The Colorado beat writer joins KUSports.com again this year to discuss a pivotal tilt in the Big 12 North. Ringo will be here Thursday at 3:00 p.m. to take your questions.
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Hello everyone and welcome to this week's KUSports.com live chat session. I'm Ryan Greene, online sports editor for the Journal-World, and I'll be moderating today's chat with Kyle Ringo, who covers the Colorado Buffaloes for the Daily Camera in Boulder. Kyle, welcome back again this year and thanks for taking the time to meet with our readers for a bit.
No problem. Love doing it. Apologize for being a bit late.
What areas of Colorado's team have improved the most since last year, and which areas of the team need the most improvement now?
The Buffs couldn't pass the ball at all last year. They finished the year ranked 116th in the nation in passing. They are much better in the passing game this year with a confident and competent QB. However, sometimes Cody Hawkins can be too confident. He has a tendency to throw into coverage, which is why he has 12 interceptions and 11 TDs. I'd say the Buffs nedd the most improvement in that area as well. They still need to improve their pass blocking and have to true freshmen starting on the offensive line
How much did being the son of the head coach factor in to Cody Hawkins winning the QB job, or was he the clear-cut guy?
I don't think it was a factor. Cody is a natural leader. He has a lot of his dad's personality in him and it shows through. His teammates were calling him a natural leader last year when he was redshirting. I think he just knew the offense better than junior college transfer Nick Nelson, but there wasn't a tremendous difference between the two in training camp. It came down to the intangibles such as leadership.
Oklahoma seems to be a superior team to CU yet the Buffaloes pulled off the upset in Boulder. How did they do that, and do you see KU being vulnerable to the upset on Saturday? What do you consider the key matchups to watch?
I think OU is more talented top to bottom than CU, but the Buffs play a physical style. OU players were quoted after the game saying they hadn't played a team as physical as CU and they were surprised by it. I also think there was an element of OU looking past the Buffs to their next game, which was against Texas. I definitely think CU can beat Kansas. I'm not a believer in KU quite yet. They beat KSU, but that game has the rivalry element to it. Outside of that game, the Jayhawks haven't beaten anyone decent. Their schedule in very, very weak. That's just me being honest. I think if KU can shut down the Buffs running game and make Cody Hawkins beat them, they have a good chance. But CU beat Oklahoma with the running game in the second half, and the Sooners were ranked just as high against the run as KU is.
Given the fact that the Jayhawks haven't been in the national polls for so long, have been mired in the lower half of the Big XII and have struggled for respectablility in recent years, do you think the Buffaloes are taking KU as seriously as they perhaps should be?
Since the Buffs lost to Montana State to start the 2006 season, they have done a pretty good job of not overlooking any opponent. And let's be honest, they haven't had a lot of games in which they were the favorite or an overwhelming favorite anyway. KU beat the Buffs last season. I think the Buffs are eager to get a little revenge. I definitely don't think they are overlooking the Jayhawks.
We all know you and Kneel Welk don't have much respect for KU yet because of our schedule and not leaving the state of Kansas. We also know how CU has played a much harder schedule. Do you think being battle hardened but less successful is a better strategy for success than playing weaker teams that you can work out all your deficiancies and new plays and players on?
I love that you called him Kneel. That's awesome. I can't wait to use that on him. Fantastic! Yes, I do think it's better to play a tougher schedule. CU could never get away with playing that schedule because no one would come to the games. Too many other options within 30 minutes of campus. But back to your question. I guess it depends on what your ultimate goal ios. If you're trying to get a to bowl game so you can say you've been in a bowl and keep your job and sell that to recruits, then maybe it's not a bad idea for a program like KU to schedule weaklings. In terms of how it prepares you on the field though, I think there is no question that playing at a higher level week in and week out makes you better.
With my last two trips to boulder, I personally witnessed some of the most disrespectful fans in the Big 12. Has anything changed in the last couple of years?
I don't doubt that. CU has had its share of problems with fans at times. But I've been to every Big 12 stadium and there are bad apples everywhere. For instance, in 2004 I was in Memorial Stadium listening to KU fans shout "rapists" at the entire CU team. That was during the height of the so-called CU recruiting scandal. Nevermind that no players were ever arrested or charged with anything remotely close to rape. The only charges a CU player ever faced in connection with any of that was contributing to the delinquency of a minor. So, yeah, you might run into some drunk jerks. Ignore them and enjoy yourself in one of the most beautiful college environments around.
Are the Barnett years still having an affect on the Football program?
