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Behind Enemy Lines: A look at Colorado with Ralphie Report

Our Colorado brethren at the excellent blog Ralphie Report give us an inside look at this week's matchup

This will not be the coolest Chip at the game this Saturday
This will not be the coolest Chip at the game this Saturday

1. When we spoke over the summer, you were optimistic that Colorado could exceed its three win total from last year. That looks extremely unlikely at this point. What has gone wrong?

Two things: youth on defense and the lack of a playmaker at quarterback. We knew this team was going to have a ton of first and second year guys starting at positions all over the field, but the young guys on offense have done fine. Christian Powell, Vincent Hobbs, Nelson Spruce and Gerald Thomas have all acquitted themselves quite well as the season has gone on. We haven't seen that same thing on the defensive side of the ball. Both Kenneth Crawley and Yuri Wright are going to eventually be very solid players at the corner spots for this team, but they were thrown into the fire and have struggled. In addition to that, while the defensive line has been better than expected, the linebackers have been significantly worse.

Jordan Webb is the type of quarterback that needs experienced, talented playmakers surrounding him in order to have success. He doesn't have that this season with the Buffs. The quarterback for this team would have to be a guy who can win games on his own accord, think Braxton Miller, for this team to sneak in a few wins and Webb is definitely not that quarterback.

2. QB Jordan Webb is getting a lot of criticism. However, considering CU is averaging barely over 3 yards per rush and Webb is getting sacked 4.5 times per game, how much criticism on Webb is warranted, and how much of it is on the offensive line?

While the offensive line has struggled this year, they have improved every single week and had their best game of the season against the Trojans last week. A very high percentage of the sacks are on Webb himself. His biggest weakness is a lack of pocket presence. He holds onto the ball way too long and while some of that is on the receivers for not getting open sooner, he has got to know when to get rid of the ball and take the loss of down instead of the sack.

3. Are the struggles on the defense just a case of lack of experience?

That's definitely the biggest issue. As I mentioned above, the entire secondary is extremely green and has been without Ray Polk, the senior safety who can provide leadership and coaching on the field, until last week against USC. A lot of fans are struggling with the defensive performance and are pointing their fingers directly at coordinator Greg Brown, and some of the fault definitely falls squarely on his shoulders, but it's hard to say how much.

4. As a Buff fan, what are realistic goals for the rest of the season at this point?

Matching last years three wins would be nice and the schedule certainly sets up nicely with Washington and Utah at home in the final two games of the season. Stanford looks a bit more winnable in Boulder than it did at the beginning of the season, but the Arizona game in Tucson looks much more difficult.

Colorado needs to get one more win this year or it's going to be an awfully long offseason, two wins, especially to close out the season, would at least give fans a little bit of optimism heading into 2013 with a team that loses nothing on offense and very little on D.

5. I know its only year two, but Colorado has been worse than most people expected. Is Jon Embree's seat starting to get a bit warm in Boulder?

Some fans are irrationally calling for it, but there is absolutely no way Embree goes anywhere. You can't give a new head coach coming into this program in the disarray that it was in two years and expect much progress. I imagine there will be a few staff changes however.

Now if next year looks anything like this one has, Embree will start having to look over his shoulder.

Thanks to Jon Woods at Ralphie Report for answering our questions. You can also read my answers to their questions over at their site.