2007 Colorado Preview - Offense
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2006 CFN Colorado
What you need to know: Call this a stepping-stone season for
the offense before it explodes in 2008. The overall production
can't help but be better after averaging a Big 12-worst 291
yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a
backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if
all the problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen
go away, and if the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's
better than last season showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick
Nelson can shine right away at quarterback, the Buffs should
start to have the offense that Buff fans expected when Dan
Hawkins was hired.
Passing: Bernard Jackson
108-219, 1,298 yds, 7, 7 INT
Rushing: Hugh Charles
139 carries, 779 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Riar Geer
24 catches, 261 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Hugh Charles
Guard, proven backup running back
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman QB Cody Hawkins and/or Junior QB Nick Nelson
Unsung star on the rise: Nelson
Best pro prospect: Junior C Daniel Sanders
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Sanders, 2) Charles, 3)
TE Riar Geer
Strength of the offense: Receiver depth
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: It was always going to be a question of time
before Cody Hawkins became the CU starting quarterback,
but the time might be now considering the passing game needs a
major jump-start. The coach's son originally committed to Boise
State, and then followed his father to Boulder with a nice arm
and great passing touch. While the race is still wide-open,
Hawkins has the biggest upside and might be allowed to work out
all the kinks now with the hope that he'll be a star in 2008.
Projected Top Reserves: JUCO transfer Nick
Nelson is neck-and-neck with Hawkins for the starting
quarterback job and is almost certain to see time if he doesn't
win it. At 6-1 and 220 pounds, he's bigger than Hawkins with a
strong, accurate arm shown off with a strong spring. He's not
going to provide much in the way of mobility, but he'll spread
the ball around.
The X factor will be senior Bernard Jackson,
last year's starter who had a great season running the ball with
677 yards and seven touchdowns, but he was miserable throwing it
completing fewer than half of his passes for 1,298 yards and
seven touchdowns with seven interceptions as CU finished 116th
in the nation in passing offense and 114th in passing
efficiency. While he'll be used in other ways, he'll see a
little time under center as a change of pace.
Watch Out For ... Jackson to not be done playing
quarterback quite yet. While he's not going to start, he'll keep
defensive coordinators up at nights worrying about the 2 to 5
plays a game he'll see under center as a runner.
Strength: Promise. Hawkins and Nelson are upgrades
over what the program has had in past years; each can play.
Eventually, they'll each shine.
Weakness: Proven production. Jackson certainly
couldn't get it done through the air last year, Hawkins is a
redshirt freshman, and Nelson is a transfer. There's no one on
the roster who's been consistently good at the D-I level.
Outlook: The race for the starting job is
considered to be wide open, but Hawkins likely has the edge
going into the fall. While Dan Hawkins will certainly make his
opinion known, the call will be offensive coordinator Mark
Helfrich's to make when all is said and done. The overall
passing numbers can't be any worse, but the team will have to
live through a year of mistakes no matter what. Even after a
good spring from Hawkins and Nelson, call this season a step
back to take a big leap forward next year.
Projected Starters: Senior Hugh Charles has done the most
of what he could over the last few years playing behind a lousy
line two years ago and having no passing game to help take the
heat off last season. He's a fast 5-8 and 190 pounds rushing for
779 yards and a touchdown lass season, and while he can catch,
he only made nine grabs for 85 yards. He's not a workhorse, but
he's effective inside and out able to crank out big runs here
Helping to pave the way will be 240-pound junior
Maurice Cantrell, a former linebacker who didn't get any
carries, but caught two passes for 38 yards.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Byron Ellis
provides a little more bang to the mix at 6-0 and 215 pounds,
but it's unfair to call him a power back. He has excellent speed
and good all-around pop through the line and can catch a little
bit, but he wasn't used all that much last season finishing with
just 126 yards and a touchdown after being non-existent over the
second half of the year.
5-7, 195-pound sophomore Kevin Moyd
is a speed back who could emerge as a home-run hitter is
he's able to get in the open. Battling him for the third spot is
210-pound redshirt freshman Demetrius Sumler, who came to
Boulder as a top recruit and will eventually be the main man at
some point in his career. At least that's the hope.
transfer Patrick Gates was a scoring machine at
Saddleback College with 23 touchdowns, and he should
be an instant threat for playing time this fall.
Backing up Cantrell will be the combination of 230-pound
sophomore Jake Behrens and 225-pound senior Samson
Jagoras, who was the starter going into last year before
being replaced by Cantrell. Behrens was a big-time recruit as a
defensive end as well as a fullback, and will be a physical
blocker in the mix.
Watch Out For ... more of a rotation to help out
Charles. Ellis has to play a much bigger role, or else Moyd and
Sumler have to shine early on.
Strength: Home-run hitters. Charles is a six-yard
run waiting to happen, and Ellis can move once he gets through
the line. Moyd and Sumler can also move.
Weakness: Power. The Buffs don't have a
short-yardage banger to pick up the tough yards and they don't
have a proven scorer. CU got four rushing scores from its backs.
Outlook: Hugh Charles isn't a workhorse, but he's
ultra-effective in spurts able to come up with big pops here and
there. With Bernard Jackson not playing quarterback anymore,
that means others will have to pick up the slack. It might be
Jackson, who'll see time in the backfield to get the ball in his
hands, but it'll take the other backs to help CU be among the
nation's leaders in rushing.
