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Texas Tech Opponent Prospectus :: Colorado Buffaloes

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2010 Texas Tech Opponent Prospectus

Game 1: SMU Mustangs (9.5.10) :: Game 2: @ New Mexico Lobos (9.11.10) :: Game 3: Texas Longhorns (9.18.10) :: Game 4: @ Iowa St. Cyclones (10.2.10) :: Game 5: Baylor Bears (10.09.10) :: Game 6: Oklahoma St. Cowboys :: Game 7: @ Colorado Buffaloes (10.23.10) :: Game 8: @ Texas A&M Aggies (10.30.10) :: Game 9: Missouri Tigers (11.06.10) :: Game 10: @ Oklahoma Sooners (11.13.10) :: Game 11: Weber St. Wildcats (11.20.10) :: Game 12: Houston Cougars (11.27.10)

General Information

Opponent Colorado
Nickname Buffaloes
Location Boulder, CO
Enrollment 30,196
Conference Big 12
Head Coach Dan Hawkins
2009 Record 3-9, 2-6
Starters Returning 8 Offense : 7 Defense
Blogs The Ralphie Report
Links 2010 Spring Notes and Depth Chart

Join me after the jump for a closer look at the Buffs.

Statistics

Statistic Colorado Texas Tech
Pass Offense 226.42 (45) 386.77 (2)
Rush Offense 87.92 (113) 84.00 (115)
Total Offense 314.33 (104) 470.77 (4)
Scoring Offense 22.25 (92) 37.00 (7)
Pass Efficiency 106.10 (111) 143.79 (19)
Sacks Allowed 3.67 (117) 2.38 (87)
Pass Defense 201.83 (34) 225.62 (73)
Rush Defense 161.17 (80) 126.77 (38)
Total Defense 363.00 (57) 352.38 (49)
Scoring Defense 28.83 (88) 22.46 (41)
Pass Efficiency Defense 131.53 (69) 117.38 (35)
Sacks 2.25 (41) 3.09 (4)
Tackles For Loss 5.50 (71) 6.46 (34)
Turnover Margin -0.50 (97) -0.46 (94)


Top Returners

Category Player
Rushing Rodney Stewart :: 198 Rushes : 804 Yards : 9 TD
Passing Tyler Hansen :: 129/231 : 1,440 Yards : 7 INT : 8 TD
Receiving Scotty McKnight :: 75 Receptions : 893 Yards : 6 TD
Tackles Anthony Perkins :: 51 Solo : 26 Assists : 77 Total
Sacks Marquez Herrod :: 6 Solo : 1 Assists : 45 Yards : 6.5 Total
Interceptions Jalil Brown : Jimmy Smith : Anthony Perkins :: 2 INT : 43 Yards : 0 TD


Key Losses and Returning Impact Players

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on the opponent, but I try my best. If I have something wrong, please let me know and I'll correct or revise as necessary.

Key Losses:

TE Riar Greer, LB Jeff Smart, LB Marcus Bunton, DB Anthony Perkins, DB Benjamin Burney,

[Note by Seth C, 07/18/10 6:18 AM CDT ] Was corrected by a good Colorado fan, Perkins does return and he is projected to be one of their starting safeties. Thanks for the tip.

Impact Offensive Player :: LT Nate Solder:

Solder is being picked as one of the best of the Big 12 offensive lineman after being named to the first team All-Big 12. Solder was one of the highest ranked tight ends coming out of high school and has transitioned to left tackle. He's big, 6'9"/300 lbs. and he's mobile (supposedly runs a 4.8 40-yard dash) and he's strong.

Impact Defensive Player :: CB Jalil Brown:

Fellow CB Jimmy Smith is getting quite a bit of preseason publicity. Again, didn't get a chance to watch a ton of Colorado football, but Brown seemingly had better stats. I know, that's probably because teams were more willing to throw at Brown rather than Smith, but Brown had 49 tackles, 13 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions.

Coach Speak:

Head Coach Dan Hawkins assesses the spring game:

Coach Dan Hawkins' overall assessment was very similar. The offense is "playing faster, there's a good vibe . . .," while the defense will head into summer knowing it "probably had a little more of an upper hand."

Hawkins attributed some of that to a "little attrition at the end with the offensive guys . . . . In spring ball, you're fired up because the defense was good on third down, but the offense wasn't. So you're never going to be more than 50-50 on that. One team has the upper hand there."

Spring Chatter:

  • Quarterback Battle: I did get to watch both Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen last year, but I can't explain why they're pretty much neck-and-neck after the spring:
    Hawkins spoke with reporters Tuesday during the Big 12 Conference coaches` teleconference, and made it clear he sees no real difference between Hansen and his son, Cody, after having more than a week to review spring ball and the spring game.