Absolutely. Barnett's last few recruiting classes were fairly weak outside of a few solid players such as Jordon Dizon, George Hypolite, Hugh Charles and Brad Jones. Coach Hawkins talks all the time about the holes in the depth chart, and you can see it for yourself if you look it up on the CU website. There are spots where the Buffs have a senior, and the next guy at the position is a freshman. That can't happen too often.
Plus, I think there are still lingering effects of all that despite the fact that none of the key players in all that mess are still around. You can't tell me that some people don't think about the recruiting scandal when they think about CU.
What part of Colorados offense has most surprised you this year.
Like I said earlier, the passing game has been so much better than last year. CU's leading receiver last year caught 24 passes for 261 yards. There are six receivers this season who have a good shot at eclipsing those totals.
OK, we've got three more...
KSU had > 250 yards rushing on CU. Is CU's defense soft up front and can KU take advantage of that?
I'm fine, just chillin watching some games I have recorded.
I wouldn't say that at all. The Wildcats definitely had plenty of success, but 70 yards of that came in the final 4 minutes on one play against a mix of the first and second-team defenses. Here is some perspective on the CU run defense. In the previous five games before the KSU game, the highest rushing total was 157 yards and three of those opponents didn't reach 100 yards. The Buffs held Oklahoma to 118 yards rushing. The Buffs have allowed only five 100-yard rushers over the past 32 games.
Ringo, thanks for taking the time to chat about this weekend's matchup.
After last weekend's second half (offensive) collapse against KState, what are CU's keys to breaking down KU's defense? How much of an effect on the BCS/Big XII standings does this game influence Coach Hawkins' approach to taking control of the North division?
The Buffs want to run the ball first in every game regardless of the opponent, and they stick with that approach. As we saw in the OU game, the Buffs got down 24-7 in the third quarter but they got back in the game by running not throwing. I would look for CU to run and use play-action passes against the Jayhawks. I think this game is big in the standings and in the national picture. It's been a crazy season and every undefeated team that loses adds more confusion to the picture. If the Jayhawks can win, they will start to get some real respect both in the conference and nationally. Though, I would say their position in the BCS standings despite their schedule is already a lot of respect.
Sorry, had some technical problems there.
How good is CU's team speed and does KU's team speed impress you at all?
Yeah, I'm definitely impressed with KU's speed overall. There are plenty of strong athletes on the KU side. Speed has been a problem in some areas for the Buffs, but they're coming around. Hugh Charles is a fast guy at tailback. There aren't many guys who will out run either of CU's cornerbacks and true freshman wide receiver Josh Smith and Kendrick Celestine have improved the offense in that regard. CU has played Arizona State, Florida State and Oklahoma. The Buffs won't be blown away by anyone's speed at this point.
Kyle, Cody Hawkins certainly has provided a spark for CU, but his stats appear somewhat mediocre: 12 picks vs. 11 TD passes, and only 6.5 yds per attempt. What will he need to do to be successful against the Jayhawks' pass defense?
Don't throw the ball to Aqib Talib for starters. Cody has been victimized on three or four of those picks by his receivers tipping the ball into the air instead of catching the pass. However, he also has a tendency to throw into tight situations. Sometimes he gets away with it and looks like a genius. Sometimes he doesn't. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich says he just wants Cody to make the routine plays on a routine basis. That's what Cody needs to do. Be smart and not try to win the game by himself.
Lets squeeze one more in...
I watched your video blog this week, but was confused who you thought would win on Saturday. First you said to Neil, "You're going with the Buffs. I'm going with Kansas." After a few seconds, you added, "I'm not necessarily picking Kansas. I think...what I'm say is, the Buffs have just as much to prove as Kansas." And finally you said, "Given that it's a home game, I'll go with the Buffs too." Care to take one final stab at it?
Sure, I think I'll take KU...wait, make that CU...uh, hold on...can I get back to you?
Honestly, I find this one difficult to pick because I genuinely don't know what to make of KU. My gut tells me they haven't played anyone and don't deserve the respect they're getting in the polls. But they did handle the team that just handled CU.
I guess, I'll go with CU 26-24 because the Buffs are at home. Thanks for watching the show, by the way.
You sound a lot like Ryan Wood with your pick. You two should be nice and comfy together on top of the fence. Just playin...sorta...
Kyle, thanks so much for taking the time, it was a pleasure as always. See you out in Boulder this weekend, and thanks to all of our readers for your questions today.
My pleasure. Good luck to both teams and safe travels to anyone coming to Boulder this week.