Colorado braces for explosive No. 16 Arizona StatePosted: Updated:
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly will be the primary focus of Colorado's defense.
Wait, make that running back D.J. Foster. No, wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
That's the thing about the Sun Devils' quick-strike offense: Too many options to converge on just one. The tricky task for Colorado (1-1) is finding a way to somehow stifle No. 16 Arizona State (2-0) in the Pac-12 opener for both schools on Saturday night. The Buffaloes are certainly hoping to avoid a repeat of last season when the Sun Devils raced out to a 25-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes and cruised to a 54-13 win.
No need to mention that score. Colorado is still smarting from that drubbing.
"That was one of the worst games," Buffs linebacker Addison Gillam said. "We got just physically beat. I think that was the hardest thing. We were just physically beat. We didn't really have an answer for much. That was hard."
Arizona State may be even more explosive this season. Can't lose track of Kelly, who's thrown for 430 yards and three TDs this season. He's also run for another 98 yards and a score.
Certainly can't forget about Foster, especially after a game in which he went for a career-high 216 yards rushing.
Then there's Strong, who has 13 catches for 189 yards.
"They're a very talented football team and it's going to be a great test for us," Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.
The Buffaloes are actually trying to be a lot like the Sun Devils - a fast-paced offensive team that's too dynamic to centralize on one player.
"Their scheme is very similar to what our offensive scheme is," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. "We have an offense that's going to score a lot of points."
Especially early in games. With Graham in charge, the Sun Devils have outscored teams 317-146 in the first quarter. They're also 18-0 under Graham when leading at halftime.
"They're fast. They're physical," Gillam said. "They're a strong team.
"I think that as long as everybody does their job and is responsible and consistent with doing their job, we'll be good."
Things to consider as Colorado tries to end an 0-for-5 streak against Arizona State:
MOVING UP THE CHARTS: Kelly is four TD passes away from tying Danny White for fourth-most in school history. "Kelly doesn't get all the big-time accolades that probably the other big-time quarterbacks in our league do," MacIntyre said. "He makes plays. He runs their offense really well."
POINTS IN BUNCHES: The Sun Devils scored 58 points last weekend in New Mexico. That's the 10th time since Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell came on board in 2012 the team has eclipsed 50 points. Before their arrival, the team scored 50 or more points in a game 10 times over a 10-year span.
RANKLED: The Buffaloes have lost 14 straight games against ranked team. Their last win was 34-30 over Kansas in 2009. "Is (Arizona State) one of the top-25 football teams in the country? Yes. There's no doubt in my mind," MacIntyre said. "Are they talented that way? Yes. So, as far as: Is this a test against a top-caliber team? Yes, this is a top-caliber football team."
NO MEASURING STICK: MacIntyre emphatically dismissed the notion his team needed a big-time win to propel the program forward. "I don't think the kids go, `Wow, we had a marquee win. Now we can keep going and getting better,'" MacIntyre said. "I do not believe that. I believe you just keep playing then I think the marquee win happens and I think you've improved well enough that you can keep doing that."
TAKE A SEAT: As part of a $156 million athletics complex expansion project, the Buffaloes added luxury seats in the northeast corner of Folsom Field. The construction was going down to the wire - workers were still installing seats on Tuesday - but expected to be finished by kickoff. The stadium's capacity will now be about 50,548, down about 3,000 seats. "That just shows the program, the school, they believe in us," Gillam said. "They trust us to get done what we need to do."
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