No. 25 Utah (7-4, 4-4) travels to Boulder, Colo. to take on Colorado (2-9, 0-8) on Saturday. Colorado has been competitive in many of their games, but poor defense has resulted in no conference wins for the Buffaloes. Colorado usually runs a 4-2-5 defense but may run more 4-3 against Utah, given Utah's propensity to run the football. Colorado ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (39.1 points per game) and 11th in total defense (463.0 yards per game). After an excellent true freshman season, linebacker Addison Gillam has experienced a bit of a sophomore slump this year. He recorded 107 total tackles his freshman year but only has 56 total tackles in 2014.
The Colorado defense has been one of the worst in the Pac-12 against the pass. While they only allow 251.2 passing yards per game (5th), they have struggled in most other passing categories. Opposing quarterbacks have a 148.4 passer rating (10th). The Buffaloes have only intercepted three passes on the year (11th) while they have allowed 32 touchdown passes (11th). The Colorado passing defense allows 7.4 yards per passing attempt (tied for 9th). A lack of a consistent pass rush (20.0 sacks, 11th) has not helped the secondary to defend the pass either.
Colorado has the worst rushing defense in the Pac-12. They face on of the best running backs in Utah's Devontae Booker. The Buffaloes allow 211.8 rushing yards per game (12th). Colorado also allows a Pac-12 worst 5.80 yards per carry (the next worst is Oregon State at 4.57 yards per carry). Only two of Colorado's Pac-12 opponents had less than 200 yards rushing: Cal and Oregon State, two of the worst rushing teams in the Pac-12.
The Colorado defensive line has not been stout this season. Teams have run at will on the Buffs, and there has not been a consistent pass rush. Derek McCartney leads the team with 4.0 sacks and is tied for second with 6.0 tackles for loss. Josh Tupou and Jimmy Gilbert have 3.0 and 2.0 sacks respectively. Tupou is a load at 6-3, 325.
This is likely the strength of the Colorado defense with Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode (who is second on the team in tackles with 57). Gillam leads the team with 7.0 tackles for loss. Brady Daigh is tied for second on the team with 6.0 tackles for loss.
The two best players in Colorado's secondary (Chidobe Awuzie and Tedric Thompson) are both out, making this position of relative strength a big weakness. Thompson has all three of Colorado's interceptions, while Awuzie leads the team in tackles with 63. Greg Henderson and Kenneth Crawley have 14 (leads the team) and 12 pass breakups respectively.