This rivalry game has been played in Denver since 1998 with the exception of 2004 and 2005.
This year Colorado played a card from the contract that allows the game to be moved to its home stadium, so the Buffs did that for this year's game; soon after Colorado State did the same.
Even though both schools make more money in Denver, the Buffs want six home games each year and keeping the game in Denver would not allow that. This team should be good enough to rebound to a bowl game, but Coach Hawkins has some holes to fill to make that a reality.
The biggest news this offseason for Colorado is the transfer of playmaker wide receiver Josh Smith who is transferring to either USC or UCLA. The only experienced receiver back is Scotty McKnight, while the rest are either redshirt freshmen, (Markques Simas), or JUCO transfers, (Andre Simmons). These players are considered good talent, but experience and playing in the Big 12 will hurt them at some point on the year.
Colorado Buffaloes' 2008 Offensive Statistics
|Rushing||Carries||Yards||Yards Per Carry||TD|
|Receiving||Catches||Yards||Yards Per Catch||TD|
There are still some questions if Andre Simmons will be eligible to suit up in the fall, if he is able to play, he should be in the starting lineup very soon, if not the first weekend.
The tight end position is interesting because Riar Greer, who started at wide receiver, is moving to tight end this year. He has the size at 6'4" and 250 pounds.
Greer will do minimal blocking, but instead will use his pass-catching ability at tight end. Greer will be similar to the rest of the Big 12 tight ends that are receivers first and blockers second.
Where the wide receiver position is iffy, the running back position is the strength of the Colorado offense.
It will be a strength if the Buffs are able to stay competitive in games, especially in the big games like Nebraska, Kansas, at Texas, and at Oklahoma State.
There are three backs in consideration for Colorado and they are Darrell Scott—five star recruit,—Rodney Stewart was only a two star high schooler, and then the third is Brian Lockridge, who could be used to catch the ball.
The talent at tailback is huge with former high school stars, but experience is in question. Even though Stewart is the returning rusher, he is still being challenged by players with very little playing time, or backs who have not seen the field at the division one level.
The running game will most likely come down to putting players in the game where they specialize; whether it be short yardage, catching ability, or the speed back. The quarterback position remains stable as the team returns its two-year starter, and coach's son Cody Hawkins, who was terrible last year in comparison to his sophomore campaign.
His first year as a starter was much better with over 3,000 yards, but last year Hawkins was ineffective at times and was benched for a few games. The overall offense has the chance to be pretty good with all the talent on the offensive line and the potential at the running back position. Odds are it will be an average offense.
Defensively, the linebackers are the strength of what is a below-average defense in the Big 12, but they are the key to help the Buffs try to slow down the scoring machines of the Big 12 offenses.
With the strength at linebacker, Colorado is moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4, which will help improve its lackluster defense. The Buffs were eighth in the Big XII in defensive scoring, but somehow were fourth in total defense.
That is not really too hard to explain because the Buffs were minus-seven in turnover margin and gave teams too many chances with a short field.
Even though the defense only returns three starters, they look to be improved.
Shaun Mohler who started at linebacker last year might possibly be regulated to backup duty, which is not all that bad for this team. The only problem with their linebackers is that none can do it all, but they have enough individual skill sets within the depth chart to be good enough.
The front line is in the worst shape with all three starters from last year gone; that is a reason why the depth of linebacker is a good thing, because they will be called upon in slowing down the running attack.
Secondary is also a concern—specifically in the Big 12—with Cha'pelle Brown coming back from an injury and Jimmy Smith who is fast (4.5 in the 40-yard dash) and big (6'2"), but he has had problems listening to the staff; that is until this spring where something clicked and he just got it.
In the Colorado State game, the secondary will not really be an issue because the Rams' quarterback situation is unsettled, but they need to be ready when Big 12 play begins.
Overall, the Buffaloes most likely will have a record just above .500 and attend a mid-tier bowl. They won't be as bad as last year, but they will not be anything special.
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