Bob from The Ralphie Report talked with me this week and provides some insight prior to this weekend's game in Boulder.
Paul Conrad: Playing at Colorado still scares me as a Cyclone fan, so many memories of games that should have been won but weren't, I guess. In your mind, what makes Colorado such a difficult place to play at? Is it just the altitude? or is it something more?
Bob From the Ralphie Report: I wish we could say the Buffs are that much better at home with an honest face but it’s hard to say that. I do think the altitude helps Colorado against teams like Hawaii who have long road trips but I wouldn’t say it gives the Buffs a huge advantage. I mostly think like most teams, Colorado just feels more comfortable at home and plays a little better. It also helps when Iowa State runs an ill-advised slow moving option play on the goal line as time expired.
PC: Cody Hawkins is approaching the CU passing record, what should the Cyclone Defense be on the lookout for from him? Does he ever break and run?
BRR: The last thing Cyclone defenses need to worry about is Cody Hawkins running the ball. He is strictly a pocket passer. The difference between him and Tyler Hansen is obviously their ability to move outside the pocket. Further, the offense has changed with Hawkins in. They tend to throw the ball a lot more and challenge the defense beyond 15 yards. One of the things I like about the offense with Hawkins in is the deep passing threat, making the safeties guard the deep halves rather than play eight yards off the line of scrimmage. With Hawkins in there, though, the Buffs often forget about the running game which gets them in trouble (see last weekend vs. Kansas)
More after the Jump
PC: What are the strengths of the Colorado Defense, has the defensive line been able to control the line of scrimmage in any of the games so far this year?
BRR: The strength of the defense is the cornerback position. Jimmy Smith has the ability to be first day draft pick and Jalil Brown should be on an NFL roster next year. This team is very inexperienced at safety, though, which leads to big plays against. The defensive line is solid. They won’t constantly blow up the offensive line, they aren’t a power group but are relatively good about playing assignment football. The linebacker group took a hit when sophomore Jon Major went out of the lineup with an injury.
As for attacking this defense, I think Iowa State will be able to find success on the ground against.
PC: What thing are you going to miss most about the Big 12? What thing are you looking forward to the most in the Pac 12?
BRR: I wouldn’t say I will miss a lot of what the Big 12 had to offer. I think the biggest thing I will miss is playing the day after Thanksgiving against Nebraska but other than that, I am happy with the move. I think the benefits of playing in the Pac-12 are apparent. Great road cities, intriguing matchups with USC, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, etc. Obviously, playing in California will have its recruiting benefits and, with many Colorado students coming from the west coast, hopefully alumni support will grow.
PC: Who is your ideal candidate to replace Dan Hawkins? What's the realistic expectation of who would take the job?
BRR: Ideal – Les Miles or Guz Malzahn. Is that going to happen? Probably not especially with Miles win over Bama last weekend. I wouldn’t mind a Bill McCartney/Eric Bieniemy combination with the successor role going to EB when Mac is done. What will define this next coaching move is who they bring in for assistant coaches. It was apparent that one thing the Buffs lacked was strong recruiting assistant coaches who bring energy to the program. I think we have some solid assistants that I hope the next staff will keep but for the most part, the next coach will have to bring in some serious talent for assistants to make this thing work.
There you have it folks! Enjoy the game this weekend, it's on Fox College Sports at 1:30 PM Eastern Time.