Projected Starters: The Buffs need a number one wide receiver
threat to emerge, and that might not happen until the fall. For
now, senior Alvin Barnett has the potential to be the
main man after finishing second on the team with 21 catches for
232 yards and a touchdown. With he was steady, he wasn't
explosive and has to do far more to throw any kind of a scare
into opposing defenses. He'll get the first look on the inside Z
position, but he'll have to prove he has the hands to be a
On the outside will be junior Patrick
Williams, a 6-2, 200-pound speedster who caught 19 passes
for 242 yards and a score averaging 12.7 yards per catch. A star
recruit when he came to the program, it's time for him to come
The main man in the passing game last year was 6-2,
245-pound sophomore Riar Geer, one of the team's few
bright spots. He led the team with 24 catches for 261 yards and
three scores highlighted by a seven-catch, 71-yard day in the
near-miss against Georgia. However, he fell off the map with
just three catches over the final five games, but his blocking
improved. He has the size, and he should be a star weapon with a
better passer under center.
Projected Top Reserves: With the receiver jobs
open, junior Cody Crawford and senior Dusty Sprague
will get plenty of chances to see time. Sprague appeared to
be on the verge of stardom with 68 catches in his first two
seasons, but like the rest of the team, he was a big
disappointment with 11 catches for 179 touchdowns and no scores.
He's 6-4 and 190 pounds with great speed at the inside Z
position behind Barnett. Crawford was a major factor over the
second half of the season catching 13 passes in the final five
games. While the walk-on is suited for an inside spot with good
route running ability and nice hands, he'll play on the outside
to start the season.
The most exciting option will be Bernard
Jackson, the now-third string quarterback who will get the
ball in a variety of ways. He's the team's most dynamic
playmaker and will see plenty of time in three-wide sets and
could push for the starting job at the X.
Behind Geer will be
seniors Joe Sanders and Tyson DeVree, who
transferred from Western Michigan but was never right last
season. Sanders is a former linebacker who started to look like
a real tight end in spring ball, while DeVree should be
dangerous now that he's healthy.
Watch Out For ... bigger plays. It was a function of
the offense's limitations last year that there were only seven
touchdown catches and just under 12 yards per grab. That will
change from game one if the quarterbacks get time.
Strength: Experience. This was a veteran corps
last year, and now the top five receivers are back.
Production-wise, this should be the team's biggest area of
Weakness: Sure-thing number one wide receiver.
Yeah, there are lots of veterans and yeah, there's a lot of
potential among all the options, but someone has to emerge as a
target opposing teams need to worry about.
Outlook: While the receiving corps didn't help
matters last year with an overall lousy season, the shaky
passing of Bernard Jackson killed the potential production. Now
things should be night-and-day better with the change in
quarterback (whoever ends up starting) and all the veterans
knowing what they're doing in the Dan Hawkins offense. While it
would be nice to have sure-thing starters, there will be a good
rotation of players throughout the year and excellent depth.
Projected Starters: Write the depth chart in pencil since
injuries prevented the starting five from being settled in spring ball.
Going into the fall, 6-4, 300-pound senior Edwin Harrison will
start out at right tackle after starting 16 games in his career. He's
the most experienced lineman and will be starting somewhere. One of the
team's stronger players, he'll be expected to become a rock at one of
the tackle spots.
The other side will likely be manned by Tyler
Polumbus, a 6-8, 300-pound veteran who started every game last year
coming up with a steady season. While he's not necessarily a devastating
blocker, he's consistent.
The guard situation is up in
the air, but going into the season, 6-1, 285-pound redshirt freshman
Wes Palazzi will likely get the first look at left guard, while
285-pound sophomore Devin Head will get the first look at the
other spot. Head can play tackle if needed, but is far more vital in the
interior. Palazzi will at least be part of the rotation.
While the guard
situation is unsettled, the Buffs are set at center where junior
Daniel Sanders is the team's best blocker. He might end up moving to
guard, but he's a monster in the middle at 6-3 and 305 pounds. Extremely
tough against the run, the offense might rely on him to be the
quarterback up front and the team's anchor.
Projected Top Reserves: Harrison and Polumbus are
too good to move out of starting tackle spots, one of them might take a
seat this fall. That's how good true freshman Ryan Miller is. At
6-8 and 310 pounds, he's a big blocker who's athletic and punishing in
all areas. The Gatorade Player of the Year in Colorado will find time
somewhere, even if it's as a part of a rotation just to get his feet
Also in the mix will be 6-3, 275-pound redshirt freshman Keenan
Stevens, who could turn out to be the key to the line. Able to play
center or guard, if he's great in the middle, it would solve a big
problem allowing Sanders to move to guard. 6-2, 310-pound junior
Erick Faatagi can be a mauler at one of the guard spots, but the
former JUCO transfer needs time.
Watch Out For ... lots of changes before the opener.
Lots. The lack of live bodies prevented the Buffs to have any sort of
cohesiveness. It won't be until late in fall practice until there's a
starting five to be comfortable with.
Strength: A good nucleus. Even with all the
problems, having a center like Stevens and tackles like Polumbus and
Harrison is a good place to start. There are three solid starters to
work around, now the coaching staff just has to find ...
Weakness: Guards. If Stevens is at center, the
guard play will be a huge question mark needing some of the newcomers to
step in and provided depth and challenge for playing time.
Outlook: The team's biggest question mark isn't as
bad as it's being made out to be. The line was solid throughout last
year and despite losing some good players, there's a slew of strong
recruits coming in. With a strength-in-numbers theory, some of the eight
newcomers will come through and provide depth. As long as the guards are
settled, all will be fine.