2008 CFN Colorado Preview
Colorado QB Cody Hawkins
Colorado QB Cody Hawkins
Posted Apr 21, 2008

The Dan Hawkins era hasn't exactly taken off year at Colorado, but there are plenty of good players to build around. While this is a very young team, it shouldn't be too bad. Can the Buffs keep up with the rest of the Big 12 North? Check out the CFN Colorado Preview.

Colorado Buffaloes

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Colorado Preview | 2008 Colorado Offense

- 2008 Colorado Defense | 2008 Colorado Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Colorado Preview | 2006 CFN Colorado Preview 

Alright, so the magic hasn't exactly kicked in yet in the Dan Hawkins era.

After going 8-17 in two years, Hawkins didn't have a quick fix, his teams haven't done anything that special, outside of upsetting Oklahoma and pulling off two straight wins over Texas Tech, those wins were offset by losses over the last two years to teams like Montana State, Baylor and Iowa State, and 2008 shapes up to be yet another building campaign with the hope of a better tomorrow.

Head coach: Dan Hawkins
3rd year: 8-17
8th season overall: 61-28
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Buff Players
1. DT George Hypolite, Sr.
2. QB Cody Hawkins, Soph.
3. RB Darrell Scott, Fr.
4. C Daniel Sanders, Sr.
5. SS D.J. Dykes, Sr.
6. FS Ryan Walters, Sr.
7. RB Demetrius Sumler, Soph.
8. NT Brandon Nicolas, Sr.
9. TE Patrick Devenny, Jr.
10. OT Ryan Miller, Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 31 Colorado State (Denver)
Sept. 6 Eastern Washington
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 18 West Virginia
Sept. 27 Florida State (Jacksonville)
Oct. 4 Texas
Oct. 11 at Kansas
Oct. 18 Kansas State
Oct. 25 at Missouri
Nov. 1 at Texas A&M
Nov. 8 Iowa State
Nov. 15 Oklahoma State
Nov. 28 at Nebraska

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 6-7

Sept. 1 Colorado St W 31-28 OT
Sept. 8 at Arizona St L 33-14
Sept. 15 Florida State L 16-6
Sept. 22
Miami Univ. W 42-0
Sept. 29 Oklahoma W 27-24
Oct. 6
at Baylor W 43-23
Oct. 13 at Kansas St L 47-20
Oct. 20
Kansas L 19-14
Oct. 27 at Texas Tech W 31-26
Nov. 3
Missouri L 55-10
Nov. 10 at Iowa State L 31-28
Nov. 23 Nebraska W 65-51
Independence Bowl
Dec. 30 Alabama L 30-24

While it's easy to get impatient when things aren't improving quickly enough, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This was a young team last year, and it's getting even younger this season with a good recruiting class expected to upgrade a few areas like linebacker and running back, while QB Cody Hawkins is maturing into a good one who'll just need a little more seasoning.

But the big problem, at least this year, is that while Colorado is making decent strides and Hawkins, the father version, appears to have a good plan in place, there's a chance that any window of opportunity to become a major North player in the near future could be shutting, if it's not already slammed shut.

The North was the far weaker of the two Big 12 divisions when the Buffs were playing in conference title games under Gary Barnett. Yes, those Colorado teams were good, but now the division is turning into a monster with Kansas becoming a powerhouse, Missouri looking like a team with staying power, Kansas State appearing to be dangerous with a quick-fix from the JUCO ranks to go along with a good base of athletes, Iowa State certain to be pesky, and Nebraska about to enter the ranks of the living again under Bo Pelini. So basically, Colorado is improving, but so is everyone else.

There are enough good pieces to get back to a bowl game, and in super-recruit Darrell Scott, there's a star running back to ease the pressure off the passing game that's lacking in receiver star power, but there are still too many issues from top to bottom to realistically shoot for the North title.

Where's the pass rush? Where's the receiving corps? Who's going to improve the cornerback play with Terrence Wheatley gone? Are there any healthy, live bodies on the O line?

Colorado needed to be torn down after the Barnett era and built up again, and that job is still underway. Give it one more year.

What to watch for on offense: Speed up the pace. The coaching staff wants to quicken things up on offense with a no-huddle, hurry-up style that'll get the offense in a faster, better rhythm. Colorado was a great momentum team last year as it did a good job of producing when things were going its way. By looking to dictate the pace, the goal is to control games better and keep defenses on their heels.

What to watch for on defense: The middle. The Buffs are strong inside, and questionable outside. Tackles George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas, and safeties D.J. Dykes and Ryan Walters, are rock-solid veterans who should be able to make up for plenty of mistakes from the ends and corners. The defense is being built on very athletic players who can move around and wreak more havoc, but there's a whole bunch of youth that needs to grow up right away. The tackles and safeties will help ease the transition.

This team will be much better if … it can generate some sort of pressure into the backfield. Last in the Big 12 in tackles for loss and 95th in the nation in sacks, even with good, mobile tackles who weren't bad at making plays behind the line, Colorado suffered a major trickle-down effect. No pressure meant the solid Big 12 quarterbacks were able to do what they wanted against a good Buff secondary that struggled late. If spring ball was any indication, finding more sacks will still be a problem.

The Schedule: Brutal. With a new head coach, Colorado State is going to be tougher than ever to get past in the always nasty season-opener, and then there's an off-week against Eastern Washington followed up by a real off-week. And then comes the hammer. West Virginia, at Florida State (it's technically a neutral site game, but it's in Jacksonville), Texas, and at Kansas. Kansas State will be far better, and it's the relative breather after dealing with the trip to Lawrence. At Missouri and at Texas A&M follow. If that wasn't enough, there's still the trip to Nebraska to end the regular season. This is Division I football. It's the Big 12.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Cody Hawkins. This could quickly change if super-recruit Darrell Scott is half the running back he's supposed to be. Hawkins struggled at times with interceptions, and he wasn't always efficient, but he showed tremendous promise and potential. He's the quarterback for the next three years, and now he needs more help from the receiving corps. The pass protection should be solid, and the running game will be a plus. Now the passing attack has to follow through.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT George Hypolite. The team's best lineman over the last two seasons, he's a quick, tough tackler who'll come up with the occasional big play in the backfield. He's not exactly an anchor, but he's more of a playmaker on the inside that everyone else has to deal with.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Maurice Lucas. Throw senior Drew Hudgins and sophomore Marques Herrod in that mix, too. The tackles aren't bad at getting to the quarterback, but there's an open casting call for someone, anyone to get some pressure from the outside. Lucas is the big, 260-pound veteran who needs to find a way to make things happen, but Herrod is the most promising option. At 6-2 and 270 pounds with good speed, he's has the potential to be exactly what the line needs.

The season will be a success if ... CU gets back to a bowl game. It's not exactly the big step forward the program might like, considering the Buffs went to a bowl game last year, but with the nasty schedule, and with so many holes the team has to fill, and with such a tough Big 12 overall, a 13th game would be a nice reward before what should be a better 2009.

Key game: Oct. 4 vs. Texas. Colorado came up with a great defensive game plan, and a fantastic second half, to upset Oklahoma in Boulder. The team has shown it can pull off the big upset against a big boy, and it'll have to do the same in the Big 12 opener. Coming off games against West Virginia and Florida State, and with road trips to Kansas and Missouri coming up quickly, a win over the Longhorns might be a must.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Opponent scoring 1st & 4th quarters: 115 – Opponent scoring 2nd & 3rd quarters: 238
- Kickoff return average: Colorado 23 yards – Opponents 19.3 yards
- Average gain on first down: Opponent 6.3 – Colorado 5.3