2008 Colorado Buffaloes Football Preview
2007 Record: (6-7, 4-4 Big 12)
2007 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Alabama (L 24-30)
Coach: Dan Hawkins (8-17 at Colorado, 100-40-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mark Helfrich
Defensive Coordinator: Ron Collins
Returning Leaders for the Buffs:
Other Key Returnees: CB Ben Burney, TE Riar Geer, LB Brad Jones, DE Maurice Lucas, DT Brandon Nicolas, C Daniel Sanders, LB Jeff Smart, WR Josh SmithKey Losses: RB Hugh Charles, TE Tyson DeVree, LB Jordon Dizon, OT Edwin Harrison, OT Tyler Polumbus, CB Terrence Wheatley
Looking for a dark horse to claim the Big XII North title? Look no further than Colorado. After a dismal 2-10 season in 2006, Coach Dan Hawkins began to show why he took the challenge of turning around the Colorado program. Last year the Buffaloes managed to become bowl eligible despite playing a pretty brutal schedule. If the team improves as much as they did last year, Colorado will be looking towards much bigger things than the Independence Bowl.
It is not like the Buffaloes defense was great last year, but giving up less than 390 yards per game in the Big XII is not bad at all. Eight starters return, but they do have to replace linebacker Jordon Dizon and cornerback Terrence Wheatley, both of whom were selected in the second round of the NFL Draft. Dizon tallied 160 tackles last season and his leadership will certainly be missed. It helps that Brad Jones and Jeff Smart are returning to the linebacker corps, but Michael Sipili, who was suspended last season, has some big shoes to fill. Adding to the questions in the secondary is the injury to Ben Burney, who started opposite Wheatley at corner. His status is uncertain and even if he plays, he might not be at full strength, so it is very important to find some consistent help at the corners if the defense wants to remain one of the best in the conference.
The offense has plenty of potential led by sophomore Cody Hawkins, but the quarterback will need to boost his completion percentage and reduce his interceptions if the offense is going to develop into what his father and coach expect it to be. Hawkins will need his top two returning receivers, Scott McKnight and Josh Smith, to improve on their impressive debut seasons and develop more consistency. If they all mature together after one year in the program, the passing game will be in great shape. However, the passing game will not be nearly as effective if the Buffaloes cannot replace running back Hugh Charles. Demetrius Sumler and Brian Lockridge have some experience, but incoming freshmen Darrell Scott and Ray Polk will certainly be in the mix. Scott was ranked by many as the top running back in the class and Polk was not too far behind him.
The Bottom Line for the Buffaloes:
Reaching a bowl game in 2007 was a huge accomplishment. Now the Buffaloes have to continue that success instead of taking a step back. Coach Hawkins will never be content with a 6-7 season and he even will take a long look at redshirt freshman Matt Ballenger replacing his son at quarterback. If the younger Hawkins falters, Ballenger could get his chance. Apparently blood is thinner than the air in Boulder, but Coach Hawkins wants to win and win as soon as possible.
2007 Colorado Buffaloes Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 144.23 (68th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 234.31 (54, 10)
Total Offense: 378.54 (72, 10)
Scoring Offense: 27.31 (62, 10)
Rushing Defense: 128.00 (31, 5)
Pass Defense: 261.31 (103, 9)
Total Defense: 389.31 (64, 6)
Scoring Defense: 29.46 (78, 7)
Turnover Margin: -.31 (83, 8)
Sacks: 1.62 (95, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (17, 4)
By Joel Welser
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