    "I think those guys have always been paper thin the whole time, whether it has been that you`ve favored one guy or the other guy," Hawkins said. "I think they`ve both been pretty close."

    Cody Hawkins has been the starter for each of the past three season openers but has been replaced by Hansen in the lineup at points in each of the past two seasons. He gave way to Hansen in Game 5 last year and Hansen remained the starter the rest of the year, though Cody Hawkins was brought back in to play in one game because coaches said he knew the 2-minute offense better than Hansen.

    Dan Hawkins said he thought both quarterbacks improved this spring, but the competition between Hansen and Hawkins will continue into fall camp.

    "We`ll see how it emerges," he said. "We`ll just go with it until we feel like we`ve got a good pulse and see where we`re at go from there."

  • Thin at Receiver: The Buff thought that the receiving corps would receive a boost with the transfer of Andre Simmons, but he has been ruled ineligible and the DUI/transfer of Markques Simas, leaving Scotty McKnight and Toney Clemmons to carry the load:
    With Simmons ruled ineligible, WR Markques Simas all but gone after his latest DUI arrest and failure to appear in court (Hawkins said he was allowed to earn his way back on the team as a walk-on but he is supposedly moving back to California and transferring to San Diego State University) a supposed preseason team strength has now taken another hit. WR Scotty McKnight is the Buff only receiver with any significant production at the college level. Michigan transfer Toney Clemons will now be counted on even more to bring playmaking and consistency to the position.
  • Defense to Get Creative: Despite injuries this spring the defense intends on getting a bit creative:
    "We definitely need a much better pass rush than we had last year," said Collins. "It has been a big emphasis this spring and I think we have done a pretty good job, but we still have a ways to go. You know, it' very hard to get after a quarterback that is sitting there five yards deep and is getting the ball out really fast. So we trying to be creative and find ways to get after him."

    To get creative, the Buffs have featured several different formations on defense aside from the base 4-3 they used last season. As a result of having five talented, experienced linebackers in camp now, and three more coming in the fall, a 3-4, 3-2-6 and 3-3-5 are all formations that could be used more often in the upcoming season. Those looks not only help generate a pass rush but also will take some pressure off the secondary in coverage as well.

    However, when they are in a 4-3 base, sophomore Marquez Herrod has filled in for Barrett's departure. With several talented young linemen, however, Buffs coaches expect to rely on a deep rotation along the line.

  • Lack of Identity: Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo isn't sure if this team has an identity:
    This group will play hard. It will pass the ball more than it runs. It will be aggressive on defense. It will be inconsistent on special teams. And it will handle itself with class and professionalism.

    Is that an identity? What word or term encompasses that? Is having an identity as a football team even important?

    I decided to ask the players and coaches what they think their identity is. I found some who didn`t really have an answer. Others who came up with everything I did and more and some who didn`t really seem to care if there is a team identity.

    I liked offensive line coach Denver Johnson`s answer best.

    "I think they`re great people. I think they`re hard working guys," he said. "I think we`re a team that is probably pretty talented in some spots and maybe not as talented inothers, but across the board talented enough.

    "We`re going to have to go out and play smart football. We`re going to have to be assignment correct. We`re going to have to be fundamentally sound and we`re going to have to give fanatical effort and I think our kids will do that. ... I think we`re a scrappy bunch. I think we`ve got guys who are going to go out and fight and scratch and claw and try to find a way to win ballgames."

  • Linebackers Looking for Leader: With little experience returning the defensive coaches are looking for a leader at linebacker:
    Cabral said he believes Sipili is ready to shine in 2010 after a lot of ups and downs. Sipili drove home the point near the end of the first practice by intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.

    "No question, this should be his best year," Cabral said. "He`s gone through a lot of things. He`s experienced a lot of things. ... I think it`s finally time for him to come into his own."

    Cabral said he also is confident sophomore Jon Major is ready to emerge after contributing at times last fall. Major was one of the highest-rated linebacker recruits in the nation in the 2008 class, but tore a knee ligament during his true freshman season.

  • Seasoned Secondary: New secondary coach, Ashley Ambrose, is excited to have a seasoned secondary:
    "It could just as easily be two freshmen out there . . . those guys are athletically gifted," Ambrose said. "Now it's getting them to understand what we're doing and making them feel more confident in what they're doing.

    "I thank God I've got a chance to work with guys like that. With their athletic ability, they can make some plays, and when they put that with knowledge, they can make way more plays."

    Currently working in the No. 1 secondary with Smith and Brown are junior safety Anthony Perkins and sophomore safety Ray Polk. Perkins, said Ambrose, knows his assignments as well as those of every other DB: "He's the leader, he knows the defense in and out . . . he can tell you what the corners are doing, what the other safety is doing - everything. He gets those guys in order back there."

