Quite a bit of debate going on about a) when Colorado will break through with Dan "Nick Nolte" Hawkins (2008? 2009?) and b) just how far they're capable of breaking through. We'll start to take a look at that this week.
As always...we'll start with the 2007 stats (pdf). In the end, Colorado was wholly mediocre in 2007. Their upset of OU and continued dominance of Texas Tech overshadowed losses in Ames (31-28) and Manhattan (47-20!), and they pretty much crapped the bed in the Independence Bowl before rallying late. Oh yeah, and they got rolled by Mizzou.
All their major stats were pretty much stalemates. They averaged 19.5 first downs wihle allowing 19.7. They gained 377.0 yards per game while allowing 389.4. They scored 27.6, allowed 29.4. Guess all this explains the .500 record, huh? (For some strange reason, CU doesn't count bowl stats in their overall stats...didn't realize schools could choose not to do that. Whatever.)
Cody Nolte-Hawkins was decent for a freshman, completing 56.4% of his passes for 6.4 yards per pass and a 19-15 TD-INT ratio. He took quite a few positive steps early on before faltering a bit down the stretch. It was hard for me to gauge his potential because he did make quite a few freshman mistakes, plus he really didn't have anybody to throw to--his leading receivers were Scotty McKnight, Tyson DeVree, Dusty Sprague, and Patrick Williams, none of whom are world beaters.
On defense, the question is and will continue to be...just how much will CU miss Jordan Dizon (and for that matter, Terrance Wheatley)? Most of their leading tacklers not named Dizon--S Daniel Dykes, LBs Jeff Smart & Brad Jones, DB Ryan Walters--return, but Dizon was a machine for the Buffs.
So obviously the most encouraging news for the Buffs during the 2008 offseason was the signing of everybody's #1 running back, Darrell Scott.
How quickly Scott (and the other RBs they signed) can hit the ground running (ha!) will very much determine how good CU's 2008 offense is. Hugh Charles was shifty and rather fun to watch, but he wasn't amazing...and none of CUs returning RBs/WRs have shown much big-time potential. If Scott is more Adrian Peterson than Joe McKnight (i.e. if he's big-time from Game #1 instead of developing as the season progresses), it could make the difference between a #2 finish in the North and a #4-5 finish. One thing's for certain: he's fast. And he's CU's biggest signee since Darian Hagan.
Get your first look at Darrell Scott on a Sunday.
Spring game report: Black 28, Gold 17 (and I must say, I'm very impressed with CU drawing 17K+ to the spring game...they had plenty of other things they could be doing in Boulder on a Saturday in April...plus, the times I've been to Boulder the crowd hasn't really cared to show up until Q2, so...again, kudos). The passing game was clicking, though that probably had as much to do with spring injuries to the secondary as much as anything.
It hasn't been the best offseason in Boulder when it comes to the relationships between Buffs and cops, but...well, it wasn't exactly a pristine winter for us either, so I guess I won't say much.
One other obstacle to CU's 2008 breakthrough: the schedule.
In conference play, the Buffs must travel to Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Nebraska. Any record other than 1-3 in that stretch is hopelessly optimistic. Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State must come to Boulder, so the Buffs must take care of business at home. That’s not a given either by the way. In the new century, Colorado is a very average 27-19 in home games. That winning percentage ranks ahead of only Baylor among Big 12 teams. That’s very surprising considering the elevation in Boulder. But I digress. The non-conference slate is not easy either. The Buffs host a likely top-10 foe in West Virginia and travel to Jacksonville to take on Florida State.
Finally...I mean, come on...I'm not the only one who sees this, right?