Colorado v. Charleston-Southern – A Preview – “T.I.P.S.”
When the Fresno State game of September 14th was postponed, there were a number of options discussed for making up the contest.
There was the possibility of still playing the Bulldogs, either on October 19th – with the shuffling of the schedules of some other teams – or on December 7th (assuming Fresno State was not eligible to play in the Mountain West Conference championship game that same day).
There was also the possibility of playing some other FBS teams which had byes on October 19th, including coach MacIntyre’s former team, San Jose State, Hawai’i (already an opponent in 2014 and ’15) or San Diego State. None of those options worked out, largely because CU and those other schools couldn’t reach an agreement as to payout.
So the CU administration worked out a concession from the NCAA to allow the Buffs to include a win over an FCS school towards bowl eligibility, and the search was expanded to include 1-AA schools.
The announcement on September 30th that Colorado would be playing another CSU team, this one from the Big South Conference, looked at the time like a great deal for the Buffs. The Buccaneers would travel to Boulder for the sum of $400,000.00, and the Buffs would pick up an easy victory, and perhaps also pick up along the way a back door into bowl consideration.
Two short weeks later, however, and the landscape has changed. The Buccaneers have pushed their record to 7-0 – including five road victories – and are now nationally ranked. Meanwhile, Colorado has since been saddled with consecutive 41-point defeats.
Colorado, with its victory over Central Arkansas on September 7th, now has a 2-2 all-time record against schools from the FCS, with both victories (including the 31-24 win over Eastern Washington in 2008) requiring fourth quarter comebacks.
There is – at least for the foreseeable future – no such thing as a sure win for the University of Colorado.
So, who are these Buccaneers?
This week’s “T.I.P.S.” can provide some answers …
T – Talent
Charleston-Southern opened the season with Malcolm Dixon at quarterback, but he went out with a torn ACL a few weeks back. Enter sophomore quarterback Daniel Croghan III, who has guided the Buccaneers to victories over North Greenville and VMI in his first two career starts.
Croghan has completed 31-of-50 passes this season, going for 396 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the past two games, Croghan has also rushed for 100 yards and two scores.
The wide receiver to keep an eye on is No. 85, Kevin Glears. The junior has 20 catches for 303 yards so far this season, and has five of the Buccaneers’ nine touchdown receptions.
The player the Buffs will most want to stop, however, is No. 20, running back Christian Reyes. The sophomore back has 722 rushing yards already this season (Colorado as a team has 540 rushing yards), and has six touchdowns. Reyes needs only 46 yards Saturday to set the team single season rushing mark … in game eight of the campaign.
The Charleston-Southern defense is ranked 34th in the nation (FCS) in total defense, giving up 344.0 yards per game, ranking 42nd in passing defense and 43rd in rushing defense. The Buccaneers are giving up only 17.3 points per game, good enough for the No. 8 ranking nationally in the FCS.
Charleston-Southern has lost one of its better players to an injury, however. Adam at BuffStampede.com is reporting that defensive end standout Will Hunt will not play this weekend, a blow to the Buccaneers’ defense. Hunt, a senior, was a preseason All-Big South selection, and leads the conference in sacks, with five.
Still, it’s hard to deny that Charleston-Southern’s defense has put up good numbers so far this fall.
That being said … these numbers should not hold up against a Division 1-A school.
To date, Charleston-Southern has played a schedule which would make even Kansas State jealous.
Yes, the Buccaneers are 7-0, but here is how they got there …
@Citadel (2-5) … Won 32-29 … The Bulldogs are ranked as the No. 173 in the Sagarin Rankings;
Shorter (0-6) … Won 23-15 … Shorter is a Division II school … and a winless one at that;
Campbell (1-5) … Won 30-10 … The Fighting Camels (no lie) are No. 248 in the Sagarin Rankings, with their only win coming over Virginia-Wise;
@Norfolk State (2-4) … Won 20-12 … The Spartans are ranked No. 231 in the Sagarin Rankings, with wins over Morgan State and Savannah State;
@Appalachian State (1-5) … Won 27-24 … The normally highly rated Mountaineers have only one win, over Elon, and are No. 177 in the Sagarin Rankings;
North Greenville (4-2) … Won 28-14 … Another Division II school, with wins over such powers as Tusculum College and Brevard College;
@VMI (1-5) … Won 25-17 … The Keydets are ranked No. 240 in the Sagarin Rankings, with the only victory coming over Glenville State.
When facing teams from the FBS, the results for the Buccaneers have not been pleasant:
2012 – at Illinois … lost 44-0
2011 – at Central Florida … lost 62-0; at Florida State … lost 62-10
2010 – at Hawai’i … lost 66-7; at Kentucky … lost 49-28
2009 – at Florida … lost 62-3; at South Florida … lost 59-0
Based on the above, the talent level is not even close, which might be why Colorado is a 31-point favorite. However …
I – Intangibles
… Confidence is a fickle commodity.
There was no way that Eastern Washington should have been able to stay on the field with Oregon State in the season opener in Corvallis, but the Eagles came away with a victory.
There was no way that Sacramento State should have been able to stay on the field with Colorado last fall, but … well, we know how that ended.
What’s the saying? … “If you believe you can, or believe you can’t, your right”.
