Jon Woods of the Ralphie Report was kind enough to answer some questions for us in advance of tomorrow's game:
1) How on Earth are so many players injured? What did Jon Embree do to piss off the football gods?
This is a question that I wish we knew the answer to so that I could figure out a way to fix it. Buffs fans were upset early in the season when we had a few offensive linemen go down, but we never could have imagined the extent of the injuries that we're seeing this year. Between injuries and suspensions the cornerback position has been decimated. Our #1 wide receiver and the teams biggest playmaker is out until USC. Our #1 running back (by A LOT) is out for 2-4 weeks (he's also our #2 wide receiver thanks to his skill and running the screen). Our #1 linebacker is out for year. It's gotten ridiculous. The only positive in all of this is that we hope to have a lot of the guys (obviously not the ones out for the season) back in time for the last three games of the year (Arizona, @UCLA, @Utah), games in which we can expect to be competitive.
2) Tyler Hansen has been surprisingly efficient this season (13-3 TD to INT), but he's running out of weapons. Who is he going to give the ball to this weekend?
I believe the coaches will feed running back Tony Jones the ball a lot and hope that he can execute the screen game close to the level that Rodney Stewart can. Toney Clemons and Keenan Canty will be the top two wide receiver targets with Georgia transfer Logan Gray likely seeing some targets as well. The tight ends haven't been featured as much as we hoped they would, but that may change on Saturday.
3) Colorado has lost most of the defensive backs on their roster to injury or suspension, and is now converting wideouts and running backs. Tell us about CU's defense.
Colorado's secondary is definitely the weakness of the defense, especially considering the attrition at the position due to injury and suspension. True freshman Greg Henderson starts on one side and has actually been one of the more consistent players on that side of the ball. He's a big, physical guy that will be a good one once the mental aspect of his game has time to blossom.
The defensive player to look for on the Buffs would be middle linebacker Doug Rippy, but he got knocked out for the year last week in Seattle. Defensive end Josh Hartigan will have to have a huge game for Colorado to keep this game relatively close, but it remains to be seen whether or not his pass rush skills will be negated by the up-tempo Oregon offense.
4) Its tough to come into a new conference and have this be everybody's first impression. Are CU fans managing to stay upbeat about the situation despite the lopsided losses?
Pac-12 fans have actually seemed to have a pretty good read on the Buffaloes situation this year. It's the national media that seems oblivious to the transition that was expected to take place in year one. Most fans knew that this schedule was not going to allow for a lot of wins and had really just hoped to see the team improve from week to week. It's gotten harder to see that improvement with all of the injuries, but we're happy with all the young talent gaining a lot of valuable experience. All in all, CU fans are still extremely happy with the move out west and this season won't do a thing to change that.
5) I see Colorado the same way I've seen Washington the last few years--a sleeping giant that can be a perennial contender with the right coach. Any early indications that Embree is the man for the job?
You know, it's just too early to tell. He has said a lot of the right things and he has seemed to hold the team together very well through this rough patch. We were also happy to see him not put up with some of the crap that may have been put up with under previous regimes when he suspended multiple players, some of whom could have contributed. He is not sacrificing the future for a win here or there and that's good to see. A strong finish to this recruiting class would put most fans at ease, but if he flops when February rolls around I would expect some to start getting a bit uneasy.
6) Elaborate on your utter disdain for Rick Neuheisel. We'd love to hear about it.
It's much too long of a story to get into here, but this fanpost that went up today sums up the general feelings towards Slick Rick.
Thanks to Jon for answering our questions. You can view my answers to his questions here.