2-1 Colorado hosts Oregon Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Pacific, carried nationally on the PAC-12 Network.
The new and improved Buffaloes, 1-11 last season under Jon Embree, started 2-0 this year with wins over in-state rival Colorado State, 41-27, and FCS foe Central Arkansas, 38-24. After their week 3 game with Fresno State was cancelled due to heavy flooding in the Boulder area, they had a scheduled bye before a road trip to Corvallis. Sean Mannion skinned them, racking up 414 yards passing and a school record six tds as the Beavs flat-tailed to an easy 44-17 victory.
Brandin Cooks grabbed nine of those completions, for 168 yards and two scores. Oregon State only ran for 120 yards, but they haven’t been able to run on anyone thus far.
For the Buffs, freshman running back Michael Adkins made his college debut, 14 carries for 98 yards, including a 33-yard run. The 5-10, 200-pounder is from Helix High, Reggie Bush’s old school. Originally recruited by new Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre for San Jose State, he followed McIntyre to his new school. An all-CIF running back his senior year as a prep, Adkins rushed for 3,115 yards and 40 tds at Helix. He has decent speed, 10.8 in the 100 meters, and also posted a 4.5 G.P.A. in high school.
The 98-yard performance was a season high for the team. They rank 103rd in the country in rushing yards at just under 116 a game. Junior quarterback Connor Wood leads an improved passing attack. So far this season he’s 70-116 for 887 yards and 8 touchdowns, a 60.3 completion rate. He’s thrown four interceptions.
His leading target is dangerous. Fully recovered from a torn ACL that sidelined him all of last year, Paul Richardson has already grabbed 26 passes for 487 yards and 5 tds, including an 82-yarder against Colorado State in the season opener. He started his junior campaign with two 200-yard games, but was held to five catches, 70 yards and 1 td against the Beavers in a game played in miserable weather, swirling winds and rain.
Boulder burner: Richardson, 6-1, 170, is a legimate deep threat. Over his first two seasons his 11 td catches were for an average of 37.7 yards. He ran a 10.62 100 in high school at Serra High, where he was a teammate of Marqise Lee.
Defensively, Colorado is led by linebackers Addison Gillam and Derrick Webb, defensive backs Parker Orms, Jered Bell, and Kenneth Crawley. Between them those five missed just two snaps in Colorado’s first two games, playing nearly every defensive down. After three games the unit ranks 91st in the country in scoring defense, allowing 31.7 points a game. The NCAA ranks them 63rd in total defense, allowing 391.7 yards a game and 4.98 yards per play.
A college football power through the ’90s, the Boulder university claims the 1990 national championship and a Heisman Trophy winner in 1994, Rashaan Salaam. They hired MacIntyre from the Spartans in December of last year after letting Embree go after two seasons. 16-21 overall at SJS, MacIntyre coached that team to a 10-2 record in 2012, their first 10-win campaign in 25 years.