Buffs try to get ground game on track against CSU

Tyler Hansen’s right arm wasn’t the least bit sore even after
flinging the ball all over the field.

No ice or rest were remotely required after the Colorado senior
quarterback threw for a school-record 474 yards in a 36-33 overtime
loss to Cal last weekend.

And while Hansen wouldn’t mind even more passing plays called
against rival Colorado State on Saturday, he realizes that’s not
going to help the Buffaloes (0-2) fix their woes.

An anemic ground game has to pitch in at some point, too.

To think, that part of the offense figured to be a strength in
coach Jon Embree’s first season in charge, especially with senior
Rodney Stewart leading the way.

Through two games, the Buffs are averaging just 62.5 yards on
the ground.

”Quarterbacks like throwing,” Hansen said Tuesday, ”but we
have to run the football more. We have to be effective running the
football.”

The task won’t be easy given the fact the Buffs will head into
the game against the Rams (2-0) with a patchwork offensive line.
Right tackle Jack Harris fractured his lower right leg against the
Bears and could be out for the season. Left tackle David Bakhtiari
remains questionable with a knee injury that caused him to miss the
Cal contest.

Embree said he wouldn’t make any decisions on his offensive
front until at least Thursday, when he has a chance to assess the
situation in practice.

More than anything, the Buffs are simply searching for some kind
of rhythm.

”We go in stretches where you’re saying, ‘What are we doing?”’
Embree said. ”We play well in spurts. But we haven’t played a
(complete) game yet. That’s what we have to do, get to where we’re
playing a complete game.”

Asked for his thoughts on how to solve his team’s inconsistency,
Embree broke into a grin.

”If I knew I’d be a rich man,” Embree said. ”I’d be selling
that pill to everybody in the league.”

The pressure will be ratcheted up against their in-state rival,
especially with a trip to Ohio State waiting the following week and
Pac-12 play beginning after that.

”This game is a must-win for us,” Hansen said. ”Going into
Ohio State 0-3 isn’t going to be good for us. We’ve got to develop
some confidence.”

Hansen and wideout Paul Richardson are certainly developing some
chemistry. All those extra sessions this summer working on pass
routes is paying dividends.

Richardson caught 11 passes against Cal for a school-record 284
yards. Even when the Bears tried to put multiple defensive backs on
the speedy receiver, he still found a way to get open as Richardson
hauled in TD passes of 66 and 78 yards.

For his big day, Richardson credits pep talks from Embree and
receivers coach Bobby Kennedy.

”They told me they needed a lot out of me. They put a lot on my
shoulders,” said Richardson, who was named the Pac-12 offensive
player of the week. ”I didn’t expect statistically to finish like
that, but I expected the ball to come my way more.”

Now that the word is out on the receiver known as ”P-Rich,”
the Buffs fully anticipate facing plenty of different coverage
schemes in an effort to contain him.

”We’re going to have to be creative with how we use him,”
Hansen said.

This would definitely help: Keeping defenses honest with the
run. Embree said he’s not overly concerned about the lack of
production from his backs.

Not yet at least. He’s spotted some issues along the line (a
failure to sustain blocks) and more from the backs (not hitting the
holes with aggression).

They’re working to shore up those areas.

”I’d be concerned if it was more of a scheme or just being
overpowered,” Embree said. ”But I believe in these players. I
trust these players.

”I have the utmost confidence in our players and our coaches
that our situation will be resolved.”

The Buffaloes will be facing a Colorado State squad that’s off
to a solid start with wins over New Mexico and Northern Colorado.
But the Rams were dealt a blow last weekend when linebacker and
team captain Mychal Sisson broke his ankle.

”He’s a great player,” Hansen said. ”The last couple of
years, we had to account for him on every play. It’s definitely
going to hurt them having him out. But they do some good things and
it’s going to be a challenge for us.”