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2009 CFN Colorado Preview
Colorado OG Ryan Miller
Colorado OG Ryan Miller
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 22, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado Buffaloes

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN Colorado Preview | 2009 Colorado Offense

- 2009 Colorado Defense | 2009 Colorado Depth Chart
- 2008 Colorado Preview | 2007 Colorado Preview | 2006 Colorado Preview   

Head coach: Dan Hawkins
4th year: 13-24
9th season overall: 66-35
Ten Best Buff Players
1. RB Darrell Scott, Soph.
2. OT Nate Solder, Jr.
3. CB Jimmy Smith, Jr.
4. LB Jeff Smart, Sr.
5. TE Riar Geer, Sr.
6. RB Rodney Stewart, Soph.
7. CB Cha'Pelle Brown, Sr.
8. QB Cody Hawkins. Jr.
9. DE Marquez Herrod, Jr.
10.  LB Marcus Burton, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
7-5
2009 Record: 0-0

9/6 Colorado State
9/11 at Toledo
9/19 Wyoming
9/26 OPEN DATE
10/1 at West Virginia
10/10 at Texas
10/17 Kansas
10/24 at Kansas State
10/31 Missouri
11/7 Texas A&M
11/14 at Iowa State
11/19 at Oklahoma St
11/27 Nebraska

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2008 Record:
5-7

Aug. 31 Colorado St  W 38-17
Sept. 6 Eastern Wash W 31-24
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 18 W Virginia W 17-14 OT
Sept. 27 Florida St (Jax) L 39-21
Oct. 4 Texas L 38-14
Oct. 11 at Kansas L 30-14
Oct. 18 Kansas State W 14-13
Oct. 25 at Missouri L 58-0
Nov. 1 at Texas A&M L 24-17
Nov. 8 Iowa State W 28-34
Nov. 15 Oklahoma State L 30-17
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 28 at Nebraska L 41-30

Give head coach Dan Hawkins credit. He's not making any excuses and he's setting the bar extremely high.

Injuries could be blamed for the collapse of last year, inconsistency and inefficiency reigned supreme, and the Buffs were this close to finishing the season on a ten-game losing streak beating Kansas State and Iowa State by a total of five points and beating West Virginia in overtime. But Hawkins is demanding ten wins, and nothing less will be accepted.

This is more than Hawkins' mouth writing a check that his players' butts have to cash; this is the rallying point. This is the call that it's time Colorado became relevant again. While there will be improvements on both sides of the ball, and there are some extremely interesting stars to build around, there might be too many holes for this to be the dream season CU fans have been pointing to ever since Hawkins was hired.

A lot is riding on a slew of unknowns. The receiving corps might be the worst in the Big 12, or close behind Iowa State, unless the new recruits can produce right away. Key backups, who were supposed to play bigger roles last year, like DE Marquez Herrod, LB Marcus Burton, and CB Jimmy Smith, have to become the new stars or else there will be a woeful lack of overall speed and athleticism. There's also a need for super-recruit Darrell Scott to be the real deal (he will be), QB Cody Hawkins to up his completion percentage and be more of a playmaker (the jury is still out), and the special teams have to be night-and-day better (they probably won't be).

For Hawkins, who appeared to be the perfect hire when taken away from Boise State, has only won 13 games in three years. The maddening part isn't that Colorado isn't winning, there was more of a rebuilding job that needed to be done than originally thought, it's that the team can rise up and come up with just enough glimmers of hope to expect more.

There was a win last year against West Virginia, as ugly as it might have been, and there were stunning wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech two years ago. All three victories appeared to be turning points, but all they became were mirages that showed just how inconsistent the team could be.

The defense, for the most part, has been fine. The offense, supposedly Hawkins' specialty, has been the biggest problem, and that has to change right now for there to be any chance of a good season. Over the last three years Colorado is 11-3 when scoring 27 points or more and 2-21 when it's under 27. It's time for some firepower and it's time for Hawkins to bring in some of that Boise State magic. The North is there for the taking, and Hawkins has been able to do a lot more with a lot less than he has going into this year.

What to watch for on offense: Darrell Scott. Yeah, this is what recruitniks have been waiting for. Scott was the crown jewel of the 2008 recruiting class as the Buffs were able to steal him away from Texas. Minor injuries, lack of conditioning, and the emergence of other backs led to a disappointing first year, but that has all changed going into this season. He's 202 pounds, has 4% body fat, and he has looked like the NFL-bound total package who can carry the offense through the rough patches.

