“They are a really good football team,” California head coach Jeff Tedford said, regarding the Colorado Buffaloes. “They played really well last week against Colorado State.”
Colorado (1-0), for one, have FBS athletes and, while Tedford credited the UC Davis Aggies by stating that they played “very hard,” the Buffaloes are – without a doubt – a stronger and faster team.
Senior defensive end Cameron Jordan cannot wait for the challenge.
“I am really looking forward to a battle,” said Jordan. “We've put in a lot of work within the last year. We definitely should have beaten the team we played this last weekend, and now we've got Colorado on the line.”
“Anytime you're going downhill, it's always going to be a battle. As D-line, that's what we do, we fight. So anytime you can get someone to fight back, it's going to be fun.”
Jordan will be facing a Colorado offense that has struggled in recent years, but managed to put up 24 points in their win over rival Colorado State. The Buffaloes have traditionally been a downhill running team, and that does not figure to change with junior Rodney Stewart running the ball. Junior quarterback Tyler Hanson, with his main target being senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight, and USC transfer Travon Patterson, leads the aerial attack.
Tedford knows that the speed of the Colorado offense will pose a new challenge for his defense.
“That's the difference between their team this year and their team last year, is they have more speed at the receiver position,” said Tedford. “Scotty McKnight was really their only playmaker last year that I saw, and now they have a few others that can really run and stretch the field and do stuff with the ball in their hands once they catch it. And then have two little running backs that are very good players.”
“Their quarterback, he can hurt you in the passing game and he can pull it down and run with the football,” Tedford said, regarding Hansen. “He's very athletic, so we're going to have to keep him contained. He can make some big plays there. And then they average 300 pounds along the front, so they're a big, physical offensive line as well. Very good football team, plenty of speed and plenty of size and strength, and can pound you as well."
While Tedford was very complementary of the Colorado offense for their new playmakers, he also has to be pleased that his own offense now has a new playmaker of his own.
True freshman Keenan Allen, who put forth a superb effort with 176 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate game, adds a new dimension to the California offense that had been missing in recent years.
“We've watched [Allen] practice for a month now and he's performed like that during practice,” said Tedford. “He's a very good football player, no question about it. It's one game, though, so we have to make sure not to get too carried away with it. He's a great kid, more than being a great football player he's a great kid and really into it. Been a great addition just for the chemistry of the team as well."
The addition of Allen not only gives Riley a scoring threat to throw to, but Allen on the field also forces the defense to play against him, thus giving more opportunities to the other playmakers on the field.
“He's a big weapon,” said senior quarterback Kevin Riley. “Now in our base setup, when you have Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen on each side, those are two very good receivers. So you have to be very aware of where they are at all times. It can open up the offense and it's going to keep the defense more honest.”
Despite his impressive debut, Allen knows that the coming weeks will only get tougher. For one, Colorado now has film to scout Allen. But, as was mentioned earlier, the talent that Allen will go up against for Colorado will also pose a much more interesting threat.
Colorado sports two of the best cornerbacks in the nation in seniors Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. Smith was an honorable mention All-American last year, while Smith earned honorable mention All-Big XII honors on the other side. Both are big (Smith is 6'2 and 205, while Brown is 6'1 and 205) and both have track speed. Both will pose problems for the California offense.
“They like to stick their corners a little bit, so you've got to be aware of that in the run game,” said Riley. “It's hard to tell right now in our game plan how we're going to move around it, but we're not really a team that kind of schemes our game plan around their players. We do what we do and I've just got to go through my reads.”
There is no doubt that the Buffaloes will be a greater challenge physically for the Bears.
The question is whether California can come out with the same focus and intensity that propelled them to their 52-3 win over UC Davis.
Yes, the Buffs are much improved from their 3-9 record of 2009.
Yes, the Buffs' defense did a fantastic job of limiting a decent Colorado State team to 3 points. But if the Bears can come out ready to play at home, then they know that they will control the outcome on Saturday.
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