BOULDER — One year later, the Colorado Buffaloes are still trying to repress memories of the Texas blitz.
Last Halloween, the Longhorns came into Folsom Field and all but liquefied CU’s offensive front. They brought
linebackers, safeties and seemingly whatever else
they could find in order to get to quarterback Joel Klatt. The attack created turnovers, induced penalties and allowed the Buffs to convert one third down try all day in a 31-7 Texas win.
Although aggressive defensive coordinator Greg Robinson left Texas this winter to be the head coach at Syracuse, leaving more conventional co-coordinators Gene Chizik and Duane Akina in his spot, thoughts of stampeding Longhorns still linger for the Buffs.
And because it’s difficult to imagine Texas going away from a strategy that was so successful last year, the Buffs feel they must face their old fears if they’re to have any chance against the No. 2 Longhorns on Saturday.
“They had a couple of blitzes on where our coaches didn’t even know what was going on,” senior tackle Clint O’Neal said. “When they started to run away with it, they were just kind of playing with us.
“But this team is totally different this year. I can tell right now we’re prepared to go.”
The statistics support such a claim. Despite several injuries and a significant lack of depth, Klatt has been sacked seven times in five games this season — three of which coaches blamed on the offensive line.
However, considering the Texas defense has collected 15 sacks this season and ranks first in the conference in pass defense despite using significantly fewer blitzes, there is reason for concern.
Offensive line coach Dave Borbely, who hasn’t decided whether to show his players tape of last year’s game against Texas in fear of creating a negative vision, said even though he feels his line is better equipped to handle the Longhorns’ pressure this year, all of the responsibility can’t fall them.
Once an opponent starts to blitz, protection becomes a shared responsibility.
“Any time they can bring more than you can block, that’s going to be an issue,” Borbely said. “If that happens, then the quarterback and the receivers have to be responsible for the extra guy.”
Last year, that didn’t happen. There are two ways to play against a blitz — block it or attack the area from which the blitz came. When it became clear they couldn’t stop the Longhorns’ charge last year the Buffs failed to execute fast enough to take advantage of the aggression.
Although CU feels it has corrected its protection problems, the fact it has struggled to establish a vertical passing game means there is little reason for the Longhorns to back off.
“No matter what team we face, we seem to get a little bit more man coverage, and teams have to get that eighth hat in the box,” Klatt said.
“So I expect a little bit more pressure than what they’ve shown so far this season.
“But I feel really comfortable with our scheme and what we can do to stand up to that pressure.”
Whether the Buffs do stand up to such pressure could decide Saturday’s game. If they fail in that task, however, expect another year of bad memories.