arizona defense that’s not allowing much on the ground.
Arizona is yielding just 118.0 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth in the Pac-12. Opponents are getting just 3.6 yards per carry against the Wildcats.
Running the ball has been a challenge for the Buffaloes most of the season, but last week in a 27-23 loss at UCLA, they racked up 191 yards on the ground. It took some wildcat runs, reverses and QB keepers to get there, though.
“Our rushing game is coming around,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We felt like we needed to rush the ball better and do some different things to help us rush the ball better, so we added a couple wrinkles that helped us. I was pleased with that.”
Senior Phillip Lindsay is one of the top running backs in the conference, ranking fourth with 105.8 yards per game. He’s not getting a lot of help, though. As a team, the Buffs are seventh in the conference at 151.4 rushing yards per game, and they are ninth in yards per carry, at 3.8.
The Buffs also have just six rushing touchdowns. Only Washington State – which runs the ball less than anyone in the Pac-12 – has fewer rushing TDs.
Although he’s playing well, Lindsay feels he could do more to help.
“For me, it’s just being more patient, using my voice and making sure the linemen know I’m behind them,” he said. “When they know you’re behind them, they get another gear and they get to that backer faster because they know you’re behind them.”
CU’s two starting outside receivers – Bryce Bobo and Shay Fields – have had a rough couple of weeks.
That duo has just 10 catches for 93 yards during the last two weeks combined. Neither has caught a touchdown and each has a big drop.
Against UCLA, Bobo and Fields combined for just three catches for 28 yards.
Fields caught one pass for 5 yards – on the penultimate play of the game – against the Bruins and was targeted only three times on the night.
A few other notables going into today:
- After registering nine sacks in the first two games (including six vs. Texas State), the Buffs have had only three in the last three games. That includes a sack of Washington’s Jake Browning for no gain – a play that CU counts as a sack, but the NCAA does not because no yards were lost. The Buffs got to UCLA’s Josh Rosen just once last week, for a 1-yard loss.
- Lindsay could move into fifth place on CU’s all-time rushing list today, but it would take a big day. He has 2,762 career yards, ranking sixth. He needs 197 yards to pass Charlie Davis for fifth.
- Fields needs one TD catch to reach 20 for his career. Only five players in CU history have done that.
- James Stefanou has made nine consecutive field goals attempts – one shy of the school record. Mason Crosby had 10 in a row from 2004-05.
- In the last two games, CU corner Isaiah Oliver has been targeted 11 times, giving up just three catches for 41 yards.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.