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Colorado Preview 2006

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 1, 2006


After all the controversies, negative publicity, non-scandal scandals, and a general slimy perception of the Colorado program weren't enough to get Gary Barnett fired. Losses to Nebraska and Texas by a combined score of 100-6, however, did the trick.  

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

After all the controversies, negative publicity, non-scandal scandals, and a general slimy perception of the Colorado program weren't enough to get Gary Barnett fired. Losses to Nebraska and Texas by a combined score of 100-6, however, did the trick.    

From the way the team was slammed on the field and by the press at the end of last year, you'd have thought Colorado was lucky to have won a game. Seemingly forgotten by everyone was that 1) the Buffs went to two straight Big 12 title games under Barnett and four in five years, 2) they were deeply banged up on the offensive line late in the season, and 3) Texas just so happened to be really, really, really good. 

Take away the two losses to the juggernaut Longhorns and Colorado's supposedly Temple-like defense allowed a mere 17.7 points per game. The four other losses came to Miami at Miami, at Iowa State in a fierce battle that wasn't taken over until late, the Nebraska debacle, and  without starting quarterback Joel Klatt in the Champs Sports Bowl against a tremendous Clemson team. That's not anything to panic over. 

However, if the big losses at the end of the regular season meant the end of the Barnett era and the breath of fresh air brought in by Dan Hawkins, then it was all worth it. One of the better fits of coach and school to be put together in a long time, Hawkins, the slightly goofy, extremely entertaining, always positive Zen master is the anti-Barnett, and the players appear to have immediately responded.

Head coach: Dan Hawkins
1st year at Colorado
6th season overall: 53-11
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 26, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Buff Players
1. PK Mason Crosby, Sr.
2.
C Mark Fenton, Sr.
3.
LB Thad. Washington, Sr.
4.
FS J.J. Billingsley, Sr.
5. CB Terrence Wheatley, Jr.
6. LB Jordon Dizon, Jr.
7. RB Hugh Charles, Jr.
8. OG Brian Daniels, Sr.
9. WR Dusty Sprague, Jr.
10. OT Edwin Harrison, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4

9/2 Montana State
9/9 Colorado St 
9/16 Arizona State
9/23 at Georgia
9/30 at Missouri
10/7 Baylor
10/14 Texas Tech
10/21 at Oklahoma
10/28 at Kansas
11/4 Kansas State
11/11 Iowa State
11/24 at Nebraska

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 7-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Colorado State W 31-28
9/10 New Mexico St W 39-0
9/24 at Miami L 23-3
10/1 at Oklahoma St W 34-0
10/8 Texas A&M W 41-20
10/15 at Texas L 42-17
10/22 Kansas W 44-13
10/29 at Kansas St W 23-20
11/5 Missouri W 41-12
11/12 at Iowa State L 30-16
11/25 Nebraska L 30-3
12/3 Big 12 Championship
Texas L 70-3
12/27 Champs Sports Bowl
Clemson L 19-10

While the overall talent level could stand an upgrade after a few years of sub par recruiting thanks to all the controversies, Hawkins has succeeded with far less talent winning 53 games in five seasons at Boise State. How many Broncos were drafted over the last five years? Four, with only one, offensive tackle Daryn Colledge, going before the fifth round.

There are holes to fill and some questions, especially on offense. The line has to get healthy before the coaching staff can properly figure out what it has to work with. The quarterbacks were inconsistent this spring, partially because they were under pressure thanks to the banged up line, and the running game has little to no proven power. There is depth and talent in the backfield and at receiver with enough options to play around with once the quarterback situation is settled.

The defense is much better than it'll likely be made out to be with Thaddaeus Washington and Jordon Dizon leading a strong linebacking corps, Terrence Wheatley returning at corner to join All-Big 12 talent J.J. Billingsley in a deep secondary, and potential on the ends with several good players to rotate. There's no depth or size at tackle and the second corner spot will be a bit of a problem early on, but those aren't glaring issues.

While there will be some period of forgiveness since there's a perception that Hawkins has to clean up a mess, this is a good enough team to get back to the Big 12 title game. If not, it certainly won't be down for long and will certainly will be a more fun team all the way around.

The Schedule: It's not pretty with one of the hardest road schedules around going to Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. If that wasn't enough to worry about, the Buffs have to face four other 2005 bowl teams in Colorado State, Arizona State, Texas Tech and Iowa State. On the plus side, the showdown with the Cyclones is in Boulder joining Kansas State as part of a nice two game home stretch before what should be, in some way, a North title deciding showdown at Nebraska.

Best Offensive Player: Senior C Mark Fenton. The skill players are average at best, but the Colorado line should be strong when it's finally healthy. Fenton is the best of the bunch and will be one of the finalists for the Rimington Award and a sure-thing All-Big 12 center.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Thaddaeus Washington. He's big, strong, and as sure a tackler as there is in the Big 12. The 245-pound senior has cranked out 231 career stops with 142 of the unassisted variety. He has grown into a more complete player turning into a dangerous pass rusher last year.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QBs Brian White and Bernard Jackson. Assuming James Cox doesn't quite have the upside to win the starting job, White and Jackson will make or break Dan Hawkins' first year as they try to replace heart-and-soul three year starter Joel Klatt. White is a pure passer who needs to be far sharper than he was this spring, while Jackson is a wild-card with scary running skills.

The season will be a success if ... the Buffs finish second in the Big 12 North. The schedule is too brutal and the rest of the division has improved too much to reasonably expect a fifth Big 12 title appearance in six years. Coming in second, and being in the hunt late in November, would be a great achievement with an eye towards winning the championship in 2007.

Key game: Sept. 30 at Missouri. The Arizona State and Georgia games will get plenty of national attention, but the real season starts in Columbia in late September. Missouri is good enough to be the big sleeper in the Big 12 title race, not just the North. A win by the Buffs would set the tone with a chance to get on a big early run with the next two conference games at home against Baylor and Texas Tech.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Colorado points allowed in two games vs. Texas: 112 - Colorado points allowed in the 11 other games: 195
- Rushing yards and touchdown runs allowed by Colorado in two games vs. Texas and the bowl loss to Clemson: 573 yards, 12 touchdowns - Rushing yards and touchdown runs allowed by Colorado in the ten other games: 730 yards, 6 touchdowns
- Penalties: Colorado 116 for 1,040 yards - Opponents 82 for 777 yards

The Last Time Colorado…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Champs Sports Bowl vs. Clemson)
…missed a bowl game…2003
…pitched a shutout…2005 (New Mexico State)
…was shutout…1988 (Nebraska)
…scored 50 points…2004 (North Texas)
…went undefeated…1923
…won a conference title…2001 (Big 12)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1996 (Koy Detmer)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Bobby Purify)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (D.J. Hackett)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (DE Tyler Brayton)

Related Stories
Colorado Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006
Colorado Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006
Colorado Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 1, 2006








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