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2010 Oklahoma Football Preview: The Colorado Buffaloes

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The Colorado Buffaloes finished 2009 with a Big 12 worst 3-9 record. Among their problems were rushing offense (11th in the conference), scoring defense (11th in the conference) and rushing defense (9th in the conference). They'll have a coach on the, "hot seat" in 2010 and plenty of room for improvement. By the time the Buffs come to Norman (8th game of the season) we'll know full well how the season is going for them as well as for the Sooners. One of the things they're going to try and get away from is a 2-19 record outside of the state of Colorado under Dan Hawkins including a current 12 game losing streak.

Offense

Key Losses Position
Riar Greer Tight End

 

As bad as things were for Colorado, offensively, last season season the diamond in the rough is that they were a young team. They are returning eight out of eleven starters in 2010 including their entire offensive line. The loss of Riar Greer at tight end will mean that they have to break in junior Ryan Deehan but it's not like he's never played football before (Caught 10 passes last season). Greer caught 36 passes last year and placed second on the team with 4 touchdowns. Deehan will have a little bit of a learning curve but with returning starters at the other skill positions he'll have time to adjust to the role of starter.

Key Returners Position Class
Scotty McKnight WR SR
Nate Soldier LT SR
Ethan Adkins LG JR
Keenan Stevens C SR
Ryan Miler RG JR
Bryce Givens RT SO
Rodney Stewart RB JR

 

Colorado's improvement begins, and ends, with the measure of improvement by the offensive line. This is a unit that returns as a whole but is also a unit that gave up a whopping 43 quarterback sacks. The play of the signal callers was spotty last year but you have to admit that it is directly related to the fact that they were being flattened by defenders at an alarming pace. When you have less than a second to throw the ball before getting your face mask dented then it usually results in 18 picks. Tyler Hansen seems to have the edge over Cody Hawkins at quarterback but if the line play doesn't improve then neither will the quarterback play. 

One thing that the Buffs o-line did well last year was springing Rodney Stewart free for 804 yards. As a sophomore he led the team in rushing yards, yards per carry average (4.1) and rushing touchdowns (9).  They'll be relying on him once more to get the offense moving which should provide opportunity for a 1,000 plus yard season for the junior. If this happens the look for senior receiver Scotty McKnight to have possibly his best season yet at CU. In spite of all the woes experienced in the passing game, Mcknight still hauled in 76 passes for 893 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was sixth in the conference last season in receiving yards and should at least be right there again in 2010.

Defense

Key Losses Position
Cha'pelle Brown CB
Ben Burney S
Jeff Smart LB
Marcus Burton LB

 

Colorado's pass defense was second only to Oklahoma last year in total yards allowed. They've lost two members of that secondary in Cha'pelle Brown and Ben Burney but retain the corners. The biggest concern for the Buffs going into 2010 has to be the losses to the run support. Brown led the team in tackles with 96 and Jeff Smart was second with 93. Opponents ran for an average of 161.2 yards per game against Colorado which is a far cry from the league best 62.9 yards per game allowed by Texas. In the absence of Brown and Smart sophomores Ray Polk and Jon Major are going to have to step up big to fill their shoes to keep those rushing stats from growing instead of shrinking. 

Key Returners Position Year
Jimmy Smith CB SR
Jalil Brown CB SR

 

Both Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown we honorable mention all-conference selections last season. Smith is a legit NFL type coner so teams don't challenge him as much, choosing instead to go after Brown who led the team in passes broken up in `09. Also returning in 2010 is senior Marquez Herrod who led the team in sacks last year with 6.

No one expects the Buffs to contend for the North title next year but a bowl game would go a long way at helping preserve Dan Hawkins job. When they arrive in Norman they could be at four wins and desperately seeking the final two that will make them bowl eligible.