2008 Colorado Preview - Offense
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What you need to know: Last year was part two in the
maturation of the offense, but there might need to
be one more year of seasoning to go before things
really start to hum. This is still a very, very
young group that's going to get even greener with a
slew of new recruits expected to make a big impact
on the line and in the backfield. The star of the
show should be Darrell Scott, considered by many to
be the nation's top high school running back, but he
won't have to do it alone with Demetrius Sumler a
good back who'll be the starter for now. The line is
young, but very promising with senior center Daniel
Sanders a strong anchor to work around. The key will
be the efficiency of the passing game, as QB Cody
Hawkins tries to handle the change to more of a
no-huddle, hurry up attack. The tight ends will be
good, but the wide receivers are nothing special.
Passing: Cody Hawkins
263-463, 3,015 yds, 22 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: Demetrius Sumler
100 carries, 335 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Scotty McKnight
47 catches, 555 yds, 4 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Cody Hawkins
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Patrick Devenny
Best pro prospect: Senior C Daniel Sanders
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Sanders, 2) RB Darrell
Scott, 3) Hawkins
Strength of the offense: Running back, tight end
Weakness of the offense: Wide receiver, veteran linemen
Projected Starter: Sophomore Cody Hawkins was going to go
to Boise State, but when his dad took the Colorado gig, it was
off to Boulder where he started right away and finished with
3,015 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. As expected,
he made a ton of mistakes as a freshman, but the interceptions
slowed to a stop late in the year throwing just one over the
final four regular season games. Not all that big at 5-11 and
190 pounds, he has a nice arm, good touch, and just enough
mobility to not be a statue. He's a talented, tough passer
who'll get better as he grows into the job.
Projected Top Reserves: Former JUCO transfer Nick
Nelson got a little bit of work completing three of six
passes for 22 yards in mop-up work. The 6-1, 230-pound senior
has a good arm and has been good enough in practices
to prove he could step in and shine if needed. He's not going to
challenge Hawkins for the starting job, but he'll be a good
Pushing hard for the number two role is redshirt freshman
Matt Ballenger, a 6-4, 230-pound bomber who was a great
recruit for the program two years ago. With mobility to go along
with his size, he could actually take off and run as well as the
other options, and he should be more of a factor with more
Watch Out For ... an ongoing battle for the No. 2
job. Nelson and Ballenger are almost neck-and-neck, so will the
coaching staff go with the young guy over the veteran in a
pinch? The hope is to only need to make that call in an
Strength: Arms. Hawkins has a good, accurate arm,
and it might be the worst of the three options. Nelson and
Ballenger are big options who can make every throw in the book.
Weakness: Getting used to the offense. With more
no huddle and more of a hurry up attack, Hawkins has even more
to deal with other than just trying to improve from his freshman
to sophomore seasons.
Outlook: There's a little bit of lip service paid
to the idea of Nelson and Ballenger getting a shot to push for
the starting job, but this is the Hawkins show. He's the face of
the offense for the next three years, and after a promising
first season, and with a bit more help from the receiving corps,
he should be more efficient.
Projected Starters: It's asking far too much for any one player
to come in and change a program by himself, but that's basically
what true freshman Darrell Scott is expected to do. At
6-2 and 215 pounds with 4.3 speed, he has the tools. After
running for 3,194
yards on 337 carries and scored 45 touchdown in one season, he
has the high school résumé that made him the top running back
recruit in the country. Texas and Colorado waged a fierce battle
for Scott's services, and now he's expected to be one of the Big
12's newest stars. With speed, power, and a world of talent, he
has the potential to make the Buff running game the focal point
of the attack.
Projected Top Reserves: While everyone is waiting
to see what Scott can do, 5-10, 215-pound sophomore Demetrius
Sumler isn't going to politely step aside. A star recruit as
well, he came in and had a nice first year running for 335 yards
and four touchdowns as the team's second leading rusher behind
Hugh Charles, but he didn't show much flash averaging just 3.4
yards per pop. He's better than that. With tremendous quickness
and good all-around ability, he's good enough to get the start
and keep Scott as a part of the rotation.
Also looking to stay in the hunt for carries is 5-7, 175-pound
sophomore Brian Lockridge, a little speedster who
suffered a sports hernia this off-season and will try to get
back in time for the start of fall practices. The team's third
leading rusher, he ran for 213 yards and a touchdown, averaging
5.6 yards per carry, and showed nice pop when he got his chance.
