Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. Arizona

Trivia Questions of the Week … Who is leading the Buffs in rushing through four games? Who is leading in receiving yards? Bonus: Who has posted a higher total through four games: CU’s leading rusher, or CU’s leading receiver?

Neill Woelk’s Fast Five Keys for the CU v. Arizona 

From CUBuffs.com … Much of the conversation surrounding Saturday’s Colorado-Arizona game at Folsom Field has focused on which quarterback — Khalil Tate or Grant Gunnell — will take the field for the Wildcats.

Tate is the UA veteran who has had two huge games in wins over Colorado the last two years; Gunnell is the freshman who stepped in for Tate last week against UCLA when the senior was sidelined by a hamstring injury and led the Wildcats to a win.

But the 3-1 Buffs (1-0 Pac-12) are concerned about more than just Arizona’s quarterback. The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) have a potent offense — they lead the conference in yards per game and rushing yards per game — and their defense seems to have righted itself after a rough start. Arizona has won three games in a row, including games in which UA held Texas Tech to 14 points and UCLA to 17.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty at stake Saturday, as the winner will take over sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South. What do the Buffs need to do to grab that spot?

1. Don’t let the Wildcats get out to a quick start, especially via explosive plays. 

2. Stop Arizona’s run game early.

3. Get pressure on the quarterback, no matter who it is. 

4. Establish a run game early.

5. Win the turnover battle.

Read full story here

Big Picture

— Colorado holds a 14-7 advantage in the all-time series against Arizona … but … the Wildcats hold a 6-2 advantage since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011;

— If history is a guide, the game will be a shootout. In the eight games played as Pac-12 members, the winning team has averaged 45 points per game (with 28.9 points per game for the loser);

— The last six games between the two teams have been played at night. The most recent day game between the two teams was played in Tucson in 2012;

— Colorado is 708-509-36 all-time (.579). The Buffs are 26th in all-time victories; 36th in all-time winning percentage;

— Since 1946, CU is 28-23 in games following a bye week. Since joining the Pac-12, however, the Buffs are only 2-5 following an open date;

— Colorado is 9-2 all-time in games played on October 5th, with only two of those games this century. In 2002, quarterback Robert Hodge led the Buffs to a 35-31 win over No. 13 Kansas State. The other game? A forgettable 57-16 rout by No. 2 Oregon in 2013;

— CU is 2-6 in Pac-12 home openers, but has won two of the last three, defeating Oregon State, 47-6, in 2016, and UCLA, 38-16, last season;

— The CU/Arizona game will be telecast nationally by the Pac-12 Networks, with Ted Robinson on the play-by-play; Yogi Roth on color; and Samantha Peszek on the sidelines. KOA radio will have Mark Johnson with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Mel Tucker’s Podcast

Coach Mel Tucker has a weekly podcast, hosted by KOA’s Mark Johnson. So far, Coach Tucker has interviewed Rick George, Kordell Stewart, Matt Russell, Alfred Williams, Jeremy Bloom, and Marwan Hage.

The most recent interview was with former All-American offensive lineman (and Rhodes Scholar) Jim Hansen , and can be found here

Buffs v. Wildcats

— Arizona quarterback Grant Gunnell is the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. Against UCLA, Gunnell completed 29-of-44 passes for 352 yards and one touchdown, a 75-yarder to Darrius Smith. Gunnell became first Arizona true freshman quarterback to win his first career start since Willie Tuitama in 2005;

— CU has played Arizona three times as a ranked team (1956, 1958, 2016), winning all three. Arizona has played CU twice as a ranked team (1986, 2014), winning both;

— In the 2017 Kahlil Tate coming out party, everyone remembers Tate’s 327 yards rushing, but the world has forgotten that CU’s Phillip Lindsay ran for 281 yards in the same game. The 608 combined yards rushing an NCAA record for two players in the same game;

Bar bet winner … Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin was actually a CU assistant coach … for about a month. Sumlin was hired by Gary Barnett to be CU’s running backs coach in the winter of 2003 (replacing Eric Bieniemy, who left to be a part of Karl Dorrell’s staff at UCLA). About a month after being hired, Sumlin left Boulder for Oklahoma to be the Sooners’ tight ends and special teams coach;

Something has to give Department … Colorado is second in the nation in turnover margin (+1.75/game); Arizona is sixth in the nation in the same category (+1.50/game) … someone’s going to drop out of the top ten after Saturday;

Something has to give Department, Part II … Both teams pride themselves in taking over in the fourth quarter. Arizona has come from behind in the fourth quarter to win its last two games, out-scoring Texas Tech and UCLA 22-0 in the final stanza. CU, meanwhile, has out-scored its four opponents, 54-31 in the fourth quarter. If the game is close heading into the final 15 minutes, both teams will be doing so with some confidence.

Injury Report

— The CU injury report …

  • Out for the season … running back Jarek Brousard – knee surgery August 6th;
  • Out … defensive back Lucas Cooper – hamstring; defensive back Dustin Johnson – back surgery on August 6th; and linebacker Chase Newman – lower leg;
  • Out 3/4 weeks … safety Aaron Maddox – severe leg laceration (suffered during Air Force game, 9/14);
  • Day-to-Day … defensive end Mustafa Johnson – ankle; cornerback Chris Miller – knee; wide receiver Laviska Shenault – undisclosed body injury (not a concussion):
  • And … junior safety Trey Udoffia, who has been out since Fall Camp what are described as personal reasons, remains out.

