PALO ALTO, Calif. -- A few things to keep an eye on Saturday when Colorado travels to Stanford Stadium to face the No. 7 Cardinal.
Hurry up: This is the second week that Stanford will run its no-huddle offense with some regularity. Coach David Shaw said this was the plan all along, but the timing had to be right to debut it. They didn’t want to do it against San Jose State in the first game, or on the road in unfamiliar weather against Duke and Arizona. Last week against UCLA presented the best opportunity and quarterback Andrew Luck ran the offense with poise and efficiency. Colorado finds itself with more to prepare for than it was probably counting on 14 days ago.
Quick release: Colorado has one of the best pass rushes in the country. But there is always more to the numbers than just the numbers themselves. Consider the offensive schemes the Buffaloes have faced -- a lot of spread and spread-option teams with quarterbacks who probably hold the ball longer by virtue of their offense. That’s not Stanford’s game. Even when Luck does go back into a five-step drop or works out of the shotgun, he gets rid of the ball so quickly that collapsing pockets haven’t been much of an issue this season.
Balance, as usual: Another way to keep an aggressive pass rush at bay is to run the football. And we all know the Cardinal haven’t had any problem in that department. Stepfan Taylor has gone for more than 100 yards in his past two games and the Cardinal have kept opponents on their toes running a Wildcat package with Tyler Gaffney at the helm. And then there is the good ol’ fashioned power. When a team pins its ears back, rip off the ear.
Anything, anytime: Shaw said if the situation for a gadget play presents itself, he’s not going to keep it in the bag regardless of who they are playing. “We don’t hold on to anything. If it looks good, we call it,” he said. “… That’s just one more thing on film someone has to watch and be careful of.” Rarely does the ideal down-and-distance and hash mark position present itself for trickery. But when it does, the Cardinal will pull the trigger regardless of the opponent. We’ve seen plenty of it so far this season and there’s no reason to believe they will suddenly go vanilla.
Who’s got Richardson? Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson has emerged as one of the top receivers in the conference -- ranking fifth with 29 catches and tied for second with five touchdowns. The Cardinal have already faced one elite receiver in Arizona’s Juron Criner. Will they bracket him with a safety? Go bump-and-run? Or take a conservative man-to-man approach where they give him room, but don’t let him get behind? He’ll get his yards, but will he get into the end zone? The Cardinal have only allowed one wide receiver touchdown this season, and that was Criner.