Colorado Football Notes

Dan Hawkins/BSN

Inside, notes from the Colorado football program from a Tuesday as they prepare to play No. 9-ranked Missouri at home Saturday.

Next Up Missouri is the fourth team the Buffs will play this season which is currently in the top 10 of the BCS standings. The Tigers are No. 9 in the BCS this week. Other CU opponents in this week's top 10 are Kansas (8th), Oklahoma (6th) and Arizona State (4th).

It also marks the fourth time this season CU will play a team when it ranked in the top 10 in the nation in both scoring and offense, as OU, Kansas and Texas Tech were ranked there in both categories when the Buffs faced them. Missouri is 8th in scoring (40.3 points per game) and seventh in total offense (498 yards) currently.

The current Sagarin ratings for strength of schedule ranks CU's schedule the third most difficult in the country through Oct. 28.

Tiger Bowl Colorado enters Saturday's game with a 5-4 record, one win from becoming bowl eligible. Dan Hawkins said Tuesday there's still no looking ahead to a possible bowl game. He's not using that as motivation against Missouri, who is 7-1 overall, 3-1 in the Big 12. Instead, this week is the Tiger Bowl.

Looking at two Mizzou weapons The Tigers have several outstanding offensive weapons. Two of them include quarterback Chase Daniel and receiver/returner Jeremy Maclin. Daniel, a junior, has been exceptional as a passer this season. He's completed 70 percent of his passes, and is averaging 316 yards a game. He's thrown 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

What makes him most difficult to defend, though, is that Daniel can tuck the ball and scoot, much like Todd Reesing, Kansas quarterback who gave the Buffs fits in KU's 19-14 win at Folsom earlier this season. Daniel has over 200 yards rushing and a long rush of 39 yards.

How do you defend that? By mixing up your defense and trying to keep him off balance, Dan Hawkins said.

"You have to keep him in the pocket," Hawkins said. "Sometimes you have to spy the guy. You have to be able to account for him in everything you do — with rush lanes, coverage package and blitz."

Maclin, meanwhile, marks the second week the Buffs will face a dangerous redshirt freshman, after battling Texas Tech standout receiver Michael Crabtree last weekend. Maclin leads the conference in all-purpose yards (187 a game). Missouri uses him several different ways.

He has two touchdowns as a punt returner, 235 yards and four touchdown running the ball, and has caught 39 passes and scored four times as a receiver.

What makes him dangerous? Hawkins said it's Maclin's speed.

Incidentally, the Buffs recruited Maclin, from Kirkwood, Mo., but he never tripped to Boulder.

OK, more MU weapons Tight ends Martin Rucker (6-foot-6, 255) and Chase Coffman (6-6, 245), could present matchup challenges for the Buffs' secondary. Last season, then-CU freshman Chapelle Brown (5-foot-7) was beaten by Rucker. Hawkins conceded that some of CU's defenders could be in good position but still lose the play to the MU tight ends because they're like basketball players out-muscling an opponent for a rebound.

Rucker leads MU with 54 catches, Coffman has 39.

Missouri Weakness? The Tigers have given up an average of 278 passing yards a game. That's 107th in the country. Hawkins said those numbers are a little skewed because the high-scoring Missouri offense has caused opponents to go to the air more to try and play catch up.

"To some degree, it's (opponents) trying to stay in the game," Hawkins said. "They don't give up a lot of big plays. It's more about teams trying to get back into the scoring hunt (that causes the teams to pass more)."

Championships are won in… November always tends to unearth the best teams. Hawkins said the key to playing well late in the season is striking a balance through the entire season. Don't overwork or underwork your players through the grind of August, September and October. The head coach said he likes how his team is responding physically as it heads into its first game in November. And his reports from the strength and conditioning staff is positive, too. They're still running and lifting with good spirit and energy.

R.J. Brown update The junior inside linebacker who suffered a concussion against Florida State will not play again this season, it's been determined. Whether or not Brown, who has a history of concussions, will play next year as a senior or is done with football due to the concussions will be determined later. Meanwhile, running back Kevin Moyd, who hasn't ran the ball but has been good in special teams, is expected back this week after suffering from a virus. Senior offensive linemen Edwin Harrison, who was dinged up in the Texas Tech game, should be ready to play vs. Missouri, too.

• "Sometimes, what you lose, you gain." That's how Hawkins put it when asked if he still holds his breath sometimes because CU is thin at inside linebacker due to injury, academic and off-field-incident attrition. So far, the trio of Jordon Dizon, (former walk on) Jeff Smart and (walk on) Jake Duren have held up well. "Those three guys have become chiseled," Hawkins said.

Dizon has been on the field a vast majority of CU's plays. According to CU coaches' video evaluation, he has 123 tackles, but the NCAA goes by postgame stats, which give Dizon 110 tackles. That's third in the country.

Smart, who from outsiders' perspectives came from nowhere this season, has 60 tackles, seven third-down stops and two fumble recoveries.

Still looking for a block The CU special teams units have had their moments. Kevin Eberhart has shaken off some early game misses and hit game winners over Colorado State and Oklahoma. Chase McBride has had a few big punt returns. But the CU coaching staff is still pushing for some blocked punts and a return for touchdown.

At Boise State, Hawkins' special teams would block four to six punts a year, he said. The Buffs have not gotten a hand on a punt this year.

"I don't think we're anywhere near where we want to be," Hawkins said.

Peyton Manning-style He may not be as animated as the NFL superstar, but Dan Hawkins said Tuesday there could come a day when Cody Hawkins is given the green light to call offensive plays in certain situations. It sounds as if it's not going to happen this year, but the more he grasps what's going on, the closer CU could be to implementing a no-huddle offense with Hawkins calling the shots in some cases in the future.

4 for $40 As of Monday, roughly 8,000 tickets still remained for the CU-Missouri game (4:30 p.m. MT). CU is offering a pack of four tickets for $40 from its web site. Visit www.cubuffs.com for more information.

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