What to watch for on defense: Part 3-4, part 4-3. The Buffs will try to get more out of a front four that has decent size on the outside, but might be better if the ends were used in a three-man front. The strength of the team, other than running back, is at linebacker where Jeff Smart, Marcus Burton, Shaun Mohler, Michael Sipili, and B.J. Beatty are all good enough to start. The coaching staff will try to get as many linebackers on the field as possible to combat spread offenses, and as the season goes on the defense, which wasn't bad last year, should have some big moments and some great games thanks to the back eight.

This team will be much better if … the O line can pass protect. Having a mobile option in Tyler Hansen in from time to time contributed to the problem, but the line was to be much better overall at keeping decent pass rushing lines out of the backfield. The receivers aren't good enough to make things happen on their own, so the quarterbacks need as much time as humanly possible after getting beaten up throughout last year. CU was 11th in the Big 12 and 102nd in the nation in sacks allowed, giving up 26. That number has to be around 16 for the passing game to be more efficient.

The Schedule: The Colorado State game is always tough, but the trip to West Virginia, after a well-timed week off, will be the real litmus test to see just how ready the team is for Big 12 play. By November, CU's season will be made or broken after going to Texas and dealing with Kansas and Missouri, but things don't ease up too much. The one supposed layup, Iowa State, is on the road and the trip to Oklahoma State five days later is brutal. At least Nebraska has to come to Boulder, meaning CU gets the three top teams in the North (KU and Mizzou) at home. However, having to go on the road to face the Longhorns and Cowboys in the South is a lousy break.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Darrell Scott. He has it all and he should be the star of the North if he can stay healthy, but he'll get help from the rest of the loaded backfield. Fellow sophomore Rodney Stewart, the team's leading rusher last year, is returning from a broken leg and should be fine, while Demetrius Sumler and Brian Lockridge are all quick, talented runners who should benefit from an improved O line. All this means Scott won't have to be a 25-carry workhorse game in and game out. If he's getting 15 carries a game and is fresh, he should be a killer.

Best Defensive Player: Junior CB Jimmy Smith. The most productive player will likely be LB Jeff Smart, the team's leading returning tackler, and LB Marcus Burton has a freakish combination of skills that should make him a star in the middle, but it's Smith who appears to be ready to bust out and become special. One of the team's fastest players with legitimate 4.4 speed, he's also 6-2 and 200 pounds with the potential to be a lockdown cover-corner. He hasn't been great yet, but this year he'll be the one the improving secondary revolves around.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Cody Hawkins. It's time. If there's a rotation at quarterback with the more athletic Tyler Hansen being brought in as a spark, there will be problems. Hawkins is the 25-game veteran who has seen enough time and enough big games to know what he's doing, but he needs time to work and he needs his slow receiving corps to be far better. Neither one might might happen right away, so he needs to be a quicker decision maker and he has to be more accurate after struggling with his completion percentage on a consistent basis.

The season will be a success if ... CU gets back to a bowl game. The team isn't good enough to win ten games like Hawkins has demanded, but it's good enough to stop losing to the mediocre teams on a regular basis. There will be fights against Colorado State, Kansas State, and Iowa State, but if CU wants to be good again, those are three games it has to win. Beating Missouri and Texas A&M at home will be a must, and it would be nice if there was an upset or two over someone like Oklahoma State or Nebraska. Eight wins is a reasonable goal.

Key game: Oct. 17 vs. Kansas. Colorado has to put up fights in back-to-back road trips to West Virginia and Texas, and no one will get too upset if those are close losses. But to have any chance of winning the North, or not to be out of its before the Big 12 fun really starts to kick in, a win over a high-powered Kansas team is a must. After losing three straight in the series, a win could spark a nice run with at Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M, and at Iowa State to follow.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 103 - Colorado 55
- Time spent in the lead: Opponents 409 minutes - Colorado 191
- Average yards gained on first down: Opponents 6.2 - Colorado 4.4

- 2009 CFN Colorado Preview | 2009 Colorado Offense

- 2009 Colorado Defense | 2009 Colorado Depth Chart
- 2008 Colorado Preview | 2007 Colorado Preview | 2006 Colorado Preview