Preview: Arizona at Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. -- Steven Montez's remedy for soreness after a recent loss was to pour a little more salt into the wounds.

Epsom salt, more specifically -- in a bath. It worked like a charm for the Colorado quarterback who absorbed some big hits in a 27-23 loss at UCLA last weekend.

Now, he's hoping to help heal the Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12), who've dropped two straight conference games in their defense of the Pac-12 South crown.

Next up , Arizona (2-2, 0-1) and its improved defense on Saturday. The Wildcats have forced 20 three-and-outs this season. Not bad, considering the team had 30 in a dozen games a year ago.

"They're a good defense," Montez said. "We're just going to do what we do on offense, and hopefully we get some things going."

Montez and the offense remain a work in progress. He was 17 of 36 for 243 yards along with 108 yards rushing against the Bruins. He's trying to stay in the pocket more instead of looking to run.

He's taken quite a few wallops this season.

"I'm feeling good," Montez said. "I mean, we're playing football. It's not like golf where you're standing out there swinging clubs. No offense to Tiger (Woods), Rory (McIlroy) and all them, they're freak athletes too, but it's a contact sport so you're going to be a little sore after games. I'm not anymore sore than I've been."

On the other side of the ball, the Buffaloes defense has their hands full with a dual threat in Brandon Dawkins, a quarterback who reminds Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre of Colin Kaepernick. MacIntyre had to scheme against Kaepernick while he was coaching at San Jose State and Kaepernick was under center with Nevada.

"(Dawkins) is athletic, fast and he can throw the ball forever. He has great arm strength," MacIntyre said. "That's what Kaepernick would do in college. He'd run everywhere and do that kind of thing. We've got to be able to stop their running game and hopefully corral Dawkins."

That hasn't been an easy assignment. Dawkins leads the team with 341 yards rushing and six TDs. He's also thrown for 670 yards and five scores.

Dawkins is coming off game in which he threw three interceptions during a 30-24 loss to No. 20 Utah on Sept. 22.

"It's the big mistakes that have been hurting us, but he's not the only one making mistakes," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said at his weekly news conference. "We've all made them. Brandon knows that we can't have a big mistake, and can't have turnovers. We have to capitalize on opportunities of big, potential plays."

Here are things to know heading into a game where the Wildcats have won two straight at Folsom Field:

YOUNG CATS:The Wildcats have played 27 freshmen, including 17 true freshmen. Tight end Bryce Wolma leads the team in receptions with 15, while linebacker Colin Schooler has recorded 11 tackles, an interception and a forced fumbled over his last two games. "I have been pleasantly surprised with some of the young players that haven't made as many mental mistakes, which is good," Rodriguez said.

MUCH RESPECT: Count Rodriguez as a fan of Buffaloes tailback Philip Lindsay, who's rushed for 529 yards this season. He's 196 yards away from moving into the top five on Colorado's all-time rushing list. "He's a big-time player," Rodriguez said.

FAMILY WEEKEND: Colorado junior receiver Jay MacIntyre may not get to spend all that much time with his father as part of Family Weekend festivities. That's fine, he sees enough of his dad/coach in practice anyway. Here's a stat about Family Weekend in coach Mike MacIntyre's favor: The Buffaloes are 18-7 since celebrating what was once known as Parent's Weekend.

SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE:The Buffaloes are one of nine teams in the nation that hasn't allowed a kickoff return longer than 22 yards. On the flip side, the Wildcats are averaging 25.9 yards, which is 17th in the country.

STATS, STATS, STATS:The Wildcats have outscored opponents by a 76-36 margin in the second half … The Buffaloes are two wins shy of No. 700 in school history. They're 698-496-36.