Helping to pave the way will be 6-0, 240-pound senior
Maurice Cantrell, a former linebacker who doesn't get any
carries and won't see the ball, but he'll be used as a big
blocking fullback whenever the running game needs the hard
While Scott is the star of the recruiting class, 6-1, 200-pound
Ray Polk and 5-8, 180-pound Rodney Stewart were
strong pickups. Polk was a highly sought after back with chances
to go just about anywhere. "Ray Ray" is a big, fast back who was
a star high school hurdler, considered among the best in the
nation. Stewart is a speedster clocking in at 10.7 in the 100
meters. He came back from a torn ACL to run for 2,46 yards and
Backing up Cantrell will be the combination of 230-pound junior Jake Behrens.
Behrens was a big-time recruit as a defensive end as well as a
fullback, and will be a physical blocker in the mix after
finally starting to make an impact.
Watch Out For ... the freshmen. Most die-hard fans
have heard a little about Scott, but Polk was a fantastic
recruit who would've been the jewel of the offensive haul if
Scott wasn't picked up. Stewart will make noise throughout his
career as a receiver and return man as well as a runner.
Strength: Really, really talented players. It's
not too crazy to suggest that Scott could step in and instantly
be the best back in the Big 12. Polk is going to be a good one,
and the running game can certainly produce with Sumler carrying
Weakness: Proof. Hugh Charles was a nice back who
ran for 989 yards last year, and while Sumler started in three
games, he wasn't lights out. There's a whole bunch of talent to
get excited about, but no one has really done it yet.
Outlook: CU had a good running game with Charles
at the helm, and now it could be special if everyone plays up to
their talent level. Scott could be a special player who
instantly becomes the Colorado offense, while Sumler had a
terrific off-season and will be in the mix for starting time
Projected Starters: In one of the major surprises of last year,
5-11, 180-pound sophomore Scotty McKnight came back from
a broken ankle to lead the team in receiving with 45 catches for
455 yards and four touchdowns. He started off the season hot
with eight grabs for 16 yards and a score against Colorado
State, and while that was his best game of the season, he was a
steady, if not spectacular, producer. He's not a star No. 1, but
he's a good, tough inside target.
Needing to make a bigger impact is 6-2, 205-pound Patrick
Williams, a former star recruit who hasn't been able to play
up to the promise. He caught 29 passes for 294 yards without a
touchdown. He busts his tail as a worker, but with his size,
speed, and experience, he needs to be more dangerous on the
The status of junior Riar Geer, the team's top tight end,
was still up in the air, but now he's reinstated after missing
all spring. He was suspended after being arrested and charged
with felony, second-degree assault. The 6-4, 250-pounder led the
team in receiving two yards ago with 24 catches for 261 yards
and three scores, but he struggled late that year and only
caught 14 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Projected Top Reserves: If Geer has any issues, it'll
be up to former quarterback Patrick Devenny to step in,
and he should be more than just a nice second option. The 6-3,
240-pound junior was fantastic this spring as a key target for
all the quarterbacks showing good deep speed and excellent
hands. He caught one pass for a three-yard touchdown last year,
and now he could be the team's breakout offensive star.
Working behind Williams on the outside X spot will be true
sophomore Josh Smith, a phenomenal athlete who was wanted
by several schools to run track and is a late bloomer to
football. Despite suffering a kidney problem early on, he came
in and caught 25 passes for 491 yards while being used as a
runner late in the year finishing with 44 yards on 13 carries.
He's a big-time deep threat.
Former walk-on Cody Crawford
has been a decent, serviceable backup catching 15 passes for 222
yards to years ago and seven passes for 73 yards last year.
While he's a good veteran, hell be quickly pushed aside when
rising options like 6-2, 195-pound redshirt freshman Markques
Simas is ready. A big, potentially very productive
all-around receiver, Simas will push Crawford out of a spot
sooner than later.
Watch Out For ... a constant search for someone who
can scare a defense. The passing game spread it around to
several receivers, a few tight ends, and the running backs, but
there wasn't any one wide receiver who did anything special.
That has to change.