Statistically speaking

— Arizona is not particularly good at tackling their opponents behind the line of scrimmage. The Wildcats are 110th in the nation in tackles-for-loss (4.5/game), and 117 in sacks (1.0 per game);

—  Colorado is being out-gained by an average of almost 32 yards per game (466.5 – 434.5), but is out-scoring its opponents by five points per game (35.8 – 30.8);

— Arizona is one of the most penalized teams in the nation, coming in at No. 123 nationally in penalties (9.0/game) and 125th in penalty yards (81.5/game);

— Individually, Buff linebacker Nu’umato Falo remains tied for the lead nationally in fumbles  recovered, with three, while safety Mikial Onu remains tied for the lead nationally in interceptions (with two, yes two, Arizona Wildcats), also with three (Onu has already bested the Buff interception leader from 2018, Nate Landman, who had two, and matched the three that Evan Worthington had in 2017);

— Arizona is 127th in the nation in pass defense, surrendering 336.0 yards per game. In the FBS, only three teams – Vanderbilt; UCLA; and New Mexico – are worse.

Player Notes

— Captains for the Arizona game: junior linebacker Nate Landman; junior kicker James Stefanou; sophomore offensive tackle Will Sherman;

— Quarterback Steven Montez is second on the all-time passing charts in yards (8,005). Montez has a ways to go to get to No. 1 Sefo Liufau (9,568);

— Wide receiver Laviska Shenault is 14th in receptions (110) and 15th in receiving yards (1,405). Shenault is 633 receiving yards short of cracking the top ten (10. Javon Green, 2,031 yards);

— Tight end Beau Bisharat is eighth on the all-time list for special team tackles (32), and sixth in special team points (76);

— Kicker James Stefanou (6-for-6) is one 21 kickers nationally (three from the Pac-12) who remains perfect in field goal attempts;

— The uniform combination for this weekend is classic CU: gold helmets; black uniforms; gold pants.

Colorado and Arizona … historical

In historical terms, Colorado has it all over Arizona.

It’s not that Colorado had much of a head start (CU started playing football in 1890; Arizona 1899), but that the Buffs have had more consistent success.

In the 12 categories tracked by Winsipedia, Colorado leads Arizona in 11 … with the only category the Wildcats hold an edge over the Buffs is in bowl record percentage (Arizona: .452; 9-11-1; Colorado: .414, 12-17)

Otherwise …

— CU has a sizable lead in all-time wins, with 708 (26th all-time), while Arizona is at 615 (53rd all-time);

— CU has a similar lead in time spent in the Associated Press poll, with 304 weeks (27th), compared to Arizona’s 169 weeks (52nd);

— When it comes to producing NFL talent, the Buffs are also comfortably ahead of the Wildcats. CU has had 272 NFL picks (23rd) and 24 first round picks (28th), compared to Arizona’s 182 (48th) and 10 (55th);

— Perhaps the widest gap is in conference championships. Colorado has 26 in its history (10th nationally), while Arizona has six titles in its 119-year history (88th nationally).

Colorado and Arizona – head-to-head

— After the initial contest in 1931 (a 27-7 Buff victory), the teams played ten times between 1950 and 1960, with Colorado winning every game;

— The two teams played a home-and-home in the mid-1980’s, with Colorado stretching its lead in the series to 12-0 with a 14-13 road victory in 1985. The following season, the Wildcats won their first game in the series, with No. 10 Arizona defeating Colorado, 24-21, in Boulder;

— The series lay dormant for the next 25 seasons, until the Buffs joined the Pac-12. Colorado won the first game with Arizona – the Buffs’ first win as a Pac-12 member – 48-29. After that, the Wildcats ran off a four-game winning streak, scoring at least 38 points in each game … and rushing for a total of 1,422 yards (an average of 355.5 rushing yards per game). The Buffs finally broke through again in 2016, when No. 16 Colorado defeated Arizona, 48-29, in Tucson;

— In 2017, the last game the teams met in Boulder, Kahlil Tate set an FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback, going for 327 yards and four touchdowns (on only 14 carries), leading Arizona to a 45-42 victory in Boulder. Last season, Tate passed for 350 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-34 Wildcat victory in Tucson.

Pac-12 Notes

— Four teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the sixth week of the Associated Press poll … No. 13 Oregon; No. 15 Washington; No. 17 Utah; and No. 20 Arizona State … It’s the fewest teams the Pac-12 has had ranked this season. Previously, the Pac-12 has had at least five teams in the poll for five consecutive weeks for the first time since the first six weeks of the 2015 season;

— In Pac-12 rankings, CU is fifth in scoring offense (35.8 points) but 11th in scoring defense (30.8 points). After the Arizona State game, the Buffs jumped up one spot, to 7th, in total offense (434.8 yards/game), and one spot, to 10th, total defense (466.5 yards/game);

— Three quarterbacks in the Pac-12 are among the eight in FBS who have yet to throw an interception. The list was four before CU’s Derrion Rakestraw picked off Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels;

— Pac-12 National Leaders after Week Five: Arizona, interceptions (9); Washington State, passing offense (450.0 yards/game); Anthony Gordon, Washington State, passing yards/game (429.2) and total offense/game (437.4); Jevon Holland, Oregon, punt returns (24.5/return).

Trivia Questions of the Week … Who is leading the Buffs in rushing through four games? Who is leading in receiving yards? Bonus: Who has posted a higher total through four games: CU’s leading rusher, or CU’s leading receiver?

AnswersAlex Fontenot is CU’s leading rusher so far in 2019, and Tony Brown the leading receiver. Brown barely edges out Fontenot in yardage, as Brown as 301 receiving yards, to 298 rushing yards for Fontenot (K.D. Nixon is right behind both, with 295 receiving yards … Laviska Shenault has 226).

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