CU at the Game Podcast … “T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Cal / A Rave Review? Buffs shutout Wildcats, 34-0

Anyone want to complain about CU’s first shutout of a conference opponent since 2005? (and the first shutout of any opponent since 2015?). Stuart, Brad and Neil take a look back at the Buffs’ 34-0 win over hapless Arizona. It was only a 6-0 game in the third quarter before special teams and defensive touchdowns turned the tight game into a rout. Has quarterback Brendon Lewis turned the corner? Were the “subtle changes” made during the bye week enough to turn the Buffs into consistent winners in the second half of the 2021 season?

We then turn our attention to the Buffs’ road trip to face Cal. The Bears are 1-5 on the season, with their only victory over Sacramento State from the Big Sky Conference. And yet, Cal is a ten-point favorite to beat Colorado. Can the Buffs take their newly discovered formula for success on the road? Or will the big win over Arizona only prove to be an indictment of how far the Wildcats have fallen? Let’s find out …

Previous podcasts … Episodes from Season 1, along with the winter and spring Episodes from Season 2, can be downloaded here …

Below is Episode 21 of Season 2 for the CU at the Game Podcast. You can listen to the podcast simply by clicking on the play button below, or listen it to it here at Buzzsprout, or at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, IHeartRadio … or wherever you find your podcasts!

2 Replies to “CUATG Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at California”

  1. Great podcast as always guys. Thanks for your thoughts. I didn’t comment last week as all of you seemed so optimistic and I was very much not….. I am so glad you were right!

    I have just started looking at Cal and I think this is going to be a tough game. I think Vegas is off on the spread but CU has only beaten 2 bad teams so from the outside looking in it is tough to predict success. But some observations from the Arizona game that I think are pertinent:

    1. Defenses are running Blockers +1 in the box, single high safety who comes downhill adding another run supporter, and db’s pinching in a lot. It is extremely tough to run against that. Especially, zone or stretch plays. Until the defense starts playing even more running is going to be a slog with the occasional crease. CU somewhat reacted to this……. But in the end teams will run this defensive alignment until we break it. The best way to break it is to pass off of play action or rpo. This is simple math, I am not a genius, everyone knows this. Up until this point The offense could not execute this reliably when it was called so it really hasn’t been called alot.
    2. The line is still really struggling. Ray and Wiley were repeatedly beaten. Filip got a little better but anytime he is rushed against his left shoulder (the one with surgery) he is still struggling. Run blocking at times is worse, I see some scheme issues here as well as we are asking Brady to block defensive ends at the point of attack, pursell to reach block people a gap and a half away from him. Filip is clearly not right yet, Wiley is consistently beaten. Even plays that should work are not working and losing Sherman is a clearly big blow as Wray has not been able to play. The two biggest things I take from this though. A. With our current personnel it is going to be virtually impossible to have a successful running game against the defensive alignment we are seeing. Period. Maybe if we had a better line we could but we do not. B. On pass defense our line is good for 3 seconds against a good rush. The ball better be out in 3 seconds or you have accounted for it by rolling the qb out.
    3. Play calling. Prior to the game getting broken open we ran 2/3ds of the time. Our runs were largely stuffed resulting in a 6-0 game. After the game breaks open we start passing a little over 1/2 the time….. and you know what we started having success. We need to pass a lot more. We cannot just run into these defensive alignments constantly. You have to run enough to make play action or the rpo suck the linebackers in but 2/3rds is too much.
    4. The biggest thing that occurred and I think showed the biggest uptick was Lewis was getting the ball out reliably under 3 seconds. I personally think that this one is the reason for the change in success. The line did not really get any better, the running game did not get any better, we have the same recievers, the play calling was slightly different but we doubled our passing output. Lewis is getting the ball out sooner, maybe by about a half a second. And the difference was dramatic. Lewis was definitely feeling the game better but I suspect there was something in coaching that changed. This might be the “subtle” change they spoke about. There are two things I saw that I think help and I think are indicators of the change. A. Pre snap motion. The pre snap motion is occurring reliably now. This is giving Lewis a read on the defensive coverage. I think this is shortening his reading down so he is not trying to read coverage in the first second after the snap. He already has that information. And based on that he is picking the receiver who should be coming open now. B. He is working his pre snap read immediately. He gets the ball, and based on his pre snap read he knows where he should be going with the ball. His read is largely right, and the receiver is coming open or at least will have a chance at the ball. I have a sneaking suspicion that the offense has a different primary receiver based on coverage. Lewis is making this call pre snap now and it is shortening his read down. You have to worry about disguised coverage here but I think the may have figured out how to manage that. The one issue we may have with this approach is that he locks on to the receiver he is going to as soon as the ball is snapped. They seem to adapt to this by doing play action with Lewis starting under center, turning his back to the defense faking the hand off to bring the line backers in and then turning to find his first read and letting the ball fly as he hits his back foot. Combines with zone and stretch blocking I think this can really work.

    Cal is not Arizona. Their rush is better and the cleaner pockets that Lewis had is going to go away. If he gets the ball out under 3 seconds he will still have time but the pockets will be much more messy. The deeper drop from the play action pass may help with this if the tackles can get the outside rusher knocked off course.
    I am focusing on our offense as our defense is just fine. So long as we can keep them engaged they will keep us in the game.

    So this game to me comes down to:
    1. Will Chev call pass plays 50% or more and stop trying to run into stacked boxes.
    2. Can Lewis continue to get a good pre snap read and get the ball out in under 3 seconds.

    If we can do those 2 things I think we will begin winning games again. And defenses will actually have to adjust and go back to regular box counts. Which would allow us to run again. Lewis arm is solid. When he gets the ball out it tends to be accurate. I know people will disagree with this but I think the route combos are solid, but they are only open for small windows and require excellent timing to work.

    1. That’s a thorough assessment, Rob. My biggest concern from Saturday was that Brendon was locking onto his target. That’s obviously easier for good players to pick off, bat and otherwise defend. But, I guess I’m willing to accept him locking on to his target, if he continues getting the ball out on time. It’s better than locking onto them, and not getting the ball out on time.

      Hopefully the progress we saw Saturday was more with his growth and development than just AZ not being very good. If he can progress to read and move through his progressions more cleanly, that’ll go a long way to moving the ball more efficiently.

      Wilcox is a good defensive coach. Cal’s defense may not be as strong this year as it has been, but I’m not betting on them rolling over.

      Should be an entertaining game between two teams fighting for mediocrity.

      Go Buffs

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