Sept. 22, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Holliday (12) is tackled for a loss by Colorado Buffaloes defensive lineman Chidera Uzo-Diribe (96) during the first half at Martin Stadium. - James Snook-US PRESSWIRE
Each week, we take a look at the various fronts of Washington's upcoming opponent. Today, we look at the defense of the Colorado Buffaloes.
Last week, Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards and five touchdowns against this unit. I don't mean to be insensitive, but really, what else is there to say? This defense is historically bad, and Bishop Sankey will likely spend most of Saturday padding the stats of his already impressive 1,000-yard season. Add in the fact that no Husky fan is going to complain about a matchup that offers 2012 Keith Price a prime opportunity to look like his vintage 2011 self, and you have all the makings of what could (should?) be a blowout by halftime.
Defensive Line: This is a unit that has failed to control the line of scrimmage virtually every snap that it has played, which is a big reason why the Buffs have given up nearly 228 rushing yards per contest, worst in the Pac-12 by a substantial 40-yard margin. In addition, the defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks just 17 times, tied with Washington for second-worst in the conference. One bright spot that should give Buffs fans hope for the future comes in the form of junior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, pictured above, who ranks 10th in the conference in sacks (6.0) and 20th in tackles for loss (8.5).
Linebacker: The only position group on the entire team that has a full complement of experienced players, the Buffs linebacking corps consists of senior Doug Rippy, junior Derrick Webb and senior Jon Major. Webb in particular has shown some playmaking ability, tallying 62 tackles (4.5 for loss) in 2012. Overall, though, the linebackers bear just as much responsibility as the line for Colorado's horrific run defense numbers, and the fact that this beleaguered unit loses two starters to graduation after this year does not bode well for its performance in the years to come.
Cornerback: Colorado starts sophomore Greg Henderson at right cornerback, who has accounted for 28 tackles (1.5 for loss), two passes defended and one fumble forced in 2012. Opposite him is Yuri Wright, a true freshman blue chip recruit who had hoped to play at Michigan last year until the school halted his recruitment in the wake of revelations of Wright's inappropriate use of Twitter, which also resulted in his expulsion from high school. Wright has been quiet on both social media and the field this year, having neither intercepted nor defended a single pass in the eight games in which he has seen action.
Safety: Anchoring the backfield for the Buffaloes is fifth-year senior Ray Polk, whom Phil Steele called the No. 14 free safety in the nation in his preseason rankings. Unfortunately, Polk suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener and hasn't looked like his previously dominant self the entire season because of it. Starting alongside Polk is true freshman Marques Mosley, who has one interception on the year (the entire team accounts for just three) along with 29 tackles. He's indicative of the entire team's situation this year: a talented player who has simply been pushed into service way too early.