  • Looking for Stability on O-Line: The left tackle position is solid with Nate Solder, but there are questions up and down the line:
    Senior Nate Solder, a coaches' All-Big 12 Conference choice last season, has been a fixture on the left side through spring drills. But the right side nearly has been a revolving door, with Bryce Givens' very productive spring work interrupted by a mandate to attend to academics.

    Given more opportunities, sophomore Ryan Dannewitz is prospering in Givens' absence, and Johnson is giving high spring marks to redshirt freshmen Jack Harris and David Bakhtiari.

    "Those two have shown they're not very far away," Johnson said. "Jack conceivably could make a push for some playing time. Bakhtiari has shown some real promise, but he needs to get heavier - he's still a little light in the britches (275 pounds). But as far as technique and aggressiveness and assertiveness, I've been pleased with both of them."

    . . .

    Johnson entered spring drills hoping to solidify the left guard spot. Instead, injuries and more academic bumps have forced him to mix and match at both left and right guards.

    Junior Ryan Miller, the incumbent right side starter, was lost before spring break with a re-injured forearm that required surgery. Sophomore Max Tuioti-Mariner, a past victim of knee surgeries, suffered one more knee tweak early in drills and has since been told to finish the spring concentrating on academics.

vs. Texas Tech:

Due to recent history, and having attended the 2007 game where Graham Harrell only managed to throw 4 interceptions, I'm incredibly leery of this game.

There's no doubt that Colorado has had a tough few years under Dan Hawkins and his decisions regarding quarterbacks are confusing at best, this is a team that returns quite a few of starters. Granted, neither unit last year was lighting the world on fire, finishing dead last in total offense and 7th in total defense in the Big 12. There's plenty of room for improvement, but when a team returns 16 starters, that's a pretty good sign that this team will be improved.

For whatever reason, I did get to watch a Colorado game (maybe the Missouri game) and it seemed obvious to me that Hansen was the better quarterback, but I'm not the head coach and that was only one game. Both Hawkins and Hansen need to improve those interception numbers and overall efficiency (both QB's are around 50% to 56% completion rates). Unfortunately, the group of receivers is pretty darned thin. As mentioned above, Scotty McKnight and Toney Clemmons are the only two receivers that have much experience and the offense will lean heavily on the two of them to make plays. With the transfer of Darrell Scott, diminutive Rodney Stewart (5'6"/175 lbs.) returns. Stewart had games where he was pretty darned good, going over 100 yards rushing five different times in 2009, but he's not a receiving threat and so he's pretty much limited to either getting a hand-off or nothing at all.

The offensive line returns two stalwarts, LT Nate Solder and RG Ryan Miller. Every starter returns from last year, but this unit also ranked 117th in sacks allowed last year, good for 3.67 a game. Just from looking at their rushing numbers, Hawkins and Hansen lost a combined 387 yards and having that many negative yards will put your offense in quite a few holes to dig out of, something that's tough to do considering that the offense lacks play-makers.

The linebacker position was pretty much wiped out due to graduation, however the defensive line and secondary return a handful of starters. Again, the issue is that as a unit, the defense gave up 161.17 yards on the ground, 80th in the nation, but the pass defense was exceptional, giving up only 201.83 yards a game, which was 34th in the country.

CU's best pass-rusher is Marquez Herrod, and other than Herrod, it's a grab-back of folks getting to the quarterback and without most of the linebackers returning, it might take some time for the Buff's to figure out how to get pressure on the quarterback without much help from the linebackers. Also, DE Nick Kasa didn't play much last year (I think he was injured), but he's one of those guys that you probably don't know about, but he certainly has the pedigree and potential to be a pretty good pass-rusher. I do love the size of both of their cornerbacks, Jimmy Smith (6'2"/210) and Jalil Brown (6'1"/205) and both were productive last year. The safety position is where the Buffs are replacing starters and you would expect that the outstanding pass defense might drop a bit.

I'm not sure what to think about this game, other than Colorado opens with some really tough games to start the season. Colorado starts with Colorado St, but then travels to California, has Hawaii and Georgia at home, travels to Missouri, and then gets Baylor at home before facing Texas Tech. Perhaps that Baylor game will tell us quite a bit about what type of shape Colorado will be in before facing the Red Raiders. I'm feeling pretty confident about where Texas Tech is headed and if I were picking this game right now, I'd probably pick Texas Tech by less than a field goal (thus making it a pick-em type of game in that I can envision it going either way), but by the time that October 23rd rolls around Colorado may have gotten their act together.