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Buffs Prepare For Pac-12 Opener At ASU

Sep 22, 2021
CU's Nate Landman leads the Pac-12 in tackles for loss.

BOULDER — One of the biggest questions facing the Colorado Buffaloes this week is whether they can erase the emotional hit of last weekend's 30-0 loss to Minnesota.

CU coach Karl Dorrell said Wednesday his 1-2 Buffs are showing every sign of being able to do just that as they prepare for Saturday's 8:30 p.m. (MT) Pac-12 opener against 2-1 Arizona State in Tempe.

The game will be televised on ESPNU, with KHOW carrying the radio broadcast.

"I think our players' attitudes and our efforts and the urgency about getting things past us and moving forward is pretty evident right now," Dorrell said after Wednesday's practice. "They're being very competitive, working hard against each other, encouraging each other as well … a couple solid days."

After facing a power run game the last two weeks from Texas A&M and Minnesota, the Buffs will see a much-more quarterback oriented attack from Herm Edwards' Sun Devils. ASU signal caller Jayden Daniels is a true dual-threat player, needing just 33 yards to reach 5,000 total offensive yards for his career.

This season, Daniels has rushed for 173 yards while completing 51 of his 70 pass attempts for 572 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

"He's a seasoned player," Dorrell said. "He knows where his talent is. We feel defensively we can do some things to maybe slow them down a bit, but this is a really potent offense. When they get going they can do it in chunks and quickly get on you. We have to make sure we keep them in front of us. Hopefully they'll make a mistake of a bad read or we'll make a great play."

While CU's defense has been overall solid this year — the Buffs are allowing just 15.7 points per game, tied for the best in the Pac-12 — one thing Colorado has yet to do is produce consistent takeaways. CU has forced just two turnovers, and did not have a single takeaway against Minnesota.

The Sun Devils, meanwhile, have shown a penchant for giving the ball away. ASU had four turnovers in a 27-17 loss to BYU last week, a defeat that knocked them from the nation's top 25. In three games, ASU has turned it over seven times.

Along with Daniels, Arizona State also has a solid one-two punch at running back in Rachaad White (219 yards rushing) and Daniyel Ngata (183), as ASU averages more than 225 yards per game on the ground. White also has 15 catches for 117 yards and wide receiver Ricky Pearsall has 11 for 109.

"We're going to have to do a lot of really good things to keep a lid on this offense, which is going to be difficult to do," Dorrell said.

Defensively, the Sun Devils are excellent in forcing turnovers. Over the last 14 games, ASU's defense has produced 40 takeaways, the most in the nation over that span. Linebacker Darien Butler had two interceptions against Southern Utah in the season opener, and ASU has picked off five passes this year.

BUFFS BITS: While the Sun Devils hold an 8-3 all-time edge, Colorado has won three of the last four. That includes the Pac-12 opener in 2019, when James Stefanou kicked a game-winning field goal with 2:03 left in the game for a 34-31 win in Tempe … This will be the Buffs' first road game of the year. Last season, CU was 2-0 in Pac-12 road games, collecting wins at Stanford and Arizona … Along with four turnovers in the loss to BYU, Arizona State was also flagged for 16 penalties ...

Former UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey will provide color commentary for ESPNU's coverage. Ramsey was a senior at UCLA when Dorrell was a freshman wide receiver … The two teams did not play last year, as ASU had to cancel a scheduled appearance in Boulder because of Covid issues. Dorrell was 3-2 against ASU as UCLA's head coach. Arizona State's Herm Edwards is 0-2 against Colorado … Dorrell said he expected to have starting center Colby Pursell and starting defensive lineman Na'im Rodman back this week. Pursell missed last week's game with an illness; Rodman was injured in the Minnesota game …

Buffs LB Nate Landman is first in the Pac-12 and 14th in the NCAA in tackles for loss, averaging 1.7 per game.