Colorado hopes to upset ASU to turn around season

Colorado junior quarterback Jordan Webb (4) fires an off-balanced pass during the Buffaloes’ 22-17 loss to Colorado State on Sept. 1. (Photo courtesy of James Bradbury/ CU Independent)

The Colorado Buffaloes have won only one game this season.

A 1-4 record was not what the team envisioned at the start of the season. The Buffaloes now face the Sun Devils that have the opposite record, 4-1.

Thursday night, in front of their home crowd and a national audience, is a chance for CU to show they’re trying to turn their season around.

Freshman receiver Nelson Spruce said his teammates have put the losses behind them.

“We’re not really dwelling on the past,” Spruce said. “We’re just looking at every week as a new opportunity. I feel like if we do our job we can execute this week.”

The opportunity the Buffaloes obtain this week is not any easy one.

ASU is riding a two-game winning streak, and comes off a bye week and a win on the road against Cal.

For the Colorado offense, the challenge will be to limit the tackles for loss by ASU’s defense.

The Sun Devils have 49 tackles for loss this season, adding up to 209 yards. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Will Sutton leads the team with 10 tackles for loss.

Coach Jon Embree said the Sun Devils’ pass rush has been one of the biggest differences that he has seen from last year’s team.

Spruce said he, along with the receiving core, need to make catches to slow down the ASU pressure. If they can do that, it will take pressure off the run game and soften the ASU attack.

Offensively, the Buffaloes will be looking for Spruce to make plays. Even though he is only a freshman, he is the driving force of the CU passing game. He averages 10 catches and 50 yards per game this season.

Spruce gave credit to his coaches for the success in his first year.

“Our coaches do a good job of game-planning against these defenses and doing a good job of getting the receivers open,” Spruce said.

The quarterback that has been finding Spruce this season is junior Jordan Webb. Webb has had trouble this season throwing the ball efficiently.

He ranks No. 10 in the conference in efficiency.

It is another story for the Sun Devils, as redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly leads the conference in that same category.

Embree said Kelly has success because he does not make risky moves.

“He does a good job of eating the ball when nothing is there,” Embree said. “He does a good job of playing within (the) system, and not trying to force plays and just letting players around him make plays, and taking care of the football. That’s what you need to do to be a successful quarterback.”

Sophomore defensive back Greg Henderson said the defense focused on disrupting Kelly’s rhythm in practice this week.

“We just got to get pressure on him and be aggrieve with the receivers messing up their timing,” Henderson said.

Henderson said the crowd is the 12th member of the team, something that ASU coach Todd Graham also talked about this week. Getting an upset win in front of the fans can make a strong impact for the team.

“ASU is a good team, but every team can be beaten,” Henderson said. “(A win) would give us hope. It would be more motivation to keep going hard and to play even harder next week.”

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu