2007 Colorado Preview

Posted May 18, 2007

Can Colorado rebound from last year's disaster? The offense should be better and more consistent, while the defense, helped by George Hypolite, should carry the team back to respectability.

Colorado Buffaloes

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 CU Offense Preview | 2007 CU Defense Preview

2007 CU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Colorado Preview 

After practice one late March afternoon, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins had his players lie on their backs, stare into the blue sky above and visualize great things. There had been running and throwing and hitting during the workout, but now Hawkins wanted to train something else: his players’ minds. He wanted to erase the stale memories of last year’s 2-10 debacle and replace them with images of success and confidence.

Head coach: Dan Hawkins
2nd year: 2-10
7th season overall: 55-21
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 17, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 27
Ten Best Buff Players
1. LB Jordon Dizon, Sr.
2. CB Terrence Wheatley, Sr.
3. RB Hugh Charles, Sr.
4. DT George Hypolite, Jr.
5. LB Michael Sipili, Soph.
6. C Daniel Sanders, Jr.
7. TE Riar Geer, Soph.
8. OT Tyler Polumbus, Sr.
9. WR/QB Bernard Jackson, Sr.
10. LB Brad Jones, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Sept. 1

Colorado State

Sept. 8

at Arizona State

Sept. 15

Florida State

Sept. 22

Miami Univ.

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at Baylor

Oct. 13

at Kansas State

Oct. 20


Oct. 27

at Texas Tech

Nov. 3


Nov. 10

at Iowa State

Nov. 23


2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Montana State L 19-10
9/9 Colorado St  L 14-10
9/16 Arizona State L 21-3
9/23 at Georgia L 14-13
9/30 at Missouri L 28-13
10/7 Baylor L 34-31 3OT
10/14 Texas Tech W 30-6
10/21 at Oklahoma L 24-3
10/28 at Kansas L 20-15
11/4 Kansas State L 34-21
11/11 Iowa State W 33-16
11/24 at Nebraska L 37-14

If Hawkins had asked his players to do that last August, there was no way they could have imagined anything like the 2006 campaign, which began with a humbling loss to Montana State and continued on to include four defeats by five or fewer points, including a crushing, triple-overtime home loss to Baylor. Everybody knew the Buffs had been blasted in their final two games of the 2005 season, leading to the end of the Gary Barnett era, but few could have imagined the depths to which the program was about to plummet. By asking his players to envision greater things, Hawkins is trying to train them to expect victories. It would help if the Buffaloes had the talent necessary to pull them off.

That’s a somewhat fluid concern since Colorado is still searching for help at many different spots on the roster, beginning at quarterback. If anything waylaid Hawkins and his plans for Big 12 domination last year, it was the lack of a passer to trigger his wild-west attack, as starter Bernard Jackson completed a mere 49.3% of his throws. Now, the arrival of JC quarterback Nick Nelson and the continued development of redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins – the coach’s son – should help things, but until that situation is settled, it’s impossible to think of Colorado as anything but a program in full rebuild mode, no matter how positively the players and coaches might be thinking. The defense was actually stout last year, considering it got no support from the other side of the ball, and even though there will be some questions about depth, there is promise

Hawkins can coach, there is Big 12 talent all over the place, and the program is used to winning. It shouldn’t take too much tweaking to get back to being a player in the North again, and possibly next year the players can lie back and visualize winning the Big 12 title … and not be dreaming big.

What to watch for on offense: Hawkins will continue to build his spread-‘em-out attack and hope that Nelson or his son emerges as a reliable passer. Jackson could still end up starting, although he is not suited to the style. Colorado will run the ball, but it will do so as a complement to the pass. When fully installed and operated by someone capable of making the kind of quick decisions necessary in the attack, it should produce plenty of points. However, that is unlikely to happen this season, not only because of the quarterback situation, but also due to an offensive front that will rely heavily on newcomers for depth.

What to watch for on defense: The Buffaloes have the potential to be strong in all phases, but a lot depends on whether the Colorado offense can hold onto the ball long enough to keep opponents from wearing down the Colorado D. The Buffs were most successful last year when they won the time-of-possession battle, so the old cliché might be true that the best defense will be a good offense. For the defense to help its own cause, improving play in the secondary will be the biggest priority, especially on third down.

This team will be much better if…one of the quarterbacks emerges as a real-live passing threat. Hawkins admitted during the spring that he gave Nelson and his son more work to get them up to speed, but that might have hindered Jackson’s development. Last year, Colorado had exactly one game in which it threw for 200 yards, and five in which it had fewer than 100 yards through the air. That’s not what Dan Hawkins teams are usually like.

The Schedule: Four of the first five games are in Boulder, all in September, before the only two-game road trip of the year, at Baylor and Kansas State. CU’s not taking it all that easy before Big 12 play, with a trip to Arizona State, a home game against Florida State, and the nasty rivalry against Colorado State to start it all off. To make things even tougher, Oklahoma is first up in conference play. Getting Missouri and Nebraska at home in November is a nice break.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Hugh Charles. The lightning-fast 5-8, 190-pound senior did everything he could to carry the offense in a dying season, rushing for 779 yards despite no passing game. He’s a great receiver who’s dangerous when he gets the ball on the move.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Jordon Dizon. One of the nation’s leading returning tacklers with 137 stops last season, he’s a good veteran with the versatility to play inside or out. While he’s not all that big at 6-0 and 225 pounds, Dizon is as tough as they come. Few Big 12 defenders are as steady and consistent.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Cody Hawkins and junior QB Nick Nelson. Since Bernard Jackson doesn’t appear to be the answer, it’ll be a battle between Nelson, a JUCO transfer, and Hawkins. Hawkins eventually will be the answer, but Bernard Jackson has the year of experience and the mobility, size and arm to be the one to lead the team out of the gloom. If he can get his completion percentage to around 55%, with a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (he threw seven of each last season), that might be enough to get the offense rolling. However, he won’t likely be the opening day starter.

The season will be a success if ... CU gets back to a bowl game. It’s not going to be all that easy, considering how far the program still has to go to get back to the North title level, but after losing four games by seven points or fewer, and with Hawkins too good to allow for another disaster, getting a 13th game should be expected.

Key game: Sept. 29 vs. Oklahoma. What better way to announce that Colorado football is back than by beating the defending Big 12 champions? The Sooners might not be at quite the level they were at the end of last year, at least not early, and if the Buffs can win, they have the potential for a huge start.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Colorado 40; Opponents 106
- Fourth down conversions: Colorado 2-13 (15%); Opponents 9-17 (53%)
- Penalties: Colorado 83 for 640 yards; Opponents 63 for 559 yards


Related Stories
2007 Colorado Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 18, 2007
2007 Colorado Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 18, 2007
2007 Colorado Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 18, 2007

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