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The Sports Daily > Duck Stops Here
Scouting the Buffaloes

Mike McIntyre runs a multiple set offense, in no-huddle spread most of the time, sometimes I formation, sometimes the Deep Ace with a single back. They ran only 69 plays against the Beavers, but hampered themselves with four turnovers. They averaged 82 plays in their two opening wins.

Junior quarter Connor Wood is not a threat to run. He has good size at 6-4, 225 and throws a good ball, decent arm strength. He can reach both sidelines and leads receivers nicely on long throws, but on the ground, 15 carries for 19 yards. Opponents have sacked him 6 times. He’s a former U.S. Army All-American who transferred from Texas in 2011; as a Texas prep he had a career 9,899 yards of total offense. He’s intelligent, a finance major with a 3.55 G.P.A.

Chuck, Connor: Rifleman Connor Wood drops back to pass an average of 39 times a game for the Colorado Buffaloes, and most of the time he’s looking for Paul Richardson (John Henderson, Denver Post photo).

In long yardage situations the Buffs dump the ball off to their backs a lot. Paul Richardson is the known quantity in the offense, 26 receptions, 487 yards, 5 tds. Their other wideout D.D. Goodson, 5-6, 170, made a nice, tough catch over the middle against Oregon State. He had an 18-yard td reception against Colorado State in the opener.

They try to get the ball to Richardson in a variety of ways. Against OSU they opened the game by handing it to him on a fly sweep, good for 7 yards. They’re in the spread 80% of the time. 

Like many developing teams Colorado suffers from self-inflicted wounds. On their first series they gained a first down but followed it with a holding penalty, a swing pass dropped by the running back, a quick screen to Richardson the Beavs sniffed out, and an underneath throw for half the yardage they needed. They tend to follow good things with bad things. In the first quarter cornerback Greg Henderson intercepted Mannion and returned it to the 17 but three plays went nowhere and they had to settle for the field goal. Midway through the second quarter they recovered a Beaver fumble, got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the very next play, and quickly went three and out.

Their first punt Darragh O’Neill shanks for 16 yards, setting up OSU at the 48.

Wood doesn’t have any kind of speed. Third and goal at the three he runs a bootleg with room to run, but the Beavers have no trouble closing. They’ll take four or five shots downfield during the course of the game.

Defensively, they’re in 4-3 most of the time, playing a soft, soft zone. The tight end is open over the middle, OSU having good success with simple hook routes at the sticks. Another time they ran a play-action flat route on the right side for an easy score. Colorado’s managed just two sacks in their three games, one by the linebacker Addison Gilliam, who’s a good player, their leading tackler with 33. Four interceptions and three fumble recoveries for the entire unit so far. Most of the time Sean Mannion had all kinds of time to survey the field and throw.

A lot of their offensive plays will look familiar. They’ll run the inside zone read to Michael Adkins, who ran for 98 yards and 7 yards a carry last week. 

The Buffs have some good athletes, just not enough of them. Five offensive linemen have taken nearly all the snaps.

Brandin Cooks won a lot of one-on-one matchups with their secondary, and a couple of times he simply beat two defenders to the ball. Mannion hit him once for long pass pass on 3rd and 16, a couple of plays later in back of the end zone to make it 17-3 at the half.

Colorado isn’t going to shock the world this week. For the Ducks, this is a game where they’ll want to get out of town with a convincing win and get healthy for Washington, not that any of them will be looking ahead. Marcus Mariota will have an opportunity to find his rhythm. They need him, because the season starts to get serious in another ten days.