COLORADO Team Report



 
INSIDE SLANT

The last advisory to ever trust regarding the quarterback position at Colorado is a spring depth chart.

Tyler Hansen was listed as the Buffaloes' No. 1 QB entering the spring game, then engineered a 37-27 victory, which didn't seem as if it would affect his status.

But this is Colorado.

Each of the past two seasons, Hansen was redshirted only to be inserted for ineffective starter Cody Hawkins once Big 12 play rolled around. Hawkins, by the way, is listed as the No. 2 quarterback coming out of spring camp.

"Any time you can be on top of something, win the competition for right now," said Hansen, "it feels good. It means I'm doing something right."

Of the depth chart, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins made a realistic assessment.

"We'll figure that out when we get closer to Colorado State," he said, referring to the Sept. 4 opener.

Quarterback remains an issue because neither Hansen nor Cody Hawkins (the coach's son) has ever definitively staked a claim to the job with effective play at that position. Hansen is considered a more dangerous quarterback because of his ability to scramble or gain yardage off designed runs. But as a senior, Hawkins will be driven to regain the QB position, and looked sharp in the spring game, completing 20 of 26 passes for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Most of the offensive fireworks in the scrimmage, however, came in the fourth quarter. It was just a 17-7 game entering that period. Several key players on offense, however missed the scrimmage, including running back Rodney Stewart and wide receiver Scotty McKnight and guard Ryan Miller.

One important objective during spring drills was to identify more receivers who could take some of the load off McKnight, as well as another receiver who missed the spring scrimmage, Markques Simas. Some possibilities emerged, led by wideout Kyle Cefalo and tight end DaVaughn Thornton.

Cefalo caught 12 passes in the spring game, prompting some questions regarding the first-team secondary, which included talented cornerback Jalil Brown.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Gold team, which included most of the Colorado players with Polynesian backgrounds, performed a Haka dance before the spring game against the Black team. Hawaii visits Colorado this season and will be expected to perform the Haka dance prior to that game.

--Colorado opponents should be aware a tackle-eligible pass play exists when the Buffaloes are in goal-line formations. OT Nate Solder, who was converted from tight end three years ago, caught a 1-yard TD pass in the spring game. Solder wasn't too concerned the play was revealed. "Yeah, but who's going to see it?" he said, noting it happened in the spring game.

SPRING MOVERS:

WR Kyle Cefalo -- A former high school teammate of QB Cody Hawkins, Cefalo caught 12 passes from Hawkins for 144 yards (both game highs) in Colorado's spring game. Cefalo began his college career at Oregon State.

S Parker Orms -- Impressed coaches and teammates early in spring camp with his nose for the ball and sparkled again in the spring game with 10 tackles, seven unassisted, with one sack.

TE DaVaughn Thornton -- The redshirt freshman enjoyed a solid spring, which he capped with two touchdown receptions in the spring game. The 6-4, 230-pounder could renew the Buffs' tradition of throwing to tight ends.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Confidence is always a combination of little successes. Any time you can catch the ball or move the ball or complete the ball or run the ball, that gives those guys a little bit more feeling towards what they can get done." -- Colorado coach Dan Hawkins.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

2010 OUTLOOK: It will be considered a make-or-break season for Dan Hawkins, who some believe was retained in part because financially-strapped Colorado could not afford a buyout for the fifth-year coach. Through four seasons, Hawkins stands 16-33 overall and 10-22 in the Big 12, with three 2-6 finishes. Enough veterans exist to offer improvement offensively as long as either QB Tyler Hansen or QB Cody Hawkins can effectively march the Buffaloes. RB Rodney Stewart is solid, and so is WR Scotty McKnight, plus the CU offensive line is experienced. Some key losses must be overcome on defense, where the Buffs feature a solid pass rusher in DE Marquez Herrod and a lockdown pass defender in CB Jalil Brown.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Until either Hansen or Cody Hawkins step up and deliver key wins, Colorado will continue to search in vain for offensive production. Hansen offers the most upside because of his ability to gain yards with his feet. RB Rodney Stewart is a capable back as long as he avoids injuries. WR Scotty McKnight is a dependable possession receiver, though the Buffs need breakaway threats ranking last in the Big 12 in total offense with a 314.3-yard average. The potential emergence of WR Andre Simmons, a juco transfer who flopped last season, would be nice. The line is solid and should provide holes for Stewart, as well as time for the quarterback.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: This was an underrated unit last season that improved immensely after getting torched in an embarrassing nonconference loss at Toledo. The Buffs learned to play with some aggression as the defense kept them three season-ending defeats, which were lost by a total of 18 points. CB Jalil Brown possesses the top 2009 mark for passes defended among all Big 12 returnees. LB B.J. Beatty will be counted on for leadership, as well as maintaining the physical play Colorado showed throughout spring drills, while also looking capable of playing faster.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Since transferring from Wyoming, PK Aric Goodman has had trouble connecting on field goals with any consistency, hitting on fewer than half his attempts over the past two seasons. Despite playing half their games in thin mountain air, the Buffs ranked last in the Big 12 in punting last season with a 31.9-yard net average. They also ranked last in the league with a paltry 3.3-yard punt return average. These areas must be addressed.

TOP NEWCOMERS:

TE Clark Evans -- Recruited as a quarterback, Evans possesses the size to fill an opening created by the loss of Riar Geer. If he pans out, Evans would project more as a receiver than a power blocker.

OG Eric Richter -- The juco transfer was signed to fill an opening at left guard and will get looks at that spot. It's possible Richter could play tackle since he's athletic enough to work on the edge.

S Parker Orms -- The redshirt freshman is only listed at 5-11, 180 pounds and didn't grace the two-deep at the beginning of spring camp. However, Orms made an immediate impression with the ground he covered and the tackles he made in scrimmages.

ROSTER REPORT:

--PK Aric Goodman required surgery on his injured right hip, which will keep him from kicking for three months. Goodman made just 15 of 32 field goals the past two seasons after transferring from Wyoming.

--TB Brian Lockridge played on a strained MCL in the spring game and gained 38 yards on 11 carries before the knee worsened and he missed most of the second half.

--WR Markques Simas was allowed to participate in some spring drills after his suspension for a Feb. 12 drunken driving arrest was lifted. He did not play in the spring game.

Previous Report: 04/11/2010


 

 

 


 
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