Winning football games is never as simple as performing well in three statistical categories, but the Colorado football team can take a big step toward being more competitive in the Pac-12 if it improves in three key areas offensively.
The first two Pac-12 games this season have looked a lot like last season because the CU offense hasn't been able to move the ball and score points at the same rate as Oregon State and Oregon.
The Buffs are years away from catching up to the Ducks in that regard but becoming more efficient in the passing game, scoring more touchdowns in the red zone and converting more often on third downs would do wonders for the Buffs against the rest of the league
CU needs some fixes in those areas this week or it could be another long night Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., where the Buffs will take on another prolific offensive team when it faces Arizona State.
Quarterback Connor Wood started the season with two strong performances in wins over Colorado State and Central Arkansas, throwing for 741 yards and six touchdowns while completing more than 68 percent of his passes (56 of 82).
But in the first two conference games, Wood has completed just 25 of 67 attempts for 351 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. And the reality is much of that production has come after the games have been decided.
“I think it's a combination,” coach Mike MacIntyre said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “It's not all his fault by any stretch of the imagination. I think it's been a little bit of everything.”
The old saying is that quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame and that is likely the case with what ails the CU passing game of late, but Wood's struggles directly affect the offense's performance in the red zone and on third downs, which is typically a passing down.
The Buffs have converted on just two of 30 third-down opportunities in the first two Pac-12 games this season. Both came in the Oregon State game. CU set a new school record going 0-for-15 on third downs against the Ducks last week.
Unless the Buffs are scoring on a lot of big plays, driving into the red zone only five times in two games isn't going to be enough against the high-powered competition they face in the conference. It's definitely not going to be enough if they continue to settle for field goals when they do get into the red zone.
The Buffs were in the red zone once against Oregon State and came away with a field goal. They were there four times against Oregon and settled for three field goals. Scoring zero touchdowns in five red zone trips isn't going to win many games regardless of the competition.Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at email@example.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.