The Buccaneers come to Boulder brimming with confidence, and a 7-0 record. They have a new head coach in Jamey Chadwell, who has already exceeded expectations for a team which finished 5-6 a year ago. Charleston-Southern comes to Boulder with nothing to lose – and everything to gain.
Meanwhile, the confidence of the CU players has to be much more tenuous. Two come-from-behind victories to open the season seem like ages ago, while blowout losses are vivid reminders of what the Buffs have endured over the past few seasons.
Can the Buffs shake off the back-to-back 41-point losses? Can the Buffs take control of a game early, and then – unlike the games against Colorado State and Central Arkansas – not let go?
One positive move for the Buffs this week is the infusion of a new starting quarterback. With Sefo Liufau making his first career start against Charleston-Southern, there should be a new energy in practice for the Buffs. Linemen will have to focus on the new cadence; wide receivers will be looking to find a rhythm with the new quarterback. It’s not exactly a new fall camp, but it is a new experience for the team … one which should help to keep them focused and hungry for a victory on Saturday.
P – Preparation / Schedule
Last weekend, Charleston-Southern played its Big South Conference opener. In a league with only six teams and five conference games, it’s safe to say that every conference game is important.
Charleston-Southern was playing at against rival VMI, and a crowd of … 5,902.
Two weekends ago, Charleston-Southern played only its second home game of the season. Returning to Buccaneer Field for the first time in four weeks, the Buccaneers were finally in front of the home crowd after winning three consecutive road games. Charleston-Southern was able to celebrate its 28-14 victory over North Greenville in front of a crowd of … 4,523.
These numbers are consistent with the attendance at most of the Buccaneers’ games, so playing before a crowd of 50,000 might be a little intimidating.
The thing is … there won’t be 50,000 on hand this Saturday.
A crowd of half that size might be closer to the number of fans who will be on hand to watch Colorado against Charleston-Southern, a number which might actually work to the advantage of the visitors.
While a crowd of 30,000 might seem significant to the Buccaneers, Folsom Field might seem like Norlin Library to the Colorado players. The last time Colorado played before a home crowd of fewer than 35,000 was in 1988 (32,617 for the season finale against Kansas State). The last time CU played before a home crowd of fewer than 30,000 was in 1985 (28,210 for the season finale against – you guessed it – Kansas State).
Only 35,168 were on hand for the Central Arkansas game, and that was a contest on the schedule for many months. How many fans will show up this weekend, for a game which was not on the schedule until September 30th, is still subject to speculation.
So, which will have the greater impact?
Will the Buccaneers be intimidated by a crowd of 30,000?
Or will the Buffs be disheartened by a crowd of 30,000?
For me personally, I am hoping that the number is at least 26,023. If the Buffs hit that number …
… wait a second.
Do you know why the number 26,023 is significant?
See the answer to this question in comments section. Congratulations to CU at the Gamer John Slota, winner of a CU at the Game hat and mousepad for coming up with the right answer!
Speaking of numbers …
S – Statistics
Comparing statistics and rankings between Colorado and Charleston-Southern are truly apples and oranges comparisons.
True, the Buccaneers did take care of the Campbell Fighting Camels, 30-10, but then again, Campbell also lost 52-7 … to the Charlotte 49ers.
As a result, this week we are going to assume (hope?) that Colorado is going to be able to pad its statistics against Charleston-Southern.
Let’s see what it will take for the Buffs to climb out of the 100′s in some of the national rankings:
Rushing offense … current rank, 110th (108.0 yards per game) … to get to No. 99 nationally (based on this week’s statistics) … the Buffs will need to rush for 220 yards Saturday.
Passing defense … current rank, 119th (312.6 yards per game) … to get to No. 99 nationally … the Buffs will need to surrender 19 or fewer passing yards (that’ll be a tough one!).
Total defense … current rank, 119th (492.4 yards per game) … to get to No. 99 nationally … the Buffs will have to give up fewer than 213 yards of total offense.
Scoring defense … current rank, 119th (41.2 points per game) … to get to No. 99 nationally … minus-10 points (ain’t gonna happen, but we’ll hope for improvement in this category, so that the Buffs have a shot at getting back into double digits next week).
Some other numbers to watch this weekend, as there are some stark contrasts:
- Colorado is 115th in the nation in third down conversion offense. Even after going 7-of-14 against Arizona State (with most of the conversions coming against prevent defenses), Colorado is converting third downs at a clip of only 28.4%. Meanwhile, Charleston-Southern leads the FCS in third down conversion defense, giving up first downs on only one of every four attempts (25.3%). That’s not a good combination for CU.
- Charleston-Southern is 14th in the FCS in rushing offense, and 11th in time of possession. The game plan for the Buccaneers is clear – run the ball effectively, and keep the ball away from the Colorado offense. In “one of the biggest wins in program history”, the Buccaneers’ 27-24 win over Appalachian State on September 28th, Charleston-Southern held onto the ball for 42:04 of game clock, to just 17:54 for the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
And, the most important statistic of all to keep in mind heading into Saturday’s game …
Charleston-Southern will be playing its 13th game all-time against an FBS foe.
So far, the Buccaneers are 0-12 …