Sep 152011
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

CU-Boulder football is a program that is traditionally run-heavy offensively, but this season has become an aerial attack in Boulder.

After a relatively anemic first game, CU quarterback Tyler Hansen and superb sophomore receiver Paul Richardson went off in an overtime loss against the University of California last week.

“He’s an elite receiver,”said coach Steve Fairchild of Richardson. “He’s probably as good a football player as we’re going to face all year.”

The numbers back-up that claim.

Richardson was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the week after a game in which he caught 11 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns.

With 333 yards, he is tied as the nation’s leading receiver and is second in the country in touchdowns.

Richardson has helped his quarterback experience an explosion of his own. Hansen threw for 474 yards last week. To put some context to that number, CSU quarterback Pete Thomas has thrown for 437 yards in two games this season.

Despite how dangerous Richardson can be, defensive coordinator Larry Kerr doesn’t anticipate matching a certain cornerback on him.

“Wherever the matchup occurs, we feel like that guy’s just got to go out and do his job,” Kerr said.
Richardson lines up in all three of the wide receiver positions in CU’s west coast offense, meaning that he can show up on both sides of the line of scrimmage, as well as in the slot.

Most of his catches have come on short passes, 10 yards or under, and he has turned them into big gains by breaking tackles and using his blazing speed to get away from the defense.

His elusiveness makes tacking Richardson down at first chance a key to keeping him in check.

“For us, it comes down to tackling,”said safety Ivory Herd. “If we miss tackles of course he’s going to get yards after the catch. We just have to be there and make tackles.”

With such short passes, it takes away many chances for the defensive line to get sacks. But timing is such a key in the west coast offense that if the line can get quick pressure, it could create opportunities for turnovers that potentially change the game.

“It’s going to be big (to force turnovers),” Herd said. “I feel like it’s going to be a really great game and it’s going to be really close. For us to make turnovers is going to be key to win this game.”

CSU doesn’t anticipate double-covering Richardson or giving extra safety help wherever he is lined up, though that could change based on how the game develops. But the Rams know that they have to keep him in check.

“Guys like that are so dynamic that he can change a game,” Fairchild said. “We’ve got to know where he’s at and try and not let him get loose on us.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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