Strength: Tight end. This was the key area of the
passing game last year as Tyson DeVree emerged as the year went
on. Even if Geer isn't back, Devenny is a rising star and junior
Luke Walters, a transfer from New Mexico, should be good.
Things only get better when recruits Ryan Deeham, Ryan
Dannewitz, and Ryan Wallace get to school.
Weakness: Touchdown catches from the wideouts. Of
the 22 touchdown passes thrown last year, McKnight caught four,
Dusty Sprague caught two, and tight ends and backs took care of
the rest. The lack of a true go-to wideout could put a hard
ceiling on the offensive potential.
Outlook: Cody Hawkins is a good quarterback who'll
get the ball to anyone who's out there. More often than not,
though, he'll have to use his tight ends thanks to an extremely
mediocre group of wideouts. There's speed, but there's no one
who'll make defensive coordinators do any extra film study. Geer
needs to be back and Devenny has to play like he did this
Projected Starters: There's uncertainty and youth all across the
line, meaning 6-3, 325-pound senior Daniel Sanders has to be an
extra special leader and anchor at center. A starter for every game but
one in the middle, getting the call at left guard against Oklahoma, he's
a tough blocker and a road grader for the running game. He'll be the
team's best lineman even if he ends up moving to guard.
The other key returning starter is sophomore Ryan Miller, a 6-7,
315-pound pass blocker who got the call over the second half of last
year at right tackle and will not be a fixture there. He took his lumps
as a true freshman, but the former Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year
should eventually be an All-Big 12 performer. He has limitless upside.
Needing to step in and shine at left tackle with Tyler Polumbus gone
will be sophomore Nate Solder, a 6-8, 280-pound former tight end
with excellent athleticism catching three passes for 50 yards. While
he's going to be a bit green in a full-time role, he had a great spring
and should blossom with every practice, like he did this off-season.
Working at right guard will likely be 6-4, 295-pound junior Devin
Head to start out. He'll have to battle this fall for the job, and
he'll certainly be part of a rotation, but he has experience starting
for most of the first half of last year before giving way to Edwin
Harrison. If needed, he'll be the first fill-in at center if Sanders
ever moves to guard.
There will be a big-time battle at the left guard spot with 6-4,
280-pound redshirt freshman Matthew Bahr getting the first
chance. The job is wide open, so consistency is the key early, and
holding off a top recruit could be the issue as fall practices go on.
Projected Top Reserves: Behr is hardly a lock at
left guard. 6-3, 285-pound redshirt freshman Blake Behrens and
6-3, 280-pound redshirt freshman Shawn Daniels will each get
their chances to win the job.
Trying to push Head out of the right guard spot will be former JUCO
transfer Erick Faatagi, but the 6-2, 310-pound senior has
The heir apparent to the center job next year is 6-2, 280-pound
sophomore Keenan Stevens, a versatile backup who can play guard
or center, he'll start out behind Sanders. If he turns out to be
fantastic, he could step in at guard or allow Sanders to move over.
Three true freshmen, Brice Givens, Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner,
and Ryan Dannewitz will all get their chances to provide instant
depth, but the 6-4, 300-pound Tuioti-Mariner is the only one ready to
start right away. He would've been an even bigger recruit if he hadn't
missed his senior year with a serious knee injury, but he was still
considered one of the best guard prospect in the nation. He's a
major-league run blocker who could take over at left guard from day one.
Watch Out For ... rough patches early, and a jelled
unit late. The coaching staff is counting on three true freshmen to at
least provide decent emergency options, while outside of Sanders, there
isn't any one sure-thing star to count on.
Strength: Potential. While last year's line was
strong, particularly in pass protection, this one has more upside and
more talent. It just isn't developed yet.
Weakness: Options. On the plus side, only Sanders
and Miller are sure-thing starters up front with several promising
players battling for time. There are good position battles going on at
both guard spots and at left tackle, even though Solder appears to be
solid. The depth is being developed by the moment in practices.
Outlook: This was supposed to be the team's
biggest question mark last year, but the line turned out to be a rock in
pass protection and not-that-bad for the ground game. Now there needs to
be some major changes made, but line coach Jeff Grimes has a
great-looking group that should be molded into something beyond just
serviceable early on. The key will be to find one lineup and stick with
it. The position battles have to end as early as possible this fall.